Saturday, February 21, 2009

farming was once taught in this school

(picture from national archives of singapore)

many among us were unaware that the ministry of education experimented with the implementation of agricultural subjects in the school syllabus in the 60s. this was introduced to about 5 rural schools in 1967. one of the 5 schools was kaki bukit primary school. it was a short-lived programme because by the end of 1968, it was aborted. the twenty or so teachers who were trained to teach these subjects had to be re-deployed.

my friend who provided this information was teaching the monolingual 7 and 8 pupils in kaki bukit vocational centre. the vocational centre was located within the kaki bukit primary school premises and administered by the same principal. he was then teaching metalwork to the same group of pupils.

although he lived in chinatown and had a take a running cab to still road, from where he caught a tay koh yat bus to the school, he did not mind the distance. according to him, it was like he was teaching in a holiday resort. the environment was rustic, the class size was small and he had a lot of free time (to drink coffee at 10 cents a cup).

animal husbandry was one of the subjects that the students studied. because of religious sensitivity, pig rearing was out. so the school kept two goats, some chickens and ducks. cows were too costly to buy and maintain. according to my friend, there were cattle in the vicinity, reared by the kampong folks.

because of the abundance of chicken and duck eggs, the school also taught the students two processes of preserving the eggs - salted egg and century egg. the duck eggs were soaked in brine to changed them into salted eggs. to make century eggs, they wrapped the chicken and duck eggs in rice straws and other materials.

another subject was arable farming where the students grew cucumber, bitter gourds, long beans and corns among others on plots found within the school. most of the plants grown were those with tendrils.

the third subject that was taught under agriculture was aquarium fish rearing. the fish tanks were privileged enough to be located in an air-conditioned room, a rarity in the past. those days, even the general office and the principal's room were without airconditioning. the situation is different today: all the special rooms, the office, the staff room and the principal's office are kept cool by air-conditioning.

i think the removal of this programme coincided with the government's decision at that time to phase out farming in singapore.


seenthisscenethat said...

Are the photos recent? taken at one of the local Kranji farm?

yg said...

hi seenthisscenethat, yes, most of them taken at spring orchard (dragonfruit farm) in lim chu kang. the long bean from kok fah farm in sungei tengah and the fish from qian hu, also sungei tengah. taken this morning.