An Old Chinatown Teacher
Photograph Print by Yip Cheong Fun.
This artwork is mounted on mattboard.
Down Memory Lane in Singapore:
The Old Chinatown Teacher
The interaction between an old teacher and a young boy is most intriguing in this photograph. The expressions on the faces of the two people are natural and not posed. The photographer captured these expressions, which seem to tell a story – a story of patient teaching on the part of the old teacher, and the thirst for knowledge and a sense of wonder on the part of the youngster. Photos like these are very inspiring, and they make us think about ourselves – how we revere or respect our teachers, and how we learn from them.
In the old days, home-based education was quite common in Chinatown. By 1870s, more schools were established. A good number of schools were founded by clan organizations. Most of these schools were vernacular. In Chinatown, a typical school is the Yang Cheng School at Ann Siang Hill, where the medium of instruction was Cantonese. In the early days of Singapore, the demand for education was tremendous. In 1930, there were 72,000 children at school, of which 38,000 studied in Chinese schools. One of the oldest clan associations, the Ying Fo Fui Kun (established in 1822), founded the Yin Sin School in 1905. The school taught English, Mandarin, and Mathematics.
The Master photographer, Yip Cheong-Fun, is regarded internationally as a master of portraiture, especially child portraiture. He has been conferred the title, “Outstanding Photographer of the Century” by the Photographic Society of New York. He was also a recipient of the covetous 1984 Cultural Medallion, awarded for this outstanding achievement in photography by the Government of the Republic of Singapore.