Home > About Us > History
Gan Eng Seng, philanthropist (Pinyin: Yan Yongcheng; 1844—1899)
Gan Eng Seng was one of the early pioneers of Singapore who was known for his generosity to many charitable causes during the era of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and Singapore.
Hardworking and Persevering:
Gan Eng Seng was born to a poor family in Malacca in 1844. He came to Singapore to seek his fortune at the age of 17. The only work he could find was selling nutmeg. Before long, he became an apprentice at Messrs Guthrie & Company. Undaunted by hardship or misfortune, he worked diligently. His excellent work performance brought him rapid promotions and by the age of 19, he was an Assistant Storekeeper. After he accumulated some money, he started his own business. His trade expanded not long after, he became one of the millionaires in Singapore. Although he was rich, he remained thrifty all his life.
Since Gan Eng Seng was unable to have much of an education in his youth, it was his ambition to build a school and help those who were poor. During those days, life was very hard and most people were busy struggling for a living. They could not afford to send their children to school. He realized the importance of knowing the English Language in addition to mastering the Chinese Language in the modern world. Gan Eng Seng decided to set up a school where both English Language and Chinese Language were taught and he made the school free for all pupils.
The school was established in 1885. It was named Anglo-Chinese Free School at first. In 1889, Gan Eng Seng paid for the construction of a new building in Telok Ayer Street. Anglo-Chinese Free School was renamed Gan Eng Seng School in 1893 and became a government school in 1938. As of 2007, Gan Eng Seng School is located at 1 Henderson Road after moving eight times during its 122-year history due to expansion needs.
Generous and Had a Heart for the Less Fortunate:
As a philanthropist, Gan was noted for his donations to local hospital funds. He founded a school for the children of the poor at Sam-Loh in the Fukien province of China.
He died at the age of 55 in 1899.
Formation of Gan Eng Seng Primary School – 2nd January 2002
Gan Eng Seng Primary School was formed from a merger of four primary schools – Alexandra Hill, Bukit Ho Swee, Henderson and Keng Seng.
The school started on 2 January 2002 with more than 2600 pupils spanning all 6 levels.
On 11 September 2004, the school was officially declared opened by Dr Chong Weng Chiew, Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC.