Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan set up its first school in 1849. Over the years, it built Chongwen Ge, Chui Eng Free School, Tao Nan School, Ai Tong School, Chong Hock Girls’ School, Nan Chiau High School and Kong Hwa School.
Initially, these schools adopted prevailing China’s curriculum and taught Chinese culture and values, including Analects of Confucius (Lun Yu 《论语》), in Hokkien. To meet the pace of societal changes, these soon gave way to offering English Language and Mathematics in addition to the Chinese Language.
Today, the six affiliated schools: Tao Nan School, Ai Tong School, Chongfu School, Nan Chiau High School, Nan Chiau Primary School and Kong Hwa School have a combined enrolment of 11,000 students and 700 staff. They share a common set of mission and motto:
To provide for development in the moral, cognitive, physical, social and aesthetic spheres;
To instill a love for the nation and the community;
To equip students with basic life skills;
To preserve and promote Chinese language and Chinese culture.
Motto: Sincerity & Perseverance
The Huay Kuan has always made it its priority to preserve and promote Chinese language and Chinese culture. Its main efforts include:
- the Bi-Cultural Chinese Elective Programme (BiCEP), launched in 2007, in its five affiliated primary schools. The programme aims to empower pupils to discover their Asian heritage and to gain a deeper understanding of Chinese culture and values.
- cultivating young talents through its Arts and Cultural Troupe. Formed in 1986, it conducts various cultural classes and workshops for both children and adults in performing arts, calligraphy, and Chinese language and Hokkien dialect lessons. Since its inception, thousands have benefited from the classes.
- promoting ties among Min (闽籍) clan associations through joint events like the Singapore Hokkien Festival.
- promoting Hokkien-related performing arts by collaborating with traditional arts troupes to present traditional Hokkien performances on a regular basis.
- inculcating an interest in reading and writing the Chinese Language. It organises the annual Chinese Literary Awards which comprises the Affiliated Primary Schools Composition Writing Competition, National Secondary School Writing Competition – Xin Lei Jiang (新蕾奖); and the Tertiary Literary Awards.
- keeping heritage and history alive via annual publications that capture significant oral history and archival information.
- preserving and upholding traditional customs and culture through managing its temple, the Thian Hock Keng, where practices of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and ancestral worship can be found.
In 2012, the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Cultural Academy was set up to enhance the promotion of Chinese culture and further fulfil the vision and mission of the Huay Kuan. Programmes offered by the Cultural Academy include pre-school education, language, cultural and humanities classes for all age groups.
In 2014, the Huay Kuan formed the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan Dance Theatre, a professional Chinese dance company that serves to promote dance courses and performing opportunities focusing primarily on Chinese Classical and Ethnic Folk Dance. Graded programmes are offered through the classes conducted.
In 1839, Thian Hock Keng, built near Singapore’s original waterfront, was visited by Hokkien immigrants paying homage and giving thanks to Mazu for their safe passage down south. The Huay Kuan provided much welcomed help to the community and was instrumental in raising the overall quality of life of Hokkiens. The Huay Kuan’s contribution in welfare and social services included providing education and burial services; and solemnizing marriages.
In 1955, the Huay Kuan donated 523 acres of its land in Jurong for the construction of the former Nanyang University, the first and only Chinese university in Southeast Asia.
Over the years, the Huay Kuan, through its charity arm, The Hokkien Foundation, has donated generously to further its cause. Donations have gone towards:
- Promotion of goodwill and fellowship;
- Setting up and maintenance of institutions of learning;
- Promotion of Chinese culture and language;
- Awarding scholarships, bursaries and training awards;
- Preservation of national monuments; and
- Community events.
Some beneficiaries include:
- Singapore University of Technology and Design
- The Courage Fund
- SMU Kwa Geok Choo Law Library
- Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism
- NUS Life Science Research Project
- Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre
- Chinese Development Assistance Council