Sunday, May 18

Featured in The Star - 18 May 2014

It is an honour to be featured. Thank you, Mdm Mallika Vasugi.
I'm not sure if I deserve to be painted in such a noble light.
Today, I was featured in The Star together with Cikgu Warid who teaches at SK Balar, an Orang Asli school in Gua Musang, Kelantan. I have a lot of respect for what Warid does at his school. He is as passionate & persistent in educating rural children as I am. Congrats, buddy! You deserve it!

Furthermore, I want to say that Warid & I are NOT unique. There are plenty of teachers out there serving with all their hearts both in the pedalaman & in the concrete jungles. They deserve just as much plaudit & recognition as the both of us. Many of them are slaving away year after year without even a word of thanks from anyone because they are meek or introverted.

Also, there are plenty of teachers serving in situations far worse than mine. Shout out to those serving in rural areas which require way longer travelling hours in 4WD or on boats as well as those who depend on rainwater & eat canned food every day. They are true unsung heroes who are quietly serving without expecting much in return. You have my deepest respect.

After reading this, please remember the teachers that you know. Send them a message of encouragement. Do it on Facebook or on Twitter. It's free for crying out loud!
All teachers need encouragement & it's not fair for me to get all the attention just because my face appears in the newspapers. Remember a teacher today!

Read the online article, here:
http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Education/2014/05/18/A-tale-of-two-teachers/

Saturday, May 17

Remedial Instruction Workshop in the Kapit Division

The Remedial Instruction Workshop in Kapit
Can you tell from this photo that we had fun together?
In memory of Cikgu Henry Nyambar. He has always been a fine example to me of humility & kindness.

Do you teach the English language to students from low socio-economic backgrounds & whose guardians are illiterate? What if English is not used in this rural community & English is a foreign language your students are forced to learn?
What if the English language has consistently performed very badly in PMR & SPM? What if more than 30% of your students can't even achieve a mere pass?

What if your students are not motivated to learn? What if it is easier to make a hole in a concrete wall with your face than to get some of them to complete their assigned work? What if some of them have already given up from years of failing & verbal abuse?
Such is the classroom situation here in Kapit. A small town which has no road access. You have to ride on an express boat for 3 hours to get here.

So, you've ventured far away from your home to be an English teacher here. You receive very little support from your superiors &, at the same time, you need to endure the wrath of the seniors.
What do you do? Do you whine & wail? Do you put your hands up & blame the students/their parents/other teachers/the government/God for the situation? Do you teach the way you were once taught? Or, do you attempt multiple solutions & see which ones stick?

This week, I had the privilege of sharing one such solution with the English language teachers in the Kapit Division of Sarawak.

Saturday, May 10

Aram Katibas!

The Aram Katibas! Team
I am truly blessed to be working with the individuals pictured here as well as the many who were not able to attend the photography session. With their time, care & effort, they made this programme happen.
It's interesting how making a stand for something & fighting for it attracts kindred spirits.
Back in 2011, an eloquent & intelligent teenager from Penang read a series of teacher articles I wrote for Loyarburok.com. She then decided to interview this obscure teacher & write an article about me for The Star. She was the first person to recognise this crazy slaving hermit in the jungle & slingshot me into the limelight.

Never in my wildest dreams had I expected to host her & her merry band of altruistic adventurers at the very school she wrote about 3 years ago.
What were they up to at my school? What were they like? What were the outcomes? How much did I pay them for their 'services'?

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