Keat Hwa Secondary School

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This article is about a secondary school in Malaysia. For the centennial celebrations of Keat Hwa Secondary School, see Keat Hwa Centennial Celebrations.
吉 華 中 學

Jíhuá Guómínxíng Huáwén Zhōngxué

Sekolah Menengah Keat Hwa
Motto 礼义廉耻 (Honesty and Honour)
Established 1911
Type Conforming
Status Cluster School of Excellence
School Type Chinese Secondary School
Gender Co-educational

Keat Hwa High School

Keat Hwa II Secondary School
Board of Directors Dato' Teoh Boon Beng DSDK, PJK, JP
Principal Mr. Yeoh Chui Seang BKM
Founder A group of local Chinese
Session Double (morning and afternoon)
Teaching staff 130 approx.
Students 2500 approx.
Nickname Keat Hwaians

Kuala Kedah Road,
Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia

6°05′50″N 100°21′28″E / 6.097303°N 100.357824°E / 6.097303; 100.357824Coordinates: 6°05′50″N 100°21′28″E / 6.097303°N 100.357824°E / 6.097303; 100.357824
District Kota Setar
Area 13 acres (53,000 m2)
Accreditation Cluster School
Campus Alor Setar
Colours Red, Blue, White, Yellow                 
Nickname Keat Hwa
Rival Sultan Abdul Hamid College
Yearbook 火车站 (2013)
Medium of Language English, Chinese, Malay
Main Feature The recognition of the mother tongue education - the Chinese Education
School Code KEB2094
Keat Hwa Secondary School
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese
Literal meaning Keat Hwa Middle School
Malay name
Malay Sekolah Menengah Keat Hwa

Keat Hwa Secondary School (simplified Chinese: 吉华国民型华文中学; traditional Chinese: 吉華國民型華文中學; pinyin: Jíhuá Guómínxíng Huáwén Zhōngxué; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Keât Huá tiong ouk) is a cluster Chinese high school in Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia which provides quality secondary education.[1][2][3][4]

It was founded in 1911, making it one of the oldest schools in Malaysia. It has an area of 13 acres (53,000 m2). Keat Hwa Secondary School is widely known as Keat Hwa in the region, and it is one of the only 78 Chinese conforming[5][6] (national-type) secondary schools in Malaysia.[7][8][9]

One of the features which makes the Keat Hwa Secondary School special from other typical secondary schools in Malaysia is that all students with Chinese primary school background are required to learn Chinese language (中文) and to sit for Chinese language examination (华文科) in major examinations like Lower Secondary Assessment (初中评估考试) and Malaysian Certificate of Education (马来西亚教育文凭) or the MCE.

The principal of the Keat Hwa Secondary School is Mr Yeoh Chui Seang BKM, with five vice-principals; Admin - Mr Lor San Shu; Student Affairs - Mr Wong Ghee Hong; Co-curriculum - Mdm Goh Kim Bung; Sixth form - Mr Ching Kang Beng; Afternoon session - Mdm Khor Sook Mooi.[10]

As opposed to other typical schools that are directly managed by the government, the Keat Hwa Secondary School has its own Board of Directors which manages the school properties. The current (2011-2013) Chairman of the Board of Directors of Keat Hwa Secondary School is Dato' Teoh Boon Beng DSDK, PJK, JP.[11]

In 2011, Keat Hwa Secondary School was awarded the Cluster School of Excellence status (卓越学校) by Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE) or the Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia.[12] Keat Hwa Secondary School is also said to be the best secondary school in town. And in 2011 itself, Keat Hwa celebrated its 100th anniversary with three-day celebration seeing more than 35,000 Kedah Chinese and exstudents/alumni around the world participating in the events.[13][14][15] The Keat Hwa 100 celebration is also being recorded in the Malaysian Book of Records.[16]

As a Chinese Secondary School, the teaching of Science and Mathematics are in English. Following the announcement of the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Education Minister, on 4 November 2011, the Keat Hwa Secondary School would have the options to teach Science and Mathematics fully in English, Bahasa Malaysia, or bilingually. However, majority of the parents wanted their children to be taught Science and Mathematics in English.

Today, Keat Hwa Secondary School has about 2500 students from lower secondary and upper secondary to the sixth form, with more than 136 academic staffs and about 20 supporting staffs.


