Sunday, March 11, 2012

History: Methodist School - Mission Possible.

When Americans Rev John Pilley and Mrs Pilley arrived in Sarikei in November 1953 on a Methodist Church mission, Sarikei's Repok Road had just completed replacing its wooden shop blocks with concrete shops at Block 4R, 4L, 5R and 5L in 1953. Bai Sheng cinema (next to Methodist) was showing movies from Malaya (eg: P. Ramlee) and Hong Kong.

Mrs Pilley's farewell with staff.
Back L6 Lau Pang Hung
Front L2 Ong Poh Ai 王保愛,L3 Mrs Pilley
20 April 1957

In 1920, a wooden Methodist church was built by 2 gentlemen (Wong Qing Bo黄清波 and Wong Qing Chun 黄清春) with an attached Sze Hua kindergarten 泗華小學. (Source: 1)

Under the leadership of Rev. Pilley in 1954, the classes of Methodist Anglo-Chinese School started at the ground floor of the wooden Huai Ren Hall of Methodist Church (now demolished), Sze Hua Kindergarten and the pastor’s quarters.

In 1955 Rev. Ting Shiew Kee 陳修其 and Rev. Pilley, church members Wong Ngiong Hua 王仰華 (Foochow kapitan), Chen Ko Ming (Cantonese kapitan) and Yek Suk Kang 葉菽幹 (head of Su Kwong 泗光 group) formed a steering committee to oversee the construction of a new school building. In 1956, a double story building with six classrooms was completed.

Staff of Methodist School, 1970
Back: L3 Wong Ngiik Lang; L5 Kong Wei Hing; L6 Mr Chung; L7 the late Mr Lu; L8 Wong Chin Hook
Front: L1 Mrs Wong (Mdm Ling Ngiik Siew); L3 Mrs Chen Ko Ming, L4 Chen Ko Ming; L5 Lau; L6 Tan Kien Sin; L8 Chang Wei Chong

Under the leadership of school superintendent Dr. Tang Ting Hing 鄧忠心 and Hii Kwong Hing 許廣興 a two-storey concrete building with six classrooms opened in 1963.

Methodist School. Form 3, 1959 ( a temporary class).

Methodist Secondary School staff 1969.
Front: L1 Teresa Lim, L3 Mr Ed Shields (principal), L5 Jane Celestine
The ladies at the back row were the clerk and librarian.
Source: Mr Celestine

The Secondary School (Form 1-5) was on top of a hill at  3rd mile Repok Road

With the approval of the school committee, Lau Pang Hung 刘邦训, the principal, applied to the Ministry of Education in Kuching to add a Chinese section to meet parents' requests. The process was complex and obstacles of various forms got in the way. However, under the assistance of Chen Ko Ming and the support of others, the request was granted to create a new milestone.

Methodist Kindergarten. 1964

The school went through two expansions. Two classrooms and a dental clinic were added in 1971. In 1974, four additional rooms were added to the school, with a library and a filing room. The construction was funded from the school's budget, donations from the academic staff, the steering committee and allowance from the Ministry of Education. Mr. Lau Pang Hung retired on September 9th, 1985. His retirement was commemorated with the opening of a three-storey building with nine classrooms.

Methodist School's history and list of principals.
Source: 1 submitted by Ease Chen
Click to enlarge.

In the academic field, the school excelled in the 1985 Primary Five assessment examination. In 1986, she was voted the best school in 6th Division and the school’s ranking was elevated to Grade A rating with thirty three academic staff and nine hundred students. In mid July 1986, she became the first school in Sarikei to have a three-storey building.

This school owes its roots to the 1920 wooden Methodist Church and its pioneers who deemed nothing was impossible in their quest.

  • Ease Chen for the photos and magazine clips.
  • Eddie Wong for the translation of the history to English.


(1) 80th Anniversary souvenir issue of Methodist Church's Huai Ren Hall. 取自怀仁堂80周年纪念刊


Daniel Yiek said...

Did Mrs Pilley teach at Methodist? She came back to visit the school in 1971.

Was there a secondary school at Methodist?

nelson said...

I so hope that Pilley Institute in Sibu can be upgraded to a university.

there is no methodist secondary school in sarikei.

Daniel Yiek said...

The 1959 photo above showed Form 3 at Methodist which needs to be explained....

Anonymous said...

yes.. last time methodist got secondary level but then because of shortage of fund and after japanese occupation, so this project discontinued..

Kanga said...

There was a Methodist secondary school at a location around 2& 1/2 miles from town. It was a privately funded secondary school. The school had classes up to form 5. Was it a typo? Should it be 1969? But I think the building in this '1959' photo does not match? Can some one offer some explanation?........

easechen said...

They had a special class - the F3 1959, just a temp thing. The date's right. My mum's in the pic (teacher), my aunty's in the pic (student). Mr Womg Yuk Dak's in the pic (back row, 1st on L)

Kanga said...

Well done! Ease

小洋 said...

I have a vague memory of Mr. & Mrs. Pilley, but I do remember their son quite well, who used to bring his Monopoly to our house and play the game with my older brother. To a kid in a small town like Sarikei, who was more used to playing guli in the back lane, the classic board game was a real eye-opener. I was so fascinated by the game that I would sit down quietly next to them and watch them play the game for hours!

Teresa Lim said...

I was a temporary teacher in Methodist Secondary School in Sarikei in 1969 . The school was located on top of a hill about 3 miles from town. Mrs. Jane Celestine was teaching there too. Mr. Celestine has a staff photo (taken in 1969) to prove the existence of this private school.

Daniel Yiek said...

Thanks everyone. The 1969 Photo from Mr Celestine has been uploaded inside the blog.

