Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Anglo-Chinese School, Penang vs Methodist Boys' School, Penang

An early Malay doctor, Dr Che Lah bin Md Joonos had attended the Anglo-Chinese School in Penang (ACSP). I had problems trying to locate the ACSP and to get a photograph of the school (as I did for the other old schools mentioned in my books on The Early Malay Doctors).

From a photograph shown to me by his step-daughter, what I saw was a Scout Troop group photo taken under a big tree and with some run down zinc/tin building or an old shed in the background. I don't know if Penang has any sheds today. I thought the place must have been at the edge of a big field or something. Where are the big fields in Penang today? Which schools have big fields in Penang today? I was lost as to where to locate the ACSP.

ACSP Scout Troop. Che Lah bin Md Joonos at right. Who is at left? Photo from his own album.
ACSP Scout Troop. Che Lah bin Md Joonos in dark uniform (without hat) sitting next to a scout with hat. Photo from his own album. Re-photographed on 20 January 2009.

One day as I was working on documents at a USM workshop in Penang, I sat next to Assoc. Prof. Dr Wan Fauzy bin Wan Ismail. He is the head of PTPTM (Pusat Teknologi dan Pengajaran Teknologi dan Multimedia). I said to Wan Fauzy that I couldn't locate ASCP for my book. He quickly searched on his iPad and told me the MBS was the ACSP. I was totally shocked!

Assoc. Prof. Wan Fauzy bin Wan Ismail (at right), PTPTM, USM Penang. The lady is Dr Ong from School of Education, USM (she's hails from Taiping and knows everything about Taiping). Photographed at the USM workshop, Hotel Flamingo by the Beach, Tanjong Bungah, Penang, 13-15 April 2012. Photo by me.
Why was I shocked? I was shocked because I never thought the ACSP would become the MBS. It never occurred to me. My grandftather went to ACSP and I went to MBS, at different times, almost 57 years apart! We both went to the same school! What a coincidence. I was happy with the new info from Wan Fauzy but at the same time amazed and fazed.

Why was I amazed? I was amazed because when I attended MBS in early 1976 (Form 6), I was living with my mother and sibings next to my grandfather's house in Minden Heights. He didn't say anything about the MBS nor ACSP. He didn't mention anything at all. I find it quite strange that my grandfather never said anything about his alma mater - ACSP, which became my school, MBS.

Anyway I had taken a few shots of the MBS before Wan Fauzy informed me of the MBS and ASCP connection. I had taken photos for another book I wish to write.

