Finally Almanar has a fair share of orphans and children of poor families. Numbering about 80 and made up of pupils in Form 1, 2, 3 and 4, they belong to the first intakes into the new home, Darul Akhyar (of my earlier post),
In order to assess the level of their knowledge, particularly in English and Mathematics, I have taken it upon myself to conduct all classes and necessitates opening of evening classes for the first time. On me it has been particularly taxing on two counts. Until now I had never considered sacrificing my evening hours, and that I now have. Secondly, as Darul Akhyar would not have its promised transport facility until next week I volunteered to help out, anxious to get on with the classes as early possible.
Watch the picture of that beautiful white multi-purpose vehicle in the picture below. We acquired that last year. Among its many uses we thought of the great opportunity to load the vehicle with fruit when we go to Makcik’s kampong during the next durian season. I could imagine having a stall in front of Almanar selling durians! That is what a fruitful imagination is all about – making money.
----------- Prebet sapu
We never bargained for the vehicle to run as a ‘prebet sapu’ (illegal taxi). But that was exactly what happened for about one month. Do not laugh when I relate a typical day in July.
The last happened for days ago. A group of 27 pupils had to attend class at Almanar at 3.30 that afternoon. In the absence of any help Pakcik did a wonderful job fetching them from Darul Akhyar, a mere one kilometer distance from Almanar. Instead of loading that vehicle with durians I managed to cram into it 9 children of assorted sizes, finely separated between sexes, to travel the short distance from Darul Akhyar to Almanay. In 15 minutes flat I made three trips to transport all the 27 kids. Two hours later I repeated the acts to send the children back.
Then came the evening class. At eight I was at the wheel again also making three trips, this time to shuttle 28 kids of Form 1, one more; that meant ten passengers on one of three trips. Of course at the end of that I had to send them back. How they giggled and laughed and the poor driver shouting hoarse to keep quiet!
To them it was great fun, at the end of which the boys kissing the driver’s hand and the girls thanking Pakcik voluminously – and a couple of them were heard to add, “ I like you Pakcik.”
But the strain of that one month had begun to tell on the driver of the ‘prebet sapu’. Pakcik had to stay in bed for 24 hours, canceling classes for three days! Thankfully that was the last.
The new group of Form 1 pupils from Darul Akhyar consists of 28 children, ten of whom are boys. It is so satisfying to me to realise that this group is the 16th group of Form 1 to have joined Almanar over a period of 17 years of its life. It gives me a greater satisfaction to realise that this group of 28 has fourteen orphans and the rest belong to poor families of gardeners, rubber-tappers, broken homes and so on. The same goes with the rest of the 80 kids from Darul Akhyar - orphans and children of the very poor. Helping children such as these was the very objective Almanar trust (private) was established in 1992. Alhamdulillah.
Nevertheless I cannot help drawing sighs of regret to see how poorly these children were treated academically during their six years of primary education. Let us look at the 28 pupils in Form 1. In their UPSR exam at the end of 2010 this group can only boast of 1 A and 2 B grades in English. For the five subjects examined, only one pupil scored 4 A grades, and three pupils scored 3 As each. Nine children achieved only C,D and E grades, and of course, ‘my poor little thing’ can only boast of 5 E’s.
-------- Poor little thing's smile of hope
Sintaicharles, a fairly regular visitor from Sarawak, left the following brief comment against my last posting.
“ Pakcik, I got 3Ds and 2Es in UPSR.”
It is slightly better than Pakcik’s ‘poor little thing’ but definitely worse than some of my new group described above.Yet, today, he is a damned good teacher in English, if I must say so without any reservation. And this man from Sarawak even exhibited an exemplary attitude as an educator. This is reflected in his earlier comment against Pakcik’s posting:
“Nine years ago, out of pity, I taught a very naughty boy how to read and write everyday after school. However, many colleagues insinuated to me that I was an empty vessel trying berlagak pandai mendidik budak yang tiada harapan lulus SPM'.I was hurt by what they said and soon gave up tutoring that boy.
Now, come to think of it, I should have persisted in teaching that boy. I lacked the spirit of Pakcik.”
That is Sintaicharles’s attitude and the general attitude of his colleagues.
To this fine teacher who started from a low beginning, I would like to tell him this:
Perhaps, Sintaicharles, you have now learnt something from what you called ‘the spirit of Pakcik’, a pseudo teacher who has never been taught all about the sophisticated teaching techniques and what ‘exam formats’ are all about. You are one person of my own heart, an example of one who does not believe in the need for a good early start to succeed. It is YOUR SPIRIT, Sintaicharles, that I need to plant in those Melayu punya children. I thank you and I say forget those colleagues of yours. Sadly, after having qualified, attended courses after courses they lack the natural attitude every educator should possess in the first place.
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.