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不负特选之名——敬贺南华小学百年校庆

1985年8月,已有近70年历史的南华小学自市区迁至金文泰新镇,经过三十年的苦心经营与发展,如今已是我国西部地区的一所名校。今年,南华迎来百年大庆。一所学校历经整百年沧桑岁月的淘洗,不但屹立不倒,还能不断壮大、欣欣向荣,诚属不易。

其实,当我们为南华小学今天所取得的不俗成就而自豪时,也许亦当回顾一下她如浴火重生之一段艰辛。作这样的回顾自然可以有多重视角,但我们如果以她当年被教育部纳入“特选小学计划”之中的这一命运之转折为切入点,或许更能有深切的感受。

进入1950年代以后,新加坡的母语学校即已荣景不在。淡米尔文小学在1976年已招不到小一新生,马来文小学在1982年也陷入同样困境,而华文小学在1983年招收到的翌年小一新生,仅有260名,只占当年全国小一新生总数的0.7%。政府于是在1989年挑选出十所传统华文小学,将其定位为“特选小学”。所谓的特选小学,就是在学校中将英文和华文并列为第一语文,希望能培养出得以同时掌握好华、英两种语文的学生。

如果只是要华文与英文并重,那为什么这项计划不把传统英校包括在内,而仅从华校里面去“特选”呢?原来这一政策之用心,非关语文而已,而是尚有保存华校之传统的深意。依当局之理解,语文课程容易规划,但华校经数十年之积累所树立起来的校风与传统,就不是可以轻易复制或横向移植的。也就是说,要延续华校独有的风气,或许有必要让这样的传承能在学校原有的土壤和生态中成长,方有可能。因此当时这些“特选”出来的华校,也被喻之为“种子学校”;被视为苗子或火种,寄有保存华校校风之厚望。

南华小学便是当初最早被圈点出来的这十所小学之一。她在这“特选”的计划下发展了近30年,并迎来百年大庆。我们应该如何来评定她是否完成了这一计划赋予她的使命呢?我想从一个家长的层面,来抒发一些感怀。

其实,“特选学校计划”当时在社会上是没有得到普遍认可的。对这一措施并不以为然者,其声浪还是不小的。反对意见所持之最尖锐理据,就是这样的学校不利于我国社会的族群融合。此言虽然偏激,但也并非完全无稽。因为这些特选学校虽然亦以英文为主要教学媒介语,但由于在母语课方面只能让学生修读华文,而且还是高于第二语文水平之华文,因此自然会使非华族学生为之却步。而这一制约,其实也使到一些同南华一样,当年被迫从市区搬迁到新镇开疆拓土重新发展的特选学校难以招收到足够的生源。这一冷酷的现实曾使到处于此计划下的某些学校,不得不放弃初衷,不再坚守其双语并重的“特选”身份。

于此而言,南华是幸运的,因为她成功的坚持了下来。从一个更宽广的社会层面而言,或许人们也应该看到,对那些希望自己的孩子尚能在一个保有相当程度的华校传统,具有双语并重的学习氛围的校园之中成长的家长来说,特选学校的存在,让他们因此拥有了这样的一个选择。南华是一所成功、优秀的特选学校,家长们是衷诚地感激学校帮助他们实现了理想,圆了他们的梦的。

当然,有一些人士或许会说,特选学校其实并不真的那么“特选”。莘莘学子虽在仍冠以传统华校之名的校园中成长,但孩子们在学校里边英语还是讲得远比华语还多。而且自从教育部放宽修读“高级华文”的限制之后,其他许多学校也开办了程度更高的母语课,致使特选与非特选学校之间的界线渐泯。

这样的说法诚然不虚,但我们也许应该有更为宏观的视野。那就是要思考如果孩子们是在一般的小学而非特选学校中接受教育,他们的成长经历会不会有所不同。在南华的校园中生活了六年的孩子,天天在嵌挂着“礼仪廉耻、忠孝仁爱”这几个大字的高墙下聆听师长的教诲、在此校训的横梁下往来于礼堂、课室和图书馆之间、嬉笑玩闹于操场、餐厅之内,他们不可能完全不受到这些汉字所寓涵的深厚底蕴所濡染。

