Wednesday, 24 August 2011

My PA deprived me of a kindergarten experience

I recently realized that I have impeccable political credentials.

I used to stand behind the windows of our Tanglin Halt flat watching little children go to or from their kindergarten. My neighbour next door went to Damien Hall (Church of Blessed Sacrament).

Some walked to my left towards the market in their blue and red uniforms (I think). Others walked to my right in their yellow and brown uniforms to Damien Hall.

I asked Mum why I was not allowed to go to kindergarten. Her reply (similar as to why I could not have piano and ballet lessons) was, "We cannot afford it."

Later on I learned that the PA kindergarten located by the market was not expensive at all, compared to Damien Hall. Why did my parents not send me to an affordable kindergarten?

Much later in life I discovered that my late father refused to send me to a PA kindergarten because he felt that it was run by the PAP. We were, in no way, to be associated with the PAP.

So on political grounds I was deprived of a kindergarten education/experience. When I started school I found that I didn't know the Mandarin songs that my classmates who had been to PA kindergartens were able to sing.

Boy! Was I truly and utterly embarrassed. At age six and three months I had just about learned my English alphabet. Thankfully I appeared to be a fast learner.

I went on to Raffles Girls. However that was in the heyday of a meritocratic education system, mate.

What's the point of this ramble?

(1) I want to record respect for my father, uneducated as he was but taught himself to read Chinese, for acting on his principles. He always did, sometimes to the frustration of mother and the rest of us.

(2) The People's Association should aspire to be the PEOPLE'S Association. For all the love poured out on Mr Yam after his spectacular rise to fame on Polling Night, I imagine that if the people could raise him up, people could also bring him down. I am not suggesting that we all started to boycott PA activities. O no, not at all.

(3) I've been harping on my vision of a Singapore that could be described as "gracious society". I am more and more convinced that we are not very gracious at all (whether this be giving up seats, being kind to people and animals, respecting people of lower socio-economic status, ill-treating maids who are fellow human beings, etc) because we do not have role models in our leaders who show us how to be gracious. And magnanimous.

I don't know what (else) to say.

Update 17th October 2017: In response to comments, with age I did wonder if I had been mistaken. But I found this information:
Already in 1960, the government established the People’s Association, which was charged with running community centers, kindergartens, and other amenities to increase social connectedness. Many of these were launched along with the new apartment complexes being built to help create a new sense of community as people moved from their old neighborhoods. However, the organizations were also tools of social control. For example, in order to teach kindergarten, one had to be a PAP member, and government-trained staff operated the community centers.

Source: The History of Singapore, Jean E. Abshire, (Santa Barbara, Greenwood, 2011) p143.

See also C.M. Turnbull’s A History of Modern Singapore (Singapore: NUS Press, 2009), p322.


XJ said...

I don't remember the PA running kindergardens. PAP still runs PAP Community Foundation (PCF) Kindergardens though.

Worsty said...

@ XJ,

I guess you grew up not with Mask/Visionaries/Transformers but more from the times with Power Ranger/Pokemon ?

Herr Wahrheitgräber said...

Sorry, but I need to correct you : it is your father who deprived you of a kindergarten education.

There are many PAP linked organisations and GLCs such as NTUC Income, Fairprice, Foodfare, DBS, Sembcorp, etc. These are not politicise and neither was the education of toddlers.

If your father did not find it politically palatable to send you to a PA kindergarten, then he was the one who deprived you of it.