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    Jun 09, 2015

    TKPS alumni, parents support climbing trips

    THE climb up Mount Kinabalu was tiring and challenging - but also taught them valuable life lessons, said former Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) pupils who have gone on school trips to the famous peak in Sabah.

    One of them, Deanna Lim, 13, who went there last year, said the expedition made her step out of her comfort zone.

    Deanna, now a first-year Integrated Programme student of Temasek Junior College, said "it teaches you a lot about perseverance and leadership".

    Former TKPS pupils like Deanna and their parents have come forward to defend the school's Mount Kinabalu programme, after some netizens criticised the school and the Education Ministry for allowing 12-year-olds to go on a mountain climbing expedition.

    Deanna's brother, Ronan, 12, was one of the 29 pupils who went on the school's Mount Kinabalu expedition this year.

    A quake on Friday killed six of his schoolmates, one teacher and one camp instructor. At press time, one pupil and teacher remain missing.

    Housewife Janice Lim, the mother of Deanna and Ronan, said the school has her full support for the programme.

    "It teaches the kids the values of teamwork and perseverance," said Mrs Lim, who is in her 40s.

    "You learn more from the experience of doing a difficult task than just reading about it."

    Said 13-year-old Pung Feng Kai, who was on the same trip as Deanna last year: "The trip taught me that it isn't just about the ending, but also the journey."

    The Raffles Institution student said he got closer to his friends through the trip, and made several new ones too.

    "After climbing Mount Kinabalu, it made me realise that I was able to overcome challenges...I never thought I would be able to climb that mountain," he said.

    Housewife Maggie Chia, 44, whose daughter made the climb with TKPS last year, said: "It's easy to be a master of hindsight. When things happen, people point fingers. But when things are well, people say the programme is great."

    She said: "We know from the pupils that the teachers acted as human shields. How do you criticise a school with so much in values?

    "The teachers don't just teach. They walk the talk, and show by action that they love the kids."

    Facebook user Adrian Chng, who said he was a former teacher of 13 years and has taken students on overseas trips, wrote that teachers do this "because they want their students to learn lessons that can never be replicated in the classroom".

    "Teachers do this over and over again because they see the learning happening right before their eyes. Students seem to develop, grow, mature overnight. That is the power of experiential learning," he added.

    Some parents whose children are not from the school also voiced support for its Mount Kinabalu programme.

    Lecturer Dennis Yeo, who has two daughters aged eight and 13, said: "Singapore is small, and schools may want to give students a different learning experience and get them to rough it out, which is something they don't get to do often here."

    Dr Yeo, who was previously a vice-principal at a junior college, noted that the Mount Kinabalu trekking route taken by the TKPS pupils was deemed to be suitable for children aged 10 and above by MOE. "You can never tell when a disaster like this will happen. The group was unfortunately in the wrong place at the wrong time," he added.