In the news recently is that some top independent schools will have the funding cut by MOE, to bring top schools on par with other schools, and possibly remove the elitism from them. (Thus, my son’s chance of spending a term in Beijing satellite school is now left hanging.) These schools, equipped with Olympic size swimming pools, tennis courts and aircon classrooms, are the envy of many schools. To be fair, it was reported that many of these facilities were paid for by alumni, as these schools have strong alumini, which are fundamental to what constitute ‘good’ schools.
I am thus bewildered as to why MOE chose to close down schools before and then building new schools with no histories and alumni. Dwindling enrollment is no excuse, as, if they can move other schools away their original locations and still retain the name, why can’t they do the same to these schools, already with histories and alumni. Most schools that were closed I know were Chinese schools, which is a pity, for the alumni could have contributed just as much as the mission schools had done.
When I was studying at Nanyang back in 1970s, the girls expected to be there for 12 years. Some were educated at the nearby Nanyang Kindergarten and proceeded to Nanyang Girls’ High School all the way to Pre-U two, whereby they then took the A’levels. Regardless of your PSLE grades, as long as you pass, you can go on to secondary one at the school. Thus stress was low and friendship firm. Things changed later on and the primary school was established as a separate school, while the Pre-U classes were closed when Junior Colleges were formed. I am lucky my school still exists and has a strong alumni.
During a recent PSG gathering for the school I volunteer in, a colleague told us sadly that his primary school teacher, whom he visited together with his classmates annually, passed away. When I asked him what school he was from, he sighed regretfully and said the school is no longer around. As chairperson of school adversary committee for his children’s school, he could have contributed to his alumni greatly had the school not closed down.
Mike’s school, Tuan Mong, where he was educated from Primary one to secondary 4, was also closed down. Although closed, the alumni association continues to celebrate the school’s anniversary annually. A new school, Ngee Ann Secondary was formed in its place but I guess like Mike, there is no sense of connection between the new school and the Tuan Mong alumni.
Two friends who used to stay in Chua Chu Kang kampongs related to me fondly about their primary school 南山 , now changed name to South View Primary School. With the change in name, location, and building, the link is lost to them.
Nanyang Technology University (NTU) made news today for offering MOOC courses on Coursera. I was astonished that NTU now offers Humanities, Arts and Social Science, as well as having a medical school. When I was in NUS, NTU was known as NTI and only offered Engineering courses. Nanyang University (南洋大学, abbreviated Nantah, 南大) was a university in Singapore from 1956 to 1980. During its existence, it was Singapore’s only Chinese language post-secondary institution.
Having read the history on wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanyang_University) and reading the news that the NTU is offering a course on Chinese Philosophy, I feel it’s time to return the NTU to Nanyang University, now that it’s a full-fledged university. I am sure the old Alumni would welcome it.
We all have sentimental relationships towards the history that shaped us, whether they be schools, teachers, playgrounds, food or even toys. We spend so much time in school it’s almost cruel to remove schools from Singapore history. The closing of schools is unlike the demolitions of buildings, it’s much more.
And I wish policy makers realise that soon…er.