Archive for the ‘Teacher's Professionalism’ Category

Arshad Ayub: The impossible is possible

Sunday, November 15th, 2020
In 1965, Arshad was appointed the pioneering Director of Maktab MARA (later, Institut Teknologi MARA) which today is the country’s largest institution of higher learning. At ITM, Arshad believed that everyone can be educated; that among the young there are many late bloomers who are largely ignored by the prevailing education system.  - NSTP file picIn 1965, Arshad was appointed the pioneering Director of Maktab MARA (later, Institut Teknologi MARA) which today is the country’s largest institution of higher learning. At ITM, Arshad believed that everyone can be educated; that among the young there are many late bloomers who are largely ignored by the prevailing education system. – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: Today is the 92nd birthday of Tun Datuk Seri Utama Haji Arshad Ayub – the greatest educational innovator and administrator this country has known. He was the first Director of Institut Teknologi MARA (now UiTM) and led it with courage and vision for one decade from 1965 to 1975.

On any score, Tun Arshad’s life is an inspiration for all Malaysians. He was a rubber tapper’s son who, with determination and discipline, overcame his initial environmental handicap to obtain formal education at Serdang, Aberystwyth (UK) and Lausanne (Switzerland).

He then spent much of his life helping other disadvantaged kids to use education as the ladder for upward mobility.

In 1965, Arshad was appointed the pioneering Director of Maktab MARA (later, Institut Teknologi MARA) which today is the country’s largest institution of higher learning. At ITM, Arshad believed that everyone can be educated; that among the young there are many late bloomers who are largely ignored by the prevailing education system.

He believed that entry points into courses should be flexible but exit points must be well regulated. How a student ends the race is more important than how he/she began it.

Arshad devised many specially tailored, remedial, pre-university programmes to upgrade students who would not otherwise qualify for professional courses.

He established multi-tiered programmes from certificate level to advanced diplomas. Students who successfully navigated one level became eligible for upward mobility into the next tier.

While the other universities boasted of admitting the best students and adding glitter to gold, ITM under Arshad accepted the challenge of fashioning ordinary clay into works of art.

Thousands of students in top managerial positions today owe their success to the faith Arshad reposed in them by urging them to go from the precipice to the peak.

He set up branch campuses in the remotest parts of Perlis, Sabah and Sarawak. Instead of rural students coming to the city, the city was going to go to the rural hinterland to provide a catalyst for growth. In the 70’s Arshad introduced counselling and guidance services for students.

For working adults, Arshad pioneered an Extension Education Programmes. He initiated executive development and entrepreneuring courses that are commonplace today but were rare in the early seventies.

Under Arshad there was constant creative ferment at ITM and perpetual educational experimentation. Planning for years ahead, he introduced courses unheard of in the 1960’s.

Because the parent law of ITM did not permit ITM to confer degrees, Arshad, in the 70s, designed twinning programmes that are a rage today. He also made ITM the first Malaysian institution to embrace external UK programmes in many fields. He stuck to English as the medium of instruction.

As a leader he taught us that “it is attitude, not aptitude, that determines altitude”. He constantly emphasized to students and staff that ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things because it is not skill, it is our will, that can make the difference.

He asked us to doubt our doubts but not our beliefs. He told us to not let our limits limit us. To him, in every impossible there was the possible.

He taught us to dream dreams; to think big; to go where no one has gone before; to leave the city of our comfort and go into the wilderness of our intuition. But he also cautioned us not to be a Mat Jenin and to work hard to realise our dreams.

While running an institution devoted to Bumiputera education, his transcendence was remarkable. Many of his Heads of Schools were non-Malays. The academic staff was more than 50 per cent non-Malay. On Sundays he used ITM buses to ferry Christian Bumiputera students to churches in Klang.

In his post-ITM years Arshad was the KSU of three Ministries, Deputy Governor of Bank Negara, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the University of Malaya and in stewardship position on several statutory bodies and public companies. Many forei

gn honours were conferred on him.

