“I do not wish to disappoint my mother again.” ( Tan Chuan Jin )

There has been much talk about good schools and whether all schools can be good schools….

I recently attended Ping Yi Secondary School’s Annual Speech and Prize Giving Day. The school has an active Parents’ Support Group. I met a couple whose children left 11 years ago, but yet they are still serving. I met a lady who is in the interior design line; she was an old Ping Yi-an and was in the school in the late 1980s, yet she still comes back. The students actively help out in the community. Ping Yi believes in encouraging student participation in their various CCAs even for sports which the students may not be strong in.

I heard many stories while I was there. Here are two that I asked Shanti, the Principal, to send to me.

Champions defy gravity 

The banner carried by their friends read “Champions defy gravity”. This was the first ‘C’ finals the school had ever reached in 20 years. Many were new to the team and a number came from less privileged backgrounds and received financial assistance. There is much the students need to contend with. To be able to achieve this is a testimony to the spirit of the boys and the teachers-in-charged.

Noor Hidayat Affendi is 14. “Sepak Takraw helped me get the scholarship and, with it, I was able to buy my school uniforms and books. From now on I can be focused on my studies and fulfil my promise to my teacher to study harder.” 

“I do not wish to disappoint my mother again.”

These were the simple but powerful words of a young man who has vowed to change for the better after being given a second chance. It was not easy growing up in a single-parent family. Throughout the interview, Muhammad Radhi Bin Razali spoke of his mother and his teachers with a profound sense of gratitude, appreciation and indebtedness.

Radhi entered Ping Yi as a Secondary One student in 2008. Behavioural issues started to surface within the first term in school. He was hauled up for playing truant and his mother was alerted about it. Radhi frequently violated school rules. He showed signs of disengagement and his deteriorating results saw him repeat Secondary One in 2009. It became a constant struggle for his mother and his teachers to imbue in him the right values and getting him to do the right thing. Throughout this period of time, Radhi’s mother and teachers never gave up and continued to provide that much needed support and guidance. However, Radhi continued to perpetuate in his wayward behaviour and the law eventually caught up with him.

This episode left an indelible mark on Radhi’s life. Fortunately, it also marked the beginning of a turnaround student’s journey in his quest to find meaning in life and to realize the importance of having a good education.

“He has shown great improvements in his studies and is much more responsible when it comes to his family. I am positive that his future is bright and although he is taking it one step at a time, with the amazing support given by his teachers, I am sure that he will eventually reach his goals,”said his mother, gleaming with pride.


Radhi persevered with the help of all his teachers. He began displaying interest in his studies and he took responsibility for himself, requesting for consultation sessions with his teachers after school hours so that he could clarify his doubts in the subjects he was weak in. Radhi’s teachers saw potential in him and recognised his inclination towards hands-on activities and selected him to attend a 6-months electrical wiring workshop. Despite being reluctant in the first place due to the long course duration and inconvenient venue of the programme, Radhi was finally convinced by his teachers and finally agreed to give the programme a try. This, he cited, was one of the best decisions made in his life as he finally realised his interest towards the construction industry, particularly in the domain of electrical wiring.

Radhi emerged as the top student for the entire course and this experience taught him a valuable lesson about perseverance, focus and determination. Radhi continued to strive harder. At the recently held annual Speech and Prize Giving Day on 13 April 2012, the determined Secondary 4 Normal Technical student managed to clinch subject book prizes for both English Language and Elements in Business Skills. Radhi enthusiastically explained his structured post-secondary education plans. He is determined to pursue a NITEC course in the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) in Electrical Engineering. He hopes to be part of the building or construction industry in the future.

Radhi’s success is a testimony of his teachers’ perseverance and belief that there is something positive in every child. It is this belief that led to the unwavering support and guidance showered upon Radhi to help him find meaning in life and set his own goals. It is a testimony of a mother’s love. And also a testimony of Radhi’s sense of purpose.

“I will aim high as I have realized that I can achieve if I am determined.”

———————– 

Is this a good school?

Well, this is a school that places the students at the heart of everything that they do.

This is a school where teachers and parents care enough.

Can any school be a good school?

Can any teacher be a good teacher?

To all of you in Ping Yi Secondary School…Thank you!

   Tan Chuan-Jin  , May 5, 2012

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