Penang Free School bicentenary … Once a Free, always a Free


It is not an overstatement to say that Penang Free School had been a icon of Penang, dubbed the Pearl of the Orient by the British.

PFS holds two firsts, as the first English-medium school in Southeast Asia and the oldest established school in Malaysia.

In the 1800s, formal education was the sole privy of the European children of government officials.

PFS’ humble beginnings began in a rented building at Love Lane (now Lorong Cinta).

School founder, Anglican chaplain Rev. Robert Sparke Hutchings petitioned his concept the then Prince of Wales Island Governor in 1815 to establish a “free school” to provide free education and boarding for orphans and poor children.

PFS was established on Oct 21, 1816 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the demise of Captain Francis Light, who landed in Penang in 1786.

Free meant that the school is “open to all” Penang-born regardless of race or creed.

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