02 April 2012

End of the tunnel ( Pt 16 ) – Some distance ahead

Six years ago a new secondary school was declared open about ten kilometers away. As the school needed initial bulks of students at various forms, the principals of two existing secondary schools closest to it saw the rare opportunity to improve the performance of their respective schools. Drastic steps were taken to rid of their problematic pupils, especially those in the bottom classes. I was horrified and saddened to notice how a number of pupils, who were living within walking distance from these schools, were being mercilessly forced to move to the new school, causing unnecessary transport problems to them and their poor parents. No body cared for their plight. None of the victims’ parents, simple kampong folks, dared to raise their legitimate grouses. Thus transfers were made with signs of objections arrogantly ignored. It was all done in the name of improving school performance!

It was no secret that the new school was at times referred to as 'sekolah buangan'! ( school for the rejects ).

No skin off my nose’ was my attitude then. But I was saddened enough to approach the principal of the new school a few months later. Would the principal consider help from Almanar? Unfortunately, no, the principal had his plans. Three years later I heard the principal had been transferred and, as expected, thus far the initial performance of the school had been far from satisfactory. I made another approach and to my surprise the new principal was more amiable to external help. So three years ago Almanar sponsored the cost of transporting a group of students of poor families to and back from Almanar, whilst a few parents helped to transport others in their cars in turn.

Somehow, unavoidable reasons put a stop to that after about two years, though a few children from that school still maintain their presence at Almanar today.

Until a week ago I thought that was the end of the episode which had a glimmer of initial promise. But, most unexpectedly, I received an invitation by card and words of mouth to attend a prize-giving ceremony at the above school. It was a pleasant surprise indeed and I made a point to attend.

The school had achieved its best PMR results. Five ( repeat f i v e ) pupils out of 90 had all 8 As, a result worthy of being scoffed at when schools elsewhere in the country had all As literally by hundreds. Nevertheless, in this particular instance the result was significant enough achievement to be celebrated. And I shared their joy because those children were part of the group that came to Almanar. The chorus of “Pakcik, Pakcik …” I heard on my arrival was an invaluable present to me, something they could never understand. And they were all too eager to pose for their Pakcik. Today, they are proud pupils of once a 'sekolah buangan'.

These are my children and for them I pray that, in the distance, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.


naniasda said...

Pakcik Pakcik...how I wish there are more people like you.. :)

Wan Sharif said...

The message is very clear(should I say heaven-sent) "Go on with the good work"!

Haslina said...

Good work!! I am proud of what al-Manar has done to these pupils. My school has to take out 112 students last year and transfer them to a new school nearby but the students were selected according to their home addresses. But it still made some parents dissatisfied because they didn't like the idea of their son/daughter studying at a new school (which lacks basic facilities)

naba the mutant said...

Dear Pakcik, congrats!

Al-Manar said...


All of us can do something within our means. I am sure you can and may have been doing something without realising it.

Al-Manar said...

Ayoh Wang,

When you have got what you have been striving for I am sure you will do many things. Do not worry. Pray and hope.

Al-Manar said...


You are more experienced in this. You notice how reluctant people are for change of schools for their children. The poor children themselves lose old friends and so on. Isn't it sad when this is done because, for instance, a principal wants his school do better for his own career developmemnt.

kaykuala said...

Dear Pak Cik,
How very touching! I'm so happy for them. Having the tenacity to see them through certainly is a satisfaction to you now! Wishing them well for the future. Wish you to have all the strength and resolve in your noble endeavours!


MamaTim said...

Alhamdulillah Pakcik, I see how they very much love you, just as much as they are loved by their Pakcik teacher. U inspire us all to do good. Semoga Allah swt membalas setiap 'hun' jasa Pakcik dengan gandaan kebaikan di akhirat..

i amsterdam said...

It's sad that the relocation was done based on selfish reasons..

Al-Manar said...

Naba the mutant,

Thank you.

I truly think the scheme you initiaited can bring a lot of benefits as I am facing problems which your organisation can do well. I do hope it will all turn out favourably.

Awang Goneng said...

This is the fate of education in Malaysia now. It has become two tier, three even. The poorest (not in money maybe but certainly in spirit) is of course our own national system. Now they have turned all the Malaysian Students Departments all over the world into Education Malaysia. So-called because they are supposedly centres for this new national thrust to make education a new form of tourism in our country. No sane country neglects its own education system and allows outsiders and privateers to set up their own gleaming, well-financed universities to compete in tandem. But we do, because we are, as they say in Trengganu, gong and maybe a little bodoh sombong. Look at the way we are neglecting our own universities and how we are encouraging private education. The rich send their children to these posh schools whilst poor people go to the UKM, or UM (now plundered and in neglect; they nearly took the land from beneath their feet to build on it profitable real estate). Our national universities will be second rate while foreign universities and the profiteers prosper at the expense of our country and our children. We really must do something for our poor children.

Al-Manar said...


Your continued moral support is more than I can hope for. Thank you my friend.

Al-Manar said...

Mama Tim,

One of the pleasure I get is to be addressed 'Pakcik' often dearly by children and parents alike. That breaks the sense of human barrier. I care for them despite the harsh words I lash out from time to time. The old ones often remind me ' Ingat Pakcik selalu marah saya dulu? ....' They remember that with nostalgia.

Al-Manar said...

