Here’s the 7th installment of UV’s childhood memories! Happy reading 🙂
Schooling in Ipoh – Episode 7
In 1963, to get into Form Six was through an Entrance Examination conducted by the Ministry of Education. Students in Form Five who wished to go to Form Six had to sit for this examination towards the end of their Form Five year before sitting for the Overseas School Certificate (‘O’ Levels) Examination. Students were divided into the Arts and Science streams. Those who passed were divided int 3 grades according to the total marks they scored in the papers they set for. A and B grade students were assured of places in Form Six classes but those with C grade had admission based on vacancies available. The students were also put into positions within each state based on the total marks they scored.
I remembered Mano Maniam was 2nd and I was 12th in the State of Perak. From ACS Ipoh Arts Stream only a few of us got into ACS Ipoh’s Form Six Lower Arts. The rest of the students came from MGS Ipoh, Main Convent Ipoh, Secondary School Tronoh, some secondary schools in Sitiawan and Tapah. A few odd students would get a transfer from their local schools to ACS Ipoh because it was then (and still is) a premier school in Perak, if not in Malaya (a few months before the formation of Malaysia in September 1963).
I remembered we had even a pupil from the Royal Military College. He is none other than Datuk Cecil Abraham, a prominent lawyer. Some joined us in Upper Six after having studied in other schools the previous year. Therefore, education in Form Six is very different from those years in classes in the lower forms. Here we have the best from many schools and also for many not from co-educational schools, they have to study with members of the opposite sex.
The ‘true blooded’ ACS students considered those from other schools as ‘outsiders’ and so took upon themselves to ‘formally introduce them’ to ACS Ipoh. Each student was placed at the front of the class to introduce themselves and be ‘cross-examined’ by their ‘true blooded’ ACS classmates. As I was appointed the class monitor by the late Ms Tye Soh Sim, I had to ‘chair’ the ‘ceremony’. This was all in clean fun and meant to break the ice. None of the ‘new’ students was humiliated nor intimidated. Eventually, we all became close friends even until today.
There were almost as many girls as boys in the class. Most of them would sit with members of their own sex with some exceptions. Did anyone marry a classmate? No, I can categorically say so. However, there were many a dating going on but nothing came out of it. You may wonder why I touched on this area. Well, Form Six education goes beyond merely learning facts from textbooks and teachers. It was also then a place for social interactions and development. That was why they made all Form Six classes (except residential schools) coeducational. I would say the policy was a good one. Nowadays, some Form Six Classes in all girls schools or all boys schools do produce ‘warped’ people! (I leave myself open to attacks here but I do have my point and will defend myself if attacked.)
In the next and final episode, I will describe the type of learning that took place and what happened to most of us.