Three Penang Convents Not Closing, but “Transforming for the Better”

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Sisters of Infant Jesus trying to return the convent schools “to their original purpose of providing wholesome education”

Three convent schools in Penang are not shutting down, but “transforming for the better”, said the New Straits Times.

It was earlier reported that the iconic SK Convent Light Street, SMK Convent Light Street and SMK Convent Pulau Tikus would close their doors by 2024, and that the land on which the schools are located would be returned to Sisters of Infant Jesus (IJS).

SK Convent Light Street and SMK Convent Light Street board of governors’ chairman Tan Leh Sah has clarified that IJS is not closing down the schools, but trying to return them “to their original purpose of providing wholesome education”.

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“This is merely a period of change for the schools, namely the two Convent Light Street schools, which have gone through several changes since it (Convent Light Street) was founded in 1852.

“For example, during my schooling days, it was a boarding school and also a private school, where students were able to continue their education if they failed their Standard Six exams.

“The private school was shut down when students were allowed to continue with their education even if they failed the exams,” she told NST.

However, she did not elaborate on what change is being planned by IJS.

Tan refuted claims that there are plans to build high-rise buildings on the land in question.

“In the 1990s, the nuns made a highly publicised pledge that the convent is not for sale.”

Convent Light Street, the oldest all-girls school in Southeast Asia, was founded by three French Catholic nuns. Convent Pulau Tikus was founded in the early 1900s.

Tan affirmed that the school will not face the same fate as that which befell Bukit Bintang Girls’ School in Kuala Lumpur, which was demolished to make way for an upmarket mall.

Two years ago, IJS requested for the return of the land on which SK Convent Light Street, SMK Convent Light Street and SMK Pulau Tikus are located.

Its provincial leader, s, was quoted as saying the aim was to bring back IJS’ ethos, and the special character and traditions of mission schools.

Yesterday, it was reported that the Education Ministry had approved IJS’ application for the return of the land.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow responded by appealing to the ministry to relocate the schools if needed. – TMI