Last year, Tiong had an opportunity to deliver a presentation to a group of Singaporean school teachers. The majority of Singapore schools, unlike Malaysian ones, are wired. The Singapore Government is perhaps more diligent than its Asian counterparts in ensuring that all schools are properly equipped with computers and the right infrastructure to ensure they are groomed for the knowledge-based economy.
Singapore students are also more fortunate in that each school has a dedicated staff in charge of IT development. This person sees to the needs of the students in harnessing IT and ensures that the necessary infrastructure is in place to support this exercise. The Government's aim is to create thinking schools in order to breed a learning nation. A new syllabus has been developed that comprises three new skills--entrepreneurship, thought and creativity.
So when Tiong stood up at the podium, the last in the series of speakers that evening, the audience were prepared to leave. How could a single principal from some backyard school impart what the Singapore teachers already knew or had in their schools?
Unfazed, Tiong pulled out his Powerbook and loaded a CD-ROM created by a group of his students. Its contents showcased the early beginnings of SMJK Dindings and the achievements in the last seven years. In his not-so-fluent English, Tiong won the audience over with his sincerity and dogged belief that it only takes one person to make the difference.
My friends at Sun were also equally impressed after touring the school premises, and like their 3Com counterparts who had signed the school under the company's Netprep program, the Sun respresentatives expressed an equal desire to contribute to the school.
What they didn't realize was that 3Com hadn't found Tiong. Tiong had found them.
As this visionary says of his continuing quest to bring his students into the future: "I teach the students to plant paddy, not merely to eat from their rice bowl."