No, that is not a new political
party. It is the innovative scheme to improve school education which will
ensure our pride in the “world class” position.
But last week saw our dailies highlighting
vocal resistance from teachers. So, now there is a need to review PBS – just a
review? In the same week there was a
press statement made by a person in authority. It was headlined as “Tiada
pelajar tercicir menjelang 2020” (No pupils will be left behind by 2020. I
congratulate our world-class thinkers and planners. What a brave declaration
What matters to Pakcik, however, is
how my humble Almanar centre fares when the situation seems less than satisfactory.
Over the period of 20 years we, the invisible hands of Almanar, have done
something tangible; starting with just an open space with roof over for a
class-room, followed with a proper room within four walls, and followed with
more rooms, termed as ‘syndicate’ rooms for children to sit in discussion or to
have quiet forty winks, etc. We have computers, reference books,toilets and we have
kitchenette to make a cup of tea or cook Maggie mee. Occasionally, we have children
spending the night on the pretext of doing group study. Sadly, despite what appears progress in our facility, the
decreasing number of children joining Almanar tuition class is most depressing
to Pakcik. This,indeed,matters to me, PBS does not.
This year’s intake into Form 1
tuition class has greatly slumped from as many as over 40 children in the
earlier years. Today, the number of new 2014 Form 1 tuition class, stands at less
than 20. That includes the last group of 8 children, all girls, who turned up one day
last week. The sight of them was an unexpected joy to Pakcik, a gift from
heaven. I felt the urge to record their faces. Here is the outcome.
Sweet and innocent kids
When they all had gone home and I
sat to analyse their personal data, my heart sank. Have a look at the summary
of the UPSR examination results in five papers the new eight girls sat for at
the end of last year.The two grades for the two papers for Malay Language are
given as BI i / BI ii ( representing
essay writing /objective questions ).
Girl No English Maths Science BI i
/ BI ii
1 E E E E / E
D C D C / A
3 C E C C / B
4 D C C C / B
5 D C C C / B
6 C C D C / B
7 C C D C / B
C C C / C
8 children and their UPSR results
How pathetic it is to see that there is only one A-grade among them and this girl has 2 C-grades and 2 D-grades. One girl obtained all E's!
Two days later I conducted my first
English lesson for the Form 1 group. I had reasons to justify my early worry when one
of the new girls gave me the meaning of the English word ‘man’. She was almost certain that it meant ‘ orang perempuan tua’ (an old woman)! Many years ago, I nearly refused accepting a boy
with grade D in English and Mathematics in his UPSR examination. Fortunately it was quickly brought to my attention that the poor boy had just lost his father who
was run down by a heavy vehicle while he was riding a motorcycle on his way home from work in a FELDA scheme. Orphans are our priority and each must be given a chance. Three years later this boy’s
two D-grades in English and Mathematics at UPSR level turned to A-grades in his PMR examination; and today he is a married man, expecting his
first baby. That was an early lesson I learnt. Accepting a challenge is not what we tell our children but what we must prove ourselves. After all, Almanar’s motto (Berkhidmat kerana Tuhan untuk kemasyarakatan ) was not
thought out for show; for that matter, ‘Almanar’ for a name was not just a flash of fancy.
Of the last eight new children one is an orphan and the rest
have fathers who earn their living from fishing, do manual work in construction of
kampong houses, drive a delivery vehicle; and one father is a specialist in climbing the tall village coconut palms to hand-pick the fruit - for a meagre daily earning to support his family.
On our first
day last week, one girl in the front seat of the class, instead of copying from the white board, was
seen copying notes from a friend sitting beside her. That was not an uncommon phenomenon.
So, she has been promised a pair of glasses next week.
These are children who know they
need help and have taken the first step to come to Almanar on the encouragement of a concerned teacher
in English. Some local teachers do voice their support for Almanar but many of today's kampong children have no wish to waste
their precious socialising time to attend free tuition classes. Many prefer to attend the mushrooming tuition classes in the vicinity - to socialise. It is widely known here that many parents believe what is
handed out for free cannot be of much value!
So when I read all about PBS and
the great ‘blueprint’ in education, I sit back and smile at my Almanar 'children'. It
is satisfying, in a devious way, to heave a long sigh that, by 2020, this is all but history! These eight girls will be among the first group to benefit from the improved 'blue-print' of our world-class education.
days ago, 4th February, I received an email from an old English
friend who had migrated with his family from England to one place he wrote as
Pawtuxet Village in US– I would like to imagine that as the equivalent of my Kampong Pengkalang Maras! But how equal
at what he wrote:
“Winter in Pawtuxet
We usually get snow here, The
weather is like UK, only colder minus 15 deg C and hotter, 37 deg C.
Hassan, do you get any snow
He attached this picture:
Winter in Pawtuxet Village
would I respond to that question?
So yesterday morning, I
took my bedroom alarm clock and placed it in the shade outside my house, and
this is what it read after half-an-hour.
18.2 C at 7.56 am
Our coldest ever Monsoon
we are supposed to have an exceptionally cold weather ever experienced during
Monsoon 'Snow' at Pengkalan Maras
And now, like the great Bing Crosby I will be singing:
I'm dreaming of a white monsoon
Like the one I used to know
Where the coconut tops
I think that 'monsoon' goes better than 'christmas' with 'glisten'!
Almanar Trust The Almanar Trust (Amanah Almanar) was established in 1992 by the family of Hassan Abdul-Karim from Kuala Terengganu. The aim of this small private body is to provide academic support to deserving individuals who have slipped through the formal channels due to various circumstances.