Appreciation: Karmenu Debono

Appreciation: Karmenu Debono

Alfred Conti Borda writes:

Karmenu Debono was a professional teacher and head of school, hailing from Qormi.

He had just finished his secondary level education when World War II broke out. However, his aim was to take up this profession and at that time young people in their teens who had passed their Matriculation examinations, could apply to become teachers. Karmenu was one of them.

At the height of the Nazi blitz over Malta in 1942, he joined the Air Raid Wardens section. Wearing an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) armband and a tin hat, he served in Qormi’s St Sebastian area.

When I completed my teacher’s course at St Michael’s Training College in 1972, I was posted to Pietà primary school, under Mr Debono’s constant care and supervision.

After realising that my teaching of Maltese needed a brush-up, Karmenu instructed the then assistant head of school Lina Agius (later my teacher of German) to teach me how to impart the grammar of our national language, starting with the alphabet. I really appreciated this gest.

Whenever I encountered difficulties with the teaching of the core subjects – English, Maltese and Maths – and asked the head teacher for help, Karmenu immediately rose to the occasion. Nearly every fortnight on Tuesdays, he used to come to my class at 8.30am and deliver a very interesting lesson in these subjects up to recreation time at 10am. My place was at the back of the class, jotting down notes and observing every move of this exceptional head of school. The children thoroughly enjoyed the lessons, and in no time at all, they were bubbling with excitement, jumping on their dual wooden seats, to answer his questions.

At 50 years of age, Karmenu obtained his Advanced level in Pure Mathematics, which was his favourite subject.

On his retirement, I occasionally visited him and his wife Maria at their humble house in Birkirkara, where they made me feel at home.

Karmenu used to study all the subjects he could think of and which had not been covered in the school he had attended, namely French, Biology, Physics and later School Management and Administration. Up to the time of his demise at 94, he was revising Chemistry.

It is a great honour for me to have served under him for 12 years and I shall remember him in my prayers.

My greatest sympathies to all his children whom he injected with Christian values, love and dedication and whom I was fortunate enough to come to know throughout the years.

Thank you Lord for Karmenu Debono.

May he rest in peace in Your heavenly kingdom.

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