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.