Friday, 13 October 2017 | MYT 12:00 AM
Fond memories of great teachers
READING the Star2 article “Gone but not forgotten” (Sunday Star, Oct 8) brought back happy memories of my teachers.
Back in the 1950s when I was in Primary Four, I had an Indian teacher who was very fierce but she was very dedicated, hard working and kind.
My family was poor and both of my parents worked from morning till evening every day to make ends meet.
I was a below average pupil but I always completed my homework because my tiger mother would check my exercise books when she got home at night.
One Saturday morning at about six o’clock, she woke me up and caned me. I was shocked.
When I asked her why, she showed me my exercise book in which I had only three right answers to 10 questions. She said she was not literate but she knew what the crosses meant and they made her very sad and angry.
In tears, she told me that she and my father worked very hard to ensure their children would have some education to enable us to have better lives.
She told me she never wanted to see more than five crosses to 10 questions in my exercise book anymore.
To avoid being caned again, I made sure I had five or more right answers to 10 questions after that.
My improvement surprised my teacher, Miss Kandiah, who inspired me to do even better after she baked a cake for me on my birthday. I had also scored better in the mid-term examination.
My mother cooked mee suah with two hard-boiled eggs for my birthday but the cake from Miss Kandiah was the first birthday cake or gift I had ever received from another person.
I became very attentive and studied very hard due to her encouragement, and topped the class at the end of the year.
I continued to make progress and had good results for my Standard Six examination and was selected to continue my secondary education in a premium school.
At that time, those who failed the Standard Six examination would have to stop schooling or continue their secondary education in private schools.
Miss Kandiah treated all the pupils in class equally and baked cakes and made curry puffs for us regularly.
Her dedication, kindness, deep concern and guidance were instrumental in the improvement of many of the pupils. Many of them were promoted from the fourth class to the top two classes in Standard Five. That could had been the turning points of our lives.
She was a teacher, a sister (as she was about 30 years old at that time) and motivator to those young children. I can still remember how she looked although it was 59 years ago when she was my teacher.
I believe that she enjoyed great happiness and satisfaction when many of her pupils were promoted to good classes.
When I was in secondary school, I also had teachers who were like friends to me and my fellow students as they played games and went camping with us. Many were young men who were like big brothers to us.
When I was in Form Two, for example, an English teacher used his own money to buy novels for us to read. I fondly remember the first novel, Dr No by Ian Fleming, that I read. It cultivated the love for reading novels in me and I am sure many of my classmates also developed an interest in reading because of this.
Teachers are very important in moulding children and they should be respected. Parents should teach their children to show respect for their teachers. In fact, parents should attend activities in schools to show their support for their children’s schools and teachers. Their attendance would show that they appreciate what the schools and teachers are doing for their children.