His enduring legacies are that the institute he cradled from 1965-75 has grown into the nation’s largest university. Forty-five years after he left, UiTM still is, and will remain for a long time to come, an extended shadow of Arshad Ayub’s towering personality.

The nation will always remember him for its most successful experiment in social engineering through education.

by Shad Saleem Faruqi.

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Teacher Sam a source of inspiration for Orang Asli teachers

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020
Asani Alang Selamat (left), 28, and Norazlina Juli, 25, who both teach at SK Kuala Betis, said they were inspired by the dedication shown by Samuel, also known as ‘Teacher Sam’, to his pupils. - Photo courtesy of Asani Alang Selamat. Asani Alang Selamat (left), 28, and Norazlina Juli, 25, who both teach at SK Kuala Betis, said they were inspired by the dedication shown by Samuel, also known as ‘Teacher Sam’, to his pupils. – Photo courtesy of Asani Alang Selamat.

GUA MUSANG: News of English teacher Samuel Isaiah becoming a top 10 finalist for the 2020 Global Teacher Prize has not only caught the attention of all Malaysians, but also two Orang Asli teachers at a primary school here.

Asani Alang Selamat, 28, and Norazlina Juli, 25, who both teach at SK Kuala Betis, said they were inspired by the dedication shown by Samuel, also known as ‘Teacher Sam’, to his pupils.

“We share his pride at being nominated for the Global Teacher Prize. We are extremely touched by his dedication to helping Orang Asli children obtain good results.

“Both of us can only imagine how hard he worked to cope with his new environment and conditions, as well as dealing with Orang Asli pupils when he first arrived at the school.

“His hard work and patience appears to have paid off,” said Asani, who is from the Semai tribe and teaches pre-school classes.

Norazlina, who is from the Semelai tribe, meanwhile, said Samuel has inspired Orang Asli teachers not only in Kelantan but also the rest of the country.

“When I first read the news on him, I was shocked that a non-Orang Asli teacher was able to engage effectively with Orang Asli children, as the majority of the kids do not know how to converse well in Bahasa Malaysia.

“Some may speak dialects that are difficult for others to understand. So when you have an English teacher who excels with Orang Asli kids, it opened our eyes to the possibilities.

“Hopefully, both of us can follow in his footsteps,” said Norazlina, who teaches special relief classes at the school.

Asani and Norazlina are the only Orang Asli teachers at SK Kuala Betis. The school has 56 teachers and more than 100 Orang Asli pupils from the Temiar tribe.

Last Wednesday, 33-year-old English teacher Samuel from SK Runchang, Pahang, was named as one of the 10 finalists for the 2020 Global Teacher Prize.

The Universiti Utara Malaysia and Teachers Training Institute (Penang campus) graduate’s hard work paid off when his pupils scored As for English in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), while the school’s passing rate for the subject improved from 30 per cent to 85 per cent.

The Global Teacher prize has been dubbed the ‘Nobel Prize’ in the teaching fraternity and it awards the winner with US$1 million for the teacher’s contribution.

By Sharifah Mahsinah Abdullah.

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Global Teacher Prize nomination, a pride for Malaysian educators

Monday, November 2nd, 2020
Samuel is nominated along with teachers from India, South Korea, UK, Italuy, South Africa and US. The 33-year-old teacher is in the running to win US$1 million. Samuel is nominated along with teachers from India, South Korea, UK, Italuy, South Africa and US. The 33-year-old teacher is in the running to win US$1 million.

KUANTAN: The recent Global Teacher Prize award nominations has certainly put Malaysian educators on the world map.

Last week, English teacher Samuel Isaiah, who was picked among the top ten finalists for the award this year, joins a list of Malaysian teachers who have excelled in the award, which is known as the ‘Nobel Prize for Teaching”.

Noorjahan Sultan, who was named as among the top 50 finalists for the 2016 edition of the Global Teacher Prize, said the nominations over the past few years was proof that Malaysian educators were emerging as exceptional teachers who have been making outstanding contributions to their profession.

She said since its inception in 2015, Malaysian educators have been regularly nominated or listed as finalists which was certainly good news for the country.

