Brief information about the school
Mr. Hj. Ramli bin Din
Senior Assistant of Administration:
Mr. Ho Nean Chan
Senior Assistant of Student Affairs:
Mr. Hj. Suhaimi Latip
Senior Assistant of Co-curriculum:
Miss Lee Ewe Im
Motto: Fortis Atque Fidelis
Founder: Rev. Sparke Hutchings
About The School...
Penang Free School is the oldest English School in Malaysia and the South East Asia region. Its first headmaster was Mr. James Cox 1816-1821. In 1928, the school moved to its current location on Jalan Masjid Negeri (better known as (Green Lane). The School had received the cluster school status by the Education Ministry of Malaysia in 2007.
Excerpts of the original charter:
"That it will be the first object of the Institution to provide for the Education of such children as would be otherwise, brought up in idleness and consequent vice, and without any means of obtaining instruction either in useful learning or in any manual employment, and to implant in them in the early habits of industry, order and a good conduct."
-from "The Original Plan of the Establishment of Prince of Wales Island, Free School, 1816".
The Motto of the school is Fortis Atque Fidelis (pronounced for 'tiz ud' kway fi' deliz) which is a Latin phrase for Strong and Faithful.
The background colour of the crest is sky blue (azure), which is the school colour.
Middle chief: A white tower: Signifies the qualities of strength and truthfulness.
Dexter chief: Numeral 18: The first 2 digits of the year the school was founded (1816).
Sinister chief: Numeral 16: Tha last 2 digits of the year the school was founded (1816).
Dexter base: Palm tree: Represents the State of Penang, also signifies the fertility of the mind.
Sinister base: A gold lion rampant supporting a flag: Signifies the preservation of the tradition and high ideals of the school.
Brief History Of Penang Free School
Between 1805 and 1816 education was available only for European children, and children of Government Officials. The increasing number of Asian children , however, resulted in an increasing interest to provide for their own education needs. For this purpose a public meeting was convened after representations to the Government by the Rev. R. S. Hutchings, Chaplain of the Presidency, on 16 January, 1816. It was Rev. Hutchings who first petitioned for a "free school".
His aim was to provide a school for the orphans and poor children. They were to be educated , fed and clothed. And since they were to be so completely taken care of, he suggested that it should be a boarding school but with room for day scholars. The day scholars were to be taught their own language by "nation teachers", and English would be taught to them only if they desired it. Plan for a girls' school too was included in the petition on the same basis.
Free School Established - Infant Years
The difficulty of recruiting a suitable teacher delayed the founding of the school until the 21st October 1816. The school was first accommodated in a building rented for 50 dollars a month at Love Lane. On this date (21st October 1816) the committee could only admit twenty five boys since it was unable to enlist a lady teacher to teach girls. Coincidentally it was the anniversary of Captain Light's death (21st October 1794), whose tombstone may still be seen in the Protestant cemetery in Northam Road , Penang , where he was buried.
First Teachers And Board Of Directors. The first teacher was one Mr. Cox, recruited from Madras and paid a monthly salary of 80 Spanish dollars. When his wife joined him several months later she was appointed as teacher at 50 Spanish dollars a mouth , and a girl's school was founded on 1st July, 1817. The committee resigned its care of the school to a Board of Directors who were elected on 18 October 1817. This change in management was to imbue in the inhabitants of Penang a desire to be actively concerned with the progress of the school.
From Love Lane To Farquhar Street To Green Lane - The School Moves.
At its first meeting , the Board noted that the school was called FREE SCHOOL and that only children who could afford were requested to pay a fee of $3, $2, and $1 per year. Poor children who could not afford to pay any fees were exempted, but every child had to be nominated and accepted before admission to the school. At this meeting too, it was announced that the Government had granted the school a piece of land adjacent to St. George's Church at Farquhar Street. A plan was approved for the construction of a school, plainly designed to save costs to accommodate 100 boys and 50 girls. The successful tender for this project was given to a Chinese contractor who had bid $6,500. It was not until 31st December,1927 that the Penang Free School moved to its present site at Green Lane. On January 1st 1928, the school next to St. George's Church, vacated by FREE SCHOOL was renamed Hutchings School in honour of the late Rt. Rev. Hutchings, who was the prime mover to establish a "free school" for the education of the children in Penang. And because of his key and cardinal role, and support for his concept of a "free school " for all children, he is rightly acknowledged as the founder of the Penang Free School.
