(WARNING: Image-heavy post! Best viewed on desktop or with Wi-Fi)
Long time no update. I was actually working on this blog post about something which has been piquing my interest for some time now. It has got nothing to do with beauty nor lifestyle. It’s about… *drum roll* SCHOOLS!! It took me THREE weeks, but no complaints really, as I enjoyed uncovering the history of these schools. I hope you guys enjoy it as much as I do!
My School Uniform – the first-ever photography project that documents all the school uniforms in Singapore.
Photo book out in stores now! Read review here
Well, what prompted me to do this 6200-word entry?! It was reported on the news four months ago that six schools here will be merged into three next year and that sparked my curiosity about other schools that fell victim to declining enrolment. Yup, school closure is still happening here despite complaints about not having enough schools. Ironic, isn’t it?
Schools facing low enrolment in the past were usually ordered to close. However Ministry of Education (MOE) had decided since 2002 to merge these schools instead to “form a good size school”. This is good news to pioneer schools as they are still able to preserve their history after the merge unlike those unpopular ones before 2002, whose name and history are now only remembered by their alumni. If you are an alumnus of any of the absorbed schools, your child is still eligible to be registered in the merged school under phase 2A(2). However, if your school has been closed for good, you’d have to join the back of the queue again.
Reports showed that falling enrolment is a result of declining birth rate, but I beg to differ. Although it does play a part in the dwindling registration, it is definitely not the main cause. Schools that receive lower number of applications are usually located in more mature estates with no area for further housing development (new flats) thus lowering the number of new young families in that area. Above all, one can still see popular schools receiving more applications than its number of vacancies every year so low birth rate is certainly not the main culprit.
Unpopular schools are issued with marching orders owing to Singaporeans’ choosy nature (can’t deny that I’d rather send my kids to a well-known school too) and it’s sad to see the place where you spent 6 years of your childhood at gone with the wind. Thus I’d like to pay tribute to these unsung pioneer schools by listing them below. Do note that the list is not exhaustive and I welcome any addition in the comments below 🙂
Psst, you may even find your parents’ schools here! My Dad and Mom were from Outram Primary and Alexandra Estate Primary respectively. Both were closed to make way for new developments.
In no particular order…
Alexandra Estate Primary School (Bukit Merah)
Closed in 1987
Established in 1954, it is known to be located beside Crescent Girls School previously. Female students put on their red pinafore dress with white inner blouse while the boys wore white collared top with red shorts to school. Crescent Girls School currently sits on its site. Some of its notable alumni include our Prime Minister’s wife, Ho Ching, as well as her siblings.
A new school named Alexandra Primary School (ALPS) was recently built in the vicinity of where AEPS used to be and it started operations this year. It is highly plausible that its name was derived from there as ALPS is seen sharing the history of AEPS on its Facebook page. However, as ALPS is not a direct amalgamation of AEPS and other schools, parents cannot enroll their children in that school under Phase 2A(2).
Jervois East Primary School
Jervois West Primary School (Bukit Merah)
Merged in 1986 to form Jervois Primary School
Closed in 1989
After Alexandra Estate Primary closed, their students were given a choice to transfer to the either the newly merged Jervois Primary or Keng Seng Primary in 1987. When Jervois Primary was closed in 1989, most of the students joined Keng Seng Primary.
Apart from knowing that they were all very near to AEPS, I can’t really find much information about these schools but it was mentioned somewhere on the net that the site of Jervois Primary is currently used by a halfway house.
Their Facebook page (to reconnect alumni) aren’t very active either so there’s absolutely no other ways to check.
(Thanks Neko Lim for the added information)
Membina Primary School (Tiong Bahru)
Closed in 1996
Established in 1975, the 113th school built by the government was situated at the junction of Jalan Membina and Jalan Bukit Merah. It was the first school of the contemporary design built under the Education Ministry’s School Building Programme and had 1817 pupils at time of opening.
Membina Primary took in students from Tiong Bahru Primary when the latter closed down. However Membina Primary aged with the estate and lost its appeal.
Other schools scheduled to close in 1996 were Elling, Jubilee, Keppel and MacRitchie Primary. (Will cover these schools in my next history post)
Tiong Bahru Primary School (Tiong Bahru)
Closed in 1990
With its history dated as far back as 1930, this school came a very long way. Previously known as Kaimin Public School and Jiemin Primary School (a merged school between Quan Min Primary and Jie Gu School after the Bukit Ho Swee fire but the latter resurrected in 1985 at Yishun), it was described by Colonel Tan Peng Ann as an L-shaped building, with only a single storey on one side for the administrative office and two storeys on the other for classrooms. As not many people drove then, there wasn’t any major carpark but there was a large school field for recreational purposes.