“It signifies the progress of Malaysia’s education system in pursuing its long-term plan of producing world class students. The nominations show that educators have embraced drastic changes in their duty and roles in line with the current global development.

“Regardless of where (urban or rural) they are teaching, the respective educator is making the necessary adjustments according to the challenges they are facing. In the case of teacher Samuel, he introduced specially tailored programmes and modules to ensure his pupils get the best learning experience,” she said when contacted.

Noorjahan, who won the coveted Pearson ELT Teacher award in 2018, described Samuel’s nomination as a recognition for the teaching community in Malaysia and hopes it would serve as an inspiration for other teachers to follow.

“It is not about the teacher gaining popularity but more on bringing Malaysia to a certain level. It is good to see Malaysian teachers taking their chances to go global, believing in their full potential and challenging themselves on a bigger stage.

“Winning or losing is secondary as being nominated for global awards proves that teachers are on the right track. It is an opportunity to gain networking contacts from educators from other countries for better ideas on innovations which will benefit our students,” said Noorjahan who teaches at the Methodist Girls Primary School here.

Besides Noorjahan, others who made the top 50 in previous years were Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib(2020), Dr Muhamad Khairul Anuar Hussin(2019), KA Razhiyah(2018), Mohd Sirhajwan Idek(2017), K. Vanesri(2016) and Yasmin Noorul Amin (2015).

Samuel is nominated along with teachers from India (Ranjitsinh Disale), Nigeria (Olasunkanmi Opeifa), the United Kingdom (Jamie Frost), Italy (Carlo Mazzone), South Africa (Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba), the United States (Leah Juelke) and South Korea (Yun Jeong-hyun). The 33-year-old is in the running to win US$1 million.

By T.N.Alagesh.

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An inspiration to all teachers

Sunday, November 1st, 2020
Samuel Isaiah received nomination as the top ten finalists for the 2020 Global Teacher Prize. -- Bernama File Pix

Samuel Isaiah received nomination as the top ten finalists for the 2020 Global Teacher Prize. — Bernama File Pix

LETTER: Samuel Isaiah’s nomination as the top ten finalists for the 2020 Global Teacher Prize had my phone ringing over the past few days. I have been receiving calls and WhatApp messages asking me whether it was me.

The reason being I was a teacher too and more so because we share a second name that sounds similar and which is quite uncommon. His second name is Isaiah while mine is Yesuiah. Both are biblical names though.

That is about the only thing that I share with this great teacher. And for the record, I have been retired from teaching for 3 years now. And neither is he related to me. Malaysian teachers can hold their heads high, thanks to Samuel Isaiah for being selected from among 12,000 teachers worldwide for their outstanding contribution to the profession.

The Global Teacher prize has been dubbed the ‘Nobel Prize’ in the teaching fraternity and it awards the winner with US$1 million for the teacher’s contribution. In 2016, Noorjahan, 45 and Vanesri, 25 were among the nominees for this award. Though they did not win the award, the recognition itself pays tribute to their sacrifices, commitment and passion for the profession. This year Isaiah joins them as exemplary role models for the more than half a million teachers of our nation.

The King and the whole nation especially from the teaching fraternity wish him best wishes and blessings that he will win the award and bring honour and glory to our nation. It is a relief and a welcome respite from the worsening Covd-19 pandemic statistics in our nation.

As hopes and efforts are put to the limit to fight the pandemic and when medical front liners are at the cross roads of fatigue and service, Samuel Isaiah’s nomination brings renewed hopes to strive forward. According to press reports when Isaiah was posted to an Orang Asli settlement school at SK Runchang, Pekan, eight years ago he was determined to make changes to the Orang Asli children.

Though he had to travel 200km daily to and from the school located deep in the rain forest, he went about his work with exceptional dedication and perseverance. When many dread travelling to such distances and more so teaching in Orang Asli settlements, Isaiah took it in his stride and overcame the challenges.

Teachers who have taught Orang Asli children would know that there are many challenges in teaching them.

