Archive for the 'Education' Category

Remembering Our Teachers On Teachers’ Day

For those that have left school more than 30, 40 or 50 years, it’s difficult to remember all our teachers that had taught us before. But somehow, maybe like me, there are always a couple or a few teachers that will leave a lifetime memory in our life. Anyway let’s take some time to remember and appreciate our teachers on Teachers’ Day – 1st September.

Before I talked about the 3 teachers that I still remember till now, let’s take a look at the below Teacher’s Day card some 29 years ago;

The above card was given to my mother who was a primary school teacher then in 1981. This card leave a very deep impression in me because the card portrayed the so called “Oriental way” of respecting the teacher with the students kneeling down and bowing to the teacher. I hope the student that gave this card to my mother didn’t hint that my mother wanted her students to ‘greet her like an Empress’. Now it’s even more humourous when you see the inside of the card;

Here is what the student wrote “Dear teacher XXX, I will still forget to bring my books. Thank you.” Instead of writing I will never forget to bring my books, she wrote “I will still forget to bring my books”. Amusing right, I wonder if she is trying to make my mother remember her forever…by the way, my mother still keeps this card till now. Even the drawing of the lion dance performance inside the card for a Teacher’s Day card seem rather amusing.

I have never given any teachers a card or a simple present. Don’t ask me why, I really don’t have the answer to it. Frankly I thought Teachers’ Day is celebrated throughout the world on 1st September until I google on it. Now I knew that different countries celebrate Teachers’ Day on a different date and different ways. The World Teachers’ Day is on 5 October annually.

Now back to my 3 most memorable teachers, first my Pri.4A form teacher Mr. Lee Chee Kong (if I didn’t remember wrongly). I wonder why he was not in the class photo taken in 1972;

He was a young man then and the type of teacher that most will termed as “Mr. Nice Guy”. Coincidentally he was also my gymnastic teacher then, and I remember how he walked with us from Beatty Pri Sch to Farrer Park ECA centre for the gymnastic lesson. He even brought us to see the Inter School Gymnastic event to bring out the interests in us. He himself was a gymnast as he used to show us the finer movements when teaching us. The last time I saw him before he left for overseas study was at a class gathering probably in the 80s. Since then, I have lost touch with my primary school classmates and teachers…

Next was another Mr.Nice Guy – Mr. Boh (sorry I only remember him as Mr.Boh because my class nicknamed him as Mr.Boh Tea). He was my class form teacher as well as Maths teacher. I have progressed well in my results because of his teaching and encouragement. I wonder if he is still teaching. Mr. Boh my Sec.2G form teacher;

Mrs.Lee Kian Soon was my Sec.4T1 form teacher in 1978 as shown below;

She also taught us Chemistry. She was very patience with us and helped us a lot in our Chemistry lesson. After 32 years, she is still in Victoria School now as a Larger HOD. With her as my form teacher, I enjoyed my last year in VS and did well in my ‘O’ level too.

Though I’m not a good student (I must admit honestly), I would like to thank the above 3 teachers and appreciate their hardwork and their love for teaching. Happy Teachers’ Day!


What my father wrote;

“Do not weary Heaven with prayers.”

Secondary School Education Over Time

Most of you must be wondering why I’ve not been posting for a long time…about 1 month plus. I’ve been very very busy studying my son’s textbooks, papers and ‘googling’ online. He did badly in his Combined Humanities subject in his Prelim 1 Exam recently. His Combined Humanities subjects consist of Social Studies and History. Whenever I asked him to tell me about each chapter that he had read, he can briefly tell me about it but I don’t understand why he did badly then. Exam phobia? But he did fairly well for the other subjects. So what goes wrong? I spent over a month during the June school holidays to find out why. Read on to find out …

I was from the Class of 1978 in Victoria School. What I meant was I completed Sec. 4 in 1978. 32 years now, my son is from the Class of 2010 of the same school (though the school is now at Siglap Link). Let’s see how Secondary School education had changed over 32 years.

