Methodist Girls' School (MGS)
The Methodist Girls School (MGS), located at Blackmore Drive, was founded by Sophia Blackmore on 15 August 1887. It was the first educational institution for girls established in Singapore by the Methodists. Its earlier names were the Tamil Girls' School (1887), Methodist Mission Girls' School (1890s) and the Mount Sophia Girls' School (1942).
Just two and a half years the school's founding, the American Methodist Mission was established in Singapore. Realising the need for girls' education, the Methodist preacher, Reverend William Oldham, summoned the Women's Foreign Missionary Society to send a woman volunteer for this cause. Oldham was tutoring a few Indian gentlemen who had expressed a desire for their daughters to be educated. Thus the vision for a girl's school materialised with the aid of Blackmore's tireless spirit. The school first started out in a shophouse in Short Street with the help of an Indian gentleman Rama Krishna Rao, who offered the holding for free. His counterparts pooled a sum of sixty dollars to pay for the teacher's remuneration.
The school began as the Tamil Girls' School, with just nine Indian girls who were taught by Miss Alexandra Hagdorn. Classes were held from seven in the morning to one in the afternoon. The girls arrived before seven to clean the premises, as there was no paid caretaker. By 1891, the student enrolment had increased steadily, calling for more spacious premises.
From Short Street, the school moved to the Christian Institute in Middle Road. By this time, girls from other races had been enrolled in the school, thereby establishing itself as a mixed school. Some boys were also known to have attended the girls' school with their sisters upon strict parental guidance. By 1874, the enrolment almost registered a hundred students. At about this time, another school for English- speaking girls opened. After three years, this school combined with the Methodist Mission Girls' School, giving birth to the Methodist Girls' School. With the recent combination, the student population proved too large for the Middle Road premises and soon, the authorities sought a new building. The land at the corner of Short Street and Selegie road was spotted and a new building soon came up.
The new building at Short Street opened in 1900 with a kindergarten to cater to the pre-school community. By 1908, the school had its first secondary class and in 1922 the girls donned its trademark "sailor suit", the blue and white uniform. MGS continued to develop into a school offering both primary and secondary education. The students continued to increase as mindsets changed about education for girls. The burgeoning student population meant that the secondary school girls had to move to Mount Sophia. In 1935, MGS had a student population of about 800 and between 27 to 29 staff. There was a desperate need for a larger building that would house all the students, with an equally desperate need for funds.
From the late 1930s to the early 1940s, development plans were continually being made. However, the Japanese occupation of Singapore stalled these plans. MGS was renamed Mount Sophia Girls' School. For the next three and a half years, the student population dwindled.
With the surrender of the Japanese troops came renewed enthusiasm. The teachers grappled with insufficient funds, lack of equipment, shortage of books and over-aged girls. Under principal, Ellice Handy, these problems were soon overcame. In the following years, MGS established itself as a reputable girls' school. In 1989, MGS (Secondary) became independent. Three years later, the school moved from its Mount Sophia premises to Blackmore Drive.
To Master, to Grow, to Serve.
Lim, L. U W., et al. (1987). Memories, gems and sentiments: 100 years of Methodist Girls' School. Singapore: Methodist Girls' School.
(Call no.: RSING 373.5957 MEM)
Methodist Girls' School. [1932 -]. Methodist Girls' School Annual. Singapore: Author.
(Call no.: RSING 373.5957 MGS)
Singapore Tatler. (1995). Singapore Chronicles: A special commemorative history of Singapore (p. 197). Hong Kong: Illustrated Magazine.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)
Methodist Girls' School. (n.d.). History. Retrieved November 26, 2002, from www.mgs.sch.edu.sg/aboutMGS-History.htm
The information in this article is valid as at 2002 and correct as far as we can 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.