New Penang private school in convent will have its own entrance, says Infant Jesus Sisters

CLS had adopted the national education syllabus back in the 1980s and since then the sisters had no role in running the school, leaving the administration of the school under the purview of the Education Ministry. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
CLS had adopted the national education syllabus back in the 1980s and since then the sisters had no role in running the school, leaving the administration of the school under the purview of the Education Ministry. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Sept 4 ― The new private international school to be set up on the Convent Light Street (CLS) premises will have its own entrance and will be clearly set apart from the national-type school side, according to The Infant Jesus (IJ) Sisters.

A spokesman from the Christian organisation said it was a government requirement for them to demarcate the private school from the national-type school.

“We have identified a separate building and the private school will have its own building, classrooms, administrative offices and cafeteria. It will be separated from the national-type school portion,” she said in a telephone interview with Malay Mail.

She said the CLS premises are spread out over seven acres so they have sufficient space to draw a clear line between the national-type school and the private school.

The IJ Sisters, who own the CLS premises, have collaborated with private education operator, ACE Edventure, to set up a private international school on the premises located within the Unesco World heritage site.

CLS was founded by the IJ Sisters as a mission school in 1852 when they arrived here, in then Malaya, from Paris.

It is the first school the sisters set up in Malaya before expanding and setting up more mission schools throughout the country.

The spokesman said CLS was set up as a mission school and has remained as a mission school all these years as it had still belonged to the IJ Sisters.

“We are a Christian organisation so the school is still a mission school,” she said.

CLS had adopted the national education syllabus back in the 1980s and since then the sisters had no role in running the school, leaving the administration of the school under the purview of the Education Ministry.

Currently, the IJ Sisters still own the lands and premises of a total 55 mission schools nationwide but CLS is the first school that they have taken back to convert it into a private international school.

“CLS is our maiden project, we will see how it goes,” she said when asked if there are other schools that the IJ Sisters planned to take back and convert into private international schools.

She said out of the 55 mission schools under the IJ Sisters, a few others had also suffered declining enrolment of students.

“It all depends on locality, demographics and geography,” she said, adding that the convent in Brickfields also saw a decline in enrolment while another school, Convent Bukit Nanas, remained highly popular.

The target opening date for the new private international school is slated for January next year, pending official approval from the Education Ministry, she said.

Yesterday, the IJ Sisters issued a statement announcing its collaboration with ACE Edventure to set up the private international school.

The new school will be a co-ed school and will initially offer Year 1 to Year 10 classes leading to the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) with an entrepreneurial component.

They said the decision to take back the CLS premises from the Education Ministry was due to a continuous decline in student enrolment over the last decade and escalating costs to maintain the heritage school buildings.

The Education Ministry approved the return of the premises to IJ Sisters in 2018 and the school stopped enrolling students for its primary and secondary school in 2017.

The last batch of secondary school students will finish in 2023, while their primary counterparts will finish in 2024.

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