Saturday, July 12
A few weeks ago, when I was stressed-out & madly rushing the paperwork required for Guru Cemerlang, I got a call from an HR agency working for an education consultancy about a job position in the consultancy. The person saw my profile, read my information & thought that I would make a good candidate for the vacant role. I've heard of the consultancy & have a friend who works there but I didn't know much about what they did. I was provided with some basic information on the consultancy & the job description. What really surprised me was the remuneration package. It was huge. I was surprised that there was such an amount in the education sector.
The offer really caught my attention & got me thinking seriously about the direction I was taking in my life. Is this better than what I am doing at the moment? Is this the legacy that I want? Is this the only way for me to finally be able to move on to a new challenge? Do I stay as a common teacher or become a consultant of teachers?
The first people I called up were my parents. I love them so much. They let me decide on my own & expressed support for me either way. So did many friends who heard/read about the job offer. One of my best friends was pretty persistent that I go for it. He thought that the job was exactly what I should be doing instead of wallowing in the government sector. He thought that I deserved it for all the years I've given to the government.
Then, I spoke to my friend who worked at the consultancy. From the way he described the consultancy & what they were doing, I found that the consultancy was at the pinnacle of transformation programmes in the country. They were bringing in the best people both locally & internationally with experience in transforming classrooms/schools. My role with them would be BOTH SIP+ & SISC+ dealing with all aspects of a school: from administration to finances to curriculum to classroom practice. The challenge of the new role & access to the best minds in education really drew me to the idea of joining the consultancy.
I pondered the offer for days as I slaved over lesson plans, activity reports & multiple files (stuff I didn't like doing but did so anyway for the small chance of being a Guru Cemerlang). It really did feel good to be wanted. Especially when I felt that the ministry has just left me here & ignored me. It would also feel really good to be so well compensated at this age. Especially considering I'm just a jungle teacher from the middle of nowhere.
At this point, I asked myself whether my dream was worth any amount of money. Because I am working towards my dream now & to leave the ministry would be to give up my dream & come up with another. Holding on to this dream has kept me burning. Especially through the darkest 2 years in my career. Without it, I'd probably be a very rich laksa seller by now.
For those of you who do not know my dream, here it is:
"My dream is to one day be able to teach without worrying about titles, awards, tenure, promotions, pay cheques & the favour of my superiors. I prefer to worry about what actually makes a difference."
-I have a passion for my home state. I identify a lot with Sarawak even though it is always treated with contempt & overlooked as the underdog in Malaysia. I want to put in all my energy & talents to help my state become the best that it can be. That is why I have rejected countless offers to move to Putrajaya or Semenanjung Malaysia. I'd rather stay in the jungle. The need here is much greater than theirs.
-I want to teach children who are not wanted by other teachers. Either because of their race or their socio-economic background or because of poor subject performance. Children who are weak in English consist of at least 70% of our students in public schools. I want to be the ultimate equaliser in a broken system which rejects human beings who do not fit into an extremely narrow view of what they should be.
-I want to search for & galvanise the best teachers in Sarawak. Connect them & build something together for the benefit of the children of the state. There are a lot of good teachers in the country & they are disappearing one by one without support. The so-called 'support' they are getting now would be better off being called 'supervision'. This is my way to empower the people who make a difference every day & change the system from the ground-up & inside-out.
Will this new job allow me to follow my dreams? No. But, it can surely allow me to get the new super bike I've been dreaming of & that swanky holiday in Paris I've been dreaming of.
In the end, I turned down the offer because I have not achieved something that I wanted to achieve in the ministry. Something that I can only do from within the system. There is one last test I desire for myself before I even consider anything other than teaching.
At the end of this year, I will ask for a transfer back to Kuching. I will not ask for the best schools or the best team or the best leaders. I will ask for the worst performing school in Kuching.
This is will be my ultimate test: teaching in an urban setting & at the worst performing school. A final test of whether I am as good as I think I am. If I succeed, I will be legendary. If I fail, I guess will still have a great story. Win-win.
The only barrier between me & my dream is the ministry itself. Despite being placed at a jungle school, I grew roots, learned the local language, connected with the people, loved the people & only begun applying for transfer after my 4th year. I know of some people who applied for transfer within the first week. Also, I have NEVER applied for transfer in the middle of the year because I am committed to seeing the year through for the students.
It is my 6th year now. I think it's about time the ministry unleashes me upon an unsuspecting urban school. Otherwise, they would be hard-pressed to find a replacement with feet big enough to fill my shoes.