My Father’s Time

So what am I going to talk about my father’s time? I got a surprise when my mother dig out some old documents during my lunch visit to them yesterday. Among the old documents, I saw a photograph of my father’s education certificate – not 1 but a stack of it (all the same);

My father told me that in the past before the introduction of photocopier or xerox machine in Singapore, most students would bring their school certificates to the photo studio to have them photographed. The minimum print then was probably 12 pieces. Even if photocopy or xerox was available later, it was still very expensive.

My father would used this photographed copy to apply for jobs, similar to us now using photocopied type. It’s about the size of 3R photo but slightly longer and narrower, so it may have problem fitting into a normal pocket album.

As you can see from the photograph, my father had his Senior Middle education in Catholic High School then. Many people asked my father what is Senior Middle? My father told me that during his time, the education system was 3-3 compared to my time 4-2. OK, so my time was 4 years of Secondary education and 2 years of Pre-U (later then it’s Junior College). My father’s time was 3 years of Secondary education and 3 years of Pre-U education. So his graduation from Senior Middle 3 means he had completed his Pre-U 2 education and could continue to further his studies in the university. He didn’t go to the U then because at that time, my grandfather and my uncles could not afford it.

One thing to note is why was he 21 years old when he graduated from Senior Middle 3 in 1952 then? Most of us would be 18 years old if we will to complete Pre-U 2 but why was he about 3 years older? Clue – he did not repeat his education.

My father was educated in Chinese then but in Catholic he was also taught English. Most Chinese-speaking parents then usually wanted their children to be educated in Chinese for their cultural identity.Catholic High School was founded in 1935 by Rev. Fr. Edward Becheras, a French missionary. Although it is a Catholic school, it also accepts non-Catholic students like my father. Thanks to Rev. Fr. Edward Becheras, my father was educated in both Chinese and English. Becheras envisioned the school of bilingual learning.

So have you got the answer why was he 21years old when he completed his Senior Middle 3 in 1951?

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6 Responses to “My Father’s Time”


  1. 1 Victor Koo Friday, July 18, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    If your father didn’t repeat any of his years in school, then he must have entered school 3 years late, am I right?

  2. 2 laokokok Monday, July 21, 2008 at 7:45 am

    Yes Victor you got to tell why and not he entered school 3 years later hehe.

  3. 3 Victor Koo Monday, July 21, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    Let me hazard a guess. During your dad’s time, there was no such thing as a compulsory age to attend primary school. (At my time, a child must attend Primary 1 in the year if he/she is 6 years’ old or more on 1st January that year.) So your dad probably ‘missed the boat’ by 3 years?

  4. 4 laokokok Tuesday, July 22, 2008 at 7:25 am

    You are wrong again Victor. In fact during my father’s time, many also graduated around the same age as him for the senior middle.

  5. 5 laokokok Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 8:00 am

    OK, let me tell you the reason. It’s because of the Japanese Occupation and in fact many students were affected at that time.

  6. 6 Victor Koo Wednesday, July 30, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Ah, okay. I never thought of the Japanese occupation because I’ve never experienced such a thing – both the occupation and such a long vacation. 😉


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