I would like to invite everyone to take a trip down memory lane back to the time when you were 7. Do you remember your school going experience? I remember mine quite clearly.

At age 7, when I was ready for Std One (I didn’t attend any kindergarden), I went to school on a school bus on the first day of school. I had my elder brothers and sisters in the same bus. We all wore different sets of uniforms. Elder sister in her secondary school uniform, elder brother in his secondary school uniform, second sis in her primary school uniform and second brother in his primary school uniform and me in my spanking new primary school uniform. We all attended different schools but took the same school bus.

I did not have a very pleasant time at school because I was bullied by some other 7 year olds. One of them would take away my pencil and wouldn’t let me finish my work until she finished hers first. And there were some teachers whom I was really afraid of. One of them was the PE teacher. She had bulging eyes like those of a goldfish and she was very very fierce. I was terrified of her especially when she stared at me with her goldfish eyes. I was not very good at sports so that made it worse.

I hated school so much that one day I decided to go home on my own. Now my brother was in the morning session and I was in the afternoon session. So when the schoolbus dropped me off at school, I waited till the schoolbus was ready to pick those from the morning session home. Brother was in the school next door. So I walked over there on my own and I waited for the bus. And when brother came to board the bus, I climbed up the bus after him to go home. Haha. My fear and dislike of school was so great that I, who was only 7 then, could come up with this innovative way to go home. No, I was not being naughty, I was just afraid. I was a good kid, quiet and timid but brave enough to think of a way to take the bus home on my own because of my fear.

In this dangerous age, what I did would be very dangerous indeed. I could have been kidnapped by bad people.

I want the school going experience of my children to be better than this. Not filled with fear so it is with great worry that I read this article: Caning of Schoolgirls is nothing new by V.K. Chin of the STAR especially these parts……

In Chinese-medium schools, caning would start on the first day of Standard One. …….Of course this would be done in the classroom and on pupils of both sexes, especially in the first week of school……..This is one way for teachers to impose their authority, and the cane would be used for the slightest excuse. Once pupils get the message, they tend to behave…….Some of them have developed a phobia and would become hysterical should they forget to bring a book.  (My sister came across one such poor sweet little 7 year old girl one day when she was picking up her son from school. The girl was crying with fear at the school gates afraid to go in …. because she could not complete her homeworm. “Nevermind still got time, still got time” my sister and another mother coaxed her while she continued to write frantically in her exercise book.)

There was one point in my schooling days (I changed several schools) where public caning was practised as a disciplinary action. It was a co-ed secondary school. I support those kinds of disciplinary caning for diehard trouble makers and gangsters in school but certainly not caning of very young children simply because they forgot to bring their workbook to school!

What do you think?

In another incident in school not related to caning, I was in a strict secondary all girl’s school. We had to tie up our hair and pin down the fringe. Once I was caught totally by surprise when called up by the strict principal who said that my fringe was too long and proceeded to cut it off in public. I felt totally humiliated. I was totally surprised by it too because I always abide by the rules and my hair was tight up neatly with the fringe pinned up but it must have gotten loose. It was another horrible incident which I will always remember of my school days. These incidents leave a bad taste in my mouth. I think the action by the principal was way too harsh. She could have just called me up to give me a warning instead of taking the liberty of being hairdresser.

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