CHIJ St. Joseph’s Convent (SJC) began as a private school in a rented house at Flower Road in 1938. There were 21 pupils under the care of one nun of the Order of the Holy Infant Jesus and two teachers. The school was then known as Paya Lebar Convent.
The enrolment rose steadily to 79 pupils with classes from Primary 1 to Secondary 3 up till the outbreak of World War II in 1945. After the war, the school reopened in a bungalow lent by a neighbor, off Upper Serangoon Road where the present “The Helping Hand’, a Christian halfway house stands. Enrolment then had risen to 214.
In 1945, SJC moved to 11 Hillside Drive where a wooden building comprising four classrooms was erected, all paid for by mission funds. A year later, Paya Lebar Convent was renamed St. Joseph’s Convent – in recognition of the protection the Saint had given our school through Sister Theodora’s prayers.
In 1949, SJC was approved as an Aided School. In the following years, enrollment swelled and the school expanded with the addition of new classrooms along Highland Road, and the installation of a science laboratory and kitchen.
Netball as a co-curricular activity was started in 1965 by teacher Mrs Cecile Tan who served as both coach and teacher-in-charge. The sport became a niche CCA for generations of students who were known to be formidable opponents in Netball at the National School Games and the Pesta Sukan competitions.
After Singapore’s independence, the school’s primary section was gradually phased out. In 1974, SJC became a full-fledged secondary school with morning and afternoon sessions. CHIJ Our Lady of the Nativity (OLN) and CHIJ Our Lady of Good Counsel (OLGC) became the primary schools affiliated to SJC.
In 1978, three SJCians made history when they emerged among the nation’s top performers in GCE O-Level Examination.
Over the next two decades, the school continued to grow. By 1986, enrollment reached 920 and major renovations work was completed to meet the needs of the staff and students. In 1990, the school’s first Computer Room was set up.
In 2000, SJC moved to our current site at Sengkang East Way in November. It was also the year that SJC produced her first top National student in the GCE N-Level examination. The school’s good results continued and SJC achieved the Top 10 Value-Added School for Normal and Express stream in 2002.
Besides the school’s academic achievements, SJCians’ excellence in the co-curricular area was also recognised in 2007 when the school received her first Sustained Achievement Award (SAA) in Uniformed Group & first SAA in Performing Arts from MOE.
In 2011, the opening of the Indoor Sports Hall was celebrated with a fund-raising walkathon. The event brought past and present girls and staff together as they walked from our former site in Hillside Drive to the present site in Sengkang East Way.
In the 2000s, SJC continued to shine and was recognised for her effort in developing students holistically. In 2014, SJC attained three Best Practice Awards for Teaching and Learning, Character and Citizenship Education and Staff Development. The school’s differentiated approach to support her Normal-stream students was also acknowledged with the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Innovations in 2015.
To mark the 165th anniversary of CHIJ schools in Singapore, the IJ fraternity came together in a combined Mass at the National Stadium and a CHIJ Forum in 2019.
In 2023, SJC will commemorate her 85th anniversary and celebrate the many blessings we have received as a school. The theme “Light from Within” reminds us to put Christ the Light at the centre of all we do as we respond to the call to serve the larger community and shine our light for others.