30 October 2012

Do we have a winner?

We were in the grounds of our local mosque awaiting for the Friday prayers when a familiar gentleman wearing a broad smile gave me a tap on my shoulder. Obviously he was bursting to give me a good news.
Amirah menang hadiah karangan. ( Amirah won a prize in an essay competition)”

Amirah was an Almanar pupil for three years from her Form One until she scored all A’s in her PMR examiination and gained admission into a boarding school in Kuala Terengganu. 

I am not at all familiar with the various competitions for school children. This particular one, organised by SM Sains Alam Shah, Kuala Lumpur, is called 
As shown below Amirah came out third in the essay competition, the top two went to pupils in Kenya and India.
1st  -  Faith Pepela – Alliance Girls’ High School, Kikuyu, Kenya.
2nd  -  Roshni Khatri – St Marks Senior Secondary Public School, New Delhi, India
3rd   -  Nor Amirah Ab Manaf – SM Sains Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
These top three received cash and Distinguished Award Certificates for their essays.
With a special smile Amirah called with her younger sister to tell us the news
Over a lunch in their house yesterday, Amirah’s parents were all too ready to throw credits at Almanar for threir daughter's achievement.  When things have not been easy these two years at Almanar and out of frustration I often feel like throwing in the towel, an  occasional success, the like of Amirah’s, is real tonic. And now, wishing her all the best, I have reasons to look forwards to 2012 SPM examination results. I think we have not heard the last of her yet.

Congratulations to you, Nor Amirah. You have given me reasons to carry on.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

22 October 2012

Too old to learn ( Pt 2 )

Early this month Pakcik was prompted to express the means of communication I prefer, f/b vis-a vis e-mail and blog. Knowing that I do not like f/b a few friends dared Pakcik to accept them as f/b ‘friends’. It is all in good spirit. We are still friends even if they cannot stand the very smell of budu!

All the while things have been hotting up in the papers. All sectors have finally admitted that we are not at ‘taraf antara bangsa’ ( world-class) after all as far as the current English education in Malaysia is concerned – even Bahasa Melayu for that matter. I am sorry having to maintain Bahasa Melayu, not Bahasa Malaysia, for whatever reasons it is English language, not restyled and renamed as United Kingdom language.

It tickled me to read the headline in NST last Monday – Mind your language

Then on the following day, also in New Sunday Times, I read the call to ‘Arrest language decline’.

Our DPM was reported to have said that “ …. It is important for teachers to remind students to always use the standard form of the language in class. There is a need to differentiate between the use of formal and informal languages…”

Someone then said that “teachers must play a role in tackling the problem...”
It is unanimous that we all have to arrest the language decline, Malay as wel as English.

Years ago Pakcik wrote in a Malay paper how Dewan Bahasa ‘telah merojakkan bahasa Melayu’. To me Dewan Bahasa (DBP) have butchered the Malay language with uncalled for inclusion of unnecessary English words, and for promoting 'bahasa baku' at the expense of Jawi and words with Arabic roots. 

And in April 24th, Pakcik wrote in Rencana, “Pertahankan nilai baik dalam siaran TV” in which I criticised the indecent behaviour of artists and the improper language used by masters of ceremony. 

And I have strived to the best of my ability to teach manners and proper language – caring little for ‘format exam’ (I wonder what language this is - as my Almanar pupils often tell me what their teachers emphasise on in class). Within my own limitations, I want my Almanar children to be as good as possible in the subjects I help them. And I will continue to do it my way, the way I was taught 60 (sixty) years ago.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan  

20 October 2012

QURBAN - an efficient way


It is time for Qurban. Many in big towns may not have a convenient means of participating in it. Muslim Aid Malaysia specialises in this and any one can take part with only RM 380 per head/portion. It is a very reasonable, convenient and effective way of reaching the needy recipients. I would recommend this. For details please visit the blog,  CatfromSydney  (click  http://catinsydney.blogspot.com/) who is very nuch involved in this worthy cause.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

19 October 2012

End of the tunnel ( Pt 19 ) – I've got a job now

This entry should have been posted much earlier because it relates to an event during the last Hari Raya celebration. Hari Raya is the time we have a number of ex-Almanar pupils calling on us, alone, in groups and with spouses. In many ways they are members of our enlarged family.
This time we had just about seventy of them. Last year’s figure was above eighty. Understandably many are now working people who have to be on duty and some are married and have to be away celebrating Hari Raya with families of their spouses.

They aren't kids anymore!

