Those who teach in the interior should take their posting as a test, and uplift students socially and academically.
THE teaching profession is already loaded with challenges with the never-ending paperwork, preparing lesson plans and trying to keep students engaged in class. But it becomes even more demanding if the school that one is posted to, is in the interior of Sarawak.
Still, that did not stop this year’s Tokoh Guru award recipient Datuk Dr Haili Dolhan, 63, from accepting his first posting at SMK Matu, Sarawak.
“I’ve been there and teachers who serve such schools need to be very patient to overcome the challenges faced,” says the former rector of the Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia.
He received his award from Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at a national Teachers Day ceremony in Jitra, Kedah last weekend.
His advice to those teaching in the interior is to “stick it out” even if there are moments when they might want to to give up.
Educators honoured: Dr Haili (second from left) and Abd Ghafar (second from right) with Muhyiddin after receiving their awards. With them are Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh (left) and Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir (right).
“You will have to do a lot of ‘hand-holding’ for these students, and their parents,” he says, adding that parents from remote areas understand the importance of an education. “But what they need to know is that a basic education only allows them to read, write and do simple arithmatic, it will not get them far.”
He shares that during the early years of his career, he would visit the homes of students who did not show up in school.
“I needed to see for myself the living conditions of the students and their families and what prevented them from coming to school ... I had to understand their behaviour,” Dr Haili says.
It helped as he could then relate to the students and teach them better.
In the early 70s, when the logging industry was booming in Sarawak, Dr Haili who is currently Education Service Commission Malaysia chairman, says Form Three students would drop out after completing their Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP), a major government exam that was later replaced by the PMR and now the PT3.
“These students could work for the logging companies and earn up to RM800 a month peeling the bark from the timber.
“They didn’t see the need to continue studying when they could do something that didn’t require much knowledge, yet earn a decent salary,” says the Kuching native.
As rector, his years of experience in teaching and managing schools came in handy as he was able to apply his skills “to teach the future teachers of Malaysia”.
Seeing his former students succeed and moving up is rewarding for Dr Haili who says that it is also a mark of a good teacher.
For Former Education Director-General Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud, 62, information, communication and technology (ICT) knowledge was just an option, but these days, its is a “must have”.
“Now, teachers must stay up-to-date as they must incorporate ICT into their teaching,” says the recipient of this year’s National Education Leadership Award.
“This award is a recognition, not only for me, but also for the teaching profession,” says Abd Ghafar adding that he hopes today’s teachers will strive to be better educators.
He taught in SMK Sains Pahang, Kuantan (now known as Sekolah Menengah Sains Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah) from 1977 to 1984.
He returned as the school’s principal in 1998 and served until 2001.
Abd Ghafar spent the rest of his career in the Education Ministry serving in various senior positions.
Retirement hasn’t slowed him down, in fact, as chairman of Yayasan Genovasi and Yayasan Kota Buku, his days are just as packed. But Abd Ghafar isn’t complaining, he’s happy with his current routine.
Both Dr Haili and Abd Ghafar received a plaque, a certificate and a gold medal at the presentation ceremony.