Nan Chiau High School was founded as Nan Chiau Teachers’ Training School in 1941 by Chinese businessman, community leader and philanthropist Mr Tan Kah Kee. Its first campus was built on a plot of land donated by Lee Kong Chian, at Kim Yam Road in River Valley. In early 1942, the campus was used as the headquarters and training grounds for Dalforce, a Chinese volunteers’ army that was formed immediately before the overland attack of the Japanese army.
In 1947 Nan Chiau Teachers’ Training School was converted by Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan into Nan Chiau Girls’ High School, with an ancillary primary school, with Mr Yang Zhen Li as the first Principal of the School. A female hostel was also built in the 1950s.
In 1965, Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan spent $2 million rebuilding Nan Chiau Girl’s High School. During the construction, the high school section moved to temporary premises at Guillemard Road, while the primary school section remained at the original site. The new premises was declared open by Mr. Ong Pang Boon, Minister for Education, on 8 March 1969.
In 1974, there were a total student enrollment of 2692, the most number of students in the school’s history, with 48 secondary classes and 24 primary classes. To cope with the increased school population, another $300 000 was spent to add on a 5th storey to the school building.
The residential area surrounding Kim Yam Road was becoming a mature estate and that contributed to a sharp decline in student enrolment. The school went to fully co-educational in 1984 to overcome the challenges. Nan Chiau Girls’ High School was then renamed to be Nan Chiau High School.
The student population continued to shrink in the 1990s as a result of the changing demographics in the River Valley area. In spite of the school’s rich history and the ample support from the alumni and the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, the school was on the verge of permanent closure. As such, a decision had to be made either to repurpose the plot of land on Kim Yam Road and hence close the school or to exchange the land for a new campus in Sengkang new town.
Though it was a challenge, the Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan, the school and our alumni unanimously decided to give up the valuable plot of land at Kim Yam Road to secure a future for Nan Chiau High School.
In November 2010, Nan Chiau High School was designated by the Ministry Of Education to become the 11th Special Assistance Plan (SAP) school from January 2012. The news was announced by then minister of education Dr Ng Eng Hen at the Hokkien Festival 2010. The news was welcomed by thousands of school alumni and educators, who felt pleased that the school can finally fulfill its mission of preserving the Chinese heritage and culture.
The school continued to stay true to its roots in providing students with an education enriched with Chinese values and heritage and nurturing bicultural leaders, who are future-ready thinkers and caring citizens. In 2020, NCHS is selected by Ministry of Education to offer Chinese Language Elective Programme (CLEP) that aims to:
Nurture promising students to attain a high level of language proficiency in Chinese.
Enhance their understanding of Chinese literature.
Develop students to be effectively bilingual to better serve the needs of our nation.