Teachers used their bodies to shield students

Teachers used their bodies to shield students
Minister Heng Swee Keat (centre, right) visits Peony Wee's funeral wake at Jalan Tiga and meets her mother (left)
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat issued an open letter on Monday, a day after 5 students and 1 teacher, as well as a Singaporean adventure guide was caught in the earthquake that hit Mount Kinabalu and confirmed dead.

In the message that was sent to teachers, schools and Ministry of Education (MOE) staff today, he shared about the collective grief felt at the loss of these lives.

He said: "We are deeply grieved by the deaths of our fellow Singaporeans - our students and teacher from Tanjong Katong Primary School, and an adventure guide who was with them in Kota Kinabalu.

"As of early this morning, students Peony, Ryyan, Emilie, Karyl, Rachel and Sonia, and teacher Terrence have all been brought home to us. We continue to search for and hope for the safe return of our teacher Ghazi and student Navdeep. All of us feel the anguish of the families."

Mr Heng assured that the Education Ministry was fully supporting families that have been affected, as well as the community at Tanjong Katong Primary School.

Mr Heng paid tribute to the selflessness of the teachers, who were on the trip and 'gave their best to watch over our children".

He said: "All the teachers of TKPS who were on the trip gave their best to watch over our children, and they deserve our greatest respect and gratitude.

"Our students tell of their teachers shielding them from falling rocks, and continuing to look after them despite their own injuries. Let us remember and live up to their selflessness and courage."

He said "the selflessness of our teachers remind us to give our best to our students", and "the spirit of our children inspires us to be teachers".

Two of the victims were laid to rest on Monday morning.

They were Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupil Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay and adventure guide Muhammad Daanish Amran.

Prayers were said at the Ba'alwie Mosque at Lewis Road for both victims of the Sabah earthquake, before the bodies were then brought to the Muslim Cemetery to be buried.

Many who attended Ameer's funeral were wearing white football jerseys with "Ameer Ryan 7" printed on the back. He was a student at the F-17 Academy, a football academy started by footballer and coach Fandi Ahmad.

Friends and family gathered at the home of Mr Daanish at Toa Payoh Lorong 8 from Sunday night to bid him a final farewell. He was a Nanyang Polytechnic engineering graduate who had a passion for adventure and sports.

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