15 December 2010

With a sigh ( Pt 4 ) – Do I carry on or call it a day?

O, no, … only NINE ….?” cried my first little thought when I stepped into my class at Almanar one day last week. Rising to their feet to greet me were just nine pupils, ALL GIRLS. What has become of all the boys?

These were children of 13+ who have completed their standard 6 (UPSR) exam and are waiting to be slotted into the various prestigious secondary schools (the like of MRSM, SBP, Sekolah Integrasi, Sekolah Elit, Sekolah Kelaster, sekolah agama negeri, not to name the private ones as well) or just into the nameless and humble one close to my home.

Almost 50 of these 13+ pupils have enrolled at Almanar for an interim class which I run during this long end-of-the-year school holidays with the aim of helping them to pass their free time in something useful. Of this number there were 15 boys, a creditable percentage.

But that morning there were just 15 and without a single boy!

What has become to the children of this vicinity? This seems to be the trend within the last few years, despite the known increase in population and the visible increase in the number of schools? Are the parents not interested to see their children spend some time usefully during these long holidays? The situation was far better during my earlier years with Almanar.

I say all these WITH A SIGH.


I had to put aside my feeling of dismay. Life must go on. Among the nine children present that morning were four girls with 5As in UPSR exam. The government of this state has been very proud of the UPSR results, topping other states for several years. So that morning I had a fair share of ‘pelajar pelajar cemerlang’ (excellent pupils).

In the course of doing some simple exercises in English, I asked if anyone could tell me the meaning of the word ‘these’ in a sentence that began with ‘ These words …..’. There was dead silence. Finally, one of the girls with 5As responded by saying that ‘these’ meant ‘berikut’.

What about the meaning of ‘this’ was my next question. All seemed to know ‘ini’. I followed that with the word ‘that’ and ‘those’. That literally drew a blank. At the end a couple of them plucked up the courage to say that they thought both words ‘that’ and ‘those’ meant ‘ini’ as well.

I can quote many examples of the above nature among pupils of higher forms attending Almanar. I may put a small posting on this one day.

Indeed, some may be proud to blow the trumpet over the improved performance of our children in English.

But I can only DRAW A SIGH.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

I may not seem to be doing justice to the children elsewhere, especially in the urban areas. But I say what I have been seeing the last sixteen years in the area where I am. The social ills among school children, mat rempit, stealing, house-breaking, drug addiction, birth outside wedlock etc keep gaining prominence, and they are very real and frightening indeed.


Unknown said...

dear pakchik, if i hadn't known the title was actually a hypothetical question, i would respond with a resounding, 'please do carry on'.

i live in a small kampong melayu in the midst of the metropolitan. while some aspects of life here still retain some degree of traditional values, there are many areas in our lives that have spinned out of orbit. as a result, we have all of the social problems you cited. and not just exclusive to the young ones.

i know you love to be where you are and what you are doing. that alone stops me from wishing you were here, managing an almanar for our young. for i realise you don't only impart academic knowledge but also character building exercise.

so pakchik, assuming the question is a real one, please do carry on.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pakcik,
It was a blessing to get the 13 to start with. Never mind if it’s all roses. At least they had the desire to move forward with and through al-Manar. I would rather not discount the boys. More often than not they’re somewhere doing chores to help supplement the family income.

I knew someone before who on record was a persistent late-comer and frequent absentee in school. Years later when we met he poured out his woes and explained that he had to help at his mother’s stall selling cakes and nasi lemak in the mornings.

Otherwise his younger siblings would starve, no thanks to the father who absconded.He made good just the same. It could have been better , though.

A 5As student has potential.
There’s a way to good English. Read, read, read. Wishing them every success.

Al-Manar said...


At times one simply likes to let off certain feeling of disappoinment which often comes in life when you come up against something you have no control over. You offer kind words, madam.

Al-Manar said...

Dear Hank,

I wonder whether you have walked in from your Birdhouse or flown over from the end of your Rainbow.