Edit: a reader (Lee Keng Hua) had argued that the school was in fact shaped like a metal staple with a 2-storey admin block before 1980. The canteen was at the end of the school building, opposite the admin block. Are there any ex-students who can confirm this? Pictures of the school are greatly appreciated!
Its current site is now occupied by a power station.
Psst.. sidetrack a bit, did you know Tiong Bahru means “New Cemetery” (tiong – Chinese for cemetery, bahru – Malay for new) because it was an area dotted with many cemeteries until the 1920s? How many of you actually thought it’s named Tiong Bahru because the area was populated with a lot of Chinese (“Ah Tiong”)? 😛
Bukit Ho Swee Secondary School
Tiong Bahru Secondary School (Tiong Bahru)
Merged in 1991 to form Delta Secondary School
Merged into Bukit Merah Secondary School in 2004
Bukit Ho Swee Secondary was officially opened in 1967 at the corner of Lower Delta Road and Jalan Bukit Ho Swee while Tiong Bahru Secondary, located beside Lower Delta Road (in front of the present Tiong Bahru Plaza) was established in 1966. Both were the most popular secondary schools in the neighbourhood.
Tiong Bahru Secondary was also where my wilful Mom studied for 2 years before she decided to drop out.
The first merger proved ineffective as enrolment didn’t pick up, probably due to the aging population in the estate and more young families were moving out to new towns. Delta had to merge (again) with Bukit Merah Secondary in 2004.
The newly merged school is now functioning at the newly built Bukit Merah Secondary School site at Lengkok Bahru. Ex-pupils of Delta Secondary may wish to reconnect with their schoolmates here (restricted access).
Tanglin Technical School (Tanglin Halt/Commonwealth)
Used to be Tanglin Integrated Secondary Technical School until 1969
Renamed to Tanglin Secondary School in 1993
To merge with Clementi Woods Secondary in 2016 (updated 26/7/2014)
Technical studies were very sought after during the 1960s which prompted the government to set up 2 main technical schools then (the other being Queenstown Technical – now Queenstown Secondary). The purpose of such schools was to educate students and prepare them for engineering and technical working sectors (industrialisation).
I’ve chosen to feature Tanglin Tech, even though it still exists today, because it’s one of the pioneer technical schools that molded education in the present future. And most importantly, my Dad had his secondary education there.
The school started out as an all-boys school where medium of instructions was Chinese. Then it started admitting female students to its technical courses after the first renaming exercise. 50 years later, it is no longer at Tanglin Halt, but at West Coast Road.
Unfortunately, I spoke too soon. It was reported in the news on Saturday (26/7/2014) that the school will be merging with Clementi Woods Secondary School due to falling enrolment but it will still be operating on the former’s current site.
Ex-students of the 50-year-old school are hoping for the merged school to be Tanglin’s namesake. To join the rally, click here. The newly merged school will be Tanglin’s namesake.
Tanglin Girls’ School
Kay Siang Primary School (Queenstown)
Merged in 1985 to form Xianglin Primary School
Established in 1957, Tanglin Girls’ was a four-storey high building on top of a slope (was it a trend in the past to place schools on higher altitude? Haha) and was also considered as one of the better schools in Singapore. Students wore white blouse and dark blue pinafore.
Ex-students of Kay Siang spoke briefly of the school being formerly known as Tanglin Boys’ School but in actual fact, Kay Siang and Tanglin Boys’ started out as two separate schools. The 3-storey Tanglin Boys’ School probably merged with Kay Siang along the way and became co-ed.
The first batch of students in Tanglin Girls’ and Boys’ were mostly from Bukit Merah South, Bukit Merah North and Redhill Schools. These three schools also have their own history documented below. Other than this, nothing much can be found about Tanglin and Kay Siang.
Xianglin Primary School (Queenstown)
Merged with Belvedere School in 1987
The amalgamation between Tanglin Girls’ and Kay Siang Primary proved to be ineffective as the merged school still couldn’t sustain past 2 years. Probably due to dipping enrolment, it was subsequently merged with Belvedere School which was just a road away.
Belvedere School (Bukit Merah)
Closed in December 1990
The school had a very unique location, at the top of a hill above Crescent Girls’ School. Singapore Poly started in borrowed premises at three sites, one of which was Belvedere School. The school complex was eventually demolished with all the schools under its wings erased from the national school directory forever.
