Girls school opened in 1879

The Escuela de Niñas or School for Girls, was located in the capital city of Hagåtña. The original building fell into disrepair, and a new building for the school was constructed in 1879 during the administration of Governor Manuel Bravo y Berrera. It relocated west of the Plaza de Magallanes at the corner of Mariana de Austria Street. The school was constructed out of stone masonry, known as mampostería, with a tile roof. The building was divided into two classrooms for instruction and could accommodate up to 150 students.

One teacher and an assistant, or ayudante, taught the young ladies, ages four to eleven. The curriculum consisted of classes in Christian doctrine, reading, writing, arithmetic, sewing, and embroidery. A report on primary instruction in 1886 notes that the Escuela de Niñas had an enrollment of 356. Both the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán and the Escuela de Niñas were overcrowded facilities during the nineteenth century, prompting an official request to Spain for the construction of an additional school on the island.

The teacher and assistant were paid with funds from an education endowment (obra pía) from Queen Mariana of Austria, Spain’s queen regent for the Colegio de San Juan de Letrán, which was a boys’ school.

By Velma Yamashita

For further reading

Ibanez y García, Luis. The History of the Marianas, with Navigational Data, and of the Caroline, and Palau Islands from the time of their Discovery by Magellan to the Present (1887). MARC Educational Series 12. Translated and annotated by Marjorie G. Driver. Mangilao: University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center, 1992.

Olive y Garcia, Francisco. The Mariana Islands, 1884-1887: Random Notes of Governor Francisco Olive y Garcia. Translated by Marjorie G. Driver. Mangilao, GU: University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center, 1984.

Vara de Rey y Rubio, Joaquín, Luis Santos Fontordera and Luis Cadarso y Rey. Reports Concerning the Mariana Islands: The Memorias of 1890-1894. MARC Educational Series 25. Translated by Marjorie G. Driver. Mangilao, GU: University of Guam Richard F. Taitano Micronesian Area Research Center, 2000.