For two years 1970 and 1971 when I was in Gan Eng Seng School, I was knocking, sawing, filing in an adjacent building of the school. This housed the technical workshops. I did not appreciate back then why my cohort had to pick up woodwork and metalwork skills in Secondary One and Two. Singapore was independent not too long ago and growing the economy was urgent. Industrialisation and productions in factories were the thrust of the economy.
It was the real thing. I could make a wooden pencil case without using nails from the basic raw materials from scratch. I remember I was quite proud of the end product. The joints fitted perfectly without gaps. I also made a hand-held trowel, a gardening tool to scoop up soil. I learned how to cut the metal to shape and then hammered it into a curved shape. I had to wear goggles to protect my eyes from loose debris. Imagine at my age, I was learning these skills.
In addition, I studied one subject called Technical Drawing. We had to bring our T-Square and drawing board to school. Taking the public bus with these items was common sights. It was really clumsy especially when you were small-built like me. I must say I quite like technical drawing and was able to do a good drawing with precise measurements.
After Secondary Two, I then moved into the academic stream instead of the technical stream. I was not cut out for a vocational type of work. However, these skills were in my sub-conscious. I find that I dared to do simple plumbing work and minor repair to the house.