Paying tribute to STTI and its founder

  • Education
  • Sunday, 19 Jan 2020

The plan for the swimming pool was based on British designs. — Photo courtesy of the writer

IN July 1957, the Ministry of Education decided on the bold idea of starting a specialist-subject institute to enhance the standard of education in schools, especially in the core as well as vocational subjects. The blueprint of the lay-out of the Physical Education Department was based on British standards.

The initial subjects offered were Art and Craft; Commercial Studies; Domestic Science; Library Science; Metalwork and Woodwork; Physical Education; and Science; with Audio-visual Aids being introduced into the teaching of each subject.

I shall not pretend to know the set-up of each department; furthermore, as the years rolled by, various subjects were replaced by others, presumably, according to the needs of the school system.

As a student of Physical Education in 1962 at the Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute (STTI) (now known as Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Ilmu Khas) and still being in close contact with its founder lecturer, (now Datuk) Teoh Teik Lee, I beg to put on paper the contribution of Physical Education in the set-up of STTI.

In the field of Physical Education, Teoh, the superintendent of Physical Education in schools then, was tasked with the set-up of the department. On hindsight, there could not have been a better man entrusted to set up the department at the STTI.

The plans of the physical facilities of the PE Complex were taken lock, stock and barrel from the British designs in England; and though Teoh failed officially to get the British officer in-charge to lengthen the pool from 50 yards to 50 metres, to cater to official competition and time trials, he managed to get the local Public Works Department supervisor of the project to make the change, which accounted for the rather elongated shape of the pool.

A man of great passion in his subject, he ensured that the complex was built to the very detail of a well-designed training complex for teachers of physical education.

The facilities such as the swimming pool, gymnasium, courts, games’ fields and training rooms, were each constructed to its required dimensions, befitting a specialist college of training.

Leaving no stone unturned, to ensure that the department was set up on the right footing, he obtained a study grant from the United States Information Service (USIS) to study the set-up of the PE departments in the US, as well as in Britain; even visiting the Malayan Teachers Training College (MTTC), Kirkby, in 1958 to acquaint himself with the college set-up.

By September 1959, the college campus was ready for use and he lost no time in organising two in-service courses to test the lay-out and its equipment.

On Jan 4,1960, a unique teacher-training programme commenced at the STTI, with the first intake of 32 male qualified teachers for PE who must have had at least two years of teaching experience. The oldest was 43 years old. This one-year course was to elevate their knowledge in the teaching and administration of the subject.

Teoh and Lim Hock Han were the only two lecturers for the PE programme.

In its second year, the first batch of 14 female PE teachers were introduced with a reduction in the number of male PE teachers to 18.

The additional staff included Aziz Omar and Mary Ghouse. In 1962, Dennis D’Silva, a PE lecturer from MTTC Penang and Mohd Nor Che Noh joined the STTI when Aziz was transferred to head the PE department in another MTTC.

I would be remiss in not mentioning my year, 1962, which I believed set the tone in the final selection of teachers for the PE department. With 24 male teachers, at the average age of 25, (two failed to turn up) and with 16 females, at the average age of 24, we made up the class together for theory. After that, each intake comprised young men and women, mainly from the colleges.

The Institute derived its name from a proposal by Teoh, that since it was built to train specialist subject teachers, it should be called Specialist Teachers’ Training Institute.

The worth of a programme is in its demand in employment. Many of the PE specialists were drafted into the Teachers’ Training Colleges (now known as Institutes of Teacher Education); Ministry of Youth, Culture and Sports; National Sports Council or being employed by private sports organisations to manage their sports activities.

To the public, the PE Department was synonymous with STTI, due to the active roles played by its graduates. My regret is that it was not elevated into a full College of Physical Education.

Please note that much of the information in this article is sourced from Teoh, who has inspired many of his students to further their studies in the field of PE in the US. in the early years.


Former STTI PE student in 1962

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