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1956 - 1976

Recovering (1956 - 1976)
A Centralised System

The late 1950s and early 1960s was a period of re-orientation for Tao Nan. Its heart was now with Malaya and Singapore, not China. It was now not just a Chinese school that happened to be in Singapore, but a Singapore school for the Chinese community.

A report published in February 1956 by the All-Party Committee recommended that all schools be treated the same, resulting in a more unified national education system. For the first time, Chinese schools in Singapore were given equal treatment, including financial grants, and they would be integrated into the mainstream national system. The state funds were a great help to Tao Nan. In 1957, Tao Nan and many other Chinese schools became Government-aided schools.

The Tao Nan building on Armenian Street
When Singapore became part of Malaysia in August 1963, Malay became the national language, while English was promoted as an extremely useful working language.

Tao Nan began Malay language lessons, which replaced Chinese as the ‘national language’ or guoyu (国语). However, the biggest part of class time was still reserved for Chinese language lessons, or huayu (华语), which remained the main language of instruction for all lessons, except for English lessons.

In 1966, the school increased class time for English language lessons. Other subjects included Mathematics, Science, Ethics, Physical Education, Art and Craft, Music, and History and Geography for the Upper Primary classes.


The Staff Room

Weekly Assembly

Scenes from School Sports Meets, 1960s
Meanwhile, Tao Nan continued to shine academically through 1950s and 1960s. Its reputation was proven by its good performance each year at the nation-wide school leaving examinations, introduced in 1960. Of the first batch of 95 candidates from Tao Nan, 86.32 per cent passed. The school’s results peaked at 100 per cent in 1964, and it maintained 98-100 per cent in the following years. It was an outstanding record, especially as most students came from humble families.
Enrolment was steady through the 1950s and 1960s at about 1,000 to 1,200, reaching a high of 1,264 in 1961. With about 30 classes, Tao Nan had to conduct morning and afternoon sessions. The number of girls attending Tao Nan also grew steadily.

Apart from books, the school also did well in sports. It was champion in a basketball competition in 1962, and also in a round-table Ping-Pong contest in 1964. Other extra-curricular activities included folk dancing, swordplay and drama.

Just as Tao Nan’s future looked bright, however, it would be tested again. Difficulties in the 1970s triggered a major decision in 1976 to give up its iconic building on Armenian Street, its home in the heart of the city for more than six decades. Tao Nan was set to sail the uncharted waters of a new environment in the suburbs.

Wushu Lessons, 1960s
Putting skills to use