Firstly is the language barrier. These children have their own indigenous dialects and it is an uphill task to communicate with them. An English language teacher cannot even use Bahasa Malaysia to converse with the Orang Asli children.

How Samuel Isaiah managed to raise the school’s average pass rate in English from 30 per cent to 85 per cent truly is an outstanding achievement. His patience and persistence and faith in the children has been his trademark. Another problem teaching Orang Asli children is their poor school attendance record. The children go to school if they feel like going to school. Many children would rather follow their parents into the jungle to look for food than come to school.

Isaiah met the parents of the children and was able to have a rapport with the parents to overcome the children’s poor school attendance. He was able to keep the children ‘entertained’ and inspired during his English lessons. He introduced the ukulele, a musical instrument like a guitar which had the children mesmerised to his songs and teaching.

Yet another challenge in teaching in remote schools is the lack of facilities and resources. However, Isaiah believes that where there is a will, there is a way. And so through a crowdfunding platform he was able to provide laptops and tablets to his children. Since the children were not used to learning in formal classrooms, he had makeshift classrooms under the trees in natural settings to accommodate their taste and lifestyle. He made everything possible to make the children comfortable and like able in school.

Despite being in the jungle he made sure that the children did not lose out on the technology and innovative learning platforms. Isaiah did not look at the Orang Asli children as lesser beings but as children with potential and excellence. Despite the negative perceptions surrounding the teaching of underprivileged children, Isaiah broke perceptions and traditions and focused solely on improving and uplifting the standards of education of the children so that they can have a level playing field in the future.

Isaiah has given the underprivileged children an opportunity that they normally would not have dreamed off. He made it possible when the faint and weak hearted said that it was impossible. Only the passionate, dedicated and committed teacher will rise to the occasion and become an extra ordinary teacher.

When Isaiah left the school last year for his Master’s programme to the US, the Orang Asli children were moved to tears and sadness. Such was his love and care for the children. He treated them like his own children. Isaiah and the other teachers are highly charged and motivated teachers who are serious about their work and the children that they have been entrusted with. Teachers need to see the potential of each child.

Every child is different coming from different learning backgrounds, experiences, skills and abilities. Some children might not respond to the teaching and learning methods that teachers had learned while in training. Some children may not take the standard curriculum and text books that have been given to them. Teachers may need to adopt and adapt to the children’s learning style and to their proficiency and competency level.

Teachers can make a difference in the lives of the children in their classroom by going the extra mile. Teachers should treat each and every child in their classroom as their own child teaching them academic and moral values. Teachers need to be resilient and dynamic. They have to keep abreast with the latest information and help empower children with the necessary skills to be successful in the 21st century.

These teachers though of different ages and experience will vouch that being a teacher entails a lot of challenges and setbacks and yet they prevailed and carved a name in the global arena. There are many other teachers in our nation who are serving in rural and remote areas, staying away from home and giving their heart and soul to the children. Only God will bless and reward them for their sacrifice and vocation.

Teachers are the largest segment of the 1.6 million in the civil service and the teaching fraternity has the biggest allocation of the budget every year. It is the governments single most investment for the future of the nation. Teachers have to rise to the occasion and be passionate, dynamic and vibrant in the classroom and go the extra mile to teach, touch and transform the minds and hearts of children.

To Samuel Isaiah, we wish him all the best and God Bless. Remember William Arthur Ward saying – ‘A Mediocre Tells, A Good Teacher Explains, A Superior Teacher Demonstrates, A Great Teacher Inspires’.


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Agong expresses congratulations, best wishes to Cikgu Sam

Saturday, October 31st, 2020

Samuel with his students at Sekolah Kebangsaan Runchang in Kuantan. — Bernama photo

KUALA LUMPUR: The success of English teacher Samuel Isaiah selected as one of the 10 finalists of the 2020 Global Teacher Prize, has captured the attention of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

His Majesty expressed his congratulations, joy and pride on the dedication and noble efforts of the young teacher from Kuantan, Pahang on being selected as a candidate to receive the prize, thus making the country famous on the international stage.

Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said Al-Sultan Abdullah also expressed hope that Samuel’s great achievements and commitment would be a source of inspiration and example to all Malaysians, especially teachers to give their best and strive for success in their respective fields in the country or on the world stage.

“His Majesty also wished him good luck and prayed that he would win the prize and be blessed with continuous success in the field of education,” he said in a statement from Istana Negara Thursday.

According to a statement from the organisers of the Varkey Foundation based in London, Samuel fondly called Cikgu Sam was selected from among 12,000 nominations from more than 140 countries.

The award, which offers US$1 million (RM4.16 million), is a programme recognising teachers for their efforts in education organised in collaboration with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Samuel, 33, who had a eight-year stint at Sekolah Kebangsaan Runchang, Muadzam Shah, Pahang, had introduced various innovations to inspire his Orang Asli students there to dream big and crucially connect them to the outside world.

Among the programmes Samuel introduced was an e-mail exchange project known as ‘Asli E-Pal’, where the students could communicate in English with adult volunteers from all over Malaysia and abroad.

He also introduced the ‘Speak Up With Poetry’ programme where he worked with amateur poets to write poems related to Orang Asli culture which his students would then watch in the form of guided videos to learn English.

The school’s average pass rate in English had increased from 30 per cent in 2012 to between 80 per cent and 85 per cent in 2015-2018, said the Varkey Foundation.

Samuel was also the recipient of the 2019 Superhero Teachers Award.

by Bernama.

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Teacher prize finalist almost gave up teaching

Friday, October 30th, 2020

Samuel poses for a photograph with his pupils at Sekolah Kebangsaan Runchang about 90km from Kuantan. — Bernama photo

KUANTAN: Who would have thought that the Global Teacher Prize 2020 finalist, Samuel Isaiah, had once intended to quit being a teacher just three months in education.

The English language teacher said as a newly-graduated teacher at that time, he felt he was ‘far too good’ to be posted at Sekolah Kebangsaan Runchang, Rompin, a school for the children of Orang Asli located about 90 km from here.

“As an ambitious young new teacher, it somewhat killed my spirit when I was sent to teach at a rural school… and was even told not to take my job too seriously as the Orang Asli children would not go far.

“For three months, I tried to blend in and repeatedly asked myself if teaching Orang Asli kids would really help me move up at work and advance my career. Then, I realised that they too are special and they deserve to be heard and accepted as they are.

“As a matter of fact, these Orang Asli children had taught me more about life than I could have offered them as a teacher,” he said when met here, yesterday.

Over his eight-year stint at the school, the Kuantan-born Samuel had not only formed a special bond with his Orang Asli students but also their parents as well.

The second of four siblings parted ways with his students in 2019 to pursue a Master’s degree in Educational Policy and Leadership in the State University of New York.

However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Samuel returned to Malaysia in mid-June and is now continuing his studies online and expected to return to university around January next year to complete his final semester.

Despite being on the other side of the world, Samuel, who just celebrated his 33rd birthday on Oct 25, had kept in touch with his students through regular video calls with the help from fellow educators at SK Runchang.

“We talk like a family. I usually ask them about their lessons and they ask a lot about my life in the US and whether I have seen snow. They are my children and every year, I will have about 60 children, not including former students who still stay in touch,” he said with a smile.

The close relationship also compelled Samuel to return to the village twice a week, usually on Mondays and Fridays to help his students who were somewhat left behind due to the Covid-19 pandemic by giving extra classes after school hours.

His intention to spring a surprise on the first day to the village in mid-August, was not successful because the car he was driving was easily recognisable causing him to be surrounded by residents and his students in no time.

“They came to hug me and give me the high fives. They were so happy to see me and wondered if I would leave them again other than asking whether Runchang or the US was more interesting,” he said.

Asked if he really aspired to be a teacher, Samuel said that he was a bit of a rebel when he chose to continue his studies in the field of language, as his parents had wanted him to become a doctor or engineer.