Headmasters of Penang Free School
1816-1821: Mr. J. Cox
1821-1822: Mr. Churcher
1822-1826: Mr. Porter
1826-1828: Mr. Anchant
1828-1843: Mr. J. C. Smith
1843-1846: Mr. Bruton
1846-1853: Mr. Fitzgerald
1853-1871: Mr. J. Clark
1871-1891: Mr. G. Griffin
1891-1904: Mr. W. Hargreaves
1904-1925: Mr. R. H. Pinhorn
1925-1926: Mr. W. Hamilton (pic)
1927-1928: Mr. D. R. Swaine
1928-1929: Mr. L. W. Arnold
1929-1931: Mr. D. W. McLeod
1931-1933: Mr. M. R. Holgate
1934-1946: Mr. L. W. Arnold
1947-1949: Mr. D. Roper
1949-1950: Mr. M. F. Crocop
1950-1951: Mr. P. F. Howitt
1951-1957: Mr. J. E. Tod
1957-1963: Mr. J. M. B. Hughes
1963-1969: Mr. Tan Boon Lin
1969-1971: Mr. Poon Poh Kong
1972-1974: Mr. K. G. Yogam
1974-1979: Dr. Goon Fatt Chee
1979-1983: Mr. R. Visvanathan
1983-1988: Mr. G. Krishna Iyer
1988-1993: Mr. Goh Hooi Beng
1993-2000: Mr. Hj. Ismail bin Ibramsa
Jan 2000-Dec 2000: Mr. Abdul Rahman
2001-2004: Mr. Arabi Sulaiman, P.K.T.
2004-2006: Mr. Mohd Yusof bin Omar
2006-Present: Mr. Hj. Ramli bin Din (pic)
1.YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra (pic)
First Prime Minister and founding father of Malaysia
2. DYMM Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalulail
3rd Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
3. DYMM Tuanku Syed Sirajudin Ibni Tuanku Syed Putra (pic)
Raja of Perlis and the 12th Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia
4. Tan Sri P. Ramlee
well-known actor, director, songwriter and musician
5. Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu
second Chief Minister of Penang
6. Tan Sri G. Rama Iyer
former Secretary-General of the Primary Industries Ministry
7. Dato' (Dr.) Anwar Fazal
probably the most influential figure in the worldwide consumer movement
8. Dr. Wu Lin Teh
world-renowned Plague Fighter and pioneer in the modernization of China's public health system
9. Dato' Eddy Choong
former All-England Badminton champion
10. Hj. S.M.Zainul Abidin
renown educationist. He taught most of those listed above
11.Y M Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithauddeen
President of the United Nations Association of Malaysia (UNAM)
12.Dato' Mohzani bin Abdul Wahab
Managing Director for Shell Malaysia Trading and in addition to that, he has assumed the position of Local Senior Oil Products Representative, becoming the second Malaysian to hold this position.
13. Dato' Dr. Toh Kin Woon
former State Executive Councillor of Penang
14. Dato' Zahrain Hashim
Member of Parliament of Bayan Baru, Penang
15. Dato' Dr H.T.Ong
16. Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj
Member of Parliament of Sungai Siput, Perak
17. Dato' Dr. S. Subramaniam
Human Resource Minister, Malaysia
The Principal and the prominent teachers
The earliest recorded principals are as follows:
J. Cox 1816 – 1821
Churcher 1821 – 1822
Porter 1822 – 1826
Anchant 1826 – 1828
J.C. Smith 1828 – 1843
Bruton 1843 – 1846
Fitzgerald 1846 – 1853
J. Clark 1853 – 1871
G. Grifin 1871 -- 1891
The first Headmaster was Mr.Cox, who also happened to be the owner and manager
of a printing press. Most of the headmasters who succeeded him thereafter were
either of previous service in the Government or military. Right until 1853, the school
saw the service of 7 Headmasters, none of whom were really trained or qualified to
head a school.
