'Retain school name' after merger, urge former students of Tanglin Secondary

Enrolment at Tanglin Secondary, in West Coast Road, has been falling in recent years. The school will merge with Clementi Woods Secondary.
Enrolment at Tanglin Secondary, in West Coast Road, has been falling in recent years. The school will merge with Clementi Woods Secondary.PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Former students of Tanglin Secondary School have written to the Ministry of Education (MOE) to appeal for the school's name to be retained when it merges with the nearby Clementi Woods Secondary in 2016.

Students were informed of the merger in July when MOE said it was "considering" the name for the merged school.

Mr Seow Kang Seng, 62, president of Tanglin Secondary's alumni committee, said he wrote a letter to the ministry on the committee's behalf that month, requesting that the Tanglin name be retained.

Mr Seow, who attended the school in the 1960s when it was still called Tanglin Integrated Technical Secondary, said the school has a rich history worth preserving.

"It was very unique, it had both the technical and academic tracks, it was a co-ed school, and had both the English and Chinese streams," said the freelance energy consultant.

He included this point in his letter, saying the school's name "reflected the experiment and the emphasis of the education system then".

Mr Seow also included a list of notable Tanglin alumni in the letter, such as Members of Parliament Cedric Foo and Zainudin Nordin.

Mr Seow said the ministry wrote back to him. "They said they would keep me informed of their decision on the naming of the merged school."

Enrolment at the secondary school in West Coast Road has been falling in recent years, as has been happening at seven other secondary schools that will be merged into four schools in 2016.

Toa Payoh Secondary will merge with Bartley Secondary, Ping Yi Secondary with Bedok Town Secondary, and Chestnut Drive Secondary with Fajar Secondary.

While he understands the need for the merger, Mr Seow said the news came as a surprise.

"It was unexpected because we just had our 50th anniversary celebration," said Mr Seow, who gathers with his Tanglin schoolmates at least once a month.

"The alumni even sponsored a heritage wall which is outside the school's general office now. It has old photos and information on the school's history.

"With the school name gone, it might be harder to keep the alumni together and harder to get young people to take on managerial roles in the committee."

Meanwhile, past and present students of Tanglin Secondary have formed a request-only Facebook group, KeepOurTanglin. On its page, members share photographs and anecdotes of their school days.

Founded by four former Tanglin students, the group aims to rally students together to preserve the school's name and memories. The group was started late last month and has more than 1,500 members now.

One of the group's founders, Mr Cheah Kok Keong, 48, who attended Tanglin from 1979 to 1982, said: "The school has such a rich and strong history. It will be a waste if its name is erased."

Pearl Lee