My Secondary Technical Education

I carried a big technical drawing board with a T-rule and a drum of technical drawing papers to school! You can never imagined how big that technical drawing board was then. Luckily, I don’t have to carry it for long, only for the first few lessons.

When I walked past my neighbour’s house, I saw this spade hanging on her plant.

I remember that was a spade made during my Metal Workshop in Secondary school technical class. Her son was also a Victorian years back! I didn’t know that the same spade design (only slight changes in design) was used over so many many years.

During my Secondary education from 1975 to 1978, the educational system was very much different from now. The aim then was probably to develop an educational system that will support and develop the country into a modern industrial nation. Thus in the 70s, we see the evolution of strong technical education component in our secondary education.

For the first 2 years (Sec.1 and 2) of secondary education, we were to study technical subjects outside school hours besides our normal academic subjects. As my secondary school – Victoria School, did not have such technical workshop facilities, we had to attend our technical training at a McNair Centralised Workshop at Towner Road (or McNair Rd). This was different from the then Vocational Institute education.

Below shows the McNair Centralised Workshop at the then Towner Road;

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS.

There were a number of such Centralised Workshops to cater to students from the normal academic secondary schools for district or area. Secondary schools then were divided into Morning Session (7.35am to 1.00pm) and Afternoon Session (1.05pm to 6.30pm), so those in the Morning Session will attend the workshop in the Afternoon (from 2.30pm to 6.00pm) and those in the Afternoon Session will attend workshop in the morning (8.00am to 11.30am).

At that time, I remember we were taught Woodworking, Metal Work and Electricity. The most unforgettable thing was the smelly dark blue apron we wore over our school uniform when we attended the workshop session.

Below shows the drawing of the Letter Rack we have to make during the Woodworking Workshop;

Credit : Unesco, Asian Centre of Educational Innovation for development, Bangkok. Ministry of Education, Singapore.

As Victoria School is a all boys school, so all of us have to attend the technical training. But I heard that those in the mixed school, all the boys and half of the girls population needed to attend the technical training; the other half of the girls population will attend Home Economics. Maybe later in the years, all will have to attend the technical training.

The purpose of technical education was to expose students in the lower secondary to practical workshop experiences in handling some basic tools and machineries. I appreciated such training as it makes us a more “DIY” person.

After Sec.2, we were streamed into Science, Technical (or Commerce in some schools) or Arts streams according to our grades and selection. I selected Technical stream to continue my Sec.3 and 4 education then. In Sec.3 and 4, we continued our Technical education at Balestier Hill Secondary Technical School (think now it’s known as just Balestier Hill Secondary School) instead of McNair. I hated the morning assembly at Balestier Hill Secondary Technical School, as their disciplinary master always picked on us students from VS, especially claiming that our hair is too long, etc….

Now my son in Sec.1 (same Victoria School) only have D&T (Design and Technology) as a subject in the first semester of the year! Finally the project has changed, and they are making a simple guitar;

The painting is done in the 2nd Semester of the year under the Art Lesson;

Personally I think without painting looks better hehe.

Though the subject title Design and Technology sounds very “great” but what they are learning are very basic. Here is their textbook;

For only half a year (1st semester only), how much can they learn?

If you make a trip to the Singapore Philatelic Museum, you can find the 1981 issue of Tehnical Training First Day Cover stamps;

Credit : Singapore Philatelic Museum.

When I compared my son’s textbook and notes, I think we were taught more in detail during our time compared to now. When I asked my son how can we divide a straight line into 5 equal parts using only a compass; he said he can only divide a straight line into equal even numbers by bisecting them but not odd numbers. Now, let me show you;

Below shows a typical 10years series of the G&M (Geometric and Mechanical) Drawing for Sec.4 students given to me by my friend, Annie Chin in Pre U 1 in VS then (there were girls in VS Pre U in the past);

Here is a sample of the 1975 Paper;

Oh no, how I miss my T-rule!

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6 Responses to “My Secondary Technical Education”


  1. 1 victor koo Monday, October 22, 2007 at 11:07 pm

    I remember going to McNair Workshop in Towner Road for my metal workshop around 1970. But the garden spade I made had a curved surface. (We bent the flat metal plate by hammering it against a metal pipe.) We had to attach a wooden handle to the finished product too.

    While filing the spade, my grip on the file slipped and my thumb was cut deeply by the sharp metal. The 1/2 inch wound bled profusely. The teacher brought me to Tan Tock Seng Hospital to have the wound stitched up. Only 1 stitch was required. The scar is still visible on my thumb.

    I also remember going to Rangoon Road Secondary School but can’t remember whether it was for woodworking workshop or what.

  2. 2 laokokok Tuesday, October 23, 2007 at 7:41 am

    Hi Victor, there are some minor variation in the design of the spade years after years. Maybe different teacher in charge, they did some modification. Yep, always got injury during workshop – especially metal workshop.

  3. 3 soon keong Friday, November 2, 2007 at 5:44 pm

    Hi, I was in VS from ’78 to ’81. Did the metal work and wood work in McNair too. Disliked them though especially the metal work. I still remember filing the steel hammer head and it was a really tough job. Got into Science stream finally and waved bye bye to the technical lessons. My form teacher in Sec 1 was Mr. Low and he gave me the strongest impression among all teachers. I remember my Sec 3 teacher was a German fella but I don’t remember his name now; I do remember that he made us copied the grammar book from front to end, and made us greet him “GOOD DAY! MR. xxx !!!” instead of the lethargic “Good …. Morning …… Teacher ….zzzzzz). Anyway, just popping in to share the nostalgia. GOOD DAY!

  4. 4 laokokok Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Glad to meet anther Victorian here, how are you?

    It’s really nice to share their nostalgia stories here.

  5. 5 Judy Kuan Monday, September 9, 2013 at 9:58 am

    Hey- I did the same spade too during metal work. I was a gal from Rangoon Sec –


  1. 1 wywóz odpadów zielonych Łódź Trackback on Monday, July 11, 2016 at 5:28 pm

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