Friday, December 22, 2006

Scenes - Sarikei St Anthony's School 1962-1981

St. Anthony's School 1979 - K.A. Titus interview
(source: Anthonian 1979)

r. K.A. Titus joined St. Anthony's School in 1962. He became principal in 1973-mid 1981 after the retirement of Father Rottinghuis (principal 1957-1972). In 1981, he stepped down to be a teacher due to government regulations that required a principal to be a citizen or something along this line (?). He retired in 1984.

After the initial wave of Dutch missionaries cum teachers from Mill Hill (1936-1972), Mr. Titus was one of the few teachers from India to teach in Sarikei (1962-mid 1980's). Sarikei was fortunate to have these foreigners. Mr. Ignatius (Geography, English), Mrs. Ignatius (Additional Maths, Physics) and Mr. Lopez (Chemistry, Arts) were popular teachers at St. Anthony's School. When Mr. Lopez was knocked down in an accident in the 70's, he had a stream of visitors at the hospital. He retired in 1980 with a students' farewell party in the "New Block" with food from Ah Kow's restuarant. Mr. Celestine taught Biology at Binatang Government School. All them are doing well in retirement now. Mr Jacob Sebastian, another Indian teacher (Anthonian) from the early 60's, is now a yoga teacher in Kuching.

St. Anthony's School 1980 - Sports Day @ the padang
The 4 teams were Neptune, Jupiter, Mars, Venus.
Find the Chinese Chamber of Commerce building.

When Mr. Titus was interviewed in 1979, he listed changes to the school:
  • 1974 - renovated the front 3 blocks facing Repok Road.
  • 1975 - completed the New Block for Biology lab, Domestic Sciences and Form 5 classes; extended the staff room and bicycle sheds.

St. Anthony's School 1981 - School library
Looks like mahjong sessions.

He increased the number of students per class and made 2 floating classes (these students had to carry their bags everywhere) due to a lack of classrooms. There were not enough sports facilities. His vision for the school then was to fence the compound (done later in 1979), earth fill and level the compound for sports, replace the old buildings with 2 three storied buildings to contain a hall, an air conditioned library, an audio visual room and a Science lab.

He lamented on the lack of funding due to its status as a government aided school - 50% of the budget had to be privately funded. Can anyone confirm that St. Anthony's School is now a 100% government school with its conversion to SMB St. Anthony? Effective year? Compare his vision to the present day SMB St. Anthony. A volleyball court was built in 1983 (circa). The front buildings were replaced by four storied buildings. There are computer classes now. Is he a visionary? You be the judge.


Daniel Yiek said...

To: Daphne Ignatius,
Can you find out what prompted Mr. Titus & your parents to come to Sarikei? Was there a teachers' recruitment drive in India by the Dutch Missionaries or by the Malaysian Education Dept? This will be interesting tidbits for Sarikei's history as so many students were taught by the Indian teachers.

Daphne Ignatius said...

As per my father:

They were recruited by the Mill Hill fathers via their parish priest in India.

Fr Rottinghuis was having trouble finding teachers in the early '60s and used the parish priest network to see if he could find some catholic teachers. Somehow he got hold of the name of a priest in Cochin, India and wrote to him asking to see if he could help. That Indian priest put him in contact with my uncle Titus and he agreed to come over.

Once Titus has settled in Sarikei, another teacher who was supposed to start with St Anthony suddenly said he wasn't coming. Fr Rottinghuis was in a bind and asked my uncle if he knew of more teachers who would be willing to come over. Titus thought of his brother and his sister-in-law who were both teaching and gave them a good report of life in Malaysia. My parents took a chance and the rest is history. The other teachers probably came over via their parish priest or through family connections the way we did.

gongpiang said...

This is really wonderful as this blog is becoming more informative and I suppose it will be a must visit for current and future generation of Sarikei’s students when asked to write on the history of the school or the town.

However we must take note of the year 1962, Sarawak was still under the British administration and so the education department was not subjected to rules enforced by the MOE in West Malaysia. In actual fact the MOE only started her influence in the Sarawak’s education very late even though Sarawak was part of Malaysia since 1963. Drastic changes implemented by the MOE on a nationalist line were only felt in the late 1970s.

The foreign teachers from India were excellent teacher; their students would be aged around 40 – 55 years old by now. Imagine in a small town and when television wasn’t available and you do not have many local who could speak good English, the impact of our foreign teachers were tremendous on that generation of student. I am forever in debt to my teachers from India; they are really a source of pride in by life.

kanga said...

In the early days of education in Sarawak, students seat for Sarawak Junior certificate (Form 3), Cambridge Overseas School Certificate (Form 5) and Cambridge Overseas Higher School Certificate (Form 6). To pass the latter 2 exams, it was tough/impossible without qualified teachers guiding students. The exam papers were set in UK for overseas students in British East Africa, Malaya, singapore, British Borneo, and Hong Kong. The arrival of the Indian teachers in those days provided a very important cover to Sarawak's struggle in trianing qualified teachers. The Indian teachers gave Sarikei students a big boost in education.
Off to another story; Mr. Celestine was a very good natured teacher in Biology in St. Anthony's. Some students took advantage of this and treated Mr. Celestine's bicycle as toys. This coped the full flak of Fr. Rottinghuis who sent the whole class home for many days. The whole of Sarikei felt the power of the 'Tiger' then! Mr. Celestine pleaded with Fr. and the whole class was allowed to return to school as normal. Our Indian teachers also put up with our growing pains as well!

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks for the key piece of info! I have always wondered how the Indian teachers ended up in a remote (then) town of Sarikei. Also, thanks for the updates on Ivan and Shirley!

Gong Piang,
You are spot on. Sarawak Education was given some years after joining Msia before converting to the West Msia format.

Wow...The Anglo-saxon names of those exams! Also didn't know that Mr Celestine taught at Anthony's in the early days.

We will take a break from Anthonian posts for the next post as there are other non-Anthonian readers. I will have more Anthonian posts in the near future.

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