English nickname[edit]

Unlike the nickname "Johannian" for St. John's Institution students and "Victorian" for Victoria Institution students, there has been no officially recognised nickname for Keat Hwa students, although recently the loosely used term "Keat Hwaian" has surfaced.[citation needed]

Chinese Nickname[edit]

And because over 90% of the students are Chinese Malaysians, a Chinese nickname exists for Keat Hwa students. It is the '吉华人', meaning the 'People of Keat Hwa'. It also represents the 'Chinese staying in Kedah' as it can also be '吉打华人'.

Chinese Education (Mother-tongue Education)[edit]

As Keat Hwa Secondary School is a Chinese secondary school, Chinese language is a compulsory subject for all students with Chinese primary school background. Unlike other schools, student do not need to stay back after schooling time to attend Chinese language classes as the Chinese language lessons are arranged in the standard timetable. The mother tongue education in Keat Hwa Secondary School is one of the most successful ones in Malaysia.

School Anthem[edit]


As Keat Hwa Secondary School is a Chinese school, and over 90% of the students are Chinese Malaysians, the school anthem is, unlike other schools in Malaysia, in Mandarin Chinese.[17] The school anthem is also used in five (5) other Keat Hwa Chinese Schools namely the Keat Hwa II Secondary School 吉华国民型中学(二)校, Keat Hwa Chinese Independent High School 吉华独立中学, Keat Hwa (H) Primary School 吉华小学 H 校, Keat Hwa (K) Primary School 吉华小学 K 校 and Keat Hwa (S) Primary School 吉华小学 S 校.




校舍傍水灣 融合氣一團

椰蔭下 任盤桓


三校併 斐然成大觀

齊努力 國強民生安♥♯♮↔

School Motto[edit]

Like all other Chinese schools in Malaysia, Keat Hwa Secondary Schools has its own School Motto.[18] The school motto was originated by Chiang Kai-shek (蒋中正 aka 蔣介石) in 1930s. Most of the Chinese schools around the globe use this as their school motto, so does Keat Hwa Secondary School. The School Motto has not been altered or changed ever since then. It has been used for more than 80 years, and it is still in use.[19]





School Magazine[edit]

Each year, the school publishes its very own school magazine. The school magazine published annually is informally called the 吉華校刊. It has always been the tradition that the cover of the school magazine changes with the different theme every year. The themes for the last few years, for example, are: 垦耕·丰收 (2012), 展翅再高飞 (2011), 烟花 (2008), 港湾 (2007), 星海 (2006).

A special edition magazine was published in July 2012 in celebration of the 100th anniversary. The magazine is 588-page thick with a thick cover. It was sold at the Popular Bookstores nationwide. The title for this magazine is '吉华人•吉华情•吉华心'.

Keat Hwa Centennial Celebrations[edit]

Keat Hwa celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. A centenary celebration committee was set up prior to the celebration by the Keat Hwa Alumni Organization. The committee is fully in-charge of the celebrations with the co-operation from the school authorities. A series of events were organised throughout the year, culminating with a 3-day celebration, to mark this auspicious year for Keat Hwa, from 28 to 31 July 2011.

The 3-day gala event was held at the Keat Hwa Secondary School compound. Besides exhibition booths, there were several other unique and meaningful events organised.[14][15][20] Among the huge events are the Grand Festival, Grand Dinner and the Grand Expo. Other events include the celebration of Mooncake Festival by all the six Keat Hwa schools, singing competition, torch relay, Chinese cultural activities and, most importantly, the celebration of Chinese education in Malaysia.

The 3-day event successfully attracted more than 35000 students and alumnus from all over the world. The centenary celebration marked a milestone of Keat Hwa and showcased the success of the Chinese community in fighting for their own Chinese education, mother-tongue language and culture. Besides, the celebration was able to collect donations to set up an Education Fund for the usage of Keat Hwa schools in the coming years.[21]

Grand Festival[edit]

Grand Festival (大庆典) was one of the biggest events of the celebrations. The Opening Ceremony with the participants of more than 1000 students, consisting different clubs and societies, uniformed units, Boards of Directors from 6 schools and also the alumnus of Keat Hwa. Before the opening ceremony, a parade was held where all the teams marched from the oldest school building, Keat Hwa (S) to Keat Hwa Secondary School. The parade was the only major procession held in the city of Alor Setar in the last few decades to celebrate the anniversary of a school. The journey was roughly 5 kilometres and it caught the attention of the citizens of Alor Setar. Some even joined the parade which ended at the Keat Hwa Secondary School. The whole journey was held successfully with the help of the Malaysian police and the paramilitary civil volunteer corps controlling the traffic in the city.

