OIC should think about setting up secular education institutes; schools, vocation schools, colleges and universities for all the people around the world

OIC should think about setting up secular education institutes; schools, vocation schools, colleges and universities for all the people around the world like what the Christians had done.

Just read this stories in Malaysiakini- – –

A Christmas tribute to the La Salle Brothers!, Malaysiakini, by Sim Kwang Yang

My brush with Christianity marked me for life: I was taught by the La Salle Brothers throughout my secondary education, a life-changing experience that only fellow former La Sallian students can appreciate.

I was a scraggy boy growing up on the mean streets of Kuching, very vulnerable to the street gangs that roamed my poor neighbourhood. 

 had just finished by six years of Chinese primary education and a year of transition class in English, when my late mother decided to send me to the famed St Joseph’s Secondary School run by the La Salle Brothers.

The first day in the English lesson was undertaken by Brother Adrian, one of those Irishmen who came across the oceans to teach us poor Sarawakian kids from their “Island of saints and scholars”.

He wrote out the poem The Brooke by Lord Tennyson on the board and taught us to recite it. I still remember this poem to this day.

I had never liked English much before that, but that first English lesson made me fall in love with the language and English literature, a subject I took right up to the Cambridge School Certificate (Form Five) level. It is a love affair that stays until my old age to-day.

We used to have morning assembly before class every morning. It would start with the singing of a hymn led by the late Brother Hilary who had a particularly melodious voice, followed by prayers.

Indisciplined students assigned to wash toilets

Non-Catholic Chinese students and the Malay Muslim boys had only to stand erect at attention.

This would then be followed by the principal’s announcements, and lectures on the need to study hard and excel on the sports field.

Students who came late to school did so at their own peril. The usual punishment for this and other acts of indiscipline was to be sent to wash toilets.

The La Salle Brothers were famous for their disciplinarian approach to education of course.

Corporeal punishment was the shadow that lurked waiting for the naughty boys in our midst.

 The sight of the principal Brother Albinus in his long white robe with his long rotan cane sauntering through the corridor was enough to rein in the hundreds of schoolboys throughout the whole school ground.

The parents then did not mind the occasional canning of their children by the Brothers and the teachers.

In fact, parents of very problematic children would try every means to squeeze their children into SJS, especially into the boarding house, precisely with the hope of whipping their spoiled babies into shape.

I had seen with my very eyes how street gangsters had been so transformed into good students and useful citizens later.

But fear of punishment was not what motivated us to study.

The Brothers created a community spirit among teachers and students and challenged us to our task at hand with the same kind of their single-mindedness with which they dedicated themselves to their vocation.

It was a challenge to which we could only respond with enthusiasm.

The challenge to excel was not limited to academic performance only; we were expected to do well in all extra-curricular activities, especially in sports and games.

As the principal Brother Albinus would harangue us, day in and day out, we were expected to return to school in the early afternoon, to take the various free extra classes, or spend the hours reading and studying in the school library.

After that, at about four thirty, we all had to turn out on the school field, to play one game or other.

Naturally, our school team emerged champion in all inter-school competitions in athletics and games, except in basketball and table-tennis, which were often won by Chinese schools.

The La Salle Brothers treated students of all races equally, and they had never made any attempt to convert anybody to their religion.

They were dedicated to their cause: to provide education to poor students, without regard to creed or colour.

All the students instinctively knew it, and followed their leadership to the hilt.

Naturally, all the students studied in the classroom and played on the fields together without the kind of racial or religious polarisation and compartmentalisation so cancerous in Malaysian society to-day.

Later on in my years in Form Six, I too checked into the boarding house, and it was then I truly realised the austerity of the Brothers’ daily life.

They lived in very spartan rooms, and ate very simple meals. They rose long before sunrise, and spent hours praying, before they went to church for the morning mass.

Then they spent the whole day, teaching in the morning, and supervising student activities in the afternoon, before retiring to prepare lessons and mark papers.

Fading away of the Brotherhood

They did this day in and day out, for decades on end.

I was to learn from them that before they entered the Brotherhood, they had to take the vows of chastity, poverty and absolute obedience.

Only with very strong religious faith can you become a La Salle Brother indeed.

Then some time in the early 1980s, the Brothers decided to hand over the management of St. Joseph’s Secondary School to lay teachers.

The school was increasingly coming under the thumb of the education ministry.

In any case, the La Salle order was established some 300 years ago to provide education for the poor, and Malaysia by that time was not considered poor anymore.

Every Christmas, my thoughts always turn to the La Salle Brothers who had shaped my character and infected my love for literature and learning in my most formative years.

Those were the happiest most care-free years of my life. I had learned much more than knowledge from them; I had learned about giving something of myself to others and to causes much larger than myself.

I had learned about the Goodness of God.

So Merry Christmas and may God bless you, Brother Albinus in Sarawak, Brother Columba in Ireland, Brother Adrian, Brother Mark and Brother Hyacinth wherever you are!

As for Brother Henry and Brother Hilary who had passed away, may your soul rest in eternal peace in God’s loving embrace!

(Sim Kwang Yang can be reached at kenyalang578@hotmail.com )

La Sallian legacy lives on through volunteers, Malaysiakini by Lucia Lai

Never in his wildest dreams did Khor Chun Hock think that he will achieve anything in his life, looking at the circumstances he was in prior to 1994.

He joined the La Salle Learning Centre in Penang, where he stayed and studied at the St Joseph’s home.

 He can only thank the volunteers who spent countless hours grooming the students to endure the harsh life outside.

“The social skills taught in the learning centre helped me a lot when I went out looking for work,” said Khor.

la salle school 231209 schoolThe centre provided him a place to pick up skills and build his self confidence and moulded him into a better person.

There are many youngsters who face obstacles in moving forward just like Khor due to learning difficulties and a poor family.

The current education system does not favour the disadvantaged children, according to Bro John D’Cruz of La Salle Brothers who founded this learning centre in 1984.

“It focuses on subjects and knowledge, whereas I focus on basic skills like reading and writing,” said Bro John, who was roped in by the late Father Lucien Catel to help the children at the St Joseph’s Home.

la salle school 231209 classroomThe impact of La Salle brothers is immeasurable. They have touched millions of lives during their 157 years of existence in Malaysia.
The legacy of the La Salle brothers in Malaysia started in March 1852 when the brothership completed a three-month voyage and harboured in Singapore.

Six Brothers went on to take charge of St Joseph’s Institution, Singapore and St Xavier’s Institution in Penang. They have never looked back since.

Selfless servce is their ethos, and it is well reflected in the manifestation of their deeds. Products of La Salle institutions grace the upper reaches of the Malaysian socio-political life.

For the others, the life skills taught by the brothers are being to put to good use to be upright citizens and earn a decent living in the blue collar industry.

Unyielding gratitude

Another proud product of this institution who found the methodology very beneficial is Sylvester Kumar, 31, who works for a major telecommunications firm.

“I started schooling only at the age of 12. I had to catch up with my classmates by learning my alphabets, reading and writing at the learning center,” said Kumar.

He was full of praise for the volunteers who committed themselves to guiding the students to improve themselves.

If not for them and Bro John, Kumar said he would not be where he is now, and his gratitude to them is unyielding.

Melvin Anantha Dawson, a classmate of Sylvester, also echoed Sylvester’s view of the volunteers.

“The volunteers really put in great effort to teach us, not only the skills, but about relationships as well. We learnt to interact with the adults,” said Melvin.

la salle school 231209 exco“The volunteers who were mostly elderly people were very friendly and approachable. They gave us the confidence to face the world.”

Self-reliance was also stressed on the students when Bro John started the Facilitation Training Programme in 1996.

“Training them on how to facilitate is like teaching them how to fish, instead of giving them a fish,” said Bro John.

“These facilitators will then go out on their own and start Learning Centres, and later on, they will then in turn train others.”

Thus far, Bro John and the volunteers have trained 54 facilitators, and there are 16 learning centres in the country, including Singapore.

In this way, said Bro John, the La Sallian family is ever growing – many people are also now part of the La Sallian family.

In June this year, with the retirement of the last La Salle brother principal, the Roman Catholic teaching order came to an end.

But the legacy of the order, founded by St John Baptiste de La Salle, will nevertheless be perpetuated by the proud products of the institutions of the La Salle brothers.


La Sallian legacy lives on through volunteers Lucia Lai.

Lucia Lai is a Malaysiakini citizen journalist (CJ) based in Penang who is a passionate blogger. Malaysiakini welcomes contributions from citizens on stories of interest from their areas.

One Response to “OIC should think about setting up secular education institutes; schools, vocation schools, colleges and universities for all the people around the world”

  1. OIC should think about setting up secular education institutes … | singapore News Says:

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