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ImageSXI Boarding House Section (Hostel)


Take a glimpse of life at the SXI hostel from 1852 to the early 1970s when it was phased out. 

ImageBoarding in SXI dated back to the early days of 1852 when the Brothers took in orphans as student boarders. Later, boys from outstations joined the Boarding Section. Many were from Butterworth, Prai, and  Bukit Mertajam on the mainland. In later years, large numbers of Chinese boys from Phuket, Pattani Bangkok, Medan (North Sumatra), Kuching, and the Malay states, particularly from the tin-producing areas of Perak and Selangor also came to stay. They were mainly from the affluent Chinese families who wanted an English education for their sons. When the Queen’s Scholarship was inaugurated in the late 1880s, it provided an added incentive for boys outside the island to enroll in the school as student boarders so they could vie for this prestigious annual scholarship award. SXI produced 14 Queen’s scholars from 1888 to 1935,

The number of boarders averaged sixty (60) towards the end of the nineteenth century. The number was slightly below a hundred (100) throughout the 1920s though there was room for a maximum of 120.  However, the number of boarders dropped to between 50 and 60 during the 1930s due to depression. The age of the boarders ranged from seven (7) to seventeen (17). Every boarder had to pay a fee for his upkeep. During the 1920s this amount was about Straits $55.00 per month. However, concessions and generous subsidies were granted to the orphans and needy students. Only a small number of boarders at any one time paid the full fee. Thus, the Boarding Section depended heavily on the Brothers’ funds.

The older Xaverians would probably remember that before WWII, the boarders were housed on the top floor of Block B of the old main school building, known as the Dormitory; while the Study Room or Halls were on the ground floor immediately below. The Dressing Room and Baths were on the second floor of Block C while the refectory and infirmary were located on the ground floor and first floor of Block E respectively. The Play Area for the Boarders were limited to the Quadrangles and Yards.


Life at the hostel was pretty regimented. A Brother Prefect of Boarders, appointed by the Brother Director, devoted full-time to the management of the hostel. He dictated practically all aspects of the boarder’s life from dispensing pocket money to issuing stationery and books from the School Book Shop and also to the enforcement of discipline and studies. He was assisted by other young Brothers in the various duties. The Brother Prefect also appointed about six Monitors from among the boarders to assist in supervising the daily routines.

SXI Boarders (1956 - 1957)



A great consolation was that the boys did not have to prepare meals, do general house-keeping and laundry as these chores were done by servants. The boys were to devote their time and attention to studies

A typical school day routine starts at 5.30 am with breakfast at 7.00 am.  Dinner was served at 7.00 pm and all must retire to bed by 10.00 pm. Prayers, studies, games, bath, rests etc strictly adhered to schedules. Older boys who needed to prepare for exams could rise at 4.30 am with the Brothers and study until the rest were awakened.

The academic performance of the Boarders were closely monitored by the Brother Director and Brother Prefect. Each Monday evening during study time they would examine the Weekly Class Report of each boarder.  Punishment or penalties would be meted out to those whose progress were deemed unsatisfactory. Notwithstanding the emphasis on academic achievement, the boarders were encouraged to participate actively in extra-curricular activities like athletics and games namely football, basketball, badminton, cricket, hockey and rugby. Most excelled in these activities and helped to bring ‘glory’ to the school at inter-school competitions. However, participating in uniformed units was not favoured mainly because of restriction on outings and camping.



Once a month, the boarders were allowed to go to town to purchase whatever they needed. However, this privilege was granted based on good Weekly Class Reports. Boarders from nearby areas would leave for their hometown during the short school vacations; but those from afar normally stayed back participating in picnics or outings sometimes organized by the Brothers.

ImageWhen the new school building was completed in 1954, there was no allocation for a Boarding Section and the few boarders were accommodated at the building in Leith Street. ImageThe Brother Prefect of Boarders then was the much feared but also much loved Brother Michael Paulin Blaise, nicknamed “LAU HOR” meaning TIGER in the local Hokkien dialect! He finally said goodbye in June, 1959. To mark the occasion the boarders staged a variety concert directed by Bro. Francis at which Marcellus Chia, my fellow classmate and Head Prefect, Hostel thanked Bro. Michael for all he did and wished him "Bon Voyage" and a pleasant holiday. There is no doubt that his firm but paternal guidance had inculcated in them (the boarders) life's wholesome moral and social values.

The hostel survived into the early part of 1970 after which it was gradually phased out.

Acknowledgement with thanks:
La Salle Brothers, Penang District
The Late Brother Michael Jacques FSC
St. Xaver’s Institution, Penang
Fellow Classmates and Schoolmates (1954-1959)


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