YWC at a Glance
The history of Ying Wa College started from the evangelical mission of London Missionary Society (LMS) in the early nineteenth century. When Rev. Robert Morrison of LMS, the first Protestant missionary in China, decided to sail east in 1807, Ying Wa College was destined to be the first Anglo-Chinese school in the world. Together with Rev. William Milne, he founded Ying Wa College in Malacca in 1818, with “the reciprocal cultivation of English and Chinese literature and the diffusion of Christianity” as its prime mission. In the early phase, in the face of a myriad of challenges like shortfalls of enrolled students, resistance to Christian faith and the instability of financial resources, Ying Wa College strove to establish itself as an indispensable place for education, translating, printing and publishing books including the Bible.
Totally devoted to his unyielding sense of duty, Rev. William Milne died at the age of 37. His successors, Rev. James Humphreys, Rev. David Collie, Rev. Samuel Kidd, Rev. Jacob Tomlin and Rev. John Evans carried on the good work, going out of their way to tackle every problem that laid ahead.
Under the Treaty of Nanjing, Hong Kong was ceded to Britain in 1842. Though filled with crowning humiliation and condemnation, the treaty did afford Hong Kong a new educational scene. Under the leadership of Rev. James Legge, Ying Wa College was moved to Hong Kong from Malacca in 1843. The first campus was situated at the junction of Hollywood Road and Staunton Street on Hong Kong Island. The work in education, evangelism and translation continued. One of the main duties was publishing the Chinese version of the Holy Bible.
Student enrolments increased to 85 in 1856. However, due to the difficulties in recruiting young people to be trained as preachers in China and the subsequent failure to find a successor to Rev. Legge, who was appointed by the Government to help prepare the opening of Central School (now Queen’s College), Ying Wa College stopped admitting students in 1856 while the publication of Chinese Bible continued. In 1871, the entire college operation discontinued.
However, the life of the college did not end there. It was awakened from its long dormant years by a group of Chinese in the beginning of the twentieth century to a new life with a fresh mission. On 9 February, 1914, Ying Wa College was restored with Rev. Arnold Huges of LMS as the principal and the college building was relocated to Caine Road on rented premises. Due to property rights disputes, however, the college campus had to move three times along Caine Road and Bonham Road. Such instability came to a halt in 1928. In this year, after unsuccessful contemplation of closing the college once more because of financial woes, a new college building at Bute Street in Mongkok was erected under the guidance of Mr. Shum Wai Cheung, the principal after Rev. Gordon Phillips, as well as the assistance of Kung Lee Church.
The number of students soared to around 200. Mr. Shum Wai Cheung’s strong leadership marked an important phase of the development of Ying Wa College, turning a dire crisis into a favourable opportunity. Ying Wa College began to win wide recognition and support from the government and LMS. Rev. Frank Short was deployed to administer the college as principal and the government restored the college to the grant list. With the extra funds Ying Wa College took a great step into the era of expansion. In 1931 the primary section started to recruit students and put the mode of through-train education into practice. The number of students was up to about 400.
Mr. Herbert Noble, O.B.E, who succeeded Rev. Short in 1938, had to endure another kind of ordeal - Japan’s imperialist invasion of China and occupation of Hong Kong. Once again the college was suspended. Mr. Noble was detained in the concentration camp, the staff became scattered and the college building was commandeered. The days of gloom and despair lingered till the surrender of Japan in 1945.
Ying Wa College was re-opened. Student enrollment started to rise and the premises at Bute Street were proved too small. In the summer of 1963, the new college building at Oxford Road was opened with substantially improved facilities, but the primary section had to be closed. The most disheartening news was that Mr. Noble passed away the next year, after running the college for more than 20 years. The death of the giant was a great loss at the beginning of a great epoch.
The development of the college was in full swing after Mr. Terence Iles became principal in 1964. With the education ideal of whole-person development, he focused largely on the extra-curricular activities and adopted the House System. The school magazine, the Torch, began its publication.
The college won the Omega Rose Bowl championship. The reputation of Ying Wa College was further established. Mr. Rex King held office in 1972. He worked hard upgrading the school facilities. He pioneered curriculum changes. The school started to adopt the six-day cycle system. Putonghua began to be taught to all students. The number of classes and student population expanded significantly to 31 and nearly 1200 respectively.
A series of school improvement works began, including the installation of the air-conditioning system and double-glazed windows when Mr. Ho-bun Mui was appointed principal. He continued being supportive of the promotion of students’ active participation in extra-curricular activities. That three students were invited by Hamamatsu South Rotary Club to visit Japan on a yearly basis was most remarkable.
From the founding of the Parent-Teacher Association in 1995 to the relocation of the college and the restoration of the primary section in West Kowloon in 2003, Mr. Po-kwan Yeung, who started to head the school in 1990, played a major part in writing a new chapter of Ying Wa history. This chapter consists of only great challenges to his successor.
Mr. Roger Lee took office in September 2003 with the completion of the new campus in Ying Wa Street in July, having to shoulder the responsibility of leading the whole staff to reach another apex. The through-train policy has come into play since 2007 and the adoption of the direct subsidy scheme has started rolling. Under the principalship of Mr. Allan Cheng since 2011, Ying Wa College continues to cultivate the lives of Ying Wa boys by nurturing their moral integrity and unlocking their potential in academic studies so that they will be able to face future challenges of the world, and at the same time preserve the unique characteristics of Ying Wa boys: “Simple and Unadorned, Outstanding but Humble” (實而不華 卓而不傲).
If change is the only light to hope, transformation should be an act of art rendered with fine, delicate touches. Since Ying Wa College was founded in 1818, there have been numerous limitations, obstacles and challenges to bypass, overcome and conquer. The motto ‘steadfast faith, beneficent deeds’ perhaps connotes the spiritual force all the principals, teachers, students and old boys of Ying Wa have possessed. Ying Wa people never forget the words in the School Hymn:
We change, but Thou art still the same,
The same good master, teacher, friend;
We change; but Lord, we bear Thy name,
To journey with it to the end.
May the Lord bless Ying Wa College and the boys for generations!