Mrs Maria Dyer a missionary of the London
Missionary Society was enroute to China when she stopped in Singapore.
Walking along the streets she was horrified to see a pitiful group
of young girls auctioned as slaves for the homes of the rich.
This was the "Mui Tsai" slavery.
Moved by compassion for these poor girls,
Maria resolved to do something for them. In 1842, she obtained
permission to start a home for homeless girls, regardless of race,
in a tiny shophouse in North Bridge Road. Thus began the first
girls' school in Singapore.
The girls were given an elementary education
in English, instructed in the Christian religion and were taught
how to be good homemakers with cooking and needlework lessons.
For many years, it was the only girls'
school in Singapore.
In the early years, the enrolment comprised
only twenty student but the school soon became so highly reputed
for its effective character-building that many young men in the
region, some as far away as China, wrote to the school in search
of suitable wives!
As the number of pupils increased, the
school relocated several times before finally settling at 134
Sophia Road in 1861, with a boarding house built in its grounds.
It was named the Chinese Girls School.
In 1900, The Church of England Zenanah
Missionary Society took over the management of the school which
was re-named the CEZMS School. At that time, there was still no
consciousness on the part of the public that education was beneficial
to girls as well as to boys. By providing education for girls,
the school helped to change the attitude of Singapore parents.
In 1928, more academic subjects were introduced.
The school had its first Science laboratory.
THE WAR YEARS...
The Second World War did much damage to
the school building. When regular teaching resumed, the Bishop
of Singapore changed the name from CEZMS to St. Margaret's School,
after Queen Margaret of Scotland.
The school soon recovered from its wartime
setbacks and set about consolidating its curriculum. Extra-mural
activities like netball, swimming and the Girl Guides were organised
for the first time.
In tune with the changes in Singapore,
the school endeavored to provide students with a broad based education-
academic, physical, social, moral and spiritual. Soon, the school
had grown so much that space for further expansion was required.
In 1957, plans were made to build a new
Secondary School at Farrer Road. Completed in 1960, it was officially
opened by the Rt Rev RF Gibson Jr, Bishop of Virginia on 20th
The school continued to excel academically
and in the sports area. It won many national tennis and badminton
championships in the 1980's.
To meet the changing needs of education
in the 21st century, redevelopment of the secondary school commenced
in 1998. The school then moved to its temporary premises at Commonwealth
In December 2000, the school celebrated
its homecoming to a brand new campus with the state of the art
facilities back at Farrer Road. The crowning touch to this momentous
event was our special guest, Dr James Hudson Taylor III, the great
grandson of Mrs Maria Dyer, the founder of St. Margaret's.
On 26th July 2002,
160 years since the founding of the school, St. Margaret's Secondary
School's new campus at Farrer Road was officially declared open
by Dr Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence.