(b. 1915 - d. 1991)
Shen Tin was a native of Zhao’an County, Fujian Province. He was the late principal of Sham Chai Secondary School, Ipoh, Perak. In 1991, he was awarded the Lim Lian Geok Spirit Award for his contribution to the revival movement of Perak Chinese Independent High School in the 1970s.
During his childhood, Shen Tin received old-style private education as well as modern education in his hometown. He later graduated from Quanzhou Pingmin Middle School in 1934. At the age of 20, he came to Penang, Malaya to make a living. In the second year, he was employed by Penang Zhonghua Middle School as a teacher on history, geography and literature. In 1955, he continued to serve at Poi Lam High School in Ipoh for more than 20 years.
In 1962, there was a change in Chinese High School education system. He was then appointed as the vice principal of a public high school, but it was just an honorary position without salary or allowance. In order to increase his income, he also served as the head of administration in a newly-established independent high school.
In the 1960s, independent high schools were gradually declining, and the numbers of students dropped drastically. At this period of time, Shen realised that independent high school should be the formal education system for Chinese schools, after examining the two systems of public and independent high schools. He also realised that if independent high schools were forced to close, the local Chinese education would be lost. Therefore, he stepped forward and actively called for the renaissance of independent high schools.
From his own personal experience and sentiments, he came up with the idea of fundraising campaign to save the nine independent schools in Perak. He was ridiculed by parents and received criticism from the public when raising funds and collecting donations. The public satirized the independent high School, calling them “tuition schools” and the students were “school scum,” thus shaming the students. The students felt low self-esteem and even refused to wear the uniform in front of the public. Under these dire circumstances, he resolutely uphold his mission, together with other passionate fundraisers and Chinese education leaders, travelled to every corner of Perak in order to plant the seeds for the renaissance of independent high schools.
As a result, the United Chinese School Committees Association of Perak decided to raise one million ringgit for the nine independent schools in Perak. In 1974, Shen Tin was unanimously nominated as the secretary of the association. He made great contributions by giving his best to assist in the association’s affairs, and advancing the movement to safeguard Chinese education.
In 1975, when Perak Independent High Schools fell into a low ebb, he resolutely accepted the position as principal of Shen Zhai High School. Working in tandem with the renaissance movement of Perak Independent High Schools, he also worked closely with school directors, teachers and staffs. Through a decade of dedication and hard work, Shen Zhai High School successfully flourished and developed into a reputable independent high school.
In 1985, Shen Tin retired after half a century of service in education.
The above article is translated from the “Pioneering Calligraphy Exhibition by First Generation Chinese Artists” Catalogue.
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