THE PIONEER batch of teacher trainees from the Regional Training Centre (RTC) certainly had much to catch up on during their latest reunion at Armada Hotel Petaling Jaya.
This year, being their seventh reunion, made the reunion all the more significant as it marked the golden anniversary of the 1965/1966 batch’s graduation.
To mark the occasion, a high-tea gathering was held, giving these ex-teachers the chance to casually trade stories about their post-retirement life.
Besides the usual attendees from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, the reunion drew former teachers from other states such as Johor and Kedah.
RTC alumni Sheila Chan, who has been the organiser of all seven reunions held so far, explained that back in the early 1960s, the Education Ministry noticed a shortage of English language teachers and thus set out to recruit as many capable educators as possible.
“Applicants aged from at least 19 years old had to possess a Cambridge School Certificate, the equivalent of today’s O-Levels or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.
“Our syllabus ran like this: four and a half days of teaching at schools plus lectures on Friday afternoons and Saturdays at the various training centres.
“During school holidays, we would be sent to a teacher’s college where we received intensive training based on whether we planned to specialise in the Arts or Science streams,” she said, adding that she was sent to Malacca.
The RTC model was discontinued after the second batch’s graduation as the Government realised they had sufficient number of teachers by then.
Lily Harris, whose first posting was in SMJK Yu Hwa, Kajang, said that despite being trained to teach Arts stream subjects, she was assigned by the school to teach Mathematics, an experience which turned out rather well for her.
Another matter that she and the others constantly brought up was the paltry RM150 that the trainees received as allowance.
Yet, they were still able to send some money back to their parents while having enough to cover their daily expenses.
Meanwhile, many would have agreed to describe Dr Lim Ho Peng as the most sentimental attendee. He presented everyone with a pin badge commemorating their golden anniversary.
Lim turned his nostalgic feeling a step further by creating a digital photo montage comprising pictures that were scanned to his laptop.
His prolific teaching career included a stint at the border town of Beranang in Selangor continuing his tertiary studies and eventually becoming a lecturer holding a PhD qualification.
“I taught Linguistics and Social Science during my time at University Kebangsaan Malaysia and am doing the same at a private college,” Lim said.