13 November 2011

With a Sigh (Pt 10) - Toil and Trouble

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.


I have often sighed with despair watching children who, for their poor performance, are grouped into the end of the class. A large secondary school within my vicinity may have as many as ten classes of about thirty-five pupils each. I do not blame schools for placing the better pupils together. They are the likely children to give the schools a place in the honoured list when the PMR and SPM results are released. But I do blame the school principles who put up pressure on teachers to maximise number of excellent results, at the expanse of the pupils who are being grouped and neglected as ‘no-hopers’. We do not do that to our children. Likewise we are duty bound to help these children if we take pride pride in being teachers, and earn our livelihood at that.

In a large primary school in certain rural areas many children come from very poor background. They never see kindergartens. Their only hope is to learn something from schools the moment they join Standard One at seven years old. The seemingly total efforts of this state, in maintaining at all costs the record of UPSR results, often leave the needy children behind. And the situation goes on for six years at the end of which the poorer children hardly learn anything. Instead, they have sadly acquired all the bad habits within the years. I have a girl of thirteen with all E’s in her UPSR who admitted, “ Saya malas Pakcik ( I am lazy).”

For the first time in seventeen years I am now seeing a strange phenomenon; children of poor families and orphans do not only have poor UPSR results but have also acquired bad behaviour. By logic these are the children who should have been given all the helps and motivation in schools. Our zest and demand for record-breaking performance of all A’s at UPSR exam at all costs has this bye-product which many in authority may not wish it to be highlighted.

An now, as the state religious department have picked up children from nooks and corners of the state and put then in one home, I am seeing this phenomenon, the presence of which, people who matter may not wish to recognise. But, for the very first time I have about 80 of these children, from Form One to Four. I have never lost my temper as often as I have of late. It is a combination of anger, helplessness and desperation. You see it all in most of these children, the playfulness, misbehaviour, laziness and stubbornness. Only very few show rays of hope.

Should Pakcik weed out those very difficult ones? No, it is a challenge. Additionally I understand it too well the following two beginning ayats from surah Alma’un:

Surah AlMa'un

107 - 1&2

Hast thou ever considered (the kind of man) who gives the lie to all moral law? Behold, it is this (kind of man) that thrusts the orphan away.”- according to Muhammad Assad’s interpretation.

I talk to my children and children of Almanar the need to overcome challenges which make better men and women of us; and I shirk a challenge involving the orphans and the poor?


Two weeks ago I noticed a girl of Form Four struggling to copy notes from her beighbour. Half suspecting the reason I asked her and got the expected answer. “Dia rabun, Pakcik! (She cannot see!) came a chorus of cries from around her. But she was not alone. There were two other girls who had trouble all the years with no apparent help coming. Immediately after class I drove them to an optician. One and half hours later I drove the three girls home, looking shy but with confidence in their new gift of clearer vision. Deep in my heart I regret that this state of mine is very proud of dishing out computers to teachers of Standard Six (to encourage them to better UPSR results!) and children at all levels. And the likes of these poor children suffer the indignity of struggling just to be able to see. Could this be a rare case? There have been other pupils of Almanar requiring that simple and inexpensive gift to enable them to see the board, not something to play cyber-games with or join the face-book community.

Such is life and I can only draw a long sigh.


But I am going to get some small help!

A young lady teaching English at a university close to us is looking forwards to give half a day a week to Almanar. When forewarned of the difficult children she merrily said she would make them sing to her music. She has the equipment to bring along.

A senior lecturer at the Teachers’ Training Institute nearby, who is has a couple of years to retirement, is anxious to find something to usefully fill his time. He specialises in Mathematics. He too will, for a start, contribute half a day a week to Almanar.

Who knows there is a secret floodgate somewhere. We must not despair.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemsnusiaan


To a number of teachers who call at my blog, I regret having to express harshly against their profession. There are umpteen dedicated teachers and I certainly have not lost my deep respect for them. It is often the case of 'Seekor kerbau ..... '. At the same time I believe in expressing oneself, giving and receiving criticisms.


Cheqna said...

Assalamualaikum Pak Cik,

Who knows, by expressing it here about the many situations of the needy might open the eyes of those in higher authority.

InsyaAllah help will come their way..and yours as well.

p/s - thank you to you and family for welcoming me and my small "entourage" the other day :-)

ninotaziz said...

Dear Pakcik,

This is a reminder to me. Do not get impatient with my children. All of them have different pace and different passions.

I was just talking to Rudy today about sponsoring a traditional dance teacher to come to the house weekly so that the neighbourhood kids can learn to dance joget, zapin etc. And hopefully this would keep them in touch with their roots and rhythm and keep them out of trouble.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
It's a never ending story, a phenomena, in fact. There will be the few deprived ones. But I'm not surprised if they lose their directions. Young minds are easily disappointed and ended giving up easily.Counselling inputs need be triggered off by trained personnel targeting them early.I wish and hope they can be salvaged.


aliya said...