Notable alumni includes Pritam Singh, a Member of Parliament from the Workers’ Party.
Pearl Park Primary School
Pearl’s Hill School (Outram)
Merged in 1995
Both schools have a history so rich that they have their own article on Singapore Infopedia.
Pearl’s Hill School was established in 1881 and underwent several name change and relocation before settling on its final one in 1914 and 1972 respectively. Initially located at Cross Street, it was among the first batch of government English elementary schools established by the British colonial government. It was affiliated to Outram Road School (later known as Outram Secondary) and students who had finished their Standard One education (PSLE in the olden days) would be posted there. It was finally homed in a 12-storey building on the slopes of Pearl’s Hill at Chin Swee Road, making it the tallest school building ever built in Singapore.
I don’t know much about Pearl Park unfortunately, but I do know that the principal (Mr Ang Koon Tin) is actually the father of Daniel from danielfooddiary.com. 🙂
The new Pearl’s Hill School ceased operations in December 2001 due to dwindling enrolment. Hotel Re! presently occupies the building.
Outram Primary School (Outram Park)
Closed in 1984
Located near Pearl Hill Terrace, it was closed to make way for the construction of Outram Park MRT station. Students and staff from Outram Primary went to Zhangde Primary School (next to Singapore General Hospital) when the school ceased to function.
I’m not sure if this is considered as a merge but it could be, since Outram Primary is mentioned on Zhangde Primary’s history.
Alexandra Hill Primary School
Bukit Ho Swee Primary School
Henderson Primary School
Keng Seng Primary School (Bukit Merah)
Merged in 2002 to form Gan Eng Seng Primary School
This happened quite recently but it still deserves a mention because they had been around for a long time, at least for Alexandra Hill. Even though its year of establishment isn’t stated anywhere on the net, I reckon that it existed since the 1960s as Dr Amy Khor (Member of Parliament for Hong Kah North) was a student there from 1964 to 1969.
Bukit Ho Swee, on the other hand, was actually a merged school between Bukit Ho Swee East School (English-medium) and Bukit Ho Swee West School (Chinese-medium) formed in January 1986. Prior to the merger, East’s uniform was white and brown while West’s was light blue. Both schools shared a common tuck shop but had two assembly grounds. After they were combined, only Bukit Ho Swee East Primary’s building was utilised. The image of the dilapidated premise is still fresh in my mind because my Dad had to drive past it after visiting my grandparents at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee during my younger days to get home. I kinda foresaw the closure of that godforsaken place. Singapore Exam and Assessment Board had since taken over its site.
Keng Seng Primary seems to get the most limelight from the merger as it even got its own book. Like Bukit Ho Swee, it was also an amalgamation of many schools – three, in fact – namely Keng Seng School, Strathmore Primary School and Friendly Hill Primary School in 1980. You can pretty much tell from here that Keng Seng Primary is an old school.
Keng Seng School came into existence in 1939 through donations from farmers who were supportive of education. These were pig farmers who lived around the area, hence pig faeces along the way school were a common sight for students in those days. Occasionally, the pigs would also break into the classrooms!
However, preference for English education grew by the mid 1970s, leading to the decline of Keng Seng’s popularity among parents. Keng Seng was down to less than 300 students by then and hence had to merge with two other schools. Although the name “Keng Seng” was retained after the merger, it had to take on Friendly Hill’s school crest and Strathmore’s school song. The amalgamated school relocated to Alexandra Road.
More information about the parents schools (Friendly Hill and Strathmore) can be found in part 3.
As for Henderson Primary, it closed without a trace so I can’t really find any information about it. No one, even its ex-students, documented on its history before the merger? What a waste.
Gan Eng Seng Primary is presently located at the former site of Alexandra Hill Primary.
Bukit Merah North School
Bukit Merah South School (Redhill)
Merged in 1986 to form Bukit Merah Primary School
These three schools were adjacent to one another and they shared a big field where cows and other animals roamed. Bukit Merah North School was founded on 10 January 1955, conducting classes at Crescent Girls’ School and then at Delta East School (defunct as well). It only shifted to its latest location at Redhill Close in September 1956. The other 2 schools, I believe, were also there since early 1950s.
Bukit Merah Primary School (Redhill)
Merged into Alexandra Hill Primary School in 1998
Bukit Merah Primary School shut its doors 12 years later due to falling enrolment and was subsequently merged with Alexandra Hill Primary School. The newly merged school was then shifted to Telok Blangah a year later and the old site was revamped to the current Gan Eng Seng Primary School. Gan Eng Seng School now sits on a smaller piece of land space, as some land area was cut off to Bukit Merah Secondary School.
