In the second half of the XIX century, the implementation of the education in Macau were practically performed by the Church. Although there were some good initiatives to establish schools here, such as the cases of James Matheson, who set up the Escola Principal de Instrução Pública, and of António Alexandrino de Melo, Viscount of Cercal, who founded the Nova Escola Macaense, both schools were short lived as they did not attract the interest of anybody else.
The only educational establishment operating regularly and efficiently then was the Seminário de S. José, with a brilliant teaching staff consisted by the priests from the Companhia de Jesus, the majority of whom were foreigners.
In 1870, with the scope of a national rearrangement of the religious teaching, an order of expulsion came from Lisbon in which all the foreign teachers of Macau schools were forced to leave.
This decree fell like a bomb in the city, for its enforcement would bring disastrous effects to the future of the education system in Macau.
In spite of the protests raised by citizens and petitions sent to the Lisbon government, nothing could stop that the expulsion law be applied here.
There was a long time concern to set up an educational institution adjusted to the area of business, where a great number of the youth could be adequately prepared to qualify for a position above the lowest level of the government services or in any of the Hong Kong or Shanghai business companies. In this troublesome moment that followed the controversial law, the said idea got shape.
As such, on September 17th 1871, a group of 19 wealthy and influential citizens assembled in the house of Maximiano António dos Remédios and decided to formalize, in the form of legal deed, a limited company aimed at the development of education. Hence the Associação Promotora da Instrução dos Macaenses (APIM) was born.
Since the birth of APIM until the establishment of the intended commercial school a lot of difficulties emerged. But, the commitment of all the members and of the voluntary teachers, especially the effort rendered by Pedro Nolasco da Silva, have made possible for the school to open its doors on January 8th 1878.
In recognition of Pedro Nolasco da Silva's dedication and effort, the local community decided unanimously to name the Escola Comercial after him.
During the 120 years of its life, the Escola Comercial was always under the entire responsibility of the APIM. In spite of having gone through enormous financial difficulties, in different periods, the school had always been regarded as its prime cause.
The days of Escola Comercial came to an end in 1998, with the establishment of the Escola Portuguesa. However, the responsibility entrusted to APIM is still in place.
According to the article 5 of the Regulation of the Fundação da Escola Portuguesa, attached to the Decree no. 89-B/98, dated April 9th 1998, the APIM is one of the five members.