I agree we cannot simply discount the boys. But I would not go round looking for them. Hopefully their parents know best.

Anonymous said...

Dear Pakcik

I hope Firefly or other airlines will revive flights to KT, so that I can come during school breaks for reading programme or muhadasah in english with your students.

In the lion city public libraries have volunteers doing this for children and I have been under this reading progrmme to needy children not with the libraries but a self-help organisation. This is to encourage reading habit and improve their english.

Hopefully more students will attend your class later. Salam to you both.


Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
Take heart. I pray that the boys will turn up eventually. Small wonder then that the female population of Uni students is larger. purrrr....meow!

Al-Manar said...

Amimy 01

It is just a matter of ime the flight will start again. I am hoping that when the school opens next month I will have fresh pupils joining us.

Al-Manar said...


I truly wonder what the situation is down under with male/female ration at universities - becoming increasingly problematic here. I see problems at schools around my area where almost all have female heads and a sprinkling of male teachers. It is not that simple to handle unruly boys. Many female teachers are known to be scared of handling them - cars being scratched, tyres punctured etc.

Ummie said...

I was approached to volunteer in improving the children's daily English in my neighbourhood.
The class went on for many years until when someone questioning citizenship over children's education.
The class was then being run by a local teacher for a while before it was closed.
I was approached again, but...

Wan Sharif said...

Dear Bang Hassan,
Inilah cubaan untuk guru. Di mana mana kelas Arab/Quran yang saya hadiri.. bilangan murid akan menyusut secara drastic sehingga guru 'patah hati" dan batalkan kelas..
May Allah grant you the perseverence to seek His Pleasure.

ninotaziz said...

I have no experience in teaching except for my five, providing homework day in day out, reveling when my number one's mastery in physics surpassed mine.

I know they are my children, but I feel this immense satisfaction when they finally grasp a new concept, a new way of thinking and master a new way to solve a problem.

And I used to teach cousins and younger in-laws mathematics which I loved doing.

So I guess, pakcik, what I am trying to say is (and my mum and late grandma, teachers all tell me) the one child who attended class and listened is more important than the ones who did not turn up.

And while it may seem cruel, the ones who attended will benefit, the others will not.

Does that make sense and help you in any way?


Al-Manar said...


I do not really understand what citizenship has to do with this voluntary work. And I wonder why you have chosen not to help anymore. You must have felt very bitter over the whole issue. But if it is a good cause give it a chance, or s second chance.

Al-Manar said...

Dear Ayah Wan,

Kalau guru Quran pun rasa macam patah hati apa lah sangat kita ni. Itulah persaan.

But I will chug along as long as there is some need for what I can offer. Hope your 'project' is on the road again after the earlir set back. You see, like is full of this.

Al-Manar said...


I truly understand your message. Thank you.

I was just venting my bottle up frustration or disappoinment. It is my promise to the children that I would continue helping even if there is just one of them who truly needs my help.

Rahmah said...

i say carry on pakcik!! (hypothetical or not)perhaps it's the hols- everyone's in holiday mood. they need u!

Al-Manar said...

Cikgu Rahmah,

Cuma perasaan saja. You, being a Master Teacher, would have gone through very much more of this I am definite - just a routine maybe.

nordinmusa said...

Dear Pakcik Hassan,

Let the boys be missing for a day or two. Let the boys be boys. During this 'musim tengkujuh' it would be fun to play football in the rain etc etc.... at least that was one of my favorite activities in the 70's..

Al-Manar said...


Yes, let's give the boys enough rope!
Kalau balik KT beritahu.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to those children?New generation keeps coming as time does.Children should not be blamed for this.Their parents are the ones who shape them.Pak Cik, do not give up.The ex Al-Manar students, including me, are always there for you.We always support you in whatever way we can. If you need help just give me a call.I will try the best as could to help you. If you need an ear I am always there.

Take a good care of your health. I love you and Mak Cik.

Al-Manar said...


That's very sweet of you, my dear.