(Thanks ‘cornflict’ for the added information)
Did you know? F4’s Ken Chu attended Bukit Merah Primary School during his 8-year stay in Singapore.
Silat Primary School (Bukit Merah)
Closed in 1992
This school is a result of the merger of two primary schools in 1984 – Silat I Primary and Silat II Primary.
The six-storey white building was at Silat Road in old times. That stretch of road where the school once stood is now renamed to Bukit Merah Road. The school field was also reduced by almost a third to make way for the road that now runs in front of it. Judging from the photographs taken by ex-students (as recent as 2013) who went back to explore, the abandoned building was probably still standing on the same ground not too long ago. But Street View shows something else when I tried to look it up so it could already be gone by now.
The school was closed (last batch was in 1991) following a declining enrolment rate and its students joined Zhangde Primary, which is still existent today.
(Thanks Ginny for the additional input!)
Sennett Estate School (MacPherson)
Closed in end 1999
Local actress Fann Wong was there from 1978 to 1983 before it was merged with Kwong Avenue School and renamed to Sennett Primary. After not offering primary one places for two years due to low demand, the school was closed in 1999 and students were transferred to nearby Cedar Primary School.
At the same time, Jagoh Primary was also earmarked to close due to low enrolment. Its students were transferred to Blangah Rise Primary School.
Rangoon Road Primary School (Farrer Park)
Closed in the early 1980s
The school was established in 1968 when the staff and former students of McNair School moved to its premise. It’s a pity that the school is no-more as it churned out quite a number of ministers and influential people such as Devan Nair (third President of Singapore), S. Dhanabalan (former chairman of Temasek Holdings), S. Jayakumar (Senior Minister) and Wong Kan Seng (former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs). I’m pretty sure it’d be one of the most sought-after schools today if it still exists (but of course it needs a name change first…)
Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society presently sits on the former site of Rangoon Road Primary.
Towner Primary School (Bendemeer)
Closed in 1998 (verification needed)
This school was form by merging two schools – Whampoe School (est. 1950) and Towner School in 1984 – and catered mainly to the population in the immediate vicinity of the school. However, it was demolished to make way for HDB flats and students moved over to May Primary School.
May Primary School (Boon Keng)
Merged with Boon Keng Primary in 2002 to form Farrer Park Primary
This school was an amalgamation between May South (blue uniform) and May North (green uniform) Primary School and students in the newly established school wore blue and green uniform. When Cambridge Primary shut its doors in December 1998, its remaining students were also absorbed by May Primary. However the school was later vacated and renamed May Adventure Camp. Its park nearby was also converted into an expressway.
Yam Ah Mee (think General Elections) was from May North Primary School.
Serangoon Garden North School (Serangoon)
Merged with Serangoon Garden South in 1988
Established in 1956, the school moved into its own premises at 49, Kensington Park Road. Students there used to fight (playfully) with those from Serangoon Garden South when they crossed the centre-line of the field into their territory. However, the latter was later proved to be victorious when it took over Serangoon Garden North to form to new Serangoon Garden South School (probably because it was established a year earlier).
But that victory was short-lived as in January 2007, the school was merged with Zhonghua Primary School and is now located at Serangoon Ave 4.
Mattar East School (MacPherson)
Merged with Mattar Primary in 1988
Subsequently closed (year unknown)
Founded in 1963, the school was loosely associated to the police force for having a homophonic name to “mata-mata” (Malay for “Police”). Luckily for them, they had a neighbour with a similar name (Mattar Primary) and a minister named Ahmad Mattar which cushioned the teasing.
They had a very big field shared with Mattar Primary and Aljunied Primary. With 3 schools in close proximity vying for students in the fast-maturing estate, it’s no wonder none of them lived til this day. Ex-students of Mattar Primary School (merged with Mattar East) said that the school was later absorbed by MacPherson Primary but this absorption is not stated anywhere on the latter’s history.
Aljunied Primary School (MacPherson)
Closed in 1997
Rumour has it that the school was built to accommodate the dragon babies born in 1964. In other words, the school started in 1971 (officially opened in 1972) when most schools in Singapore were full. A relatively new school in that era, it had “no past successes to look back upon” as I quote the then-parliament secretary to the minister for education. 26 years went by and the school didn’t seem to gain any recognition but it did churn out a few well-known figures such as local actress Jacelyn Tay (郑秀珍), who was a vice-head prefect of the school.
It was absorbed by MacPherson Primary (currently at Aljunied Primary’s site) upon its closure.