“立国大计,需百年树人,我校同人以此自克励;小学教育与中学教育,五育平均发展相砥砺;礼仪廉耻、忠孝仁爱好校训;容忍谦让、热诚负责相勉励;分工合作,奔向万里路;他日学成为国家效力。”当稚龄的孩子们以自身的母语把这首南华的校歌哼唱了六年以后,他们不可能完全感染不到一丝一缕的华校传统。 由此观之,特选学校的规划和实践,似不可轻言否定。如果我们不否认这一计划有其值得肯定之处,或许更应探讨的是什么原因致使它得以取得成功。促其成功的因素固然是多方面的,但其中之一关键,是端视能否有贤能的校长长期主持校务。南华在这一方面便足以为一力证。 一所学校的良好校风,需要日积月累方可形成。南华很幸运,自战后以来一直享有让贤能之士得以长期掌校的历史机遇。杨瑞初、高静明女士等,都有一段颇长的任期,相继领导南华。学校正是由于有了这样一个稳定的环境,方可由校长和全体师生共同建立起深厚的传统。南华转型之际,恰是冯月桂女士初任校长,肩挑大任之时。冯校长不但在南华完成中小学教育,毕业以后旋即留校任教,继而掌校直至荣休。南华何其有幸,因为有这样一位一生与南华如此紧密相连的校长,才得以领导师生把数十年积累起来的校风和传统,在学校转旧折新的关键时刻承沿下去,发扬开来。 由此可见学校纵使幸获“特选”,但要实至名归,尚须有必要条件之契合。在这一方面,南华是得天独厚的、家长更是感恩的。谨以这一篇小文,敬祝南华百年校庆,恭贺学校所取得的成就,并勉励全体师生,再接再厉、再创辉煌!

梁秉赋

Some Fond Memories of NHPS

Memories are like treasures often locked up in a chest and tucked away in an inconspicuous corner. But good memories ought to be revisited so the treasure chest must open for us to relive those precious moments.

In its 100 years of existence, Nan Hua Primary School has accumulated numerous such chests. I will open one of these to share with you.

From my 40-year career in the education service, I spent 19 memorable years at NHPS until my retirement in 2005. I cannot remember all the events but a few remain quite vivid in my memory.

My most exciting and happiest years were spent as a classroom teacher. The 2 years of 1987 and 1988 were most memorable. The students I taught in those two years really made my teaching career most satisfying and complete. Until today, 28 years after their graduation, I still meet some of them at their gatherings, some with their children, my 'grandchildren', in tow! I feel very proud and happy. This year, they are all 40-year-olds. What I find most heartwarming is the effort of one particular student who without fail, for the last 10 to 15 years, sends me a greeting card with an updated copy of the contact details of her classmates, all 40 of them! After 28 years and the complete class list. That's quite remarkable, if I may say so. My heart glows with pride and warmth when I receive this list each year. NHPS has taught them well to keep in contact and be part of the big Nan Hua Family. I believe some of their children are being schooled at NHPS now. I hope their children will have as much fun as they had had during their days at school.

Saturday supplementary lessons were mandatory in those days. I remember how the pupils looked forward to what would take place after the lessons.... netball games for both girls and boys in the school carpark. In those days, netball was meant only for the girls for it was thought to be too sissy for the boys. After the initial 'no way!' the boys sheepishly joined in. For the girls, playing with the boys was a great challenge as their opponents were stronger, faster and rougher! But all had great fun.

One student of Class 88 used to live in Pulau Bukom where his father was working. His parents had on several occasions invited some pupils to their lovely home on Bukom. The ride on the hydrofoil to the oil-refining Island was quite an experience for all of them, the teacher included. The students were also treated to a boat ride that took them to the waters around the south-western coast of Singapore. I am still very thankful to these 2 generous and caring parents who have helped in the educational development of my charges. Thank you, Mr and Mrs Koh. You have been wonderful! This also brings me to the many field trips that Mrs Diana Koh and other mothers offered their help in looking after the pupils during the outings and playing an active role in the activities. To all these parents whom I've not had the opportunity to express my gratitude, my heartfelt thanks!

Past students of NHPS keep in touch with their classmates and their alma mater. Teachers of NHPS, past and present also treasure the friendship built over the years at the school. Occasionally, we gather at an old colleagues' place or at a restaurant for a meal to renew friendship and reminisce old days.

School days could be boring and monotonous at times. It was fortunate that the routine and tedium of school life was often interspersed with interesting and often, hilarious moments.

