Concerns over Penang’s Unesco Heritage status as oldest convent schools prepare to close

22 Jun 2019 / 14:08 H.

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) is hopes that the proposed closure of the oldest Convent schools in Malaysia, the Convent Light Street primary and secondary schools will not undermine its heritage status.

As part of the Unesco World Heritage Site guidelines, it is a requirement for heritage buildings within the core area to be preserved and conserved, said PHT council member Clement Liang.

Liang said that whoever takes over the building, whether it is the landlord or the leaser, the buildings must be preserved and conserved.

The Light Street School together with Convent Pulau Tikus is scheduled to cease operating as government-aided schools by 2024 in view of the declining enrolment and the preference of parents here for vernacular, boarding, religious or international schools.

Convent Light Street was founded in 1852 and together with the St Xaviers’ Institution and Penang Free School, it ranks as a historical educational centre for both Penang and the country.

It is believed that the owners of the land where the school is occupied now – the Sisters of Infant Jesus Malaysia missionary – have plans to convert it into private international schools

In another development, Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh Deo urged the state government to do everything within its power to preserve the two Convent schools on the island from being closed down or relocated as they are very much a part of history and state pride.

“Speculation is rife that the said schools will close down by 2024 when the land is taken back,” he said in a statement.

“The oldest girl’s school in South East Asia, the Light Street School is certainly a pride of Penang and is fittingly located in its heritage zone. Convent Pulau Tikus is historically significant, having opened its doors way back in 1929 as an education provider and is a household name in Penang,“ he added.

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said that the state will appeal to the Education Ministry not to close down the schools but to relocate them to another location if the landowner decides to take it back.

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