The field of language, according to Samuel, was more in line with his interest in music and literature, but he admitted that his real passion in teaching did not come about until he was at SK Runchang, not even while he was a prospective teacher at the Penang Federal Teaching Institute in 2005.

Commenting on being listed as one of the 10 finalists of the Global Teacher Prize from more than 12,000 teachers worldwide, Samuel attributed the honour to his students and their parents for their support especially when he introduced new teaching methods like using the ukulele in his class.

“They opened my eyes in the field of education and there is much more that needs to be done to help the Orang Asli in education. Me being in this top 10 list is actually an appreciation for them who allowed a rural teacher like me to be known at the international level,” he said.

Despite that stiff competition, Samuel said he intended to set up a special foundation to improve the social aspects of the Orang Asli, including education, if he was named the overall winner of the Prize and received the US $1 million (RM4.16 million) prize money.

by Bernama.

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Teachers must remain positive

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Teacher and students adhering to Covid-19 standard operating procedures at Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh. BERNAMA PICTeacher and students adhering to Covid-19 standard operating procedures at Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman in Ipoh. BERNAMA PIC

LETTERS: The third wave of Covid-19 has resulted in schools being closed temporarily. As for the unaffected schools, the declining attendance of students may have been caused by parents who wish to keep their children safe by staying home.

Students’ attendance may be important but, in this case, parents have the right to prioritise their children’s safety. For teachers, it is a sorry sight to see empty seats in classrooms, especially when the number of absentees exceeds that of attendees.

Despite this, it is good news to see students turn up on different school days as their occasional presence could at least help them learn something from the face-to-face learning sessions while catching up on lessons they have missed. It may not be a healthy trend for students to keep a poor attendance record but, considering the challenges we are facing now, sometimes is better than never.

Recently, I asked my Form 3 students about their decision to attend school. Some revealed that their parents forced them to attend although they were reluctant. Others, quite surprisingly, admitted that their strong motivation made them turn up despite their parents suggesting that they learn from home.

As Italian physician Maria Montessori said: “As soon as children find something that interests them, they lose their instability and learn to concentrate.” As students may be easily influenced by their peers and the environment, teachers must apply smart strategies in making sure that the absence of their classmates will not kill their enthusiasm to study and attend school.

For English lessons, I have two suggestions. First, adapting game shows for language class activities may be an effective way to excite students who wish to engage in stress-free learning sessions.

I used to conduct “How Well Do You Know Your Friend?” activity with Form 3 students while providing two mini whiteboards for each pair to answer questions about their best friend and later compare their answers. They had a good time watching and playing the game.

It was an even merrier session when two teams — boys against girls — of my Form 1 class competed to win a grammar quiz as they took turns to write simple sentences using adjectives on the whiteboard.

The second strategy is learning English through movies. This will help students think and learn something new while having fun. I used to show my students English, Hindi and Japanese movies that had plenty of life lessons, including Up, Brave, Taare Zameen Par and Grave of the Fireflies.

For non-English movies, the English subtitles help students improve their vocabulary. During the sharing session, students will share the lessons learnt while trying to relate the storylines and issues highlighted in the movies to their personal experiences.

This showtime may relieve their stress, relax their mind and make them reflect on their lives. In the movie Titanic, the smartly-dressed band members continued entertaining people by playing the violin on the sinking ship to help keep the panicked passengers calm.

Likewise, teachers must stay passionate and professional in doing their job by turning the worrisome-school mindset into an awesome one. Instead of focusing on never-ending worries of Covid-19, teachers should make students switch their attention to the other end of the continuum where the light at the end of the tunnel awaits.

by Muhamad Solahudin Ramli.

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Teacher commutes 300 km a day to teach in remote area

Friday, September 18th, 2020

TUMPAT: Teachers are like candles that light and brighten the future of their students. It may sound cliché, but in reality it is the best words to describe the contributions and sacrifices of teachers in inspiring students to develop themselves.