In 1853, the Committee decided to engage an elementary schoolmaster from
England as Headmaster. Hitherto the education given was only
elementary in character. To raise the standard of education in
the school, the Committee decided upon the appointment of a
University graduate as Headmaster. The first such Headmaster
was Mr. W. Hargreaves who assumed the post in 1891.
The Free School remains greatly indebted to Mr. W. Hargraves
for his conscientiousness and dedication which instilled new life
and vigour into it, projecting it forward as the foremost
educational institution in the Colony. During his term of office
(1891 — 1904), the school noted tremendous scholastic
achievements unparalleled by any other institution in the region.
Under the guidance of Mr. Hargreaves, there was an increase
in enrolment. The former system of mixing up different age
groups within a class was abolished. The increase in
enrolment also brought about a need for money. An
endowment fund was started but this only solved financial
problems temporarily. In 1903 the school was again in need of
money. In response to the recommendation of
the Kynnersley Committee of 1902, the
Government decided to intervene and take over
the administration of the school. However as a
result of local protest, the committee of Directors
rejected the offer and instead accepted an annual grant in addition to
the usual grant-in-aid.
Under his tenure, ten students won the “Queen’s Scholarship.” The first
student who received the award was Mr. Ung Bok Hoay (1893), followed by Mr.
Gnoh Lean Tuck (1896) also known as Dr. Wu Lien Teh. Our former Chief Minister
of Penang, Dr. Lim Chong Eu was also a recipient of that prestigious award (1937)
From 1905 to 1925, the school saw the service of Mr.
R.H.Pinhorn as Headmaster. Mr. Pinhorn was responsible for
the implementation of regular and systematic games and extracurricular
activities for all students. The aim of this vigorous
programme of extra-mural activities was the development of
qualities of initiative, responsibility and leadership.
By the 1920s, the school was badly over crowded and to
accommodate the rising enrolment, the government acquired a
new site of 30 acres in Green Lane.
Construction of the new buildings commenced in 1924 and on
the 9th of January, the new school buildings in Green Lane
were officially declared open by the Resident Councillor of
Penang, Mr. Ralph Scott. The old building was renamed
'Hutching's School' catering for primary education while
Penang Free School became a secondary institution. The old
building is now the State Museum. W.Hamilton was the
principal then 1925 to 1926. He was succeeded by Mr.
D.R.Swaine (1927 — 1928) and following the shifting to the
school to its new buildings, he implemented radical changes in
the extra-curricular activities. A new experiment was launched
whereby the House System came into existence. There were
initially only five Houses and these Houses governed activities like Scouting and
The administration of the school was initially the responsibility of
a Committee of Directors. However, on the first of January 1920,
by the passing of the Penang Free School
(Acquisition) Bill, the Government took over
the management of the school. The school,
however, retained its endowments,
administered by a Board of Trustees and
chaired by the Chief Minister of Penang.
The trustees are responsible for the
provisions of scholarships for deserving
students. One such scholarship is the
Hutchings scholarship. In 1928,L.W. Arnold took over the
leadership and guided the school for a year 1928 to 1929 and
the headmaster's ship was handed over
to D.W. Mc Leod (1929 to 1931)
Under the Headmastership of Mr. M.Holgate (1931 --
1933) the present system of awarding school prizes came into
existence. Expansion in sports gave rise to games like
volleyball, basketball and rugby football. The school
swimming section was formed in March
1936 and the Additional sports System was started to enable all boys to develop the
feeling of loyalty to the House. A school rule was established
whereby every boy was to participate in some form of extramural
activity. Having much love for the school L.W. Arnold
came back to champion for the school from 1934 to 1946 but
had to leave because of the Second World
War. When L. W Arnold left D. Roper took
over from 1947 to 1950. D.Roper was
succeeded by P.F. Howitt (1950 to 1951).
