29 March 2014

With a Sigh ( No 19 ) – No turning back for PBS

PBS forever

In my No 18 of this series I questioned whether I was being unjustly critical on the subject of PBS and, in general, on the education ‘blueprint’. When I was about to drop the issue from my mind two things prompted me to sit back to write this. First was the news splash on the endless PBS issue. There is no going back. It will be bulldozed through with a huge concession; teachers’ workload will be reduced by 80%.Isn’t that fantastic? Had no one ever thought through the implementation of a major project, or was there no one with his/her brain working outside the guitar box?  How could such a huge impact on workload was never thought of; pure nincompoop. Now do I hear, “Hurray!!” from teachers on hearing the recent discovery of reduction on their workload ?    

The second announcement made was the planned disappearance of the current PMR examination, making way for the emergence of yet another examination called PT3 – whatever that is, of world class, no doubt. I am surprised if we will not be told that before long the SPM will be called differently, like SP1M.

A Perfect solution !

As a rule, children join Almanar tuition class at Form 1, allowing sufficient time for us to give these children sound understanding of the basic knowledge in English language and Mathematics by the time they sit for their PMR examination three years later. This has proved successful. It is never our requirement that children are accepted on the basis of their good primary school records. Preference is given to those with poor family as long as the children are prepared to move at the pace we, taking cognition of the level of their knowledge, set for them,

Unfortunately there are instances when we get request for help from children at higher Forms. A typical example is the case of three girls of Form 4 who, ten days ago, approached Pakcik for help in English and Mathematics. They performed well enough in their PMR examination end of last year, gaining as many as 6 ‘A’ grades in subjects except English and Mathematics. Two of them managed to obtain ‘C’ grade and the third just ‘D’ grade in English. No one in that school obtained all ‘A’ grades in the examination. These three children are conscious of the need to get help but are not prepared to pay for evening tuition classes mushrooming around the area.

To have a very rough indication of the level of their English, I made them translate into English the following two Malay sentences:

Adam seorang budak bernama Ali. Dia mempunyai dua orang abang.

Girl No 1’s answer : “Have a boy name Ali. He has two brothers.”
Girl No 2’s answer  : "Have boy is name Ali. He have two elder brother.”
Girl No 3’s answer  : “There are boy name Ali. He have two brothers.”

Wouldn't I heave a long sigh when I am faced with this situation? Will the ‘blueprint’, PBS and so on, solve it all in future ?


Special request to my visitors:

I know a number of visitors to this blog are teachers with experience in general and English Language in particular. Bearing in mind that many do not wish to give open comments for other visitors to read, I sincerely seek their comments, (via  email to   almanar@pd.com.my ), on my thoughts related to education in Malaysia. I must admit that, entrenched in the system I was so familiar with half a century ago, I could have reflected a totally out-dated thoughts. I would not be embarrassed or offended to adverse comments which I am grateful for.

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk keemanusiaan

12 March 2014

Pakcik Reminisces ( Pt 35 ) - The Road I Took (No 1)



Allah yarham Idris

That is my late elder brother, (Allah yarham) Idris who passed away last year at the age of eighty two (82). This picture of him, dressed like an Arab prince, was taken soon after his return from his Islamic studies in the Middle East, hence his attire.

I was then about to finish my secondary religious school, and, if all went as planned, I would be shipped (literally so, before the era of air travel) on the same course to the Middle East. Of this plan my brother had a suggestion which sounded logical. In his opinion younger sibling should first be allowed to learn some English. He saw that as an advantage; he himself planning to join a private school for some knowledge in English language before applying for a job. His words carried weight. After all I was relatively young, having performed two years ahead in completing the religious school. Yes, I was ready for that.

Today, I realise what happened then, was a landmark in my life. I was being led to a junction where Robert Frost’s famous poem said:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
  And sorry I could not travel both
  And be one traveler, long I stood
  And looked down on one as far as I could
  To where it bent in the undergrowth


It was not easy by any means for this boy to join the only Government English school in the state. I lacked sufficient knowledge in English (other than whatever I had managed to pick up from afternoon classes) and mathematics. But my family was adamant that I must join the government school, by hook or by crook. It was indeed by ‘hook or by crook’ ( of which I hope to write one day ) I found myself starting my proper education in English. I had to begin at Standard Seven, the equivalence of today’s Form Three.

