14th August 2013. The day has come and gone. It was a very special day. It was the 120th birthday of Victoria Institution (VI). It was VI’s Founder’s Day.
There was no fanfare, no celebration, no Tattoo, no dinner on this special occasion. But in the world of technology today, old and new Victorians took to social media to show their appreciation for their beloved school.
For many who have walked the corridors of glory, this school was not only a place for education. It was a place where boys were moulded into men. A place which builds character. It was a school with a unique tradition, culture, values, and identity.
Most importantly, the school is about its students, Victorians, as they are the ones who live and continue to pass on these values. Over the years, Victorians have excelled not just academically, but also in sports, music, literature and other fields, with many great successes.
For so long, VI has always been associated with academic excellence as well as its colorful co-curricular bodies. And it is these bodies especially that were the core in building students’ character; run by the students on their own with little or no help from the school authorities, and yet excelling in their respective fields.
VI has produced individuals who are able to think, articulate, as well as act maturely. Victorians have no issues in dealing with paperwork, public speeches or presentations and of course, leading society in many ways. Some even discuss and play active roles in national politics and socio-economic reforms.
But times have changed, and so have priorities and expectations. The old Victorians have done their part in living up to the traditions and values which have built up the school to where it is today. The question is what will be the path for VI going forward.
So, what is VI now? Is it a place where “education” now is all about passing exams? Do the current Victorians have their own aspirations of what they want the school to be? The old Victorians have for the longest time lived through the Education Ministry’s system, worked with it, and most of the time worked through the system to find achievement and success.
Victorians used to be provided liberty and freedom to manage and explore within the permitted boundaries. Do the current Victorians still have that liberty and freedom? Or are their hands now tied, where their main priorities are purely academic? Are parents now more protective of their children that “failure” is not acceptable? Is the saying “A Victorian is a scholar, a sportsman and a gentleman” being forgotten? Are the current Victorians now being “shaped” to have a certain mindset? And more importantly, do the current Victorians want to continue to live those unique traditions and values?
These are some of the thoughts that current Victorians and also future Victorians should consider moving forward. The school is nothing without its students, and the Victorians are the soul of VI. The current Victorians should think about how and what they want to achieve by working with and through the system, and at the same time not becoming blind followers. Remember “that instructions be not all, nor this school just roof and wall”.
I, for one, an old Victorian, can only live with the glory that was achieved with the school during our time. The only thing that I can do is to share my experiences and provide guidance where needed. But the responsibility is now with the current and future generation Victorians to think and decide what they want and how they want to shape the school.
It is the current and future Victorians that will need to pick up this baton, and ensure that the Victorian spirit lives on with changing times. I probably will not live to see it, but I sincerely hope that the beautiful VI lives to see another 120 years and beyond.