Assalamualaikum Sir,
As a teacher who has experiences teaching both in primary and secondary schools (Year 1 to Form 5) I can't help but agree with you. It's a sad but true fact that in most cases, students from poor families tend to be left behind in their studies especially if they attend schools with a big enrolment.
Now with the focus on KPI for principals and rewards for high-performing schools, these 'gagal-lulus' students are often neglected when most teachers focus on the high-achievers.All help should be given when these weak students are in Year 1. Unfortunately, good teachers who want to attend to these galus students are rare as most prefer the easier task of teaching guarantee-to-pass good students.
When these poor group fail in primary schools, they are already demotivated when they go to Form 1, no to mention acquiring all the bad habits as you've written about.Thus, it's more difficult to attend to the needs of these teens in secondary schools.
What's important for us, who teach even a sentence to these students, is to give them hope and motivation before we even try to correct their errors.I notice that even the real hardcore ones are quiet when I remind them of theor duties to their parents. So soften their hearts by reminding them about their parents' sacrifices. One step at a time. Even of we fail to give them an A, we can still succeed in making them to be good Muslims and helping them to pass their exams.
Never give up on a student because every little bit we do, does make a difference to him/her life. InsyaAllah if we are sincere to help, The Almighty will make things easier for us soon.

yongzu @ 9W2YZU said...

Dear Pakcik, Assalammualaikum... "long time no see" :)

I've also seen the phenomenon that you've mentioned.... Sometimes,feel like using the harsh word "tak sedar diri" to describe some of them.

Sighing too....

Al-Manar said...


Who know one of these days you would return home, settle around Batu Rakit and offer some help at Almanar. Imagine yourself running along the Pengkalan Maras beach after the hard day's work ! Isn't that a beautiful thought?

Al-Manar said...


Indeed these children need early counseling. Many schools have counselors. I hear these specialists are responsible for handing out punishment. Just kind of image do these persons have in the eyes of the children, someone they can trust and reveal their personal problems? Do the principles of these schools know what MANAGEMENT is all about?

Al-Manar said...


So KPI hs found its way to school as well? That is news to me.

Aliya, I am very pleased to see your comments on an issue I know you are good at. Your postings give me the impression that you are a practitioner in your job. Your views, in support of or contrary to what I post, carry weight.

Good teachers should also be given the task to handle the 'galus' but
prefer the guarantee-to-pass pupils. If I say this I can be blamed for saying without real teaching experience in schools. Coming from you lends support to my argument. Many heads of school lack the basic management principles. I believe this basic requirement. But it must go up beyond the heads, those sitting in comfortable chairs uostairs, claiming allowances.

Give these pupils hope and motivation before teaching them. This I have not given much thought to so far. What you say makes sense. My problem is the time constraints - so many groups to handle. I will remind myself to spend time with these children, talking about their dead parents and sacrifices.

Thank you and come back with your views.

Al-Manar said...


Of course you are another experienced teacher in a very special field. Pakcik was wondering which part of the country you had disappeared to with your walkie talkie thing.

So we see similar things i different localities, more widespread than I thought.

Anonymous said...

Syami has left a new comment on "With a Sigh (Pt 10) - Toil and Trouble":

Assalammualaikum pak cik.

Selamat menyambut hari raya korban( really sorry for not wishing it earlier ).
This is a very interesting and long one you have written.
I'm very happy to hear the current almanar's progress

GUiKP said...

I also breathed a sigh .... OF RELIEF. What a difference a small gift of a pair of glasses made. And a giant leap for the blessed children of AlManar. Will make an extra effort to update my blog by end of the week, insyaAllah, after neglecting it for 16 months.

norzah said...

The poor, the weak and the slow-starters had always been sidelined in a system driven by a competition for wealth and social standing, Akhi al.Manar. Boys and girls from the villages are always at a disadvantage when pitched against the rich urban kids who enjoy all the comfort and facilities of modern living to stimulate their minds and aspiration. As a young boy living in the village before, I never had any ambition or ideals. They were too luxurious for me.

Yes someone or something must shake up their self-
awareness or challenge their intelligence. I failed an exam very badly to realize that I had to start studying if I were to remain in school. A put-down from an Uncle and relative neglect from my parents shook me up. You seem to be giving the kids a new chance in your own kind way. Some may respond well to that kind of treatment but others might sink deeper into self-pity and complacency. You might have to stir them up sometimes, even to the point of making them angry and revengeful. That's the more difficult part. Those who don't respond well to your fatherly treatment I think might need that.