For Muhamad Heilmi Zahari, he gets up as early as 3am to start work as an educator in the interior of Kelantan. Muhamad Heilmi, 31, who teaches English and Mathematics at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Dabong in Kuala Krai, about 140 kilometres from here, will board a train from Wakaf Bharu railway station at 4.20am before arriving at Dabong railway station at about 7am.

Because of the long journey, he has to perform Subuh prayers while sitting on the seat of the train.

That is his routine since last year after being transferred from SK Dijih, Selangau in Sarawak after serving at the school from 2013 to 2019.

Despite having to sacrifice time, energy and money, he is grateful to be able to educate the children in the rural area, and at the same time no longer need to be away from his family.

“At first, this routine was very tiring because I had to travel a long journey but now I’m getting used to this tight schedule,” he told Bernama recently.

The father of a four-year-old girl who lives in Kota Bharu said after arriving at SK Dabong, he would start teaching as soon as the bell rang at 7.30am.

“I will return to Kota Bharu at 2.50pm after school finishes at 1pm and arrive at Wakaf Bharu railway station at 6.10pm.

Muhamad Heilmi said he was happy to serve at SK Dabong after six years being away from his family because his wife works as an officer at the Immigration Department in Kota Bharu.

He said at first he used to drive a car to school, but the cost was much higher than commuting by train.

“Train fares are also very cheap, only RM5 for one-way trip and the cost to commute from Wakaf Bharu to Dabong is less than RM300 a month,” he said.

by Bernama.

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Educators should be role models

Monday, July 13th, 2020

A FEW years ago, I met a Star Wars fan who not only watched the movie series but also collected all the merchandise and attended the side events both in Malaysia and overseas.

He must have seen the American space epic repeatedly until he memorised the lines, just like me re-enacting the plots of Stephen Chow’s films.

One of his favourite outings is cosplay gathering so that he could put on his white robe to play the role of Luke Skywalker and show off his lightsaber which cost him a few hundred US dollars.

“It was fun,” he went on and on while showing me his photo collection taken at these events despite me hardly showing any interest.

Until today, I still do not understand the excitement in dressing up in fictional or manga characters.

But it was this Star Wars fan that made me pay attention to cosplay gatherings which seem to be quite a big thing around the world.

It is amazing that such activities have brought together fictional roles from the East and West, from Marvel heroes and villains, cartoon roles to Japanese anime characters.One of the roles that caught my eye was the Lolita girls. Cute, petite, long hair and colourful dresses full of lace are among the characteristics of Lolitas.

In Japanese comics and anime, these characters are created as underage but sexually attractive and men who are attracted to them are known as lolicons.

Speaking in a doll-like voice, they capture the hearts of many men, including an undergraduate in Hunan province of China who confessed he is a lolicon.

The student from Jishou University, who is currently undergoing his internship at a primary school, got himself into trouble for openly voicing his preference for his soulmate.

“I confess, not pretending any more. Actually, I am a lolicon. I feel that old women are hypocrites, so I prefer cute and young girls and this is why I (wanted to) become a teacher and teach dancing.

“If nothing goes wrong, my wife should be 10 years younger than me (and) if I get into trouble one day, please help me to call the police,” he wrote on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

Attached with the post is a photo of a girl in school uniform with her face covered by an emoticon, which many thought was taken in a classroom.

His post triggered furious reaction from netizens, who condemned his paedophilia behaviour. Instead of feeling any guilt, he said there was nothing wrong with the confession.

Some Internet users, while agreeing that it was all right to fancy girls of such lovable characters, are troubled that the intern teacher is probably revealing his paedophilic behaviour.

The undergraduate, who will be accepted as a full-time teacher soon, has been punished for his inappropriate statement.

His university replied that upon investigations, it did not find any wrongdoing.

However, the university felt his statement had caused a negative impact and that he did not carry the moral example of a teacher.

The institution of higher learning continued to say that the student’s application for a teacher qualifying certificate would not be accepted.

In the southern Guangdong province, an associate professor of Sun Yat-Sen University has been sacked for flirting with three women while conducting an online tutoring session.

