Heritage Schools in the Center of Kuala Lumpur
A school is a place where students learn, gain knowledge and make new friends. A school with tremendous amount of history is definitely something that should be talked about as it has stood tall through out all the political change, trends and held ground even on stormy weathers.
In the year 1899, a group of nuns, ’The Sisters of the Holy Infant Jesus’, who were Mother St. Andre, St. Sabine and Sr. Madeline arrived from Singapore with the intention of starting a school for children at a certain location at Jalan Ampang (which is now situated at the front of the current school). The school started with the total number of 7 male students and 5 female students.
Convent Bukit Nanas (CBN) has been a school for girls for 119 years, celebrating their 120th next year. I was lucky enough to attend my school days from I was 7 until 17 years old, the final leg of the high school days in Convent Bukit Nanas. Not only CBN has been a heritage school, it was also a place for generations of women in my life, like my aunt, grand-aunt and my mother. Even my best friend’s mother went to the same school and now both my best friend and I stay in touch with each other.
CBN is the first original school that was a Convent in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor and in 1924, a Convent branch opened to be known as Convent Klang and Kajang. Until today, there are 8 Convent branches sprawled around Kuala Lumpur and Selangor region for girls from the age of 7 until 18 years old to attend. Sekolah Kebangsaan Convent Bukit Nanas (SK CBN) is a Primary School for students from the age of 7 until 12 years old and Sekolah Menengah Convent Bukit Nanas (SMK CBN) are for students from 13 until 18 years old.
Choral Speaking has always been a niche for SMK CBN and they managed to represent the state in a National Competition and achieved 3 times national champions. The Debate Team has always garnered outstanding achievements in national and international competitions since 1980. The biggest victory that SMK CBN achieved was winning the Asian School Debating Championships (ASDC) in 2015.
Not only that, CBN is located beside the biggest forest reserve in the middle of Kuala Lumpur on a hill called Bukit Nanas, thus the name Convent Bukit Nanas. Class was extra hard to concentrate on when it rained the night before and misty trees welcomed us at 7 o’clock in the morning. Going to school in Convent Bukit Nanas has taught me how to be independent whilst building lifetime friendships with girls that I still go out for dinner with.
At the end of the road is St. John’s Institution (SJI), another heritage school but an all-boys public school and was considered the brother of CBN. In 1904, at the request of the Education Department and the then Bishop of Malacca, Mgr. Fee, the La Sallian Brothers opened a school in Kuala Lumpur. According to records, it started with an initial enrolment of 18 boys.
St John’s Institution also is segregated into Primary School, Sekolah Kebangsaan St John Institution (SK SJI) and Secondary School, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St John Institution (SMK SJI). My brother and cousin both attended the school and have built relationships and engage in a lifetime of brotherhood with their friends whilst playing rugby and attending classes.
If CBN was known for its choral speaking, SJI was known for its physical achievements which were band and rugby. The rugby team has produced individuals that are of state level and the school has competed in numerous competitions, school and state level as well. The SJI Band has been an iconic part of SJI that they have constantly been invited to perform at prestigious events, like, the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur.
SJI has actually produced boys to men that are well-behaved, disciplined and well-educated. This is evident as some notable individuals in Malaysia were from SJI. For example, Syafiq Ridhwan, Asian Gold Medalist, World Bowling Champion and also Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, Sultan of Perak.
Not only that, a lot of local films have featured SJI iconic halls whenever there is a school scene as SJI still holds their ground and make sure that the colours of the school stay the same throughout the years, strengthening their history and name with them.
Both Convent Bukit Nanas and St. John Institution are known as ‘Cluster Schools’ by the Ministry of Education Malaysia where they are given autonomy in administration and funds that are enough for them to be more advanced and excel in certain fields, such as academic, sports and curriculum.
It amazes me on how these schools have their own history and uses it to their advantage to produce students with diligence and discipline to prepare them for the real world.