It is a trip down memory lane for the writer, a STTI alumnus, as he recalls the camaraderie among his peers, and its founding lecturers who nurtured their charges into committed and dedicated specialists in their chosen fields of the noble profession.
THE CLASS of 1962 of the Physical Education Department at STTI (Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute), Kuala Lumpur, met to celebrate 50 years of camaraderie.
The 38 of us — 22 men and 16 women — first met on Jan 2,1962.
Realising the dwindling numbers in our group, it was decided that we “open” the gathering held in Petaling Jaya to fellow colleagues from the other departments, who never had the opportunity to such a reunion before, so that we could relive that glorious year of comradeship, for we did enjoy the company of the 120 students pursuing other courses at the institute then.
With two founding lecturers, Mr (now Datuk) Teoh Teik Lee, and Mr Lim Hock Han, who are now in their eighties, their former students engaged them in nostalgic recollections of the institution to which they owed a good part of their professional training. There was no better person than Datuk Teoh to learn about the origin and circumstances under which STTI was established.
Datuk Teoh was appointed the institute’s Physical Education (PE) Department head in 1969, and after a fulfilling career that spanned 20 years, retired in 1980.
He left behind a well-developed professional course in PE that gained accreditation to graduate level of studies in overseas universities.
He has had great satisfaction in seeing that his former charges distinguished themselves not only in teaching PE in schools, colleges and universities, but also in sports development in the public and corporate sectors.
Mr Lim Hock Han, after a brief stint at STTI, left to head the PE department of the Malayan Teachers Training College at Pantai, Kuala Lumpur and subsequently left for Singapore. STTI was conceived almost immediately after Merdeka when the educational needs of a new emerging nation was at stake. Teachers, then, were either trained under the “normal class” system or in the teachers’ training colleges in the country, or from the two teachers colleges in Kirkby and Brindsford Lodge, England.
While the training produced dedicated and committed teachers, it was of a general nature and the teaching of non-academic subjects were often neglected or deemed unimportant.
Fortunately, far-sighted educationists at that time saw the need for non-academic subjects in the school curriculum and decided on providing a strong basis for such subjects to be taught in schools.
STTI came to the fore and provided training in such non-academic subjects as PE, Art and Craft, Home Science, Woodwork and Metalwork, Library Science, Education of the Blind, Education of the Deaf and of other subjects, as required by the Education Ministry then.
As a former PE student from STTI, I shall confine my article to the institute’s PE department.
The training provided teachers with a good mix of teaching and management skills in organising the PE programme in the school.
This phase of training was an important ingredient in ensuring the competency of teachers in teaching PE and organising the co-curricular programme that would have a profound impact on a pupil’s life, even beyond school.
The institute officially had its first intake in January 1960 at its premises in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, although the PE department had a “dry-run” of in-service courses in September 1959 to test the equipment and facilities at the gymnasium, swimming pool and its huge sports complex.
In truth, the infrastructure and facilities designed for physical education were comprehensive enough to give the impression that the institute was a physical education college rather than that of a multi-disciplinary institution.
Initially, selection to the one-year course was done by the respective State Education Departments. Some years later, selection was carried out by the PE department where applicants had to undergo a battery of tests.
The criteria for such selection was that a teacher should have at least two years of teaching experience in the relevant subject, and that he or she should be involved in organising sports and games, as in the case of physical education.
In the first couple of years, most of the successful candidates were generally much older and senior, being from the “normal class” and early batches from the teachers’ colleges.
This pioneer group of teachers, in their late twenties and early thirties, though not being exposed to training as PE teachers, learnt quickly and were able to follow the physical aspects of the course work well, mainly due to their physical fitness and active involvements in various games.
Bringing with them a wealth of knowledge in organising physical activities, from school to state levels, they helped to charter a school programme that had many students taking active part in various sports and games, with some even excelling at the national level.
The knowledge they gained in STTI greatly enhanced their belief in the subject and in their methods of training.
With the advancement in sports and games in schools, regular competitions were held through the formation of the Malaysian School Sports Councils in the early sixties.
The blueprint for a national sports development programme had been planned at the end of the fifties.
Many of the STTI teachers who played a prominent role in the sports programmes of schools were appointed sports secretaries of the councils from district to state levels.
They served a more administrative function, planning courses to train more teachers to meet the demands for athletics and games coaches in schools. Indeed, STTI was established at the right time to provide training of qualified teachers to run sports programmes in schools to complement the students’ academic education.
However, at a time when the crying need for trained PE teachers was at its height, STTI had to stop its intake of specialist teachers training and assume a full-time role of a regular teachers’ training college.
Between 1960 and 1980 (the period of Datuk Teoh’s tenure of the PE department), STTI had to also open its doors to the “Basic Teachers’ Training Course” .
However, the need for specialist teachers, particularly in physical education, as expressly requested by various State Schools Sports Councils, called for the continuance of this one-year programme. It was revived over the years and today the institute has been upgraded to take in graduate teachers for specialist training.
Without doubt, STTI could have been developed into a model College of Physical Education that would go towards fulfilling the goals of the National Education system. That many of its past students proceeded to pursue postgraduate studies abroad and returning to hold high positions in universities and in the private sector, underscores the success of the programme at STTI.
Look out for the second instalment of this article in our pullout next week. The writer thanks Datuk Teoh Teik Lee for some of the information provided. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
By HO CHEE ENG
Source: The STAR Home Education Looking Back Sunday April 1, 2012