Tears over closing of two secondary convent schools

Sad farewell: Principal Khaw (centre) with teachers and former students on the last day of ­operations of SMK Convent Pulau Tikus in George Town, Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

GEORGE TOWN: This is no April Fools’ joke: both SMK Convent Pulau Tikus (CPT) and SMK Convent Light Street (CLS) are closing down for good.

The secondary schools will be the first to be returned to religious order Infant Jesus (IJS), which is believed to have plans to turn them into a private school and a higher education institution.

A check at CLS showed that yesterday was the last day for the secondary school, while the primary school on the same grounds will carry on until next year.

An air of melancholy hung over CPT yesterday during a simple ceremony attended by some teachers and students to return the school to IJS, which owns 56 mission schools across the nation.

“This is the school that taught me to speak bravely, be a public speaker and articulate my views on subjects which are close to my heart,” said former student Nur Aina Syafikah Ismanizam, 20, whose family and relatives were all from CPT.

“I came here as a shy and timid student and this school gave me self-esteem and paved the way for me to be a good speaker,” said Nur Aina, who attended the handover ceremony.

She is now pursuing her STPM elsewhere, but frequently returned to CPT for voluntary work.

Nur Aina completed her primary school education at SK Convent Pulau Tikus and went into CPT in 2016.

“I will not forget the teachers here who taught us with such passion, ingraining in us strong values that will be of help to us in the working world.

“To think that the school will be no more creates a sadness that can’t be described,” she added.

Paveenasri Muniswaran, 18, was seen tearfully hugging her teachers yesterday.

She said she could not stop coming back to the school even after completing her SPM examination.

“Since the school was closing down, there was only a skeleton staff and I volunteered to come in and help as it gave me an opportunity to meet my teachers and friends.

“Seeing the passion and dedication of teachers in this school prompted me to take up teaching, something that I will be pursuing after my SPM result is out,” added Paveenasri.

Teacher Hazlina Halim, 51, who taught at CPT for 19 years, said the school holds unforgettable memories for all who were there.

“I am really proud to have been a part of this exemplary school which won several awards of excellence,” she said.

CPT principal Khaw Juat Woon, who joined the school in 2017, fought hard to make the school one of the best in the state.

“It took me some time to earn the trust and respect of the teachers and students.

“But I won them over when they bought into my mission of making the school great and they gave their undivided support in every activity we carried out,” she said.

The school was in the forefront of green initiatives for the past five years, winning many competitions and emerging as Penang Green School Award champion in 2019.

CPT was established in 1950, while CLS was founded in 1852 and is the oldest all-girls school in South-East Asia.

Both stopped taking in new students in 2018.

The closure of both schools came on the heels of the shuttering of 124-year-old SK Pykett Methodist school in 2019.

The premises has been used to house the Penang campus of Methodist College Kuala Lumpur since 2021.

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