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Kowloon British School
Wikimedia CommonsFormer Kowloon British School campus

12 of the oldest schools in Hong Kong

From Sun Yat-sen’s alma mater to campuses used as Japanese military hospitals, here are some of Hong Kong’s most historic schools

Written by
Josiah Ng
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Hong Kong has a proud education system that continually produces some of the best students in the world, and its top schools are often its most famous and its oldest. Given our city’s rich history, it’s only natural that the oldest of our 603 secondary schools and 29 post-secondary institutions have some colourful stories in turn. Here are the most historically notable schools in Hong Kong.

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12 of Hong Kong’s most historic schools

St Paul’s College
Carl Flisch [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons

St Paul’s College

St Paul’s College was founded in 1851 and is one of the oldest locally established schools to still be in operation. Formerly occupying the Grade I historic building Bishop’s House in Central, the school was closed briefly during World War II – though it wasn’t used by the Japanese – and moved to its current site on Bonham Road in 1950, next to Hong Kong University.

Ying Wa College
Baycrest - Wikipedia user - CC-BY-SA-2.5 / Baycrest - 維基百科用戶 - CC-BY-SA-2.5

Ying Wa College

Though substantially older than many on this list, Ying Wa College was founded in 1818 in modern-day Malaysia and moved to Hong Kong in 1843, just about a year after the end of the First Opium War. Currently in Sham Shui Po, the all-boys’ school originally sat at the intersection of Staunton Street and Aberdeen Street, near where The Old Man and PMQ are situated, the latter site also being one of the homes of the next entry on this list...

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Queen’s College
Wikimedia Commons

Queen’s College

Hong Kong’s first government school was founded in 1862 as The Government Central School and is now located in Causeway Bay. However, the school is most famous for its campus on what is now PMQ (pictured) and for its most famous alumnus, Chinese revolutionary and founding father of the Republic of China, Dr Sun Yat-sen.

Belilios Public School
Wikimedia Commons

Belilios Public School

Queen’s College’s all-girls counterpart was not established until 1890 as the Central School for Girls, and was located on QC’s original campus across the street from what is now PMQ. It’s famous for being the first all-girls’ government school and the first bilingual school in the city.

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St Paul’s Convent School
Wikimedia Commons

St Paul’s Convent School

Not to be confused with St Paul’s College from earlier on this list, St Paul’s Convent School is one of the oldest girls-only schools in Hong Kong, having been founded in 1854. Originally named French Convent School, this institution moved into its current site in Causeway Bay in 1914 and remains one of the top secondary schools in the SAR.

Diocesan Girls’ School, Diocesan Boys’ School
Wikimedia Commons

Diocesan Girls’ School, Diocesan Boys’ School

Colloquially known as DGS and DBS respectively, these two institutions are among the most prestigious schools in Hong Kong and their students are some of the most competitive on the world stage, especially now that DBS offers IB accreditation. DGS was founded in 1860 while DBS was founded in 1869. Collectively, they were the Diocesan Home and Orphanage until the student base was split in the late 19th century and both schools received their current names. During World War II, the Japanese used DGS as a headquarter for their civil police and DBS as a military hospital.

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The University of Hong Kong

The University of Hong Kong

Any list of historic schools in Hong Kong would be amiss without The University of Hong Kong, which was founded in 1911. The second-oldest university in the city, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, wouldn’t be established for more than another 50 years, in 1963. HKU was heavily damaged by bombing during World War II but has endured and remains a top university that consistently ranks among the best in the world.

Li Ying College
Andrew Suddaby

Li Ying College

Though all the other entries on this list are currently still in operation, ancient Li Ying College is, according to AE Sweeting’s Education in Hong Kong, Pre-1841 to 1941, the first school in the New Territories that we have a record of. Founded in Kam Tin in 1075, it was famous for its large library of Chinese classics but shut down in the 17th century as the Ming dynasty came to power.

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Beacon Hill School, Island School
Prosperity Horizons [CC BY-SA 4.0 license], from Wikimedia Commons

Beacon Hill School, Island School

These two were the first member schools of the English Schools Foundation when it was founded in 1967. Beacon Hill School is currently located in Kowloon Tong, while Island School is in Admiralty but also has campuses in Tai Wai and Sha Tin. The ESF currently operates the most international schools out of any other governing body in Hong Kong and though most of its schools receive government funding, all of them are set to be independently funded in the next few decades.

King George V School
Wikimedia Commons

King George V School

King George V School (or KG5) is the oldest international school in Hong Kong and the oldest member of the ESF. The school was founded in 1894, initially named Kowloon British School and located on Nathan Road in Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the few declared monuments and Grade I historic buildings in Hong Kong that was solely built for a school. During World War II, KGV’s current campus in Ho Man Tin was used by the Japanese as a military hospital for prisoners of war, and it’s rumoured that rooms in the Pavilion were used as torture chambers.

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