I HAD the honour and pleasure of attending a grand ceremony at Kirkby International College in Cyberjaya and was deeply touched by the presence of so many ex-Kirkby-ites, the then young Malaysians who were sent to the small town of Kirkby, Liverpool, England, to undergo a two-year teacher training programme sponsored by the then young Government of Malaya.
I wish to salute this group of Malaysians who were at their time the cream of the crop.
They undertook the challenge of pioneering an education system for our newly independent nation. Some of these people had the choice of embarking on some other studies or course in life, which perhaps would have opened the doors to a more lucrative career and glamorous lifestyle.
However, they realised that their mission on their return was to be far more important and significant than anything else they could have done.
But what struck me most at this function was the optimistic nationalistic spirit which these teachers brought from Kirkby to Malaysia.
On completion of their studies in Liverpool, the graduates were sent all over Malaya, some to the furtherst rural areas, to teach in English.
In some schools, I was told, these young graduates taught all subjects.
When I spoke to them, none of them harboured even an atom of a complaint about their teaching conditions or the children they taught.
They all spoke with great pride about their job, schools and students. They had such optimism about them, and I am sure that they brought that into their classrooms.
These pioneers of our education system have touched Malaysian lives and I am sure many of them have students who will remember them and pray for them to this day.
Education is not about just learning languages, arithmetic and other rudimentary skills. It is about moulding a citizen, creating dynamic families, placing the foundations for civil communities and, most importantly, building a nation.
I think at this point we have to stop and ask ourselves how far have we succeeded in the development of building a truly Malaysian society with values and aspirations we can all be part of.
By the way, my family also has a glamorous Kirkby tradition with two uncles and an aunt who were ex-Kirkby-ites and to this day are the best teachers in the art of life and science of living!
AISHA MUBARAK, Putrajaya.
Source: The STAR Online Home News Opinion Saturday, May 5, 2012