As customary on such occasions, Makcik had ready some gift envelops for small children brought along to visit us. There was an instant when Pakcik and Makcik were escorting two of ex-Almanar visitors – now young adults -  out of the house. Out of a sudden and surreptitiously each of them tried to slip small green envelops into our hands. Both of us were absolutely stunned with disbelief. Almost instinctively we tried not to accept the gift.

Do I deserve one?
Saya dah kerja, Pakcik, ( I’ve already got a job , Pakcik)” asserted one of them to me. And the second girl uttered the same to Makcik. Seeing how resolute they were we relented – receiving cash gift from our ex-pupils. As much as we understand what such a gift stands for, we are determined that this must never be a trend. 

We are happy for their families. Our pleasure is to see that they have a good start in life and able to assist their parents and siblings.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

14 October 2012

Aren’t we all worried?

It is exam time. Last week 481,424 children were reported to have started sitting for their PMR examination. And in a fortnight’s time about 400,000 will sit for SPM examination.  We hear all the noises made by parents, particularly those who are at this game for the first time. Children, who are right now in the middle of PMR exam, sat for their UPSR exam three years ago, and will face their SPM exam in two years’ time. It is exam after exam, a worry after another.

What comes to my mind is how many of these children give their families worrying time. These are the fortunate ones, being loved and cared for. Little is said about those whose performance is no skin off anyone’s nose.

Every where in our country are homes for the orphans and children of the less privileged families.  Those who have been following this blog have read about one home oficially open last year. It is just one kilometer away and is on the same stretch of coastal road. From the very start Almanar has been involved in one way or another with a small number of its inmates. And less than a month ago, Pakcik was handed a new group of 20 Form One children. This group is supposed to consist of the better children selected from a larger group.  In two years’ time this group will be facing their PMR exam. What can Almanar do to help these children on top of what they are taught in school?

Now let us have a look at their last year's UPSR exam results after six years in primary schools in various parts of the state.  The following list shows the performance of these twenty children, ten boys (number with ‘b’) and ten girls (number with ‘g’).

     Results for 20 children in their UPSR exam sat in 2011
       Kef : Kefahaman ;  Pen : Penulisan

     No       Eng     Maths    Sc      BM       BM
   (Kef )      (Pen)    Total score

1  g        A          C         B         A          A        3A 1B  1C
2  g        C          A         B         A          A        3A  1B  1C
3  b        B          B         B         A          A        2A  3B
4  g        C          B         B         A          A        2A  2B  1C
5  b        B          C         A         A          B        2A  2B  1C
6  g        C          C         B         A          A       2A  1B  2C
7  g        C          B         B         B          A       1A   3B  1C
      8  g        B          C         C        B          A       1A   2B  2C
9  g        C          D         C        B           A        1A  1B  2C  1D
10 g       C          B         B         B           C              3B  2C
11 b       C          C         B         B           B              3B  2C
12 b       C          C         B         B           B              3B  2C
13 b       C          C         C         C           B              1B  4C
14  b      C          C         D         C           C                     4C  1D
15 b       C         C          D         C           C                     4C  1D
16 g       D         C          D          C           C                     3C  2D
17 b       D         C          C          D           E                     2C  2D  1E
18 b       D         D          E          C           C                    1C   2D  1E
19 g       C         E          D          C           D                    2C   2D  1E
      20 b       D         C         E           E           E                    1C   1D  3E

Watch the performance of the last seven children, five boys and two girls. It is C’s and D’s, even E’s as well. I shudder at the thought of those not selected for Almanar’s help. The above list shows one girl being good enough to score A-grade in English.

When I see this kind of performance what comes to mind is how lucky our children are.
Who really cares for the future of the above children?  We get jittery when an exam time comes. Those children grow up without creating jitters to any body. 

On the first day of their attendance at Almanar Pakcik discovered SIX children with eye-sight problems. At the end of their second day at Almanar Pakcik drove four of them to an optometrist. Another two were not well that day and will get their glasses in due course. Now watch how the first four smile outside the optometrist with glasses on for the first time ever.

Now we can see you

This done, the greatest challenge is whether this group can be motivated to study? Should I be worried over their academic future because they are not of my flesh and blood?

p/s :
While we were waiting for the glasses to be ready at the optometrist one of the girls popped out this question; “Pakcik dah lupa saya? (Have you forgotten me Pakcik?)

I was pleasantly surprised to be told by this girl that two moths before her UPSR examination last year she joined a group of about twenty children selected six months earlier for extra tuition in English and Maths. The primary school had requested Pakcik’s help for a weekly class there. I obliged the school, doing the twenty-minute drive there every Wednesday afternoon. Late as it was to join the group, this girl managed to score an A-grade in English in her UPSR. Now I remember this girl. Not among the top UPSR scorers then but she is the one on top of the list above. Her father is an invalid and life is hard for her family. My gut feeling tells me that this girl is a spark, a bright spot in that group. She may, hopefully, ignite the rest.

