Paying tribute to STTI and its founder

  • Education
  • Sunday, 04 Aug 2019

Teoh (seated, centre) with his former students from 1961 to 1964 at the gathering.

THE 1962 batch of the Physical Education Department of the Specialist Teacher Training Institute (STTI) (now known as Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Ilmu Khas)

organised a gathering to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the institute and to pay homage to its founder lecturer, Datuk Teoh Teik Lee, 94, who played a defining role in the careers of many physical education (PE) teachers.

Some 40 past PE graduates together with those from the other departments and a dozen family members participated in the lunch, with one from the first batch in 1960 right through to 1980 when Teoh retired.

Those in attendance included luminaries such as Datuk Faridah Merican, Datuk George Joseph, Datuk R Yogeswaran, Datuk Yeoh Choo Hock, Leslie Armstrong and a host of others who had graced the sports arena as coaches or officials – they had not forgotten the man, who had taught them the intrinsic values of integrity and hard work.

Teoh had passion for his work and that quality rubbed off onto many of his students who later joined and excelled in their work in the private sector.

Memories came flooding back. There was non-stop chatter. Even the man of the hour was elated to see such bonding and enthusiastic talk of their youthful endeavours after all these years.

The founder lecturer spent two decades of his life at STTI. He said the Specialist Teacher Training Institute, was the brainchild of a group of educators, who in post Merdeka, decided to provide a more holistic education than the three Rs in the national education system.

STTI offered courses that catered to the overall development of the child in the areas of physical education, art and craft, music, home economics, wood and metal work, library science and later included special education for the blind and deaf.

STTI was developed to the south of Kuala Lumpur in the mid 1950s. It contributed significantly to the development and progress of education, sports and culture in the country. My narrative is solely about Physical Education, but I believe it is also true with regard to the other departments.

Teachers, with at least two years of teaching experience and after undergoing stringent testing were enrolled for a year of intensive training and teaching practice. Students of caliber and devoted lecturers made for the eventual success of the scheme.

In the 1960s and 1970s graduates of STTI filled the posts of state school sports secretaries whose accomplishments included the high standard of sports in the schools, and the establishment of the School Sports Council of Malaysia; the latter being the forerunner of the Asean Schools Sports Council. STTI is also the fount of the physical education staff in the national institutions of higher learning.

The name Teoh Teik Lee is synonymous with STTI, that at the mention of it even today often conjures up the imposing personality of this man who had given a good part of his life not only to establish a well-known department of education but of the subject in general. For that, after 39 years of retirement many of his proteges, some in wheelchairs and many limping along, came to pay homage.

In 1961 he founded the Physical Education Association of Malaya (later, International Council of Health, Physical Education and Recreation). In 1965, Lord Mountbatten sought him out to form the Life Saving Society of Malaysia. He had devoted much of his life to improving the physical well-being of the citizens of this country. Today, a knee-cap kept in place by screws due to a fall prevents him from active physical activity but, still sharp in mind, he continues to meet up with old colleagues, many of whom are his former students.

In passing, my regret is that STTI which was well developed in the two decades during Teoh’s tenure and with its numerous physical facilities was not turned into a full-fledged college of physical education along the lines of Carnegie College of Physical Education (where Teoh hails from).

Perhaps the current STTI will create its own history in the annals of education in Malaysia and be well remembered by its graduates.


Former STTI PE student in 1962

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