40 schools to get new principals

Mr Hanafi Asmore will be appointed as the Principal of Punggol Green Primary School. His current appointment is as Principal of Punggol Primary School. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - When Mr Hanafi Asmore first started teaching mathematics in East View Primary School in 1994, he came across a boy in one of his foundation classes who had school refusal.

School refusal is described by the Institute of Mental Health as a frequent refusal to attend school for a significant period and for various reasons.

It can involve mental health disorders, and differs from truancy.

Mr Hanafi visited the boy frequently at home, making efforts to understand the reasons for his refusal and home situation.

Bit by bit, he helped the pupil rebuild his sense of self-esteem and motivation.

After the Primary School Leaving Examination, the boy was posted to the Normal (Technical) stream.

He eventually went on to the Institute of Technical Education and a polytechnic after that.

"I learnt that students don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care," said Mr Hanafi, 52.

It is a lesson that has stayed with him throughout his time as an educator.

On Friday (Dec 27), he was one of 40 new principals who received their letters of appointment from director-general of education Wong Siew Hoong at the Appointment and Appreciation Ceremony for Principals at Shangri-La Hotel.

Mr Hanafi will head Punggol Green Primary School.

He has held the post of principal of Punggol Primary School since 2012, until this year.

Before that, he was its vice-principal.

He said one of his priorities in the coming year is to inculcate a joy of learning in his pupils, even in everyday lessons.

Recounting his experience with the pupil with school refusal, Mr Hanafi said the boy had been unable to keep up in mathematics lessons because his way of studying was to memorise concepts instead of understanding them.

"When I made the effort to help him understand his work, he appreciated it.

"I always tell my teachers that our job is not just to teach the syllabus, but also to teach the child... It has been a humbling experience."

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