I Amsterdam,

This is a sad reality. This is one of many reasons why education in Malaysia has seen continuous changes. Even if the objectives formulated at the highest level are correct the end results are far from satisfacory. For such reason as this I get interested in how objectives are being kept bfocussed all the way to the end recepients in other countries.

Anonymous said...

Pakcik, I am really grateful to know a person like you.

zul (radiographer)

Al-Manar said...

Awanhg Goneng,

I am glad you see the ills in the system connected with education very much the way my belief goes. You are looking from a much higher vintage point; where you are, the people you encounter and your very profession. I can provide feedbacks from the very grass-root in a particular locality. Somehow we are seeing the same shadow of an ominous figure.

It is not inappropriate to use ‘bodoh sombong’ to describe what we really are.

Over the years I know of MSD. I think every student who goes overseas knows just the mention of MSD. It tells exactly what that unit does, or is supposed to do (apart from being tourist guides for visiting VIPs!) Now education is a commercial commodity. I have two graduates from one of our Terengganu ‘taraf antara bangsa’ universities and they have been without jobs for nearly two years, doing odd jobs. One is marrying a boy from up north who graduated in Japan and is happily working with a Japanese electronic firm; and this girl is following him hoping somewhere somebody needs a graduate of a high sounding subject – Bachelor of something something technology, something to do with food! She is readily accepted too work at a food warong over here for 500 RM a month. This particular university once declared their aim to achieve certain high figure of students, hence the hundred-and-one high sounding courses.

Education is big business. For that reason we have two ministers, one for schools and the other one for institutions of higher learning. What about the problems that fall in between? We can always have a few committees represented by super-powered individuals with PhDs, Datuks and all, whom we have in plenty around.

I think many would love to see written in the papers what you have commented. I have naively done a couple on this subject and bahasa Melayu, knowing fully well it was a vain effort. Of course I could not help showing my sarcasm. So, instead, every now and then I post ‘with a sigh’ (series) in a watered down tone, not wishing to offend my valued visitors.

Thank you, mi, for your meaningful comments. Hope all is well in the family.

Al-Manar said...

Anonymous - Zul (radiographer)

It was a pleasure to have you at Almanar, and your sister before that. Do not be surprised if the two of you will appear in Pakcik's 'end of the tunnel' in future. Tell Fara that Pakcik and Makcik would like to see her, and more often of you.

Awang Goneng said...

Yes Abang Ngah, I like it, 'the same shadow of an ominous figure.' The phantom of the opera.

We are well, alhamdulillah. May Allah keep you and family in the rudest of rude health.

Anonymous said...

AK, first and foremost what is the rationale for transferring students from one school to another when that causes hardship not only to the students but the parents, especially when those transferred are residing near the school? Yet, as I was made to understand the principle reason is not so much for school improvement but for the benefit of the Heads of school. Carting away weak students and retaining good ones, so as to highlight KONONNYA to highlight his or her performance is a selfish act and is not acceptable.

Very recently I happened to talk to an old friend, a retired specialist teacher. He talked about ‘sekolah buangan’ where according to him 40 to 50 pupils were crammed in one class. Even the teachers were also the rejects from other schools. How does one expect anything good from such a situation? Keep up with your good work and may ALLAH bless you and family.


KotaStar said...


It seems my earlier comment missed the boat. Anyhow I am happy to read your batter with Awang Goneng releasing yrs and his views re our own education approaches as of now. We cannot imagine where it is heading; why all these profit and sale directions? You have to see the adverts once the exam results are made known. Poor parents being haunted to put their children in paying colleges!

Re 'sekolah buangan' I was once appointed as a HM to a somewhat similar school back in 1972 upon my return from Aus.Only the difference was that I was directed by the CEO " Go and make changes at the school. It's a 'wild school' students playing truant etc" With support from the State Edu office etc we managed to turn round, even topping the top strata schools in the state in all fields. Games esp even though there was not even a playing field in the school. Teachers and parents support were the main factors. We did all that without the 'excellent teacher posting' 'higher rewards for Hm etc'but our rewards as I share with you the satisfaction of smiling and happy ex students greeting you even two score yrs later.

May Al Manar and you continue to 'prosper' Salam

Al-Manar said...

Awang Goneng,

The phantom of the opera! Leave it to you. Mi, to see the parallel thought.

Al-Manar said...


Isn't it a wonder why we see all these as evil and those who are accountable do not see and take corrective measures? We can keep discussing this until kingdom come.

Al-Manar said...


Have I messed up with your comments? I seem to do this every now and then - not intentionally unless I suspect spams which appear daily on my computer.

Thank you for relating what happened forty years ago. It is a pity that current 'upstairs' mini-gods have no appreciation for old timers, reemploy them instead of importing foreign idiots. And yet the retirement age is going longer.

Your CEO was obviously not one of those political appointees. Neither were you, I am certain, given seniority for your political bias or pure personal ambition.

How many teachers are giving tuition at home today and how many are doing it for love?

But there are good teachers today, feeling unhappy to see what is happening around, and to them as well. Thank you, Cikgu, for giving us a tiny picture of you larger experience. You are one of cikgus for life, rewarded with more than just what you earned forty years ago, my friend. You invested well.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
Somehow, I think, you were put there not by chance but by design of the Almighty. purrr....meow!

Al-Manar said...


And you with your other half there, dedicated to what you have been doing, are no less by His design as well.