The story of our Alma Mater began with the mui tsai. In 1842, enroute to China from Malacca, Mrs Maria Dyer and her husband stopped in Singapore. Stepping on shore, they saw a group of young pitiful girls, some as young as six years old, being sold on the streets as mui tsai. Child slavery was common during the then colonial period.

Shocked by what she saw, Mrs Dyer was determined to help the young girls and worked tirelessly to get permission from the Governor to start a home cum school for them. This was the beginning of St Margaret’s School.

It was a bold act on the part of Mrs Dyer at a time when Chinese girls were deemed to be worthless and female education was unheard of. She believed that God would provide for the needs of these young homeless girls and the School became the first girls’ school in Singapore and one of the first in East Asia.

Chinese Girls’ School, as she was originally called, was officially opened in 1842 with 20 girls in a tiny shophouse in North Bridge Road. The School was placed in the care of the Church of England Zenana Missionary and in 1900 was known as CEZM School. In 1949, she was known St Margaret’s School.

The School took in destitute girls, orphans and girls from poor families when no one else was prepared to do so. She gave free education to them until 1939 when it became a government-aided school. The School also provided spiritual and moral guidance.


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