I scolded her for not showing interest after three classes at Almanar. Let us call her Ani for simplicity. She proved herself lazy. She could not read a simple sentence. She did not know the meaning of simple words like face and cook. She had, a few days earlier written those words in her ‘vocab book’ which Pakcik gave to everyone on the very first day at Almanar. That is how important ‘vocab book’ is at Almanar in learning English – the way all Pakcik’s children were made to keep and learn.
A few harsh words were said and pakcik could see her eyes brimming with tears. She was sensitive, after all. Later I pulled her aside for a few more words.
When the class was over I went over my notes on the children of that special class – special because it was a newly formed class made up of ten orphans and the rest from poor parents. Then the reality began to dawn on me.
Ani is a girl of thirteen from a town about 150 km from here. A diminutive ‘little thing’ was my first thought of her when I first saw her. When she was a baby, a childless old couple adopted her. Today, Ani has no idea who her real parents are, whether dead or alive. Unfortunately, her foster parents are poor, too, financially and academically. Under such circumstances, she grew up through her first six years of primary education without any help at home. One would, then, quite naturally expect her to acquire something from her six years at her primary school. But what she achieved for her UPSR exam was EEEEE – 5 capital Es for the five subjects ! I am not surprised if her school is in fact one of those which have contributed towards making Terengganu the proud state for being the champion state in achieving AAAAA – 5 capital As – in every UPSR examination during the last several years.
Then I ask myself what had Ani’s primary school administration, the Head, her teachers, the guru ‘motivasi’, the lot of them, including PIBG, ever done for this pathetic-looking ‘little thing’ ? In my mind, had she been abused as a child labour at rolling ‘keropok lekor’, she would have been an expert at it today, able to earn herself and her aged foster parents a few cents a day. But, after six years of primary school education in a champion state this 'poor little thing’ had not learnt her ‘face’ and ‘cook’.
Two days ago, I approached her again with simple questions. She had got them! And there was the glimpse of a smile on her face; the 'poor little thing’, I thought, had begun to learn something. I have learnt something, too. Now she will be handled with kid’s gloves. But how much can I do it all myself, with limited time allowed and when she has eight subjects to learn at school – plus the ‘wajib’ (compulsory) extra curricular ( koko ) activities imposed by to-day’s education system? It would be a sad thing if she, one day for the entry into a local university ( of the famed taraf antarasa bangsa, of course ), gets EEEEEEEE – all 8 Es - in her SPM despite the full 10% points from her ‘koko’.
With a sigh,
We will try.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusia