December 23, 2013

Nang Chong Stories : one for all , all for one

In the 1950's and 1960's in Nang Chong Village of Sibu, school going age children would either attend school from mid morning to mid afternoon or did not go to school at all. (Even though in 1953 the United Nations declared universal education for all children, including girls. I was in that group of children who must be registered by parents for primary school. However my indigenous sisters were not as fortunate because many native girls my age are illiterate until now).

It was a kind of time table specially planned for a rubber tapping community because it released able bodied children to help with the family daily work. Town schools however had either morning or afternoon sessions, or both. Children who attended afternoon sessions would have helped parents to earn some money in the morning. And by afternoon, they would have been too tired, and were therefore often beaten in the head by teachers.*(for sleeping in the class or for not doing any homework).

 When the government took over the running of most schools in Sarawak after 1968, a national type of time table regulated school management and pupils no longer could help their parents tap rubber, fish in the river, or carry water for the home.

The Chung Cheng School in Nang Chong in the 1950's to 1960's, however made arrangements for school to start later in the morning at one time, so that the children of rubber tappers would first tap rubber and then attend school after about ten in the morning. A good day's rubber tapping would have been done by then.

It was not easy for the tired children to keep up with their school work according to my cousins.

And often, the boys especially would have to stay behind as punishment for poor Arithmetic work. The teacher would help the "retained students" to finish their sums and at the same gain understanding of the particular chapter.

One of my older cousins Lau Kiing Nang, whose father was a village school headmaster and he went to Chung Cheng School. We never dared ask him if he was ever "retained" by teacher for maths. (Photo by Sarawakiana)

In a way it was very important for the caring teachers to do this but some parents did not understand and took it as a "face losing" incident.

Some kids got retained in the afternoons all the time.

And upon their return, they would be beaten or they would "eat the rattan" a second time. Double punishment for the day when words got home.
One of my cousins, Lau Chingm, who studied in Chung Cheng School, until she graduated from Form Five. This is my maternal grandparents large Nang Chong house. It was "slowly swept" away by the soil erosion caused by expresses in the 1970's, My uncle built a new wooden house further inland and my maternal grandmother lived in the new house for many years before she passed away peacefully.

But my cousins would wait for each other. If one was retained, all would wait outside the classroom and together they would "half walk and half run" all the 50 minutes rubber garden path from school to Nang Chong. It was really frightening to be running barefooted in the gathering darkness.
My older girl cousins would have missed the evening laundry hours by the river side and that would make my over worked aunts rather cross.(Photo by Sarawakiana)

The girls needed the boys' protection in their walk home from school, and the boys needed the girls' defence when they faced their mothers.

But by then, very naturally, my cousins were already practising the Three Mustketeers' motto : One for all and All for One.


Anonymous said...

The great surgeon in China, Wu Meng Chao, who was educated in Sibu during his childhood, talked about the rubber tapping experience. Sibu people should be very proud of such an experience. I wonder if his documentary has been released in China.

Anonymous said...

Ensurai said...

Thank you . I have read about Dr. Wu Meng Chao and he has been featured in the blog , Rajang Basin, owned by Wong Meng Lei. May be I can rewrite in English for my blog the information about this great personality, who is such an award winning scientist in China!! I have not heard about his documentary though but I have seen one Youtube presentation!!

Ensurai said...

Thank you. I have also checked Wong Meng Lei's blog post on this good doctor. CCTV has made several documentaries too. God bless. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Anonymous said...

Please by all means, translate. RTM should carry the big news. But alas if only Swak is an independeny country!!

Ensurai said...

will do soon. thanks.

Sibu Tales : Making Bah Gui from Scratch

The pioneering families of Sibu Foochows continued to practise the  adoption of girls from poor families who become their maids (slaves). ...