I was in the Afternoon Session (12.30pm to 5pm, don’t really remember the actual time) from Sec.1 to Sec.3 and Morning Session (7.30pm to 12.00pm, sorry don’t really remember) for those from Sec.4 to Pre.U 2. I had my  lunch daily at home since school time was fixed then and Saturday was usually for ECA (now CCA). We didn’t have those additional or make-up classes and it was rather straight forward then. Now my son’s timetable is not fixed daily as they are now Full-Day session. Most of the days, my son end his lesson around 2.15pm and on Thursday will be 1.40pm and Friday 1.05pm. Saturday is CCA if you have any. Sometimes those subject teachers would extend the lessons or have makeup lessons immediately after 2.15pm thus the students went on without lunch…

As there are no more Pre-U classes now, the school can have full-day session. When I was in secondary school, I only remember Catholic JC, Hwa Chong JC and National JC, then later SAJC. There were not many JCs then as most schools have Pre-U classes. A few months back I went for my son’s Sec.4 Meet-the-Parents session and the Principal briefed us on how the school prepared the students for their GCE ‘O’ level exam. In one of the slides, it showed that there are now 17 JCs! Of course the number of Polytechnics have also increased as compared to 2 (Singapore Poly and Ngee An Poly) only then.

The interesting point is that we used to have Pre-U classes in our Secondary School then and later JCs started to emerge. Then Pre-U classes disappeared when JCs took over. Now more and more Secondary Schools wanted to have Integrated Programs so that their best students can proceed straight into their affilated JC after their Sec.4 without taking the GCE ‘O’ Level exam, though the affilated JC is not in the same school compound. To me it’s like going to Pre-U in another building without taking the ‘O’ level.

Back to the Meet-The-Parents session, the Principal went on to tell us about the expected L1R5 to go into VJC, etc. My goodness, my time was much simpler and straight forward – the lesser points the better (Of course English and MT included).

My Sec.4 school results (There isn’t L1R5 during my time);

Now, if one will to choose JC, then the R5 must include Combined Humanities. So for those who wish to go JCs, they must do well in Combined Humanities. When I looked at the number of subjects he is taking for his ‘O’ Level – 8 compared to mine 7 only. Of course during my time when we mentioned we got 7 ‘O’ level credits, and it’s like big deal. Now some students are even taking 9 subjects with all As!

Now, my son’s Prelim 1 results (see the L1R5);

When we were in Sec.3 then, we were streamed into Science, Technical or Art Class. The better students usually will choose to go Science class and they would study Pure Science like Biology, Physics and Chemistry and also Additional Maths. As I was not keen to go to Pre-U then because of General Paper, I choose to go to Technical Stream. I took Science which comprised of Physics, Chemistry and Biology 3-in-1 textbook (General Science) in lower secondary and Physical Science (Physic and Chemistry only) in upper secondary.

My General Science Sec.1 textbook in 1975;

Credit : McGraw-Hill FEP (S) Ltd

My son also took the same 3-in-1 Science in lower secondary though the textbook was Science Adventure but Pure Science for upper secondary. Though each Biology, Physics and Chemistry textbook can be used for 2 years (sec.3 and 4), it also means that each textbook is very thick and the students have to carry them all in their school bag if they have all the 3 subjects on the same day.

My son’s Sec.1 Science Adventure textbook;

Credit : Marshall Cavendish

It was easy to understand then when I looked at my Sec.1 Science textbook contents – simply divided into Chemistry, Biology and Physics.

The contents of my Sec.1 Science textbook;

Above 2 Credits : McGraw-Hill FEP (S) Ltd

While my son’s Sec.1 Science textbook contents are divided into 5 main themes (similar to their Primary School Science) – Measurement, Diversity, Models & Systems, Energy and Interaction. What I understand Measurement, Energy and Interaction are basically Physics, Diversity is Chemistry and Models and Systems are Biology.

