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CollectionsEducation in Pre-war Hong KongAbout the Collection

About the Collection

About the Collection  Development of Education System and Policy  Official documents  School photos  School publications  School crests, mottos, hymns and songs  Artifacts  Textbooks  Newspaper clippings  Youth Organisations  References  Acknowledgements 

Schooling was never a uniform experience for young people in pre-war Hong Kong.

The provision of education in Hong Kong was a combined effort of the colonial government, missionary bodies, and Chinese charitable organisations. Schools established varied in size, ideals, faith, curriculum, medium of instruction, and student composition. Orphanages, homes, and free schools for the poor and the marginalized; boarding schools educating children of different nationalities from mainland China and South East Asia alongside the locals; day schools in tenement houses on busy streets in town or European mansions in the tranquil Mid-levels were all part of the education system serving a colony that tried to accommodate different cultures and peoples.

Political and social changes in mainland China in the early 20th century brought an influx of immigrants into Hong Kong and an increasing demand for primary education. Rising patriotic sentiments in the colony also prompted the establishment of modernized secondary schools that aimed to integrate western knowledge, Chinese culture, and national education. The outbreak of war on the mainland in 1930s saw relocation of schools, scholars, teachers and students to the colony and rapid increase in the number of private schools. The expansion and diversification in education was only brought to an abrupt halt when Hong Kong came under Japanese rule in December 1941.

This Collection of historical materials seeks to present a multi-faceted history of Pre-War Education (1841-1941), focusing mainly on elementary and secondary schools in urban Hong Kong and Kowloon. Deposited in the Collection are Official Documents recording policies and administrative practices, School Photos, Publications, and Textbooks capturing personal and collective memories of schooling, as well as Newspaper Clippings reporting events, activities, and discussion of policy in their immediate social and political contexts. Archival materials of youth organisations, which demonstrated the link between formal and informal education are also deposited.

Items collected came from different sources, which include overseas missionary archives, local schools, the Hong Kong Museum of History, the Public Record Office, the Hong Kong University library and private donors.



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