Nan Hua High
  • Our Heritage = 传承
  • Our People = 人本
  • Our Partners = 协作
  • Our Experience = 体验
  • Our Curriculum = 课程
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Home > Our Heritage > History


Early Days

The early twentieth century was a time when education was gaining prominence in Singapore. However, at that time, few girls were given the privilege of enjoying an education. It was with the aim of providing girls in Singapore with the opportunity of receiving an education that Nan Hwa Girls’ School (NHGS) was first established on 14 June 1917 by an overseas Chinese businessman, Mr Xiong Shangfu.

NHGS had a humble beginning in a makeshift school in Coleman Street with fewer than 100 Chinese girls. The school population grew rapidly and soon, there was a need for bigger premises to accommodate the growing numbers. In the ensuing years, plans were made for a new school building in Bencoolen Street, which was ready in 1921. In 1924, the school was closely temporarily due to financial problems. After a series of public appeals, generous contributions of funds enabled debts to be settled and the school reopened.

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the school population continued to grow as the school not only provided education for students, it also offered the Basic Teacher Training Programme from 1928. This resulted in space constraint again and a second move was initiated. In 1941, the new school building at Adis Road was ready. The Main School had primary classes as well as training classes for teachers. The old building at Bencoolen Street functioned as the Branch School, for primary classes only. In that same year, tragedy struck when the Japanese invaded Singapore. The school at Adis Road was turned into the headquarters for the Japanese Imperial Army and forced to close again. 

Former Nam Wah Main School at 2 Adis Road.jpg

The school campus at 2 Adis Road.

Post World-War 2

 In October 1945, the school reopened after the return of the Allied forces. The School Management Committee (SMC) immediately set out to raise funds to rebuild the school and to enrol students again. With overwhelming financial support from many parents, secondary classes were set up and the enrolment rose to 700. The school’s name was officially changed to Nan Hwa Girls’ High School (NHGHS) by the SMC in 1956.

Throughout the 1960s, the curriculum underwent restructuring and NHGHS emerged as one of the premier girls’ school in Singapore. The Branch School was transformed wholly into a primary school, leaving the Main School as the secondary school which terminated the intake of primary students in 1964.

A third move took place on 12 December 1982 when the school moved from Adis Road to Clementi Ave 1 at the recommendation of the MOE. A momentous change took place in 1984 when the school began to admit Secondary One boys. It was a significant event and to reflect it, the school changed its name to Nan Hua Secondary School (NHSS).

Another significant change took place on 1 April 1986. The SMC handed over the administration of the school to the Ministry Of Education (MOE), thus ending it long-standing status as an aided school. Nan Hua Secondary School at 330 Clementi Ave 1.jpg

Nan Hua Secondary School at 330 Clementi Ave 1.

In the New Millennium

In 2000, Nan Hua Secondary School joined the ranks of Singapore’s Special Assistance Programme (SAP) as the 10th SAP school. Under PRIME, the school was relocated its current location at 41, Clementi Ave 1 on 20 December 2003. In 2005, the school attained the School of Distinction Award and the Singapore Quality Class (SQC). In the same year, the new school building was officially declared open by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 17 July 2005. At it’s opening, he announced that the school was to be given Autonomous Status in 2006. With MOE’s approval, the name of the school’s name was changed to Nan Hua High School (NHHS) with effect from 1 January 2006.

Nan Hua High School at 41 Clementi Ave 1.jpg

Nan Hua High School's current location at 41, Clementi Ave 1.

On 25 April 2007, the SkyGarden was officially opened by then Minister for Education and 2nd Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam. An innovative teaching and learning space, the SkyGarden is an open area that has been transformed into a flexible environment for both formal lessons and student-initiated activities.

2007 marked the school’s 90th Anniversary. Current students joined the Alumni and the Parent Support Group members in the school’s celebrations on 14 July at Swissotel Stamford. An array of performances from students, staff and Partners in Education cemented the camaraderie and celebrated the promises that the future holds for Nan Hua.

In 2008, Nan Hua High School collaborated with Nan Hua Primary School to hold the inaugural Nan Hua Family Local Chinese Cultural Immersion Camp. This was the first time that staff from the two schools worked together to organize a joint camp for students of both schools. It marked a key milestone for schools of the Nan Hua family to collaborate in enhancing the SAP mission of nurturing bilingual and bicultural students steeped in Chinese language and culture.

In the following year, Nan Hua High School implemented the SAP Flagship Programme. This programme aims to groom our students to be proficiently bilingual and able to both embrace the wisdom of the modern world as well as appreciate classical thoughts and Chinese philosophy.

Besides developing its Flagship Programme, NHHS also developed its strength in environment education. In 2010, Nan Hua High School received the President’s Award for the Environment, the highest accolade given to organizations and companies who have made significant contributions towards environmental and water resource sustainability in Singapore. The President’s Award for the Environment 2010 is an affirmation of the school’s efforts in championing environment causes.

In 2011, the school reaffirmed its School of Distinction Award and the Singapore Quality Class re-certification. It also attained three Best Practice Awards (BPA) - Teaching and Learning, Student All-Round Development and Staff Well-Being. These awards are presented to schools that have developed and deployed innovative, effective systems and processes that lead to desired staff and student outcomes.

The school was also recognized for its efforts at promoting and strengthening collaborative partnerships with its stakeholders in the form of the Outstanding PARTNERS Award given by the Education Minister Heng Swee Keat at the MOE Work Plan Seminar in 2012.

Throughout the years, NHHS’s Performing Arts Groups have been recognised for their high standards at the Singapore Youth Festival Arts Presentations. Students have been invited to perform at many national events such as the annual Chingay celebrations and the 2010 Opening Ceremony of the Youth Olympics. They have also held concerts at public venues such as the Esplanade and Victoria Concert Hall. Through the many Co-Curricular Activities (CCA), students learnt to be disciplined, responsible leaders.

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Nan Hua High School's current campus at 41 Clementi Ave 1.

2017 marked a significant milestone in the school’s long history of 100 years. The school brought together the many groups of people who had contributed to the school in different ways. “Centennial Excellence, Pioneering Tomorrow-丰泽百年, 再创辉煌” was a memorable celebration of its history and the preservation of tradition as well as a vision of a school with the confidence to inspire beyond its centennial. At the Centennial Dinner on 15 Jul 2017, the storyboard on the conservation of the Adis Road campus was unveiled by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies. 

Storyboard on the conservation of the Adis Road campus was unveiled by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam

Following the success of the Centennial Celebrations in 2017, a time capsule comprising mementos of items contributed by key members of the school community was sealed at its 101st year. The vision is for the time capsule to be opened on its 125th Speech and Prize-Giving Day in 2042 for Nanhuarians to remember those who came before them to build a strong and united Nan Hua community. 

At the same time, with its focus on learning, the Greenhouse and the Hive were launched in 2018 and 2019 respectively as collaborative spaces for staff and students in their pursuit of knowledge, skills, competencies and character. 

2020 has been a challenging year for the school, with Covid-19 affecting school life. Teachers embraced technology in the face of disruption to normal lessons to carry out Home-Based Learning (HBL) lessons. The Character Strengths mural was launched to inspire staff and students to draw on their strengths to build resilience in the midst of the pandemic. In line with the National Day theme, an exhibition of “Stronger Together” messages reminded all to work together to emerge stronger as a school and nation.