Here's the history of the ACSP and MBS from Wikipedia:
The Methodist Boys' School, Penang, known as the Anglo-Chinese School, Penang (ACSP) at its inception, had a humble beginning at a little shop house in Carnavon Street. Its founder, Rev. B. H. Balderstone, a native of Prince Edward Island, came to Penang (then a British Straits Settlement) after nearly two years in Singapore to start on a mission work. Rev. Balderstone opened the school doors on May 28, 1891. Rev. Balderstone was joined by Rev. D. D. Moore, also a Canadian, a few months later to teach in the school. The Moores established the Methodist Girls' School in 1892. Due to failing eyesight, Rev. Balderstone was forced to resign on April 10, 1893. The Moores left two years later. 
Rev. G. F. Pykett arrived in 1892 to replace Rev. Balderstone. Pykett was born on December 20, 1864 in Lincolnshire, England. His absolute dedication to the school deservedly earned him the title of founding father of ACSP. He was with ACSP for most of the years from 1892 to 1932. 
The school had 173 pupils and was housed in three shophouses in Carnavon St. when Pykett came to take over. As a teacher, Rev. Pykett took great interest in his pupils. Despite having to supervise the whole school, he also taught in the Cambridge classes daily. Under Rev. Pykett's direction, the school grew. A site at Maxwell Road, now the location of Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak (KOMTAR), was purchased in 1895. Two years later, 456 pupils were moved into the new premises, which then became the headquarters of ACSP. The first Junior Cambridge Class (today's equivalent of Form Four) was established during the Pykett era. MBS earned a good reputation among the merchants and Chinese community. The school-leavers were highly praised by prospective employers. 
In 1906, a School Union was organized to promote closer relationships among ex-pupils and teachers, and to render mutual help in various ways. A Cadet Corps was established in the same year, and for many years the pride of ACSP until 1931 when it was abolished by Pykett in line with the mission of peace and harmony. In 1907 the Boarding School was instituted and grew under the management of Mrs Pykett. At about the same time, the Normal Class was started for promising students who had completed their Cambridge Senior Class (equivalent to today's Form Five). They were to be trained as teachers and eventually sat for the Normal examinations conducted by the Government. The Normal class became an important source of teachers to ACSP in the years to come. The first school magazine, The Scholar's Own was published in 1909. Publication ceased in 1911 when editors Mr Ung Ban Hoe and Mr Goh Huan Ho left for further studies. Publication resumed in 1924. The first Scout Troop was organized 1910 but was only registered in 1916, making it the oldest scout troop in Penang. Due to increasing number of students, ten shophouses along Penang Road were bought and used as classrooms. By 1920, the school building was so congested that it was necessary to obtain another place for pupils. The building at 422 Chulia Street was rented and about 600 of the Primary and Middle School students were housed there. Rev. Pykett left for England in 1932 but died in September that same year. His demise was mourned by all. Rev. Pykett was considered a leading power in the Methodist mission as were his contemporaries. He was recognised as one of the forerunners of education in Malaya. In tribute to his good work, the MBS rightly honours him as the man who "came to blaze the trail." 
Rev. Peach assumed the principalship of ACSP and divided the school into three units: Primary at Chulia St., Middle at a very fine and spacious rented home at 193 Hutton Lane and Higher at Maxwell Road. Rev. Peach purchased the Suffolk House for $20,000 in 1929. The playing field was given by Mr Lim Cheng Teik in memory of his wife, and was named the Mdm Khoo Guat Lee Playground. A sum amounting to $140,000 was needed to build a new building at the Suffolk House grounds. However, the Government was only willing to pay $70,000 and the remainder to be borne by the school. Unfortunately, the Great Depression of the 1930s put the project on hold. The committee finally managed to raise $6000 and the amount was used to renovate the Suffolk House. The final cost was $10,000, of which $4000 was advance by the Methodist Mission. 
There was a reshuffle in the school organization in 1931. Classes from Standard Six (present Form Two) upwards were transferred from the building in Maxwell Road to the Suffolk House. The building on Maxwell Road in turn was occupied by the Middle School. Dr L. Proebstel was a supervisor during Pykett's administration before assuming the principal's post in 1934. His second term of office (1936-1938) saw the beginning of the fund which eventually materialised as the Pykett Building. 
Rev. Fred David reorganized the ACSP in 1945. Bishop Edwin Ferdinand Lee moved Primary School (Standards 1-6) to the Suffolk House while the Secondary section stayed at Westlands Road with the intention of providing the upper forms with more adequate facilities. A new laboratory, named after Rev. Pykett was built in response to the new demand made by the Government that all secondary schools teach science. In 1949, Dr Ho Seng Ong became the first Asian principal of ACSP. The following year witnessed the beginning of the Post School Certificate (present Form Six). In 1961, Form Six became co-educational. However, only Arts subjects were taught in those days. The system was to prepare students for University of Malaya Entrance Examination and further education overseas. In 1951, the teaching of Malay language was introduced and was subsequently made a compulsory subject. Chinese and Tamil were introduced and offered in the School Certificate Examination. The Dental Clinic began to function in 1953 at Suffolk House with part of the equipment donated by the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund. 
The Suffolk House was rapidly deteriorating and a new building was necessary to provide more accommodations and better teaching facilities. The Department of Education gave a grant of $50 000 towards a new building at 250, Ayer Itam Road (present location). Dr H. H. Peterson, the principal launched a fundraising campaign to raise funds and received overwhelming response. In the same year (Oct 1954), building operations began. In May 1955, the first block of 12 classrooms was completed. In June 1955, the Right Honourable Mr Malcolm MacDonald, Commissioner General of Southeast Asia declared open the first new block. The second phase of the building project, consisting of 14 classrooms, an administrative block, five laboratories, an art and craft room and a library was completed in 1956, and was declared open on December 15 the same year by Dr N. K. Menon. The top floor of the new administrative block houses the Shaw Hall. The sum of $50 000 was presented to the school by Messrs. Shaw Brothers Ltd. to meet the cost of the assembly hall. With the completion of the new building, the entire secondary school was moved to Air Itam and the primary school to Pykett Avenue, thus becoming two separate schools. The secondary school was renamed the Methodist Boys' School and the primary school Pykett Methodist School in 1957. In 1963, a fundraiser was started to acquire the money necessary to build the library and theaterette. Events such as a stage performance, combined with Methodist Girls' School, and two fun fairs in 1963 and 1966 were held to raise funds. The Ministry of Education gave $25 000 and the Lee Foundation presented $50 000 in memory of Tan Sri Lee Kong Chian's father. The new block was named Bangunan Lee Kuo Chuan and comprises an air-conditioned theatre, the general library, and the art-and-craft room. The Minister of Education, Mohammad Khir Johari declared it open in 1967. In 1964, the MBS 2nd.& 20th. George Town South Troop Scout Den had also been completed due to the efforts of the scouts in raising funds. 
For a long time Suffolk House was used as a canteen. However, in 1975, the House was declared unsafe and was vacated. The school then planned a two-storey block, comprising a canteen on the ground floor and a gymnasium on the upper floor. However, fundraising projects enabled the construction of only the canteen to be successfully completed in 1973. Link to Suffolk House

Here are some photos of the MBS at 250 Jalan Air Hitam from my collection. The early photos were taken on 25 June 2007 and the latter ones on 22 October 2011.

MBS 25 June 2007

MBS 22 October 2011


Unknown said...

This is Tim from www.penang-traveltips.com Yes, the Anglo-Chinese School was renamed Methodist Boys School and Methodist Girls School. The ACSP used to be at Maxwell Rd. before it moved to its present site next to Suffolk House. For more details, read http://www.penang-traveltips.com/methodist-boys-school.htm and some mention in http://www.penang-traveltips.com/chung-hwa-confucian-high-school.htm (its neighbour at Maxwell Road).

Prof Faridah said...

TQ, Tim for those links and info on ACSP and MBS.