IN 1946, THE Singapore Foochow Association raised $80,000 to pay for a school building on Mount Sophia as the new home of San Shan Primary School, a Chinese-language school that provided free lessons.

The Chinese clan's leaders had first set up the school in 1924 at its old premises in Club Street, but it was closed two years later due to shortage of funds.

A few years after San Shan was re-opened, the clan had to spend another $300,000 on the school's expansion and redevelopment, when enrolment rose to 1,000 by the early 1950s.

However, in 1982, it gave up running the school again following changes in Singapore's language and education policies which led to the closure of all Chinese-language stream schools here.

But the school's 42,000 sq ft site at 107A Sophia Road turned out to be a $14 million windfall for the association when the Government acquired it in 1996.

The compensation certainly came in handy for the association to grow. The Foochow Association's president, Mr Diong Tai Pew, 59, an accountant, says the act of charity by his predecessors in raising money and re-opening the school more than 60 years ago has benefited the 100-year-old association and its members today.

Foochow still strong at 100