The Historical City Of Malacca

Welcome to Malacca World Heritage City. On this site you
will find comprehensive listing with information on almost
every aspect of visiting and living in Malacca.

Malacca History

· Introduction
· The state crest
· The state flag
· History and historical chronology
· Malacca's historical sites
· Places of interest
· Trivia and folklore
  · The legend of Pulau Besar
  · St. Francis lore
  · The first school in Malaysia
  · Admiral Cheng Ho's famous fingerprints
  · A Chinese princess and a magic well
  · Population of Malacca in 1881
· Malacca Walkabout
  · Historical site walk
  · Religious houses tour
  · Jogging on Bukit China
· Legendary visitors of ancient Malacca
  · Admiral Cheng Ho (Zheng He)
  · Ferdinand Magellan
  · Saint Francisco Xavier
  · Sir Stamford Raffles
  · Yap Ah Loy
· The Malay Sultanate of Malacca
  · The early stages
  · The administration
  · The political functions
· The Portuguese conquest of Malacca
· The Malacca fort 'A Famosa'
· Back to the past
  · Alfred Russel Wallace (1854)
  · Isabella Lucy Bird (1879)
· Old paintings and maps of Malacca
· Black and white pictures of yesteryears
· The ruins of St. Paul's Church
· Birdwatching at Bukit China

The first school in Malaysia

The Malay language counts, in its vocabulary, about 450 Portuguese words. Sekolah is one of them and it comes from the Portuguese word "escola". Perhaps the first school ever to exist in Malaya, in the present concept of school, was started in Malacca by St. Francis Xavier.

When he arrived, for the first time, in Malacca, in 1545, he felt immediately the great need to start a school. the Portuguese were already, here for more than 30 years. It was natural that they should do something for the educatibn of their children. It seems, as the saint himself stated it, that the children used as reading. material, reports of court cases.

On the 2nd of April, 1548, writing from Goa to his friend Diogo Pereira in Malacca he said:- "I am sending from here to Malacca two of our society Francisco Peres, a priest. The other, who is not yet a priest, is to teach the children to read so that they, in future, may read pious and holy books rather than those law reports which circulate in Malacca". This seems quite possible, for text books were not easy to get.

The new comers to Malacca were Fr. Francisco Peres and Brother Roque de Oliveira. They arrived in Malacca on the 28th of May, 1548. Roque de Oliveira, on his arrival started immediately registering the students. . It is said that the school began with 120 pupils. By the end of the year, Fr.Francisco Peres, writing to Ignatius de Loyola said that the school had 180 students.

In the following year, 1549, the student population increased for the Saint wrote to Fathers Paulo Camorim and Antonio Gomes. There, in Malacca, is Roque de Oliveira. He is the master of a big school of boys. Some of them he teaches to write and read our language, others he teaches Grammar and Latin. The school functioned in the morning and in the afternoon. At midday the boys were brought to the chapel on St.Paul's Hill; they had religious instruction given by Fr. Peres. In the afternoon the school opened again. Perhaps this school programme was to cope with the large number of students for the capacity of the. building was small.

The school functioned in two houses, which stood where the former Governor's house stands today. They were given by the Archbishop of Goa to the Jesuits. By 1578, a new building was erected. It was hard work, for it was finished in 8 months. Fr. Francisco Chaves, writing to the General of the Jesuits in Rome from Malacca, stated:-"The college has been rebuilt almost entirely from the foundations. lt was finished within eight months, while Fr.Valignano was here. It is one of the best colleges of India. It has a wing with 8 rooms, four on either side with a corridor, running right through. Another corridor with two large rooms cuts it in the middle. On one side there is a verandah which commands a pretty view of the sea and land".

St.Francis Xavier started at least four colleges, one in Goa, one in Cochin, one in Malacca and another in Ternate. He gave great importance to these colleges. The college of Santa Fe, in Goa, was a place of great learning. The coIleges were opened to Portuguese and natives. The policy was to give education to the children of important people, as they in turn, would have great influence. The son of the Sultan of Temate, after attending the college at Temate, went to Goa to the college of Santa Fe.

On the 20th of June, 1549 St. Francis, writing from Malacca to Father Joao Beira, said that he was leaving for Japan, with three Portuguese and three Japanese, who learned to write and read in the college of Santa Fe.

From the Malacca College, as from the others, were sent the best students to further their studies in Goa. Manuel Godinho de Eredia, a great cosmographer and admiral of the South Seas, -was one of the most distinguished students of Malacca College. He was the son of a Portuguese officer -and the daughter of the King of Supa (Macassar). Joao Eredia while in Supa fell in love with the daughter of the King. She ran away with the young officer and they married in St.Paul1s Chapel. His wife now Dona Elena Visiva gave to her husband four children. One of them was Manuel Godinho de Eredia, who made his first studies in the Malacca College. Later he went to Goa, where he continued- his studies to become a Jesuit. But he had no vocation for the priesthood. -He had a brilliant post as a sailor. His brother Domingos de Eredia also made his studies in Malacca College, but later he went to Goa. He became a priest and in 1605, was the head of a new school in Malacca, ran by the Cathedral fathers, perhaps the second sekolah in the country.

The main objective, besides providing education for children of influential people, was to form young men from all parts of Asia and South East Asia, who would become priests or auxilliary brothers, if they had no vocation or then, "linguas" (or interpreters) to help the missionaries in their apostolic work.

St. Paul's College was perhaps the first school, ever opened in this country, but if it was not, this extraordinary man of God was certainly the pioneer of all Christian schools in Malaysia.

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