08 June 2010

With a sigh (Pt 1) – KELUHANKU - Apa nak jadi?

“MB instructed for a thorough investigation into the alleged case of sixteen girls in a secondary school in this city found pregnant.” ran a line in a local newspaper.
“This state recorded the highest number of drug addiction” ran another bit of news.
“This state continues to top UPSR results”, was another sensational news.
“Two pupils beat and robbed another near a 24-hr outlet”, yet said another.

Bolehkah ini berlaku disebuah negeri yang berbangga dengan keputusan UPSR tahun demi tahun dan mempunyai ramai U l u l - A l b a b ??


Last week a lady rang up to ask if she could come over to talk about his son. He needed help badly. Of course she could.

Accordingly, just before noon on the following day a lady of about forty turned pillion riding behind a pleasant young boy, neither wearing a helmet and I can bet my bottom ringgit the boy had no license. She was holding a small plastic bag which she handed to Pakcik.

Sedikit ketupat baru masak,’ she murmured on seeing the inquisitive look o my face. I learned later from her son that her mother and grand-mother cook ‘ketupat pulut for sale to supplement the earning brought home by the family bread winner, a gardener of18 years - beginning a year before the boy was born.

Ali (not his real name) is a Form Five pupil of a quite well known secondary school in the state. In his PMR exam he obtained a creditable number of 5 A’s , one B and 2C’s, the last two being in English and Maths. “His English is very poor and we have done everything, including attending ‘expensive’ tuition classes in the evening,” the mother lamented. SPM exam is less than six months away. Something drastic has to be done.

Tolonglah Pakcik!” she practically begged, understandably of course. Ali is the eldest of her three children. She dreams of seeing him enjoying a better future than just being another school gardener in the family.


The mother's mention of 'tukang kebun' brought to mind the picture a man of about thirty who came to help mow the grounds surrounding Al-Manar, about an acre in all, . He was a bachelor, a pleasant one at that. Somehow one particular habit rather baffled me. Each time prior to begin his work he would ask some cash and disappeared for about thirty minutes. That went on for about two months until another youth I know well whispered, “Pakcik, be careful with him. He is one of ‘them’, requiring ‘that something’ to have energy to work.” – not unlike my lawn mower needing petrol before running!


What of the evening tuition classes attended by Ali? The mother quickly volunteered a simple answer. She could ill afford the twenty five ringgits per month when the boy benefited nothing from it. “It was all noise, in a class of about forty.” The boy added. (We were conversing in Malay all the while.)

I did not want brush off the request there and then as I was beginning to get curious how bad the boy's English really was. After all Ali attends a fairly respectable school whose principle has just been promoted to manage a prestigious boarding school, presumable after a series of proven good records. Having spent four-and-a-half years in a school run by such a capable principle Ali could not possibly be that bad; I was fairly sure. But I still wanted to know. So I asked him to return the following day.

At the appointed time Ali arrived at Al-Manar bringing along a close friend, the son of a fish-monger. The boy's PMR results were almost similar to his. These two boys could not be possibly be short of intelligence having obtained 5 A grades. When the initial getting-to-know-you conversation ended and they were fairly at ease, I gave them a list of about 150 Basic English words and asked them to identify those they did not know.

The outcome horrified me. I found it hard to believe my ears when both of them, two Form Five pupils, did not know the meaning of a large number of words such as :
Human being
, etc. etc.

Following that I picked up two words, accident and pen, from the list, and made them translate into English these two Malay sentences :

a ) Kelmarin ada satu kemalangan

b) Dua pen ini saya punya.

It took them a while to produce:

a) Yesterday have accident .

b) Two pen is my.

Speechless, stunned, was I? No, I would only breathe a big sigh; What has the school done to these boys these boys? What has the alleged school not done to the girls bulging to the seam one after another? What is PENDIDIKAN? Where does the buck stop


I do not mind doing what I have been doing for sixteen years without a cent, but I would not want to be a gardener for eighteen years even for a living. No, if I have it my way, Ali will not be one like his father, insya Allah. This is one challnge which I relish.

` Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

A class of 40 pupils X RM 25 per pupil per month = RM 1,000 per month
2 hours per evening X 4 evening per month = 8 working hours per month
That works out to RM 125 per hour.
If I work just for five evenings each week I would make RM 5,000 every month

If I were a teacher of such calibre I would work for 5 evenings each week, earn RM 5000 per months and sleep all day long. – just a hard day’s night!

Or if I still want be a teacher I will 'think smart', play the right game and get my promotion.

