Penang education department denies reports South-east Asia's oldest girls convent to close

Convent Light Street is the oldest girls school in South-east Asia, founded in 1852.
Convent Light Street is the oldest girls school in South-east Asia, founded in 1852. PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

GEORGE TOWN (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Penang Education Department has urged the public to stop speculating on the closure of three convent girls' schools in the state, including the oldest girls convent in South-east Asia, saying a decision had not been made yet.

Malaysia's The Star on Friday (Nov 3) had reported earlier that three schools, including the oldest girls convent in the region, are closing down in Penang.

It reported that the land on which the three schools - Convent Light Street, its primary school and the Convent Pulau Tikus secondary school are situated - does not belong to the Education Ministry.

The Provincial Secretariat of the Sisters of Infant Jesus - the trustee landowner - had informed the state Education Department of its decision to take back the land, and, in a letter on Wednesday, the department informed the principals that the process to close the school had begun.

The three schools will no longer have new intakes and the existing student body will be the last, the paper reported.

Rumours are rife that the schools would be developed into private international schools.

Convent Light Street is the oldest girls school in South-east Asia, founded in 1852. Convent Pulau Tikus was founded in the early 1900s.

The Star on Friday reported about the impending closure of Convent Pulau Tikus.

But Penang Education director Shaari Osman said the application by the Sisters of Infant Jesus to take back the land is pending at the Education Ministry.

"They are the landowners and they recently wrote to the ministry to request to take back the land," he said. "However, the Ministry has not granted any approval for the application."

"No letters were sent out to parents yet on whether their children will be moved to other schools," he added.

"So please stop speculating as it has created confusion," Shaari said.

He said the department "is preparing all possibilities" if and when the three schools have to close but no decision has been made on the matter.

The Sisters of Infant Jesus has not issued any statements.