I'm confident that you're in the best position to know having dealt with such kids for years. As such I can only wish you Allah's blessings and the conscience of our society to recognize your noble efforts. As Allah promises in the al-Quran: Famaiyakmal mithqalazarratil khairman yarah... Jazakallah wassalam.

Al-Manar said...


Yes I have written an unusually long one. My emotion got the better of me - coupled with the old age syndrome!

You learned some English from Almanar. Some years from now you may need to teach German to Batu Rakit children, if only they can look at you as a modal and work their guts out to-day as you did. Hope you have by now learnt sufficient German to get you by 'aur der strasse' of Hamburg.Please call on us before you leave.

Al-Manar said...


Just glasses to make them see. You know what money can do, Wan. I am glad to hear that GUiKP will be an active member again. Let us hear about problems at a university. Parents like to know, to be able to give advice where needed.

Al-Manar said...


I find it hard to believe you, from failing an exam to the academic success you finally achieved, and your career before you called it a day. So you know what needs to make a success of a sidelined kid.

I rattled on to voice my bottled up emotion on educational matter. You cover a wider scope in your blog. I enjoy interacting on such subjects, important as we see it but little is attended to by those who matter most. You see what Aliya and Yongzu commented above through their experience. They are closer to the problem but those sitting above have different mandate in life.

C'est la vie, akhi.

ninotaziz said...

I am not sure whether I did post my comment here.

In any case, Pakcik, we true believers in our own fields soldier on.

Thank you for sharing.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
My Mama has a simple "sandwich philosophy" that she applies whenever she gives talks to school kids, especially teenagers. Coming from an unwealthy family herself, Mama can give them examples of her own life... Anyway, perhaps one day she can participate in your teaching/educating of the kids. Hmmm....tanah sebelah tu tuannya nak jual ke? But don't know if you're keen on having six felines as neighbours....purrr...meow!

Wan Sharif said...

Ah.. see Cheqna has also come to Kkalang Maras..
Your post on the side-lined kids, the unfortunates.. surely stirred some strong feeling in me...
May Allah give you strength and resources to soldier on..

Al-Manar said...


I made the mistake of not posting your short poem, and you sent the last two comments almost about the same. I posted one and ignored the other. Now the second lost one is up there.

I think we can sort all this out when you make it to our corner of the world, one fine day.

Now you are thinking of sponsoring a traditional dance teacher weekly for your and your neighbours' kids. I only bought books and comics for mine. I think it may be a good idea to sound out the neighbours to be sure they subscribe to the idea. It is just a kind of precaution as different people have diffrent ideas.

Al-Manar said...


How I wish you all would settle nearby, making keropok sandwiches for the children. Think over the 850 opening price.

Al-Manar said...

Ayah Wang,

We will soldier on. I pray for a do-gooder to make a home around here one day and join in the battle.

Bila doh banyok pitih balek kamponglah Ayoh Wang.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
Thanks for visiting Paradise posting in my Rainbow blog.It's a nostalgic re-visit meant for re-visits.


nwar said...

So relieved about the much needed "reinforcement". Hope we children too, soon, will be of physical assistance to join AlManar's cause.

Pakcik's No2

aidah_K said...

Assalammualikum Pak Cik
Tidak semua pelajar itu sempurna dan yang pasti setiap mereka ada kelebihan dalam diri. Bagi pelajar sebegini ia memang satu cabaran bagi kita.Anggaplah mereka permata yang belum dicanai..mereka perlu di berikan bimbingan, kesedaran kendiri dan motivasi diri sebagai santapan akal , pegangan dan keyakinan pada Allah agar dapat bertindak dilandasan yang betul dan tidak mudah menyerah dan putus asa. Suis dalam anak-anak ini tidak dapat dihidupkan kerana dia tidak dapat mengaitkan kesusahan yang dialami dengan erti kehidupan.
Kesabaran dan kepercayaan yang tinggi sangat diperlukan dalam memebimbing mereka. InsyAllah sekiranya ia dapat dihidupkan pasti menghasikan sesuatu yang luarbiasa. Yakinlah dalam diri sebagai pendidik yang ikhlas ingin mengubah dan memberi peluang kepada mereka.

Al-Manar said...


The speed your mind is working on your postings and fresh ideas are amazing. Readers will probably see a best-seller on the stand one of these days.

Al-Manar said...


some time, some day someone will have to grab the baton and keep the race running.

Al-Manar said...


Memang kata 2 aidah membayangkan penhalaman.

Diumpamakan kanak2 ini sebagai 'Permata yang belum dicanai' susah diterima melihat kan tatah laku. Tapi itu betul. Mengeluarkan hasil perlukan masa dan tenaga yang banyak. Keadaan munkin tidak mengizinkan.

Keperluan masa dan tenaga perlu sekali sebeperti aidah kata dalam email'mereka ni sudah lama terbiar dan hidup tanpa disiplin dan bimbingan.'

'They are "new genaration" the young now days are really different from us dia tak faham bila kita buat sentuhan kesusahan hidup kerana mereka generasi maklumat dihujung jari....tak kiralah dari kaum yang miskin mahupun yang kaya tiada kesedaran diri tetapi bila cerita mengenai hiburan pasti berjaya.. Jadi berterus terang adalah yang terbaik jangan beralas dalam berkomunikasi dengan mereka dan penyatakan kenapa kita buat begitu harus di berikan agar mendidik mereka faham bahasa. hasil mereka jadi begini kerana pendedahan dan media masa kini yang banyak merosakkan.'

Pakcik terimakasih kerana sudi memberi buah fikiran dari pengakalaman yang mendalam.

Ingin sekalai kalau aida terus memberi sumbangan dalam blog ini untuk para pelawat yang berminat dalam pendidikan.

Anonymous said...

Salams Pak Cik,
My son in form 4 came home n told about his teacher.She told the class that "awak semua jangan jadi guru".MasyALLaH,I think she hates teaching.
Kerja susah dapat ,last2 jadi guru.


Anonymous said...

Salam Pak Cik,
How are you being doing?Hopefully you and makcik are always in a good health. It is about months I did not keep in touch with you. I am so sorry pakcik. I have been struggling for my classes,labs and examinations and I wish I would pass. I miss spending time at Al-Manar, chatting with you and makcik. I miss you loads and loads. Take a great care of yourself and your the other half.
with love,

Anonymous said...

Pak Cik,
I know how you feel now. I know how those children. They need motivation from people around. Stay strong Pak Cik. Allah is always with you.I always pray for both of you as you and Mak Cik are a part of my love ones.

" La yukallifullah hunafsan illahwus'aha"
"Allah tidak akan membebani seseorang melainkan sesuai dengan kesanggupannya"

He knows you. He knows us. He will keep you strong until the end. InsyaAllah.

with love,AZMIERA

Anonymous said...

Assalamualaikum Pak Cik..
Only Allah knows how much I respect what you do for the kids..

I remember there was a time when I was really down during my teenage years..my grades were bad and I was really depressed at the point of not wanting to study...but a single teacher had motivated me with just RM10(a reward for better grade)..and I was able to pick myself up..alhamdulillah..

as you wrote up there..sometimes kids needs only a little push,and some hope that they can be better..

I really hope I can visit you and maybe talk to some of the kids...Insyaallah...

naliahmad said...

dear pakchik, it keeps playing in my mind how fortunate those children are to have you with them at this point in their lives.

an educator, whom educates as versus a teacher that teaches, has also said that children such as the local teenagers here need to be motivated first before they can successfully learn a subject, which in our case is english.

the local pibg, and i imagine at other schools too, has provisions for prescription glasses for needy students. not many people know about this, thus not many get the help they need. maybe it is something you can look into, pakchik.

i wish to share happy news with you, pakchik. my second child has just become a father. that makes me a grandmother with two grandchildren. and here i am, still getting used to having chidren-in-law...time sure flies, doesn't it pakchik? and grandchildren bring with them so much joy into our lives, just as their parents do.

Al-Manar said...


"awak semua jangan jadi guru". Could she have said it in despair, meaning teaching is a thankless job when you are always wrong even when you have tried your best?

One close-to-retirement teacher said to me that teaching is no longer what it used to be when a teacher was highly respected. A teacher is being loaded with non teaching activities which do not give the satisfaction of imparting knowledge.

There are times I sympathise with a teacher who likes to dedicate his work for the benefit of his pupils, but gets side tracked by a school head who has his/her personal interests.

Al-Manar said...


We think of you. And personally I need you to help Almanar as and when you are back. However, concentrate on what you need doing now - first thing first.

Salam to your parents from us

Al-Manar said...


Persons with your background can effectively motivate pupils. You were lucky to have one teacher with such ability to turn you round. I have great doubt over the presence of such teachers nowadays.

Al-Manar said...


Let me congratulate you over your good fortune and wish many more. It got me thinking if only each of your children can raise four, just four each, and they all go to the same school, what a record attendance it would be. So prepare your blog now.

Bu the way, our friend ..din dropped over recently.

Rahmah said...

if i were nearby i would love to teach those children pakcik!

Al-Manar said...

Cikgu Rahmah,

A teacher like you would, for sure. You may find it hard to believe the attitude of many heads of schools around where I am. It hurts me, and you too, I am sure, to see how the bottom classes are being marginalised.