I Salute:

But I know many, many heroes, teachers who work their guts out, under unfavourable conditions and away from home and family, educating the young – many of whom go without so much as being noticed or appreciated by their superiors, let alone rewarded; and yet loving and enjoying in what they are doing for a mission they believe in.

To ex Al-Manar pupils who are serving as teachers away from, Sibu, Bintulu, Kapit, Tawau, Sandakan, Semporna and so on; to my engineer -cum-teacher at a school with 85 pupils in Kg Parit Makuangseng ( many would ask "Where on earth that is?" ), Pakcik would hope and pray that you all live up to the spirit of Almanar (the guiding light that comes from Him).

Such is life – what we make of it.


abdulhalimshah said...

Dear Pak Cik,
I remember two words very well taught by my teacher P.D.Bond in the FMC (now RMC). They are "Altruism" and "Hedonism". The meaning is fairly simple to me, the first is satisfaction in serving others thus like yourself and the latter is the obsession with fulfilment of your selfish desires.
It is better to be the hand that gives rather than the hands that receives, as what we Believers have been taught but our psyche had been subverted by well-intentioned policies aimed at improving our lives which had been turned into the opposite. How ironic.

Wan Sharif said...

Salam Abang Hassan,
Inilah agaknya akibat dari pelajaran berteraskan keputusan peperiksaan. kalau murid pandai.. guru akan memberi tumpuan yang lebih/tinggi untuk menaikkan nama sekolah. Sekiranya murid kurang pandai.. saperti anak saya di kelas yang kelapan.. perhatian yang sedikit sudah dikira memadai.. Kalau ibu bapa tidak berusaha lebih untuk hantar kekelas tuition atau mengajar sendiri .. kira hancurlah keputusan peperiksaan anak anak sebegini..

jm said...

betul tuan haji. fokus terlalu over pada peperiksaan.so program peningkatan akademik lebih banyak dari program sahsiah..banyak elemen nilai nilai murni di kalangan pelajar dikeduakan.emosinya tidak diambil berat.
Joni Mohd

Anonymous said...

program pemantapan sahsiah jarang kedengaran.ibu bapa pun sudah teruja dgn keputusan peperiksaan anak sejak di pra sekolah lagi.apa perasaan anak, emosinya,nilai amalannya tak berapa kisah.itulah yang terjadi.
joni mohd

Al-Manar said...

Sdr AHS,
The two terms mentioned suddenly come alive. They were familiar one time but have been lost in time bcause people no longer pay too much attention to this kind of subject. We hear discussions tinted with politics.
Salaam to you

Al-Manar said...

Tentu lebih maalum daripada saya kerana Wan pernah menjadi guru yang terlatih dalam bidang khas.Harapnya anak yang disebut itu sudah berjaya.

Al-Manar said...

Cikgu Joni
Pernah saya sebut yang Cikgu adalah antara yang saya hormati, sentiasa mencari dan memberi kelainan, tidak terbelenggu dalam 'format' sempama ramai yang lain lain. Ingin sekali bertemu muka lagi satu hari.

Kama At-Tarawis said...

My goodness, pakcik, I couldn't believe what I had just read. Seburuk2 kita masa form five dulu takderla sampai macam ni. How on earth did it get to be so bad?

Anonymous said...

I would say it is too late for the boy to study English in 5 months. To learn vocabs, grammar and so on takes a long time and effort. I wonder what plan Pakcik has for the poor boy.

Al-Manar said...

You have gone through it at Almanar and know how long it takes. He will make it, not necessarily 2010.
I am glad to see your visit, Salina. One day I will feature you , the FOUR SISTERS who have gone through Almanar, my pride.

Al-Manar said...

It is hard to believe. I can only presume that this kind of picture does not get to the top through official channels because most would rather keep their their cupboards closed. Buboh minyak ator banyok banyok jangang bbau. Don't you wish you had these during your earlier days to uncover?
Salaam to you and family

Anonymous said...

Four is not the end. We hope our number FIVE, a boy will join Almanar too.
By the way Pakcik,I have got SPA offer for Farmasi Assistant. I like to visit you at Nuri soon

norzah said...

The poor standard of English teaching in schools is well known, Pakcik, since I hear many teachers who don't speak English well. As for maths, Malay children living in the kampungs seem to be just no good with figures. That includes me. Maybe because we don't do too much of calculation and estimation.
That the woman came to you to help the boys, speaks so much for your good reputation and credentials. Many of the well-paid tutors are quack teachers but since the lessons given are so basic anything at all will help. I'm sure you'll be able to do wonders with the two boys since they are NOT really stupid having acquired 5As in their PMR.

Al-Manar said...