My son’s Sec.1 Science textbook contents;

Above 2 Credits : Marshall Cavendish

But look how detail they go into for Sec.1 Biology now – Cells – Structure, Function and Organisation, Photosynthesis, Respiration, etc…

They are taught how do plant cells differ from animal cells in Sec.1 now;

Credit :  Marshall Cavendish

I must admit what I had learnt in Sec.1 Science then was rather brief compared to now. For example what I had studied in Sec.1 Science – Biology was taught in my Pri.5 daughter Science – Cycles….

My Sec.1 Science – Biology topic on Fertilisation in 1975;

Credit : McGraw-Hill FEP (S) Ltd

My Pri.5 daugther Science – Cycles topic on Fertilisation in 2010;

Credit : Marshall Cavendish

So what is left to be taught in Sec.1 now except to dwell deeper into cells, haha. In fact I don’t quite understand why some schools only allow their Sec.3 and 4 to take only Pure Biology, Physics and Chemistry as individual subjects. The contents taught now are like what were taught in Pre-U then.

So what subjects did I took in lower secondary in 1975 and 1976? English, Literature, History, Geography, E.Maths, General Science, Chinese, Art and Technical Drawing (Art and Technical Drawing non exam.) were taught in sec.1 and 2 but National Language (Malay) was only taught in sec.1. Luckily I did rather well in sec.2, I was posted to 3T1 in sec.3 and the 7 subjects were English, E.Maths, A.Maths, Physical Science, Chinese, Technical Drawing and Basic Electricity / Electronics.

What my son took in sec.1 and 2 : English, Chinese, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Literature, Design & Technology, Home Economics, Visual Arts, Civics and Moral Education, Physical Education and Project Work. 13 subjects and all are examinabled. Though the subject name Design & Technology sounds good but my son can’t even do a simply Isometric or Orthographic Drawing after 2 years. As for Home Economics, I really doubt his teacher can cook better than me…hm…..or even thread a needle faster than me…What surprises me was they even have to study the theory of Physical Education. As for Project Work, as usual, they were not taught how to use the computer softwares but were expected to know by themselves (eg. Video Editing software like Adobe Premiere, etc.).

Another interesting subject to highlight the differences is History. I only managed to find my Sec.1 History textbook (New Secondary Histories), so I can’t compared the Sec.2 to 4. We started learning from the Early Man (Prehistoric Man) to History on Mesopotamia (Is it Middle East, not sure), Egypt, India, China, Phoenicians and Jews, Greece, Rome. The Rise of Christianity, Buddhism and early India empires, Chinese Empires, Prehistoric SEA, Early Kindoms of SEA and the Byzantine Empire. Well, look like quite a lot to study right?

Here is my Sec.1 History textbook;

Credit : Longman Malaysia Sdn. Berhad

My son Sec.1 History textbook;

Credit : Marshall Cavendish

And what was taught in his Sec.1 History then : Reconstructing the Past; Civilisations, Kingdoms and Empires – India, China, SEA; Government and Society – India, China, SEA, Organisation of Society like India Caste System and China Class System; Culture – India (Hinduism and Buddhism), China (Confucianism, Legalism, Taoism, Religion in China), SEA (Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam), Scientific and Artistic Achievements – India, China, SEA; Contact and Interaction – India, China, SEA; Threats and Responses – India, China, SEA, External Threats. Basically the History of India, China and SEA are taught under different topics (units) now in my son’s History textbook. I find it rather complicated in this manner.

So in upper secondary sec.3 and 4, he took English, Chinese, A.Maths, E.Maths, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Combined Humanities (all 8 subjects). But his Combined Humanities consists of both Social Studies and History which can be considered 2 different sub-subjects too. But this time the 3 Pure Science subjects are too much for me to coach him except the topics on Electricity in Physics.

As for Combined Humanities, it is even worst. Understanding the subjects but unable to write in the required format for SBQ (Source Based Questions) and SEQ (Structured Essay Questions) can guarantee you to fail like my son. Now I understand why my son didn’t do well for this Combined Humanities subject only as it’s really not an easy task to answer the SBQ in the required format using the skills like Inference, Inference with Purpose, Reliability, Comparison, etc…and also the SEQ.

