Tonga Celebrates 150 Years Of Western Education In Kingdom

King Tupou VI opens new building at Tupou College

NUKU‘ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, June 24, 2016) – The new Taufa'ahau Tupou IV Memorial Building at Tupou College, Toloa, was opened by HM King Tupou VI, yesterday June 23.

The King also launched an impressive 500 pages book documenting the 150 years of the school's history, titled Tupou College Sesquicentenary History 1866-2016. 

The sesquicentenary celebration is historically significant, as it marks the introduction of the Western education system to Tonga, and the creation of the Tongan alphabet and numerals that we are using today.

At the beginning of a new era for Tonga, the new book notes the negative views of John Whewell, a Wesleyan missionary who had been in Tonga for about 10 years when Dr James Egan and his wife Emma Moulton arrived in Tonga on 28 May 1865, and clearly spells out the state of education in Tonga at the time.

“The people had remained ‘ignorant’ because years of missionary work had produced only a Bible, a Geography, and a few elementary school books. What they had failed to do, he said, was to produce ‘a vernacular literature’.”

“Whewell could not have imagined how, within a very short time, Tupou College students would have an increasing number of text books in their own language, as Moulton worked tirelessly to build up the store of vernacular literature.”

The Tupou College Sesquicentenary History 1866-2016 tells the story of the development of education in Tonga by early Wesleyan missionaries.

It began with a very humble beginning at Nuku’alofa in 1866-1920, then it shifted to Nafualu 1921-1948, then to Toloa-Tupou College 1948-2016.

When the college started in Nuku’alofa in 1866 it had 30 students, but now Tupou College, an all boys college has about 1000 boys.

The history was prepared by a team of writers and editors: Rev. Siupeli Taliai, Mrs Helen Talai, Rev. Dr. Geoffrey Cummins, Mrs Anne Cummins, and Rev ‘Alifeleti ‘Atiola and Mrs ‘Aioema ‘Atiola.

New building

The Taufa’ahau Tupou IV Building, built by the Tupou College Ex-students Association to mark the 150th anniversary, and in memory of the late King Taufa’ahau Tupou IV, a former student of Tupou College.

Lord Tangi, the Secretary General of the Tupou College Ex-students Association thanked ex-students, members of the Methodist Church, in Tonga, New Zealand, Australia and the USA for their generous contributions, that had supported the $3.3 million pa'anga building project.

Lord Tangi said that the Ex-students Association started fundraising for the 150th annversary in early 2014, andt by June 2014 they started the Taufa'ahau TupouIV Foundation with $2 million pa'anga.

Lord Tangi said that the Foudation had gone on to raise $5.3 million since 2014, $3.3m for the building and the balance for other projects, and he proudly announced that they were not in debt.

Lord Tangi tributed Crown Prince Tupouto'a 'Ulukalala, an ex-student of Tupou College, for his support in the association's fund raising programs.

The remaining funds will be for projects, including two classrooms and the maintenance of old school buildings and essential facilities.

The Taufa’ahau Tupou IV Building includes a library, computer and internet rooms, a Lecture Theatre and staff offices.

He said that the computers and the internet facilities were provided by Newington College, New South Wales, Australia.

During the celebration, a brotherly working relationship document was signed between Tupou College and Newington College.

The three-days Tupou College Sesquicentennial celebration which started on Wednesdy, 22 June will end tonight, Friday, 24 June, with a Royal Sesquicentennial Musical Presentation at Moulton Chapel, Tupou College.

Matangi Tonga Magazine
Copyright © 2016 Matangi Tonga. All Rights Reserved

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