Percival Frank Aroozoo



Percival Frank Aroozoo (b. 13 April 1900, Singapore - d. 15 March 1969, Singapore) was headmaster of Gan Eng Seng School from 1938 to 1955. He was responsible for the opening of the new school building at Anson Road in 1951, and oversaw the school's transition from a primary to a secondary school. He was also instrumental in shaping the school's identity through his design of the school crest and crafting of the school motto.

Early Life
An Eurasian of Portugese descent, Aroozoo was born to Frank Aroozoo and Martinha Beatrice de Rosario in 1900. He was a bright student and received a double promotion when he was studying at St. Joseph's Institution. He passed his Senior Cambridge examinations in 1916, and qualified as a "normal class" teacher at the age of 17.

Posting at the Outram School
Aroozoo joined the Outram School in 1918. The school was known then as a training ground for principals, and was a feeder school to other secondary schools such as the Raffles Institution. During his term, he founded the Outram school magazine, and was its editor from 1925 to 1938. He also produced the school plays annually. Aroozoo taught at the school for twenty years before he was promoted to Superscale B in 1938. Along with the promotion, he was offered the position of headmaster of Gan Eng Seng School. The offer pleased him very much because of the family's historical ties with Gan Eng Seng. His grandfather, Simon Aroozoo, had been a close friend and colleague of Gan Eng Seng.

Japanese Occupation
Aroozoo led the Gan Eng Seng School through some of its most challenging years. In 1941, the school building at Telok Ayer was declared unsafe by the Public Works Department. An immediate evacuation was ordered and the school took up temporary accommodation at the Sepoy Lines Malay School in Park Road and the Pearl's Hill School. Before long, the school closed due to the war. During the Occupation, Aroozoo lost the hearing of his right ear. The injury was thought to have been caused by a bomb explosion or an incident where he was hit by Japanese soldiers. Aroozoo continued to work as an educator during the war years. He was made principal of Rangoon Road Primary School, and later Inspector at the education headquarters.

Headmaster of Gan Eng Seng School
After the war, Aroozoo returned to his post at Gan Eng Seng School. He oversaw the school as it operated from its temporary premises, first at the Outram School, and then at the Japanese National School in Waterloo Street. The school re-opened as a secondary school in its new building at Anson Road in 1951.

Aroozoo was instrumental in shaping the school's identity during these formative years. Ever mindful of the school's origins as a school for the poor children of Chinatown, he incorporated the Chinese junk and dragon into the design of the school crest. He was also insistent that the school name remain as "Gan Eng Seng School" though there were suggestions that it reflect its new location at Anson Road. To the poorer students, he gave out scholarships and ensured that the school library closed late for those who did not have study facilities at home. He also organised activities to keep the students occupied and away from the influences of street gangs. Besides the school crest, Aroozoo also came up with the school motto "Onward", which is also the name of the school magazine which he started. Aroozoo retired in 1955 and was awarded a MBE for his contributions to education. The school library was named in his memory in 1996.

Other Contributions
Aside from his duties in school, Aroozoo was also an active member of the Singapore Teachers' Association, and was both the editor of Chorus - a teachers' magazine and the stage manager for teachers' productions. Church work also featured as a major part of his life. He gave his time and services as a server at the St. Joseph's Church at Queen Street, promoter of the Apostleship of Prayer, founder member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, co-founder of the Catholic Young Men's Association, member of the Catholic Action Movement, and founder of Rally, a monthly Catholic review. In 1956, Aroozoo initiated a Portuguese language class in the Portuguese Mission, and in 1959 started a fund for books and scholarships for poor children. He was also the lyricist for the City Song sung at the Singapore City Day celebrations of 1953.

Family Life
Aroozoo met his wife, Agnes Danker, an Eurasian of Dutch descent, during his regular shooting trips to Johor Bahru. His wife had lived near the rifle shooting range which he frequented. They married in 1926, and their first child, Marie, was born the next year. He later had four other daughters (Hedwig, Joyce, Eleanor, Lydia) and one son (Edmund). Two of his daughters, Marie Bong and Hedwig Anuar, went on to become successful and respected persons in their respective professions. Marie was the principal of Katong Convent for many years, and Hedwig was the first local and long-time director of the National Library. Aroozoo remarried in 1960 after his first wife, Agnes, died.

Death
Aroozoo died of heart disease in 15 March 1969 at the age of 68. The memorial service was held at St. Joseph's Church, and his body was buried at the Bidadari Cemetery.



Author
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia



References

500 to sing city song [Microfilm: NL 3306]. (1953, September 6). The Sunday Times, p. 5.

Braga-Blake, M. (Ed.) (1992). Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes (pp. 84-85). Singapore: Times Editions.
(Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)

Chua, C. H. (Interviewer). (1992, December 1). Oral history interview with Mrs Marie Bong on Development of Education in Singapore (Pre-war 1965) [electronic transcript]. Retrieved December 18, 2008, from http://www.a2o.com.sg

Dabbs, D. M. (1994).  The history of Gan Eng Seng School (pp. 55-62). Singapore: D. M. Dabbs.  
(Call no.: RSING 372.95957 DAB)

Deaths [Microfilm: NL 5831]. (1969, March 16). The Straits Times, p. 19.

Gan Eng Seng School names library after ex-principal. (1996, July 21).  The Straits Times. Retrieved on March 3, 2011, from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2008 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic. 

Subject
School principals--Singapore--Biography
Personalities
Personalities>>Biographies
Aroozoo, Frank Perciva, 1900-1969
Education>>Secondary education

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