Going to school back in the 90s wasn’t about having the latest iPhone or MacBook. There was a time when kids played in sand-filled playgrounds and depended on school bookshops for affordable novels and comic books.
If you grew up in Singapore as a 90’s kid, then you’ll remember how much fun we had in school even without phones and social media. We were born in a time where we got to witness the evolution of technology and the proliferation of the Internet – which is pretty damn cool, if you ask me.
The 90s brought us lots of fond memories. Here are several things you’ll remember about school as a 90s kid!
Remember when every class had leadership roles for everyone? Class Monitors, Group Leaders for different subjects and the most important role of all – AVA Monitors. They were always responsible for the set up of the OHP Projectors.
Don’t forget the shadow puppet shows we’d always perform using the OHP.
Cheap thrills ah they say.
2. Morning Silent Readings
Remember dragging your feet to school at 6:30am begrudgingly to sit in the parade square for morning assemblies?
We used to call it “Silent Reading” and your teachers would walk down the row to inspect the books you brought to school. We’d read everything from The Bookworm Club and Enid Blyton to True Singapore Ghost Stories and Mr Midnight.
For those that “forgot” to bring a storybook to school, you’d be forced to stand during the entire assembly while your friends would quietly snigger at your foolishness.
3. Multipurpose Pencil Case
You know you’re one of those cool kids if you had this.
Secret compartments, in-built sharpeners and some even had compasses.
4. Country Eraser
You could get these country erasers for 10 – 20 cents from your school bookshop!
We used to keep ourselves entertained by flipping our erasers and celebrating mini victories whenever we won because that meant you could keep your opponent’s erasers.
We used to staple our erasers as well and transform it into a mini gasing. Just remember not to get caught by your teachers during lessons.
5. Corporal Punishment
Caning is also used as a form of corporal punishment and disciplinary measure in primary and secondary schools.
Remember public canings? Oh they were the worst.
If you see your discipline master with rolled up sleeves with a cane in his hand up on stage, you know things are about to go down.
6. Floppy Disk
Before thumb drives, we had floppy disks.
Can you remember the smell of these things? Remember the sounds the computer made when it was reading the disks?
We used to carry stacks of these for IT classes or to simply store pictures in them.
7. Phone Cards
Instead of carrying coins around, your mom would get you a phone card with a certain amount of money in it instead.
We’d rush to the nearest phone booth just to call them during recess.
“Ma, today got remedial at 1:30pm.”
“Until what time, later I fetch you.”
“Okay ma, I need to go oledi. Bye bye.”
8. Kiwi Shoe Whitener
Weekends were always reserved for cleaning your shoes.
Remember spending a whole hour scrubbing your shoes, air drying them, using the kiwi shoe whitener and drying them again?
If you come to school with dirty shoes, be prepared for after school detention.
9. Young Scientist Badges
You know you’re a true Young Scientist Master if you collected these badges.
Long before computer games came up with the achievement unlocking systems, we grew bean sprouts, ran around collecting leaves and did many other things to earn these young scientist badges.
Remember pinning these badges on your uniform collars just to show it off to your other classmates?
10. Dental Care
Every kid in primary school used to get a free toothbrush and container from the school dentist. We used to line up outside the dentist in two rows while the dentist would teach us how to brush our teeth the proper way.
“Okay remember, don’t forget to brush your gums also. Up and down 5 times.”
11. Collecting Stickers
Sticker books was the in thing then.
We’d buy stickers from our neighbourhood pasar malam and traded them with our classmates.
The bigger and sparkly your sticker is, the more valuable it was.
12. Autograph Books
Way before Facebook and Friendster, we had autograph books.
Autograph books were exchanged and classmates you like would take a turn to write in your book, decorating it with poems. There was even a section where friends were ranked. Ouch.
We only used sparkly gel pens to write in it because we were hella fancy.
13. Velcro Wallets with Silicone Coil Chains
This was the noisiest thing to ever exist.
These chains came not only in block colours but also in neon rainbow colours. They were the top selling item in almost every Primary School bookshop.
If you are a boy, you were considered cool if you had one of these hooked on your school shorts’ belt loops. I remember dodging many Spider-Man and Billabong Velcro wallets when sweaty boys run around during recess.
14. Trolley Bags
They see me rollin’, they hatin’.
The lucky kids who owned trolley bags soon realised that dragging their new bags up the stairs was much more troublesome than it looked.
But the thrill of owning one made up for that.
You’re basically Regina George in Mean Girls.“I have the coolest school bag now. Everyone else is irrelevant.”
15. MSN Messenger
Before we had WhatsApp or Facebook messenger, we all had MSN accounts.
I’m sure all the 90s kids would sigh with nostalgia at this. We’d rush home after school and made promises to our friends to go “online” at a certain time.
Everyone had to have some kind of status message (mostly emo lyrics) else they weren’t cool.
Rawr means I<3 you XD
What are some other fond memories you remember from school?