(Thanks Gurmit for confirming the school’s history)
Chong Shan Primary School (Ang Mo Kio)
Merged with Townsville Primary in 2001
Chong Shan started functioning in 1982 and was in fact the 180th school built by the Singapore government. It had a joint official opening with Chong De Primary in 1984.
Chong De Primary’s students were transferred to Chong Shan when it closed in 1998. More details about Chong De can be found in part 2.
(Special thanks to Lim Wei Chern Jocelyn for her contribution)
Ang Mo Kio North Primary School
Li Hua Primary School
Hong Dao Primary School (Ang Mo Kio)
Merged in 2000 to form Anderson Primary School
Ang Mo Kio North was established in 1981 and Hong Dao Primary in 1982. Li Hua Primary had a longer history as it originated as a rural school in the fifties, formerly known as Lee Hua Chinese School at Yio Chu Kang Road. Students used to wear all-white before the attire changed to white and blue.
Ang Mo Kio North and Li Hua primary schools shared a field with Presbyterian High School before it moved to a bigger space.
Sembawang Hills Estate School (Upper Thomson)
Closed in 1992
The school overlooked the forest reserve by Casuarina Road and students wore white blouse/shirt and brown skirt/shorts. Many ex-students recalled having a prata stall (now known as Casuarina Curry Restaurant) conveniently across the street.
It garnered media attention in 1968 during the Gene Koh murder trial as the mentioned’s decaying body was found by one of the school’s stallholders when he went to relieve himself in the forest at night.
In 1992, the school was closed to make way for private housing development.
Seraya Primary School (Katong)
Merged with Fowlie School in 1986
Seraya Primary and Fowlie School were like sister schools to each other for they shared the same field back then before both schools were merged to form Fowlie Primary. Both schools were also opposite each other and very often, students from Seraya would go over to Fowlie’s canteen to eat.
Other schools in the vicinity were St Hilda’s, Tong Cai, Haig Boys’ and Girls’ School.
Fowlie Primary School
Mountbatten Primary School
Haig Boys’ School (Mountbatten)
Merged in 2001 to form Tanjong Katong Primary School
For a brief history of Fowlie, refer to Seraya Primary.
Unfortunately I’m unable to obtain any details of Mountbatten Primary but if you’re an ex-student, you may consider joining this members-only Facebook group here. Please feel free to provide me with the history of Mountbatten Primary if you’re familiar with the school.
Haig Boys’, on the other hand, isn’t as mysterious as its other counterparts. Founded in 1951, it was named after Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig, British Commander-in-Chief during the Battle of the Somme. Its original location was at Haig Road in Katong but was later relocated to Mountbatten Road.
Today, Tanjong Katong Primary is a popular school with the expatriate community in Singapore with about 40% of its students coming from 30 over countries. Some parents even started queuing as early as 3 days before the opening of Phase 3 registration to vie for a spot in the school. Judging from its popularity, this school is definitely going to be around for a long time and this is certainly good news to Fowlie’s alumni, whose alma mater had merged twice in its history.
Guillemard East Primary School (Kallang)
Closed in 1987
Known to be located behind Singapore Badminton Hall, its remaining students were taken in by Guillemard Primary (previously known as Guillemard Road English School but merged with Guillemard West Primary in 1984) upon closure. However, Guillemard Primary also suffered from the same fate some years later.
While we’re at it, allow me to also give a special mention to affiliated schools like Kallang Primary (previously known as Kallang Integrated Primary School, closed in 1987) and Guillemard West Primary in the region. Sadly, none of these schools exists today.
Bedok Girls’ School
Bedok Boys’ School
Bedok Primary School (Bedok)
Merged in 1986 to form Bedok Primary School
Closed in 1998
Bedok Girls’ and Bedok Boys’ were built in 1952 and located along Bedok Road in the middle of a ridge. Each of them is a single-storey building with 14 classrooms. They shared a field and a canteen which was on top a flight of stairs. Students who attended both schools live in villages in that area.
Bedok Primary, on the other hand, was founded in the early 1960s. However due to its falling enrolment, all 3 schools mentioned were merged to form a new co-ed school. Bedok Primary has quite a number of famous alumni though, such as Vikram Nair (MP from PAP) and Clarence Lee, a renowned professional make-up artist, just to name a few.
The new Bedok Primary closed in 1998 and students were transferred to Bedok View Primary (which ceased operation and students moved over to Bedok South, which became Bedok Green in the end). In 2003, Bedok South Secondary School took over its former site.