A torch tower was designed and built for the Opening Ceremony with more than a million can tabs weighing more than 1100 kg. The preparation of the torch tower involved the participation of all students, teachers and alumnus of Keat Hwa Secondary School. The achievement was recorded into the Malaysia Book of Records.[22]

Grand Expo[edit]

Grand Expo (大博览) was another huge event in the 3-day celebration. Besides booths, there were performances such as Chinese Orchestra, Wushu, cheer leadings, street dances, concerts and night markets, which added colour to the spirited celebration.

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Dato' Sri Najib Razak also attended the opening ceremony of the Grand Expo. Together with him included the then Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, Dato' Chor Chee Heung and the then Home Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Hishammuddin Hussein. Other government officers were also present.

Grand Dinner[edit]

Grand Dinner (世纪宴) was the final event of the 3-day celebration. The dinner was held on the final day of the celebration at the Dewan Wawasan, Jitra. The dinner was attended by more than 2500 Keat Hwa alumnus from all over the world.[14][23]

One of the peak event during the dinner was the performance which included more than 100 students from 6 Keat Hwa schools. The performance was to showcase the 100 years of Keat Hwa through drama and dance.


Keat Hwa Secondary School was first established in the year 1911 after a name change from Chung Hwa School.

20th century[edit]


Its establishment came about due to problems in the Chinese community caused by the prevailing low educational and cultural standards, not forgetting the local businessmen's involvement in unfavourable forms of entertainment and the presence of many gambling dens.

The school premises were first located at the Hokkien Association and the school catered for about 100 students.


In 1924, the President of the School Building Committee succeeded in obtaining an International Chinese film for screening in the quest for donations towards the construction of the school building.

Around the year 1935, three schools, namely the Chung Hwa (Boys) School, the Chung Hwa (Girls) School and the Nam Keow School, were combined into one...the Hwa Keow School. This led to an increase in the enrolment to about 600 pupils.


In 1939, the first Form One class was started and the name of the school was changed to Hwa Keow Primary and Secondary School. Owing to the large number of pupils, the school premises at Kampung Perak could not accommodate all of them and as such, the pupils had to be broken up into three different locations. This resulted in poor administration of the school.


In 1940, a block of buildings was built on the left side of the school and there was an increase to more than 10 classes of pupils. A basketball and a badminton court formed part of the new facilities available to the students. More importantly, all the students could study within the same school compound.


During World War II in 1941, the school was suspended when Kedah was occupied by the Japanese armies.

The Japanese army occupied the school premises from 1941 to 1945. When World War II ended and the Japanese army surrendered in 1945, Keat Hwa School was restarted with an increase in its enrolment.


In September 1949, a plan to build new premises at Kampung Perak was hatched. All the pupils contributed One Dollar a month towards the building fund.


In 1950, the Kampung Baru site was bought for $28,000 in cash.

On 30 July 1950, HRH the Sultan of Kedah laid the foundation stone of the new premises.


On September 1951, a school hall and twenty-two classrooms were planned for at a cost of $230,000.


The new school premises at Kampung Baru were completed in 1953. It was the biggest Chinese school in Kedah with 2000 students at both primary and secondary levels.


In 1954, the School Board decided to allow the secondary session to be conducted at the Kampung Baru premises while the Kampung Perak premises were used for the primary classes. Kampung Perak premises was renovated to cater for this arrangement.

In 1954, the school hall and eight classrooms were ready. In 1956, ten more classrooms were in place and in 1958, eight more classrooms were added. Ten more classrooms completed with a row of toilet facilities were added in 1959,.


In 1958, the administration of the primary and secondary sections of the school were separated. The primary section was split into three parts namely Keat Hwa (H), Keat Hwa (K) and Keat Hwa (S) i.e. as they exist today.


In 1963, the secondary school name was changed from Hwa Keow Secondary School to Keat Hwa Secondary School.


In 1964, the premises at Kampung Baru was found to have aged especially so for the toilets. Consequently, the School Board applied for a grant sufficient to renovate the premises but only $6,000 was approved in spite of numerous letters of appeal. Finally, the School Board successfully invited Mr Khir Johari, the Minister of Education at that time, to make a visit to the school whereupon a renovation grant of $100,000 was subsequently obtained.