Three years followed and I performed well in the Senior Cambridge School Certificate examination (SC), the equivalence (or not quite!) of today’s SPM. The choice of a new path began to emerge in the thick undergrowth, and I took it.

To end Robert Frost’s poem:

I shall be telling this with a sigh
   Somewhere ages and ages hence:
  Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
  I took the one less travelled by,
  And that has made all the difference.”

The SC results were good beyond expectation, giving me an alternative route, equally attractive. And I took the road.

Indeed, ‘ages and ages’ thence, 62 years later, I reminisce and tell myself ‘with a sigh …. Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less travelled. And that has made all the difference."

What, otherwise, I would I be today had I taken the other road?

My contemporaries of that time became ‘mufties, kadhis’ and educators in Arabic and Islamic subjects. One of them has the satisfaction of having, among his tutelage, a champion in the Malaysian International Quran competition. One of them, Allah Yarham Abdul Malik, a graduate from Al-Azhar, passed away two years ago while serving as a respected Imam of a mosque in Sydney where he decided to settle down with his successful family.

School librarians of Sultan Zainal Abidin Religious Ascool.
Allah Yarham AbdulMalik sitting (left in picture) and Pakcik standing left and there friends (Yarhamuhumullah)    

I could be, today, enjoying my old age as one of them had I taken the other road in the wood. But this had not to be. That elder brother of mine, (Yarhamuhullah) was the agent of change chosen to steer my path to my presence, as happy as it could be. Indeed we are all entitled to have a dream of a perfect plan, but He is the Ultimate Planner.

That is one part of Ayat 34 from Surah Loqman, which according to Muhammad Asad : “  …whereas no one knows what he will reap tomorrow …”

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan

02 March 2014

With a Sigh ( No 18) – Being too critical?

 Why, why and more why ?

Four days ago while the PBS issue was very much on my mind, I sat down to see what bloggers had to comment on that issue. Just then I found my streamyx line dead. It was the work of our ‘world-class’ copper cable thieves who have caused so much heart-ache and frustration to me in particular. The regular phone interruptions in this area are the work of these culprits
So, the next three days saw me driving some eight kilometers to where I could get a ‘free’ line. The current situation took TNB longer than usual to be put right as the thieves had removed the underground cables in three separate localities in my vicinity.

At the end of my fourth visit out for free wi-fi I stopped to buy Sinar Harian.  ( I have practically stopped wasting my precious ringgits on other better known papers which  seem bent on straightening my crooked way of thinking!.) Sinar seems to provide some colouful local news.

When I reached home I was pleasantly surprised to find my phone and streamyx back to normal. What a sigh of relief!

Now, I thought I could start a new posting after scanning what Sinar had for the day. I could hardly believe my eyes to see seven pages on the subject of mosques in Terenganu. I like this paper for that kind of reporting.

Sinar - 1st March, 2014 

Terengganu can boast of a state having the greatest number of mosques in the country. A figure of 495 mosques under two main categories was mentioned, but I could not find the number of smaller places of worships that we call ‘surau’ – as a conservative guess, the figure would not be less than  three times that number of mosques,.

I was particularly pleased to see the following statement : ….. kerajaan negeri bagaimanapun enggan dilihat sebagai juara masjid terbanyak tetapi kosong dengan jumaah …..( ….. the state government, however, does not intend to be recognised as the champion in the number of mosques but empty of worshipers …..)  

There was also mention of expensive mosques built more for show than out of need. Bravo!

Within the radius of three kilometers from my house I have three mosques (where gatherings for Friday prayers are permitted) and not less than twelve suraus; a few are, sadly, politically ‘coloured’. I must also point out that, my home being on a straight coastline, the radius can draw only half of a circle, the eastern half being tye South China Sea, except for the few islands. 

Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemanusiaan