Meet Imran Hakim (born on 9 November 2007). Member of Fivers 2024.
Well that's what I hope anyway. But his mother is not too sure about Imran going to STAR like his dad and grandad. Between my father and me, I'm sure we could make her see some sense. We turned out all right, so why shouldn't Imran?
But it's not that simple is it? I mean getting into STAR these days. And leaving with a high quality, well-rounded education.
For a start, how does one get his child into STAR? I've heard of this old boy quota but apparently it's so competitive to get your child in on the old boy ticket since there are so many old boys' children. You have to make significant contributions to STAROBA, I've been told. So I'm making a checklist already (Item No. 1 - publishing the Malam Perdana Programme Book - checked!). But just for the record, I didn't get in on the old boy ticket since at that time my father had some funny ideas about sending me to La Salle P.J. instead (or Kolej Islam Kelang). It was only by good fortune and coincidence that I was despatched to STAR through the SBP lottery.
Then, there's this other small problem of doing well in the UPSR first. I have no clue about the Malaysian syllabus. I'm already dreading having to re-learn the various Malay peribahasa and penjodoh bilangan to help Imran through his Bahasa Malaysia exam (or is it Bahasa Melayu? They can't seem to make their minds up).
But more importantly, when he does get to STAR, is he assured of getting the same well-rounded experience that I had? I admit, it's nice to see that our boys are now doing well in public exams. Last year's PMR results come to mind (our boys were the best in the country, no less). But is that the end of the matter?
During last year's OBW, I played volleyball with the boys. They beat us on account of our lack of fitness but what they told us later was heart-breaking. It seems that the boys had no coach and had to organise training themselves. True, there was a teacher in charge but apparently all she did was make sure the boys got to the matches. It's the same story with other games. I don't know how far this is true but some boys were even prevented from playing for the state so that the school's academic record remained impressive.
[Corrigendum: According to Winged Acrophobic, we did win the volleyball game. I left the game after I lost the set and didn't realise we went on to win.]
There are other signs that co-curricular activities are being sidelined. Last year's Fifth Formers reported that it is the ambition of one particular teacher to abolish cheering for games. The abolition of cheering would be the death knell of our school spirit. I can imagine in future Staroba matches, I would be shouting 'Cobra!' and the younger old boys would look at me as if I should be locked up in a mental ward.
I don't know what's the cause of this apathy. A lost sense of pride? Undue attention to academic performance? Less selfless teachers? I'm not sure I want Imran to get 10As for his SPM but end up with the personality of C3PO.
I suspect that my father initially didn't want me to go to STAR as he didn't want me to go through the physical hardship of living in hostels (squatting toilets, sub-standard food, crowded dorms). He hasn't seen the state of the hostels and classrooms now! I was shocked when my friends and I did an impromptu inspection of the hostels and dorms during an OBW. I'm sure we have got used to the good life since we left STAR but I don't remember living in such dismal conditions. Furniture was broken. Walls and lockers bare. Clothes strewn all over the place. Don't they have inspections and inter-house cleanliness competitions anymore? Oh I forgot, they don't even have houses now.
Thoughts like that are just too daunting. Maybe I shouldn't be too disappointed if Imran doesn't get to go to STAR. But I'll keep on brainwashing the wife, just in case. In the meantime I'd better hide those old hostel photos.