“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble.” Macbeth
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:
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.