In 1965, the secondary entrance exam in primary schools was abolished and all the pupils of the three Keat Hwa primary schools could continue their education in SMKH. As a result, SMKH faced a serious shortage of classrooms as it shares the same premise with Keat Hwa (S) Primary School at Kampung Baru.

Luckily for the school, help came from the Chief Education Officer and a State Assemblyman. Approval was obtained for the construction of new premises for SMKH at Jalan Kuala Kedah from the then Minister of Education. A sum of $1,100,000 was paid for the construction of the new premises.


In 1968, the Minister of Education graced the Annual Prize-giving Day of Keat Hwa Secpndary School. HRH the Sultanah of Kedah gave away the prizes to the students and a royal pledge was made to present a SULTAN's GOLD Award every year.


In 1970 the new buildings at Jalan Kuala Kedah were ready for occupation. There were 24 classrooms and a school hall. The first class at the new premises commence on 23 August 1970.

21st century[edit]


In 2007, Keat Hwa(K) which shared the same school facilities with Keat Hwa (H), moved to its own new premise while Keat Hwa (H) remains in the same location.



In 2011, Keat Hwa Secondary School was honoured the Cluster School award.[24][25]

And in 2011 itself too, Keat Hwa Secondary School celebrated its 100th anniversary.[26] The preparation of the celebration was featured in Astro's Ben Di Quan and MalaysiaKini[27] The preparation includes a number of events being held from the beginning of the year till the three-day celebration.

One of the events is the making of a dedicated album which covers 10 songs written and composed by Keat Hwa alumni and students. One of the songs being covered in the album is by St. John of Keat Hwa - 'Only Us'. The making of the 'Only Us' was again featured in MalaysiaKini[28]


On 28 July 2011, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak visited the school for the celebration of Keat Hwa 100 Years. Najib Razak, during his speech, urged vernacular schools not to be ungrateful as their existence was due to the support given to them by the current ruling parties and coalition - Barisan Nasional.[29]

The three-day celebration of 100 years establishment saw more than 35,000 exstudents/alumni and parents participating in the event.


Today, Keat Hwa Secondary School has more than 2500+ students, making it one of the best Chinese Secondary Schools in Malaysia with high passing rates and high number of students who scored excellent results in general examinations. This success is largely attributed to its merit-based selection of students from primary vernacular education. Entry requirement for acceptance into Keat Hwa Secondary School is relatively high compared to other schools.

Notable alumni[edit]

The names in bold are the surnames of Chinese persons.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Keat Hwa Secondary School,
  2. ^ Keat Hwa celebrates 100 years
  3. ^ Keat Hwa gets cluster school status, The Star: Northern
  4. ^ Malaysia Facts Book: Keat Hwa Secondary School
  5. ^ There are two different types of national-type schools, Chinese and Tamil, as seen in the news report, The Star Online
  6. ^ Differences between a national school and a vernacular school (national-type school), and an international school
  7. ^ More info about Chinese conforming schools can be found here, SMJK Education Portal
  8. ^ List of SMJK throughout Malaysia
  9. ^ Chinese schools report increase in enrolment as Dragon Year students enter secondary level,
  10. ^ School staff directory
  11. ^ List of Members of the Board of Directors
  12. ^
  13. ^ Recap video sharing the best moment of the celebration.
  14. ^ a b c News in Keat Hwa High School's Campus News.
  15. ^ a b News in Kwong Wah Yit Poh
  16. ^ News in AcTimes.
  17. ^ Official Website showing the lyrics of school anthem
  18. ^ Official school website: School Motto
  19. ^ Latest school motto on official website
  20. ^ YouTube video recaping the best moment of the celebration,
  21. ^ Keat Hwa celebrates 100 years of existence:
  22. ^ Keat Hwa enters into the Malaysian Book of Records: AcTimes
  23. ^ 100 years celebration, Kwong Wah Yit Poh
  24. ^
  25. ^ As reported by
  26. ^ 100 years celebration
  27. ^ Preparation of the celebration featured in
  28. ^ The making of 'Only Us', being featured in
  29. ^ Don't be ungrateful, vernacular schools told - Najib Razak's speech in Keat Hwa Secondary School.
  30. ^ The Star (Malaysia). Thorougly modest miss. 2 December 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2007.

External links[edit]