As we fear our own children not getting all A’s, spare a thought for these poor children
Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan.

08 October 2012

Kera dihutan disusukan …

This morning I had a group of fifteen Form 3 pupils from the orphanage. They only started coming to Almanar about six months ago after being picked from various parts of the state. They are poor in every way, family, education and even the will to learn and above all threy are very playful. They are practically ‘no-hopers’ as far as their tomorrow’s PMR examination is concerned. And I keep trying to make them understand that all is not lost if only they can keep their mind tuned to succeed in two years’ time, their SPM examination. I promise them that I will do everything I can to help. And I know they will get somewhere if only I can change their learning attitude, a big if indeed.

And it is so often I quietly draw a sigh as I face these children. Today, in particular, I remember that I have two grandchildren in KL who will be sitting for the same PMR exam starting tomorrow, and another two for their SPM examination next month. It saddens me to be reminded of the Malay proverb, kera dihutan disusukan anak sendiri mati kelaparan (wild monkeys are being milked whilst own babies die of starvation.)  I have done very little for them. But I draw comfort from the fact that they are urban children who have been raised within my own family. They are not neglected kids.

Makcik is in KL hoping to lend support to our loved ones. And here I am alone with a prayer in my heart  that HE will help ours as much as I have tried to help others’.

Dear Abdul Aziz, Azim, Arif and Sulaiman. With love and prayers from Ki

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

04 October 2012

Too old to learn

Certain changes taking place around me are leaving me further and further behind. There is an obvious mass migration to face-book. A few, not just one or two, have suggested, recommended and even tried to persuade Pakcik to progress along with the masses. In defence, let this stubborn old man respond and say in simple words what I feel about all these.

A few years ago my children realised that it was time for their father to lay off the old typewriter in exchange for a laptop, not the massive desktop with all the messy wiring and connections. Seeing how easy it was to write, delete, copy and make all the changes to lines, paragraph and pages I was sold on the idea. So the old father took a giant step, not unlike Neil Armstrong’s 'One Small Step for Man’ on the moon. Then I was shown how to blog. That thrilled me to no end. Nevertheless I must confess I still have problems with anything beyond a simple posting. The recent lost of Almanar blog from the screen sent me into frenzy. Alhamdulillah my heart could take it and it did not take that long for my daughter had it restored.  

Seeing my giant step in IT my children started to coerce me to go Face-book. They made me open an f/b account. As if that was not enough a second account was opened for Almanar blog on f/b. No I have not got used to liking these f/b accounts. However, when I get requests from people to become my “friends” I simply agree. And now I am sure to have close to 200 so-called ‘friends’ on f/b. I suspect they are mainly my ex Almanar pupils, many of whom carry odd names. But I always warn them that I do not look at my f/b. I do not even know how to open and move around that strange language.

Believe me, I am not ashamed to say how tough it was for the old grey matter to absorb the rudimentary steps in blogging. But I made it somehow, and still a no, no to f/b.

Finally, about a year ago my children presented me an i-pad. As the icing on the cake I was asked to select the recital of the whole Quran I liked best. The idea of lazily lying down to listen to a choice Quranic recital by a favourite Qari sounded very exciting. Alas, I still have problems! For instance, I do not know how to stop and move a few lines forwards or backwards.  So the i-pad has been lying idle except when the grand children are around showing their grandfather what an i-pad can do, moving fingers deftly on the screen, taking own photographs, not forgetting music and games.    
In short, any one who tries to engage me on f/b will be sadly disappointed. I have grown an intense dislike for it. Here, I will say the reason in a few words.

 “ …. klu ak sekeh mg klu xmri …hehehe”

What the hell is this???? It comes from my f/b.  It sounds like someone giving me four-letter words! Same to you, hehehehehe, with knobs on!
If I am given something in writing I want to see a complete sentence with subject, predicate, finite verb and all. Disciplined life  of over 70 (repeat- over seventy) years is not likely to give way that easily to a change - full stop. Out of necessity I accept shortened expressions on sms, reminiscence of sending telegrams in the 1950’s.

On Sunday 30th September I was pleased to read in NST the

usual column by Wan a Hulaimi (aka Awang Goneng of the bestseller A Map of Trengganu). This time his subject was ‘A writer chooses words as a painter would colour’.  I enjoy reading about something I believe in. I am not saying “great minds ……”

In summary, dear readers, you see above how Pakcik could spin a simple message in so many words. The title said it all -  Too old to learn. In other words, or another lango , doh tuer gwana nok belajorr.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan