Saturday 10 August 2013

Pei Tong Primary School 培童小学 (Formerly Pei Tong Public School 公立培童学校)

1945 - 1981; 1981 - Present

Pei Tong Public School was founded in a little village, known as "Little Pandan", off Clementi Road. The residents were mainly engaged in farming and construction. After the liberation of Singapore in 1945, the children of this village had no school to go to. So a number of civic-minded people decided to set up a school to cater to the needs of the children in this village. Mr Xia Zhichuan, Mr Xia Wenguo, Mr Xia Meishun, Mr Xia Shuifan, Mr Xia Jiaxing, Mr Yao Yamu, Mr Su Qingfa, Mr Xia Wuji, Mr Hong Houshen, Mr Hong Quande, Mr lin Guochang, Mr Cai Bingqian and Mr Liang Ronghua got together and with the support of the villagers, a simple attap house on stilts was purchased for $500 and furnished with crude chairs and desks.

Mr Xia Zhichuan who was one of the founder members became the first teacher of the school. Without proper textbooks, he taught pupils of varying ages. His salary was paid from the meagre fees collected from the pupils. During this early period of the school's existence, there were many problems, which were surmounted through the dedication and determination of the founders and the teacher of the school. Pei Tong Primary School grew in strength as the years went by.

The school was officially registered on 26 Nov 1948. The pupils were taught the Chinese language and Arithmetic. By 1954, the original attap building could not accommodate the growing enrolment. The founders, Mr Xia Meishun, Mr Xia Wen Gu, Mr Xia Zhichuan and other members of the School Board embarked upon a fund-raising campaign to expand the school. They also applied for subsidies from the Ministry of Education. As a result of their concerted effort, a new zinc-roofed wing with four classrooms was erected on the hill slope behind the .old building. In spite of the improvement made, there was still no water supply and modern sanitation.

However, without obtaining prior approval from the relevant authorities for the construction of the new wing, the school could not get subsidies from the Ministry of Education. The total cost of construction had to be borne by the founders and residents, with Mr Xia Yanian contributing the major share.

Mr Xia Yanian was elected Chairman of the School Board in 1956. Mr Huang Jinhui was the principal of the school, which had 6 classes with 187 pupils and several teachers. By then, the school was established. Proper textbooks were used and there were more rooms for various activities. In the same year, the school became a government-aided school, signaling the first developmental stage of the school.

From 1960 to 1975, Mr Shen Guanrong was the Chairman of the School Board and Mr Chen Qidi the principal of the school. The devoted efforts of Mr Chen, the close rapport between the staff and members of the School Board and the aids received from the government brought about tremendous progress. By 1963, the school had 9 classes with 322 pupils in both morning and afternoon sessions.

Between 1961 and 1962, Clementi Park Limited that owned the land in "Little Pandan" planned to develop the area. The school was affected by the proposed development. On behalf of the school, Mr Shen Guanrong, Mr Hong Zhicheng and Mr Fu Jiquan negotiated with the developers and eventually both parties accepted Mr Chen Qidi's proposal to resite Pei Tong on another hillock in the village.

When Mr Chen Qidi left in 1963, Mr Huang Huiyou acted as the principal for some time. In the meantime, negotiations with the developers continued, with the School Board insisting that architectural plans for the school should be approved by them before implementation. However, owing to an oversight, the requirement was not stipulated in the agreement with the developers, who were thus able to unilaterally decide and obtain the approval of the relevant authorities on the design of the school.

The new school building of Pei Tong was constructed at No. 50, Sunset Grove during the period 1964 to 1965. An impasse developed when Mr Shen Guanrong refused to take over the building on the grounds that the structural and sanitary facilities did not meet the requirements of the School Board. In 1964, when Mr Huang Fonqiang took over as the principal, negotiations on the school building stopped completely, resulting in the building being unoccupied for six years. From 1964, all the development rights were bought over by City Developments Limited.

Mr Huang Fonqiang retired in 1971 and was succeeded by Mr Zheng Huihuang as acting principal. In less than two months one of the old buildings was gutted by fire. The school was cautioned by City Developments Limited not to proceed with any repair without their prior approval.

A sub-committee was formed with Mr Shen Guanrong, Mr Hong Zhicheng, Mr Xu Jie Wei, Mr Lin Shuran, Mr Wang Qingchi and Mr Hong Jinpai as members and Mr Zheng, the acting principal as secretary to negotiate with the developers. With the assistance of Mr Huang Guowen and Mr Lin Bingxiang from the Ministry of Education, the following terms were eventually agreed to after numerous negotiations:

City Developments Limited would pay a resettlement allowance of $70,000 to the school;

All necessary repairs and modifications would be carried out;

Water and electricity supplies, sewerage system, road and other facilities should be completed before the new building was handed over to the school. The School Board engaged a solicitor, Mr Ye Chunmou to act for the school in securing legal rights to the land. Finally, City Developments Limited agreed to the transfer of the land with an area of 2 acres (8,100 m2) and 800 square yards to Pei Tong Public School. The successful conclusion of the negotiations was largely due to the assistance rendered by the City Developments Limited representatives, Mr Shen Minjian and Mr Mei Jinqing.

Pei Tong Public School moved into its new premises at 50, Sunset Grove on 28 August 1972. The new building was officially opened by our School Advisor, Mr Cao Yuyin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Education. Mr Zheng Huihuang was the principal from 1972 to 1980 while the Chairman of the School Board from 1975 to 1980 was Mr Hong Zhicheng.

Between 1979 and 1980, the School Board negotiated with the Ministry of Education until it was agreed and approved by all the sponsors that in order to improve the school, all properties of Pei Tong Public School would be handed over to the Ministry of Education as from 1981; the new government primary school to be built on Avenue 5 Clementi New Town be named Pei Tong Primary School; all the teaching and non-teaching staff and pupils be transferred to the new school; and members of the School Board join as members of the School Advisory Committee. In addition, a plaque of honour was to be installed in the new Pei Tong Primary School to commemorate the contributions made by the early pioneers, sponsors and members of the School Board.


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