Now you understand why I’m MIA (Missing In Action) for 1 month plus….and I’ve yet to start reading the History textbook. And now when I take a peep at my own ‘O’ level cert., I realised my L1R5 is not too good either. I only managed a L1R5 of 16;

Well my L1R5 is no good too, I shouldn’t expect too much from my son, right?

What my father wrote;

“It never rains but it pours.”

Please Get Up After Your Fall

This is not my normal post in my blog but a very motivational video that I think I should share with all of you whether you are an adult or student. It’s only 3 minutes of your time but it benefits you throughout your life! It beats all the motivational talks and seminars that I’ve attended really. Short and sharp to the point. Click HERE for direct URL if you are unable to view the below video;


What my father wrote;

“Fools lade water and wise men catch the fish”


The younger generation probably may not know what is ETV. Also not many may bother about it. But ETV means a lot to me at that time.

Credit : The Straits Times

This was the TV programmes list in The Straits Times 27 years ago (1981). Nothing special except the channels were known as SBC 5 (Channel 5), SBC 8 (Channel 8), Malaysia 3 (Malaysia Channel 3) and Malaysia 10 (Malaysia Channel 10 where occassionally we had some Cantonese shows).

From my previous post here, SBC was formed probably from 1980 to 1994. From the above newspaper cut-out, you can see at the bottom – CDIS (Curriculum Development Instittute of Singapore) section. This was the Educational TV Programmes for students, probably mainly Primary School students. In fact the CDIS was formed about the same year as SBC in 1980, by MOE.

Credit : The Straits Times

What about before that when I was in Primary School in the 70s? I remember it was known as ETV (probably Educational TV programmes). Of course it was the RTS times in the 70s. The teacher would brought the whole class to the TV Room to watch the 10 to 15 minutes of ETV (in black and white at that time), mainly covering subjects like English, Maths and Science. Not many of us had TVs at home, so watching such educational programmes on TV in school really thrilled us. Sometimes the class was noisy and we arrived late and only managed to watch to the last 5 minutes of the show.

You may wish to read more about ETV from this article.

In fact, ETV was started sometime in 1967. At that time Mr. Ong Pang Boon was the Minister For Education. Primary School students watching ETV in the TV room (1971) ;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Classroom Of The 60s And 70s

This is the common type of classroom of most schools. The most obvious things that you may not be able to see in nowadays classrooms were probably the “blackboard” and the type of “tables and chairs”. The photo above taken in 1962, shows a typical classroom in a rural area then.

Below are some of the things we used in the classes and schools of the 60s and 70s. Credit to National Archives of Singapore for the National Heritage Fair in 2007.

A morning exercise or PE lesson scene;

The type of old tables we used in the classroom;

Typical PE ‘tools’ then. I remember these round rubberised type we used during PE lessons, also not forgetting those bean bags. I’m surprised to find out from my daughter that it’s still being used now.

How a blackboard looks like;

Of course to write on a blackboard, you need to use chalk and not markers. There were different colors for chalk too. To erase, we used the duster.

The other use of the duster is for the teacher to throw it at those naughty or sleeping students. Remember those chalk and duster marks left on the face once the duster hit your face. Back then, no parents seem to bother to complain and students also don’t bother to tell their parents too.

I had my primary education from 1969 to 1974, when was yours?

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?

My Old Chinese Composition Exercise Book

This is my old Chinese Composition exercise book, 31 years ago when I was in Sec.3 (1977);

Note that this old Chinese Composition exercise book was turned from left to right as it was binded on the right side instead of on the left side.

Take a look at the inside;

The unique part is the pages are joined in this manner;

Nowadays I don’t think the school is still using such Chinese Composition exercise book. My Sec.2 son’s Chinese Composition paper is in the form of foolscap paper type;

Of course I prefer the new type which is more convenient!


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April 2020