Last Monday, the lecturer in ocean science gave his students a 10-minute break when the web version of his WeChat suddenly popped up on the computer screen.

He was replying to a message by the sender who said she had toothache and wanted to bite a person.

The lecturer wrote: “You are pregnant, can still have sex?”

After that he replied to a meal invitation from another woman, saying he could meet her any time.

Then, he went on to fix another date with a third woman, suggesting that they go for dinner before checking into a hotel for sex.

The conversations were seen by his students, who frantically tried to alert him that he was live streaming the chats but the lecturer did not notice at first.

When he did eventually, the dean asked the students not to expose the incident but his words fell on deaf ears.

These two incidents have resulted in the public calling on the authorities to be more stringent in the selection of educators.

“Educators are role models for students. they should possess both good moral and academic performance,” a netizen wrote.

Teachers with healthy minds cope well with changes

Monday, June 29th, 2020
Teachers are a priceless asset of the country. Their knowledge is spread to all individuals and professions across the country. -NSTP/MOHD YUSNI ARIFFINTeachers are a priceless asset of the country. Their knowledge is spread to all individuals and professions across the country. -NSTP/MOHD YUSNI ARIFFIN

ON average, teachers in Malaysia serve 25 to 30 years before they call it a day and retire. This profession requires not just the dissemination of content of subject matters but also teaching skills.

One can make learning more meaningful only when the delivery is effective. It is the art of teaching that provides the creative aspect of teaching methodology.

So, not just anyone can teach. Trained and experienced teachers know how to deliver the content to various types of students, from the challenging to the gifted ones. They are the experts who know the right techniques, from the variety of teaching strategies based on the needs of their students.

It is challenging to teach in today’s society. The demands from the stakeholders can be overwhelming considering the different needs of students in this millennium, not to mention the challenges of the Covid-19 environment.

No doubt, the Education Ministry is keeping up with the developments in education around the world. The directives and expectations are translated in the curriculum and transferred to the school community to deliver. Thus teachers play the important role of following through the educational transformations.

Teachers are social beings, whose basic trait is to work with people; teach and assist the growth of children. Working with people does not make teachers immune to the challenges of dealing with difficult people, students, parents, subordinates or the superiors.

Teachers feel the effects of Covid-19 just like everybody else. When schools were closed during the Movement Control Order period, teachers were still expected to work with their students. New skills were acquired. Teaching was done online. Using Google Meet or Zoom, virtual teaching was expected to take place.

Among the new things learnt were Padlet, Edpuzzle and Pathbrite.

Keeping up with technology is not easy, yet they prepared for synchronous and asynchronous lessons to ensure students had the alternatives to learn.

Quizzes and take-home tasks were all communicated online. While some people complained of feeling bored and stressed at home due to a lack of activities during the MCO, teachers were busy preparing lessons to be uploaded online to ensure students stayed on task.

On top of that, teachers had to respond to the grievances of students who had issues with poor Internet connection and lack of proper tools and gadgets (computer or smartphone) for effective online learning. However, these didn’t dampen the teachers’ passion to stay connected with their students for the sake of education.

The demands to make adjustments through the new norms continue. Teachers are expected to have the readiness to start school after three months of MCO.

School preparedness demands teachers to do more tasks than just teaching.

School counsellors are expected to work closely with the teachers in providing psycho-emotional support to students. At the same time, it must be noted that teachers need support to stay mentally healthy.

As in any other profession, unexpected work demands can stress out teachers too. Thus they must take good care of their wellness. Teachers will make better educators if they take care of their mental wellbeing. Basically, eat well, rest well, sleep well and practise self-care.

Teachers are a priceless asset of the country. Their knowledge is spread to all individuals and professions across the country. Let us uplift their spirit by celebrating and appreciating teachers (at all levels) as the post-crisis frontliners for our children.

Although today is notTeachers Day, make teachers feel good today!

The writer is a counselor educator at the Dept of Educ Psychology & Counseling, Kulliyyah of Education, IIUM and a crisis counselor volunteer/executive committee of PERKAMA International.

By Dr Haniza Rais.

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