The school was hard to manage then as
many precious documents were destroyed
during the war.
With the implementation of the Educational Ordinance in 1957,
Penang Free School became a national-type fully assisted
secondary school run by a properly constituted Board of
Governors. Since the loss of "Government" status, the
provision of more facilities for the school had been greatly
Mr. J.E.Todd (1951 — 1957) was largely responsible for Sixth
Form education as it exists today and he also worked along the
principles of Mr. Pinhorn in extra-mural activities. Between 1957
and 1965 there was an even greater expansion of clubs and
Mr. Todd was championed by J.M.B
Hughes in 1957. The late YTM Tunku
Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj officially
declared open the Sixth Form block and
Hostel on 21st October 1958. Free School
then became the centre of Sixth Form education in Northern
Malaya.1966 was undoubtedly a very important year for the
school as it held its Sequicentenary Celebrations.
In 1963, Mr. Tan Boon Lin (1963 to 1968)
became the School’s first Asian
Headmaster. During his tenure of office
the School’s new library, the Khutub Khanah Tunku was
The Penang Free School Development Fund was
launched in early 1963. The objective of this fund
was to raise money for a number of building
projects including a swimming pool. A Food and
Fun Fair held in April 1963 netted a collection of
RM18, 622. However, the 'Swimming Pool Project' was shelved and in
its place, a new library was planned.
It became a reality on 29th of December 1969, when the first Prime
Minister of Malaysia, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj who
was an old Free, officially opened it. The library was named “Kutub Khanah Tunku”
to honour him. Our late Prime Minister of Malaysia donated
$100,000.00 for this project. In December 1990, he made his
last visit to his Alma Mater in conjunction with the Library's
Under the Headmastership of Mr. Poon
Poh Kong (1969 — 1971) the school
had another Fun Fair and a Raffle. The
proceeds amounts to $30,000 and
$53,000 respectively went to the School
When Mr. K.G.Yogam (1972 — 1974) took over as
Headmaster, the Nuffield Science block, the Industrial Art
Workshop and the present Hostel were built. With the
completion of the new
hostels, the old hostels on the second floor of the Sixth Form
block was converted into classrooms and now forms part of the present Sixth Form
In 1975, when Mr. Goon Fatt Chee was Headmaster,
the school enrolment passed the 2000 mark for the first time in
history. The strength of the teaching staff was 87. This reflects
the tremendous development of the school in terms of
students and teacher population.
Under his leadership, with the help of the Choong Family, Mr.
Choon Beng and Mr. Lim Hock Seng, the school arch was
erected in 1977. The school arch was officiated by Dato’ Ch’ng
Eng Hye on the 21st October 1978. In
1977, the second hostel together with the
school pond came into existence.
Mr. R. Visvanathan took over the Headmastership in 1980
under his leadership; Block B of the
school was completed. The population of
the school hostel rose to 334 students. In
1983, Mr. G Krishna Iyer lead the school
and under Mr. G Krishna Iyer the school
was completely rewired at a cost $92,
000 and the students’ washroom were
renovated in 1987.
In 1988, the Form One students were on
the threshold of the new academic era
with the implementation of KBSM
(Integrated Curriculum for Secondary Schools). The following
year saw the teaching of a new subject "Kemahiran Hidup"
(Living Skills) to the First Formers.
It is also in that very year the Headmastership was taken over
by Mr. Goh Hooi Beng. Mr. Goh Hooi Beng was assisted by Mr.
Loo Hock Guan. Under his tenure Penang Free School adopted the single session
school system with the construction of two new blocks
Mr. Goh was succeeded by Haji Mohd Ismail B.
Ibramsa in 1994. Under Haji leadership the school
resource centre was greatly improved and the side
gate at Free School Road was constructed and
financed by Mr. C.A.Goh, an old Free and troop leader
of the 7th Georgetown Scout Troop.