Note the typo on the word "secondary" in the photo

Anonymous said...

Sibu Methodist Schools

SEEK, FIND and SERVE. The “family” of Sibu Methodist schools have been upholding this motto for 110 years.

The motto, representing the spirit of the first pioneers in Sibu for more than a century, has, over the decades, inspired all those associated with these schools to strive for excellence in all fields of endeavour.

Setbacks notwithstanding, the schools have always been in the forefront of education in the Division. Their logo is a symbol that binds principals, teachers, staffs and students – past, present and future. It depicts their commitment to work together towards a common goal – bringing Sibu Methodist schools to even greater heights.

The pioneering spirit was kindled in 1903 when the first Methodist missionary, the Rev James Matthew Hoover, arrived to serve in Sarawak. His service was more than missionary as he was also a source of great leadership for the company of visionary pioneers with the courage to follow their dreams through to fruition. It was an aspiration that is so vividly portrayed in the Sibu Methodist School logo.

The early days

On his way to Sibu, Hoover was full of enthusiasm and expectations but his heart sank when the ship he was travelling in docked at the wharf. There was not much to be seen – only a cluster of government buildings and native houses but no signs of improvement as had been expected from the Chinese initiative, and there were no new buildings to be seen from the river.

However, his concern – apart from his missionary work – was not whether he could adapt to the environment but rather the struggle to bring education to the society prevailing at that time, When he arrived, he thought “why, there is no school building – so how can we have a school? I wonder.”

At that time, Catholic missionaries had arrived in Sibu and already set up a school in the town. Hoover was determined to start a school of their own, and in 1903, opened the Methodist Anglo-Chinese School at Sungai Merah which was moved to Sibu town in 1905.

In 1913, the Methodist Anglo-Chinese School was renamed Yuk Ing Girl’s School. The boys were transferred to Bukit Lan. In 1914, a new building was put up for the School, and a kindergarten was started. English classes for boys began in 1925 with JB Chong as principal and Hoover as English teacher. However, the School was closed not long after and remained so until 1940.

In 1941, Mrs JB Chong and Rev Gerald Summers opened the Methodist Boys’ School at Island Road with 98 pupils. But the School was ordered closed by the Japanese in March of 1942

Anonymous said...

New beginning

In 1947, Rev EO McCraw reopened the Methodist Boys’ School with Mrs J B Chong as vice-principal. The name was changed to Methodist English School.

That same year, the Yuk Ing Girls’ School reopened and later became the Methodist Primary and Secondary Schools for boys and girls. Subsequently, the Methodist High School was established – thanks to the efforts of Rev Ling Kai Cheng.

In 1949, the first Chinese Senior Middle School in Sarawak was opened in Sibu with Rev Ling Wen Tsung as principal. The School started with 35 students and classes were held at the Gerald Summers Memorial Building.

In 1950, the School held its first Junior Cambridge class, followed by the first Senior Cambridge class two years later.

In 1951, the Methodist English School Secondary Department moved in to join the Chinese Secondary School, occupying the first block of the Gerald Summers Memorial Building. In the same year, the Chinese School and the English School were merged with John A Pilley as principal. Also in 1951, the School Board of Management was formed with Rev Ling Kai Cheng as chairman.

Development of the School proceeded steadily with the passing years. Science labs, a basketball court, a school hall and more classrooms and workshops were added. The School was ready to take on the challenge of becoming one of the best not only in Sibu but also in the state.

Form Six Arts and Science streams were introduced in 1965 and 1972 respectively. In 1973, the School formed the Sibu Methodist Students Alumni Association (SMSAA) with Datuk Hii Yii Chiong as the first chairman.

Over the years, the School had won many awards at curricular and co-curricular levels. These included first place in co-curricular activities in Sibu Division, best SPM and STPM results statewide and being State Youth Forum Champions with the title of The Most Promising School at the state and national levels, among others.

In 2005, the principal Yong Choo Tiong introduced a new guideline known as the “No Child Left Behind’ and “Rise The Bar Narrow The Gate” Policy to encourage academic excellence at SMK Methodist.

Promoting education

It was in the beginning of the 20th century that education was formally introduced in Sibu to fulfil the need to create a more civilised and educated society and prepare the people as future leaders.

The school committees provided financial and other essential support during those times, thus laying a solid foundation for further development of both education and society in the Division.

The beginning of the 21st century did not see an end to this scholastic struggle but rather the emergence of a new challenge to keep pace with the modern world.

Sibu Methodist schools whose 110th anniversary celebrations began yesterday (Friday), have made great strides in the new century but not only the form of materialistic awards. It was the century-old spirit of the first pioneers that has inspired teachers of the schools to inculcate the spirit of perseverance, dedication and excellence in the students, many of whom have gone on to become leaders of the state.

As American Bishop Warne told the Chinese emigrants when he heard about their struggle for a better life on Borneo Island: “A wonderful story! An amazing story of a great dream and of a journey already admirable. But it ought not to be abandoned. It should be completed.”

This applies aptly to the Methodist schools in the Division. The story does not stop here.

These schools still have a long way to go after opening yet another chapter in their quest of greater progress and achievement in the new millennium.

Anonymous said...

I didnt know there was a Methodist Secondary School in Sarikei! Maybe it was a chinese-medium which later closed due to lack of students as govt schools offer cheaper education!

Anonymous said...

I guess in those days, there was a Primary Six Leaving Examination or something like that. Those who failed will have to go to private schools. Later, when the primary six exam were abolished, such private schools were out of business. So, they closed down.

Anonymous said...

i notice u once wrote about Father Veeger. He is still aorund and u can interview him.

Anonymous said...

Father Veeger once served at St Anthony Church, Sarikei.

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