Far too often, I hear some of my fellow Old Frees pouting statements like "why should I help the Free School when the school is no longer like before" or "their standards have fallen since my time in the school". In my opinion, these statements are uncalled for. We live in different times. Your time, my time and their (the present Frees) time. If you feel that the education standard has dropped, why not do your little bit to try and prop it up?
Don't get indignant, don't complain; just do your little bit to improve the School. If you can touch the life of even one Free School schoolboy, you will have done your little bit for Penang Free School. I assure you, there are still many, many boys in the School - the potential leaders in many fields - who are in a position to do us proud in the future. These will be the impressionable young men who can surprise you with their maturity of thought and understanding of the world they live in today. Encourage the boys, don't criticise the School or the education system.
Over the past weekend, I participated as a coach in a private Students Leadership Workshop which my friends (we are all retired or semi-retired) had devised for the benefit of the student leaders that the School had identified for the programme. The initiative came from Siang Jin and Lean Kang, and the two-day workshop had been planned by them with the full support of the Headmaster, Omar bin Abdul Rashid. Three others - Swee Poh, Soo Choon and I - were then roped in to assist as the facilitators and coaches. We readily agreed to contribute our time and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly in the process.
Don't feel disdainful towards the present batch of schoolboys. You'll be surprised: there are a lot of bright sparks among them. All eagerly absorbing new information, and asking us intelligent questions. No different, I would guess, from the schoolboys of your time or my time. I came away from the weekend exhausted but deeply impressed. We felt it was well worth our time. There is hope yet for Penang Free School.
The registration process.
Introduction by Siang Jin
all Frees, irrespective of backgrounds
The Headmaster, Omar bin Abdul Rashid, arriving with Johari bin Yusoff of the Parent-Teacher Association.
Omar addressing the boys.
Except for a bunch of Form Three boys (the Hostel Prefects), the rest were from Form Four.
The boys getting down to an exercise
A sense of achievement.
Still feeling elated
One of the boys in deep concentration
My talk to the boys about a few notable personalities of the Free School and how they had shown leadership qualities.