This is one of my favourites. There was this primary 3 boy who was not too diligent in his work. One day, the teacher asked to see his parents. The parents never came but the boy came back to school the next day with a patch covering his left eye. On questioning, the child revealed that his father had 'boxed' him in the eye for not doing his school work. In horror, the teacher brought the boy to the principal's office. It was child abuse! The father was summoned to school to be counselled. The father came, strode to the son, shoved him against the wall and pulled off the eye patch. Lo and behold! There was no injury on his eye. This little rascal had put the eyepatch on to gain sympathy from the teacher!

To my mentors, especially Mdm Fong, my colleagues and all at NHPS who have made my days so memorable, thank you very much.

Mrs Law Nyek Koon
Vice-Principal of Nan Hua Primary School from 1986 to 2005

My memories of Nan Hua Primary School 

It was the year 1986 – my entry to Nan Hua Primary School at Clementi Avenue One – as a teacher. The welcome was pleasantly warm, in fact the warmest in my work-life as an MOE educator. The then-principal, Mdm Fong Yuet Kwai, came across as a no-nonsense but dedicated and professional leader with a great passion for education. “The children’s interest comes first before the staff”, she used to say. She had a great heart. I remember how she stood by me when my young child was on the verge of death in the hospital. She reassuringly told me not to bother about school duties but to just take care of my child in the hospital then. My son recovered. This is a life-time debt I feel I owe her. Imagine this no-nonsense principal telling me not to bother about her school!

Nan Hua gave me a familial feel. The school was like a big family home. The late Miss Ho Eng Chiow made an indelible impression on me. She represented the caring colleagues I had. She ensured that I was comfortable with the new surroundings and personally took me around to some of the rooms for a familiarization tour. She was like a big sister to me.

Nan Hua Primary is a special school. I remember not how ‘famous’ the school was and is but I remember vividly some things we did. I remember how shocked I was when I heard we (the staff) were roped in to sell mooncakes for fund-raising during the ‘seventh’ lunar month. I saw the dedication of those colleagues who volunteered. I respected them a lot. I was not roped in because of my religion. Anyway, I would not have been able to do what they did, with humility and love. They were such models of teachers, going that extra mile, led by the principal. I remember the times we had steam-boat among the key personnel because we had long days of planning. Those were simple but unforgettable warm memories. Pun also intended. I remember how in 1990, we were champions in the ‘ Sing Singapore’ competition --- how the staff relentlessly gave up their sleep and cradled the very young pupils in their arms to lull them to sleep in between media takes for the competition. Such dedication and love I see among my colleagues. My daughter was in that competition.

I remember the PSLE days – how the principal personally ensured the rooms were conducively prepared for the exams. Every room was cleaned and a sprig of fresh flower in a small glass vase (recycled orangina bottles) was placed on each invigilator’s desk. And how Aunty Yujie, the school helper, ensured all was spick and span. Food has always been the epitome of Nan Hua’s welcome culture. All visitors to the school (on official duties), were treated to good food. It was Nan Hua’s way of showing her welcome, support and appreciation.

I remember how every Lunar New Year , the children from the Primary Ones (first year in the school) were taken to the principal’s office to offer their greetings while holding two mandarin oranges in their hands. This tradition is still upheld by principals who have taken over the helm. I remember the lohei practised in the school every lunar new year. Staff gathered and parent helpers prepared the ‘yusheng’ toss ingredients. I relished the ‘fatt choy’ porridge served at such ‘lohei’ gatherings. It gave a warm feeling of family again.  I looked forward to that. This tradition is still practised today and the best part is I am still invited though I have retired.         

I remember the very generous School Management Board (SMC). The SMC was very much aware of and involved in the school’s activities. Appreciation came in many sumptuous meals for the staff as a whole. I remember how the P6 teachers were shown special appreciation for putting in many extra hours for the graduating classes. Little gold pendants were given as tokens of appreciation . I was also one of such appreciated teachers. It’s been a long time ……..

It was a long journey of 25 years with Nan Hua. Highlighted above were but a few of the many happy memories I have had in my time at the school. I am very proud and privileged to have been a Nan Hua staff. A big thank you to the school leaders, colleagues past and present and also to all SMC members who have shown their support for me time and again in my journey as a teacher, Head of Department, Master Teacher, Vice-Principal and a retiree of Nan Hua Primary School.

Juliana Ng