The following year saw the introduction of compulsory
IT education for all Form 1 students who have to
continue their computer classes until Form 3, a move
in line with the national education policy to produce
computer literates. The school computer club then was
Mr. Kong Fun Chong. Under Mr. Kong, Penang Free School became the first school
in Malaysia to link to the outside world through internet and it is the first school that
has its own proper website.
The school computer club was then taken over by Mr. Ooi Chin Wah in 1998. Mr.
Ooi was the teacher advisor that leads the school computer club to its peak. He is
also the webmaster who redesigned the school website as what is it today. In 1998,
a new block (H) was added just by the side of the school canteen. The new block
has a modern meeting room, a multimedia resource centre and class rooms. The
first multimedia resource centre was coordinated by Mr. Ch’ng Yeang Soon who with
the help of the Parent Teachers’ Association (PTA, 2000/2001) has donated 20
Pentium 3 multimedia computers to the school. The computers are still in use till
Penang Free School Foundation was officially registered
with the Registrar of Society on 19th April 1996. It was
launched officially by the Deputy Prime Minister YAB
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on 15th September 1996. The
primary aim of the Foundation is to help the school to
achieve greater heights in education and at the same
time to preserve the rich traditions and glories of Penang
From March 1999 onwards, work
on the upgrading of the school, as
a premier school commenced and
scheduled to be completed in August. Within this year itself,
two new blocks are constructed to meet the ever-demanding
needs of the school.
In 2000, Mr. Abdul Rahman B. Haji Salim led the school for
only a very short term. He was succeeded by Mr. Arabi B.
Sulaiman in August 2001. Under Mr. Arabi, the school ICT
infrastructure was further improved. Mr. Arabi retired in this
school on July 2004. The Headmastership was temporary shouldered by Mr. Khoo
Poh Kheng who later in 2005 became the Headmaster of Hutching Secondary
Haji Mohammad Yusof B. Omar was appointed the following
year after Mr. Arabi retired. Haji Mohammad Yusof, was
assisted by Mr. Loh Huah Sin and Ms. Yew Lee Heang took
over Mr. Loh’s post as the head of Science and Mathematics.
In 2006, Haji Ramli B. Din was appointed the new headmaster
of Penang Free School. Under his leadership, many changes
Haji Ramli introduces two new foreign languages, namely
French and Arabic language. At the moment, the two
languages will only be taught to the lower secondary
students and if it is successful it will then be introduce to the
The school is providing wireless connection for the school so
that her students as well as teachers may access the
internet anyway within the school compound. This brave
step is essential to enable the citizen of the school to
communicate and access useful information using the
internet and enhancing the teaching and learning process.
Being far sighted, Haji Ramli appointed Mr. Goh Teng Keang to assist him after Mr.
Loh Huah Sin has retired. Haji Ramli’s has invited his teachers to work together with
him to propel Penang Free School to greater height. On 30th March 2007 a year
after his appointment as headmaster, the school was given the “Cluster School of
Excellence Award” This is indeed a very big achievement as only 30 schools are
awarded this status as pioneers under the Ninth Malaysian Plans.
A group of these Headmasters under the Cluster School Status will be sent to attend
a few months course in Australia. Under Haji Ramli’s tenure, more infrastructures
were erected, shaded car park was erected for the teachers, and rain shades were
erected for the students and parents so that their children will not be wet during rainy
days. Haji Ramli Bin Din is a very conscientious and dedicated headmaster. The
teachers under his watchful eyes worked very hard and he insisted to meet with the
teachers every Wednesday after school for a brief discussion concerning the school
vision, mission and to put forwards his ideas for the betterment of the school.
The school has two assemblies. Monday assembly is for Academics and purposes
while Wednesdays assembly is mainly for Co-curriculum. Mr. Goh Teng Keang was
succeeded by Mr. Ho Nean Chan as the new senior assistant of administration in
2008. In 2010 while Mr. Omar b. Abdul Rashid was appointed the senior assistant of