Changes came 20 years too late for her
Mon, Nov 30, 2009
The Straits Times

I REFER to yesterday's report, ''We migrated to spare our kid further misery with Chinese'', on Mrs Pauline Tan's story of her son's struggle with Chinese. I fully understand how her son felt as I went through a similar experience in primary school.

I was probably the worst Chinese student in my class, judging from the number of times the Chinese teacher picked on me. Unfortunately, she was my teacher three years running. Often, I was made to stand outside the class with the textbook on my head because I was just 'wasting' her time and there was 'no hope' for me. She made it clear she could not understand why I was so bad and I should be ashamed of myself since I was Chinese.

One incident I remember clearly was when I came down with chicken pox and had to skip classes for two weeks. When I returned, the teacher said I was already so bad in Chinese, why in the world did I have to get chicken pox and miss even more lessons?

And she made me stand outside the classroom.

After every ting xie (spelling test), she would fling the exercise book at me and say: 'As usual, you didn't do well.' I discovered that the only way to stop the humiliation was to have a pre-written set of words hidden in my pencilcase and copy it.

Unlike Mrs Tan's sons, I did not have the option to migrate. There are some who may find it hard to fathom what she did, but they did not have their books thrown at them simply because they could not make it in Chinese.

I grew up hating Chinese, refusing to make any effort since I was told at a young age it was no use. I am now in my late 20s, doing well in my chosen profession and, like Mrs Tan's son, I refuse to visit my former primary school.

The policy changes came 20 years too late for me.

Dulcie Ho (Ms)

This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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