This old school building could be considered for preservation by the Preservation of Monuments Board Chinese immigrants built schools to preserve their cultural identity and heritage. The building will now form part of the National Museum. The first school in Singapore to have Mandarin as the medium of instruction. Tan Kah Kee's contribution to education.

Tao Nan School was established by the Singapore Hokkien Association. The first school was set up in 1906 with an enrolment of 36 pupils in North Bridge Road in 'Siam House' - the former residence of Tan Kim Ching and the medium of instruction then was Hokkien. In 1910 the school moved to Armenian street and the medium of instruction was changed to Mandarin, the first school in Singapore to do this.

Pupils in the early years wore white school uniforms, hats and had pigtails; many walked home and the well-to-do traveled in rickshaws. One of the pupils was Lee Kong Chian who became one of Singapore's great philanthropists and patrons of education.

One of the 110 founding members of the school was great philanthropist and patron of education Tan Kah Kee who made millions from his business enterprises and spent as much on education for ordinary people. He donated large sums of money to Tao Nan School and other Chinese school which included Chinese High School; he also donated money to English schools and this included $30,000 to Anglo-Chinese School in 1919 and $10,000 to Raffles College in 1929. The land for Tao Nan School was gift from Oei Tiong Ham.

Tan Kah Kee served Tao Nan School as President for 12 years and also as Administrator.

The enrolment of the School increased to 1300 and it was necessary to build a new school. In 1982 the new premises at Marine Parade were ready for occupation. The medium of instruction is now English. Pupils of all races now attend Tao Nan School.

'Tao Nan School was set up with higher ideals. The early Chinese immigrants recognized the value and importance of education. They saw it as a means for their children not only to earn a living but also to preserve their cultural identity and heritage. These ideals were expressed in collective efforts by community organization and clan association to build schools to educate their young' (Mr Goh Chok Tong's message to Tao Nan School Eightieth Anniversary Commemorative Magazine 1906-1986).

Today Tao Nan School has achieved excellence in both academic and extra-curricular activities and the School has achieved distinction as it did at its inception.

Written by:
Mr Dhoraisingam S. Samuel