Braddell Primary School
Westlake Primary School
San Shan Primary School (Toa Payoh)
Merged in 2002 with First Toa Payoh Primary to form the last
Braddell Primary started in 1976 and was also used by Mensa for its initial admission test sessions. It gained media attention when one of its student, seven-year-old Wong Chong Kum, was kidnapped by a man and a woman in January 1985 at the school (see source 4-6) who sought a random of S$30,000. All principals had to undergo an anti-kidnap briefing because of this.
The school building was demolished in 2011, about 9 years after the merge for Marymount Centre, which shifted from Thomson Road due to the construction of the North-South Expressway.
Westlake Primary had its first batch in 1977 and used to be surrounded by 2 neighbouring schools – Westlake Secondary and Braddell Secondary (read below). The premises of Westlake Primary and Secondary were used to film the 2002 movie “I Not Stupid”. There is also a mosaic mural in Westlake Primary that depicts the Singapore of the mid-1970s and the early 1980s (see picture below) and it’s probably still there.
San Shan School, established in 1929, used to be a Chinese-medium school at Sophia Road but was relocated to Toa Payoh and renamed to San Shan Primary in 1982. The old building, still around today, used to be a holding site for Methodist Girls’ School for a short period and one of NAFA’s campuses. The new school building at Toa Payoh had already been torn down for Beatty Secondary.
Braddell Secondary School
Westlake Secondary School (Braddell)
Merged in 2000 to form Braddell-Westlake Secondary School
Closed in 2005
Braddell and Westlake Secondary were founded in 1981 and 1978 respectively.
In order to boost falling enrolment, both schools were merged but their premises were retained and utilised, thus making them known for being one of the few secondary schools to occupy two separate campuses. Its enrolment continued to decline, leading to its official closure in 2005 and remaining students and staff were transferred to Guangyang Secondary School. Since 2012, the area has been earmarked for the shift of Raffles Girls’ Secondary.
Swiss Cottage Primary School (Dunearn)
Moulmein Primary School (Balestier)
Merged in 2002 to form Balestier Hill Primary School
To combine two schools that were quite distant from each other.. this was certainly a very unusual merge. If you ask me, it seemed like an attempt to rid the less-popular Swiss Cottage from the plot of land populated by famous schools such as SCGS, Raffles Girls’ Primary and ACS Primary.. but of course, that’s just my opinion. MOE has a reason for everything they do, right?
Swiss Cottage Primary was, no doubt, a school which lacked publicity. Before my “research” for the purpose of this entry, I had never heard of this school despite its presence since the 1960s. Swiss Cottage SECONDARY yes, but not the primary version of it (which could be because Bukit Batok was my place of residence for 23 years and everyone there knows that Swiss Cottage Sec is the best secondary school in the neighbourhood). The school’s last enrolment was 710, paling in comparison with Moulmein Primary’s 1030 in 2001, which was one of the factors that led to the cessation of the school in name.
I knew about Moulmein Primary though, thanks to the TV drama “Moulmein High” on Channel 5 in the early 2000s. Trivia aside, Moulmein Primary was formed by the merger of Griffiths School when it first closed (Now Griffiths Primary School) and Balestier Girls’ School in 1983. Subsequently, it also absorbed Kim Keat Primary.
Bukit Batok East Primary School
Bukit Batok West Primary School (Jalan Jurong Kechil)
Merged in 1984 to form Bukit Timah Primary School
The unified school was actually called Bukit Batok Primary School before it changed to its current name. That’s an appropriate change as I don’t recall seeing the school at all in Bukit Batok. The principal (Mr Lim/Lee – ex-students, please verify!) then was a skinny man with black frame glasses and white hair who portrayed a rather regimental look. (Quoted from Kian Wee in the comments)
Bukit Batok East was probably founded in 1955 (reference from some MOE correspondence sheet with restricted access) but I’m clueless about the history of Bukit Batok West (not very popular I guess) except for the fact that the land is now occupied by German European School.
Clementi North Primary School
Clementi Town Primary School (Clementi)
Merged in 2001 to form Clementi Primary School
Clementi North Primary and Clementi Town Primary were established in 1980. Probably due to competition from neighbouring schools such as Nan Hua Primary and Pei Tong Primary, they saw their enrolment dwindling and were eventually made to merge.
To accommodate the expansion from the merge, a new school building was built on the former site of Clementi Town Primary School. While the construction took place, students from both schools occupied Clementi North Primary premises.
Ghim Moh Primary School (Commonwealth)
Merged with New Town Primary School in 2008 to form the latter
The school was founded in 1977 and used to be at Queenstown area. The site of Ghim Moh Primary has now been converted to Singapore Chinese Language Centre.
Ghim Moh Secondary School
Jin Tai Secondary School (Ghim Moh)
Merged in 2007 to form Clementi Woods Secondary School
Ghim Moh Secondary, formerly known as Alexandra English Elementary School at Portsdown Road, started in 1976 with only 8 classes of students – 6 class of boys and 2 of girls. The first batch of students had no tuckshop (otherwise known as canteen today). The school was relocated to Ghim Moh estate a year later. (History of Ghim Moh Secondary quoted from Tan Helward)
Jin Tai Secondary was established in 1982 and judging from the pictures posted by ex-student on the Facebook group, I can say that the school was adept at sports especially soccer. Unfortunately, it wasn’t widely known for its achievements but instead for an infamous incident in 1999 where a mock attack was staged as part of a Total Defence Day exercise. The mock attack, conducted by eight student-officers aged between 16 and 18 in the National Cadet Corps (NCC) to simulate the Japanese Occupation of Singapore and teach students the importance of psychological defence, turned real and fourteen students had to be treated for injuries with 3 warded (source 4).
Jin Tai Primary School (West Coast)
Merged with Qifa Primary in 2008 to form the latter
Jin Tai was officially opened 1984 and like Jin Tai Secondary, it appeared on the news many times for its outstanding achievement in sports. However both remarkable schools bearing the same name are no longer existent. It was the second school absorbed by Qifa Primary – first was Jubilee Primary when it ceased operations in 1996.
Jin Tai was also involved in the high profile 2004 murder case of eight-year-old Huang Na as the deceased was enrolled in that school. Sidetrack a bit, oh gosh.. if Huang Na is still alive, she’d be 18 today can you believe it!?
Yung An Primary School
Merlimau Primary School
Jurong Town Primary School (Jurong West)
Merged in 2003 to form Lakeside Primary School
Yung An, Merlimau and Jurong Town started functioning in 1977, 1966, 1968 respectively. These were the first few schools in Taman Jurong for the early settlers in that estate.
The first-mentioned was originally at Yuan Ching Road and before the school building was ready for occupation, students were housed in Boon Lay Garden Primary.
Merlimau was initially a Malay school named Pulau Merlimau Primary from Jurong Island. It was renamed to Merlimau Primary when it shifted to Taman Jurong and had an alumnus who was awarded the most coveted President’s scholarship in 1999.
Before the merge, Yuan Ching Secondary, Yung An Primary and Merlimau Primary shared the same football field but now it has become Yuan Ching Secondary’s property… so are both neighbouring primary school buildings.
Jurong Town was a pretty popular school when it first started due to the lack of schools in the area. The demand was so great that they had to borrow classrooms from nearby secondary schools to accommodate the large number of students. However as more schools were built and completed, the demand waned.
As of today, there are about 13 primary schools just in Boon Lay estate alone, some equipped with newer and better facilities. Thus it isn’t surprising to see the pioneering schools in Jurong losing out in competitive advantage.
Outram Institute (Bartley)
Jurong Institute (Jurong West)
Merged in 2004 to form Millenia Institute
They were two of the “four original centralised institutes (CI) in Singapore and one of the pre-university centres in Singapore that offers a three-year curriculum leading to the Singapore Cambridge (UCLES) General Certificate of Education Advanced Level examination” (Wikipedia). Due to dipping enrolment, they were merged to form the nation’s only centralised institute, Millenia Institute, at Bukit Batok.
Seletar Institute (Thomson)
Townsville Institute (Queenstown)
Closed in 1997 and 1995 respectively
Seletar Institute started in 1988 at the old campus of Upper Thomson Secondary School (now known as North View Secondary). Similarly, Townsville was also in the same year. Like the two institutes mentioned above, they offered a three-year pre-university programme based on the students’ O-level L1R4. However they weren’t as lucky as they were closed down altogether.
According to reader Adam, local host/actor Bryan Wong is an alumnus of Townsville Institute.
Seletar Institute has a very detailed write-up (more comprehensive than the others in fact) on its history on Wikipedia and here’s one part which got me snickering:
Due to the “Kampung spirit” and small cohort, many of the students ended up in a relationship with no less than 10 couples in a student population with less than 200. The school leadership force a reshuffling of the students to ensure that those in a relationship do not end up in the same class in Year Two.