If indeed your brother joins Al-Manar that will probably our record number in one family. So far we anmber of fours. But I hope Pakcik will find your brother easier to handle than you, the naughty one!
I am happy to hear that you have got he SPA offer. A job is assured and there is opportunity to go further. Congratulations from Makcik and Pakcik. Our salaam to your parents.

Al-Manar said...

I hate to give false hope. If there is little hope of doing well in all subjects today, I would encourage a back-up plan to resit in one or two subjects a year later, giving a brighter future. Thank you for your compliments akhil aziz.

Anonymous said...

Pakcik. I did visit and read your last entry. As usual, I was your silent reader. Your last entry certainly left a tinge of sadness in me because the exact thing happened to afamily member. Where have we gone wrong?
A stranger in the States

Al-Manar said...

So what Pakcik wrote about is not an isolated case after all. I wonder whether this kind of problem happens in the States as well. Please break your silence more often with views from the opposite side of the world.
Salaam and wishing all the best to you,'stranger'.

Anonymous said...

Salam Pakick & Makcik,

If I can share my observation so far from the other side of the world.

1. Teen pregnancy is also a major problem in this part of the world. However, there are many NGO programmes promoting either abstinence and safe sex. Even in university we are taught safe sex. This does not translates into promiscuity. This is only as way for making informed choices and knowing the consequences of teenage pregnancy. Those with strong religious belief and faith will stick with abstinence.

2. Our uni here requires the first year students to continue their studies with English regardless of the fact that your mother tongue is English unless one is excused from taking one. Here we are taught to write analytically. For students, who need help in their writing, there is a writing centre that offers this service on campus. What I like over here is the fact that lecturers are open to our views even if they can be quite controversial. We are encouraged to further substantiate our finding with concrete evidence. Weaker students will not be left behind. They are given constant motivation and every single work that they do will contribute to final results. Seek help, open one's mouth to speak up and one will enjoy your study here.

Apologies for the long winded explanation here Pakcik.

Stranger in USA

abdulhalimshah said...

Pak Cik,
What does not make sense to me is the obsession of the Malays on politics whereas the name of the game in this millennium is digitalisation of all aspects of the world around us, which means technology.
If our leaders merely pay lip service to science and technology and turning education which is the most critical ingredient in the equation into a political commodity, our future generation might just slide into oblivion as the others advanced light years in front of us. We must not let this happen. It is timely for the Malays to come out of this mind-set, namely focus on the survival of our race through enlightenment and throw out the shackles of ignorance via science and technology.

Al-Manar said...

Stranger in USA,
I have decided to post your comment on the main page as I have done to a few others.
Perhaps we will get to know you better, one day, insya Allah.

Al-Manar said...

I understand the schools in a neighbouring country gather weak students to be guided by teachers specially picked as a challege to do the job. The result has been an astounding success; so much so that other teachers are clamouring to take part, resulting in nil drop-out. We need only the State Directors of Education and the heads of schools to have such a will to serve our people. Instead many talk of 'Koko' and shout 'modal insan'.

ninotaziz said...

Dear Pakcik (if you don't mind me calling you Pakcik),

This particular blogpost filled me with sadness and yet admiration for the mother who will not give up for the sake of the son.

I remember teaching a young boy mathematics 5 months before his PMR years ago. When I started out, he could not do division with confidence. After all his hard work, he managed to pass his Mathematics.

Now I only have time to help my five girls at home. But I remember the joy of helping a child grasps a new idea, a concept.

God bless and thank you for sharing so much.

Al-Manar said...

Coming from you it is an under-statement that you have time only for your five chilfren? Who on earth is capable of operating half the number of blog sites that you are doing, even without a child to look after?
Salaam to you all from Pakcik

Jane said...

Dear Pakcik,

What a breath of fresh air it is to read your blog.
How can I help? Can we rig up a digital classroom to begin with? I'd love to volunteer a couple of evenings tutoring your students for a couple of hours. The difference in time zone does not affect me - I am an early riser. When I was lecturing in China, one of my colleagues was a volunteer English online teacher to Afghan women. Perhaps we can put together a program?

I think of you and your family often. Hope everyone is well.


From: another 'not so stranger' in the USA. This is Jane.

Al-Manar said...

You have got me totally perplexed,your identity as well as your offer. I love the idea if that is workble, and of course I would want to develop this further. Would you email me your idea, please?
Thank you from Pakcik

Jane said...

Hello Pakcik,
I apologize for 'perplexing' you. This is Jane, daughter of your late friend from Kota Kinabalu, Tsai Boon Tin.
Let's put our heads together and see if we can put technology to work. I will email you separately.
Talk to you again very soon. Fondest greetings to everyone in your family, school and community.