20 May 2013: Mission Schools of Malaya

The Catholic Mission schools of Malaysia and Singapore were pathfinders in edication for many decades …

Mission Schools“Here, languages, cultures, values and ethnicities met and enjoyed mutual enrichment in an atmosphere of shared respect, discovery and camaraderie. To some, they are vestiges of a colonial past; to others, they are places of collective memory, living or historical, where friendships were made, wisdom was acquired and honour was taught.” This introduction by author of Mission Schools of Malaya: Architecture, Legacy and Conservation of our Landmark Schools sums up succinctly the form and function of the Catholic schools founded by the Missions Entrangeres de Paris over 200 years ago. To those of us who had the privilege of Missionary education, his preamble will ring a few bells. More memories are likely to be awakened as he guides the reader through two epochs of schools located in George Town (where it all began), Singapore, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Taiping. Lest we forget, these institutions have also produced quite a few national leaders.

mission-2An architect by training, author Keith Tan approaches Mission Schools of Malaya from two perspectives – architectural and historical. Photographs capturing the past and present of these schools, with emphasis on architectural features, accentuate the stories behind them. Some of these structures no longer exist and most surviving ones have undergone changes to suit the times. This book highlights 12 missionary schools in Malaysia and Singapore, including venerable institutions such as St. Michael’s, Main Convent, Light Street Convent, St. John’s and St. Paul’s. Above and beyond the reminiscing of things past, the author stresses the importance of educating and engaging the public of the present day in the conservation and maintenance of these historical monuments and their legacy of education in Southeast Asia.