– Wikipedia (Seletar Institute)
Due to time constraint and the impossibility to cover every single closed/merged schools in Singapore, I’ll briefly mention some of those not discussed in detail here: Bedok Town Primary, Dorset Primary (Farrer Park), Yuqun Primary, Pandan Primary (Teban Gardens), Jalan Kayu Primary, Kebun Baru Primary (Ang Mo Kio), Tanjong Rhu Boys’ School and Tanjong Rhu Girls’ School (both merged to form the now-defunct Tanjong Rhu Primary School), Chong Boon Primary and the list goes on.. and on.. and on.
I’ll do a follow-up if time permits, probably in my next long break. Haha. PART 2 here!
And joining the list with effect from next year will be..
Qiaonan Primary School
Griffiths Primary School (Tampines)
To merge in 2015 to form Angsana Primary School
I’m shocked at the closure of Qiaonan as it’s inarguably one of the oldest schools in Singapore to have been around for 81 years. I guess it’s just not popular enough in terms of academics despite its long history. To prove this point, the school only received 30 registration out of its possible maximum intake of 120 in last year
Founded by Wenzou Clan Association in 1933, it was known as Kiau Nam School and classes then were conducted in rental units in the now-defunct Lorong Koo Chye. 7 years later, students were schooled in a donated house (by the school director of school board) at Paya Lebar Road. Then came World War II, which saw the school closed during the mayhem until it was over. During the war, the school principal and a handful of teachers stood their ground and did not flee, hence were all executed. In the late 1950s, classes were also conducted in a Chinese temple to accommodate the growing numbers.
Griffiths Primary was formerly known as Towner Road Primary due to its locality. Started in 1950, it was then renamed to Griffiths Primary in honour of Mr James Griffiths. However, the school closed down once in 1982 and its pupils were transferred to Moulmein Primary (history above) as a result. The school was subsequently resurrected in 1988 and was operating at Junyuan Primary School before the completion of its premises at Tampines 22. Who would have expected its closure again 20 over years later? 😦
And seriously, Angsana?? Couldn’t the naming committee think of something more modern?
Hong Kah Primary School (Bukit Gombak)
To merge with Lianhua Primary School in 2015
I used to live about 15 minutes walk away from the school, which started in 1994. Being a resident of Bukit Gombak for 20 over years, I’m pretty familiar with the schools in the neighbourhood. Moreover, two of my best friends were ex-students of Hong Kah Primary as well. From their account, I have to say that this absorption is inevitable.
There are 4 primary schools in the small housing area of Bukit Gombak alone – St. Anthony’s (my alma mater), Lianhua, Dazhong and Hong Kah – and sad to say, Hong Kah is the least popular among all. It faces very stiff competition from neighbouring schools like St Anthony’s, the most popular in the area with oversubscription in phase 2C. According to my friends, parents only enroll their kids there as a last resort when they can’t get a spot at St. Anthony’s Some never even considered about Hong Kah Primary.
With just 23 applicants for its 150 vacancies in 2014, I’m also unsure of the reason for its unpopularity. Could it be due to its less than exceptional academic performance? Nevertheless, I’m certain that it’s remote location plays a part in its closure.
Bedok West Primary School (Bedok)
To merge with Damai Primary School in 2015
Formerly known as Kaki Bukit Primary School, it was renamed Bedok West when it shifted to 50 Bedok Reservoir in 1984. For many years since its relocation, the school functioned as a single session school until the end of 1995 when there was a demand for more places and the school had to function both sessions. Its pupil population increased and hit 1468 in 40 classes in a particular year. The school serves pupils living in Bedok area and the neighbouring areas such as Eunos, Tampines, Pasir Ris and Changkat Changi.
Probably due to population shift, the school suffered a precipitous drop in enrolment in recent years. The last recorded population in 2013 was 600. During P1 registration last year, it only had 35 pupils registered out of a possible 150.
(Special thanks to Hadi Chik for the pictures)
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Looking at these pictures made me reminisce about the past. I’m sure kids born in and before the 90’s had a much enjoyable childhood as compared to the new generation.
Have a story to share about your decommissioned school? Let me know in the comments below! I may include that in my next write-up 🙂 And as you can see, some schools mentioned above don’t come with pictures. That’s because I can’t find them online so if you have some pictures of your school, feel free to share them!
Credits go to sgschoolmemories for their very comprehensive lists of schools in mature estates which gave me a good head start in this blog entry.
Special thanks to Kuek Jinhua and Andrew for providing me with additional research for Jervois Primary, Tanglin Boy’ and Girls’ Primary, Kay Siang Primary, May Primary, Boon Keng Primary and Bukit Ho Swee Primary schools.