These Malaysian Teachers Reveal The Struggles They Go Through to See Their Students Succeed

“A teacher’s job is not as easy as marking books and chalk and talk. We do more than teach.”

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These Malaysian Teachers Reveal The Struggles They Go Through to See Their Students Succeed
Image: The Big Give Campaign/100 Percent Project
Almost every Malaysian will have to spend about 11 years of their life in an institution called school. The experience may vary but this is where you will gain a lot of knowledge and also pick up some life lessons that’ll go a long way beyond the classrooms – friendships, hardships, failures, success, determination, and reaching for your dreams. It’s a place of bittersweet memories that have helped shape who you are today. And more importantly, these schools wouldn’t be complete without a group of special people we call teachers.

Image: Yahoo News
Teaching is said to be a form of gift. It may seem easy but not everyone is blessed with that ability. Teaching can go beyond the classroom’s four walls and the wisdom shared may be beneficial for the students in many years to come. But, do you know what really goes on in these unsung heroes' lives? Do you know about the hardships they endure just to see their students soar high in the outside world one day?

Rojak Daily spoke to three local teachers from various teaching backgrounds and got them to share their side of the story that not many Malaysians know...

The Teacher With A Big Heart

Image: Rita Lamaris
Miss Rita Lamaris is a remedial class teacher based in Sabah and has 12 years of teaching experience. Remedial class, or known as kelas peralihan in Malay, is a class meant for students who are slow learners. It also helps to prep students before they take on regular classes.

Image for illustration purposes only. (Image: The Big Give Campaign)
"I love kids, which is why I got into teaching,” Rita told us. Her class is made up of a unique set of students consisting those who are autistic, slow in learning, dyslexic, and those diagnosed with cerebral palsy. When asked what most Malaysians don’t know about teachers like her…

“Everyone should understand what remedial classes or what remedial teachers are. A lot of people don’t know what we do, what is our purpose. We don’t only teach these students by the books, we also teach them how to take care of themselves. Remedial teachers need more support and care from the community to help us teach these students. Everyone should also know that with these special needs kids, extra attention and care must be given to them. It’s not a walk in a park.”

Teaching requires a lot of patience especially when the kids don’t respond during her classes. She tries her best to catch their attention and never gives up on educating them. Parents also play a pivotal role in these kids’ development and she hopes that parents will be more supportive and hands-on, especially when it comes to supporting programs conducted by the school for their kids.

Though her career is not, what some would say, as easy as ABC, her passion and undying love for teaching keep her going. She says that it feels very rewarding every time she sees her students pass their examinations, and when they come up to her and say, “Thank you teacher for teaching me”. That satisfaction is something money cannot buy.

The Dotting Teacher Who Wants His Students To Do Well In School And Life

Image for illustration purposes only. (Image: The Big Give Campaign)
Some teachers may aspire to be an educator from a very young age, but for Hafis bin Mohamad Dom, teaching wasn’t his first love. During his early schooling years, he had no interest in being a teacher and was more keen towards science and researches. However, it all changed after watching a documentary about teachers.

“The documentary made me fall in love with teaching after it showcased the hardships and obstacles faced by the teachers. Their determination in making sure no student gets left out regardless of the circumstances inspired me,” told Hafis.

Who knew a documentary could leave such a significant impact in someone’s life! Fast forward to 2016, Hafis is now a special needs teacher in Pedas, Rembau, in Negeri Sembilan with seven years of teaching experience. He teaches students who are dyslexic, down syndrome, autistic, has physical disabilities, and suffering from hearing problems.

Many Malaysians wrongly assume that working with special needs students is a breeze compared to teaching 'normal' students. “A lot of people think that teaching special needs students is something easy and it only involves a small group. Contrary to popular belief, it’s actually quite the opposite. We have special teaching and learning techniques for these students and it needs a high amount of patience, commitment, and sacrifice in order to ensure that these kids meet their learning objectives.” He added that teaching aids such as multimedia devices are essential to help the special needs students better understand the subjects that are being taught.

Fortunately, Hafis’ efforts in teaching his students proved to be fruitful after his students managed to complete agriculture programs such as planting vegetables and mushrooms, hydroponic farming, and also fish rearing. All the products that they worked on were eventually sold, too! He cites these programs as his “most memorable experience”.

To him, teaching is not as challenging as what may lie ahead of his students in the future. He’s very concern of their future and wants to ensure that they can be independent after they have finished school. He wants to see them obtain jobs and live well among society without being dependent on anyone.

Image for illustration purposes only. (Image: The Big Give Campaign)
Hafis hopes that one day, employers can give the chance and space to these special needs students to work just like othera. “I believe that they are very capable and will prove that they are equal to other people given the chance. Parents should also be supportive of their child and give them the chance to pursue their studies and prove themselves.”

The Passionate, Artistic Educator Who Wants To Make A Change

Image: Soonufat Supramaniam / Facebook
It’s uncommon to hear teachers coming from a performing arts background in Malaysia. Which is why Soonufat Supramaniam decided to become an educator and bring back arts education in Malaysia after a three-year stint as a performer, producer, and teaching artist in Brisbane, Australia. He’s currently a second-year Teach for Malaysia member serving at a high-need school in Kedah.

Through the Teach for Malaysia program, Soonufat has met with all sorts of students from all walks of life. But there was one student that left a very significant impact in his life that he’ll remember for the rest of his life. “One of my students had a very complicated family background. It was a real-life mixture from family violence to friends and siblings conflict. Despite her rough background, she managed to rise above it and grow up to be an exceptionally talented and bright student. Metaphorically, she is like a lotus that emerges from muddy areas. Her past experiences, openness to learn and curiosity inspired me as a teacher. She is stronger than anyone I’ve ever met.”

Teaching isn’t an easy feat especially in rural areas. “To be honest, I spend around 40% to 50% of my salary on teaching materials due to the lack of teaching aids,” revealed Soonufat. He also cites that he spends extra time preparing sponsorship proposals and finding extra funding from external parties for school projects.

Image: Soonufat Supramaniam / Facebook
One of the obstacles he often faces is the lack of awareness on the many ways one can contribute to the education sector. He says that every teacher made the choice to be an educator because they want to see a change and work towards a better future for our children, but they can’t do it alone.

Everyone can play a part in transforming our education sector. You can start by sharing your knowledge, expertise, or experiences in working in your own field. You can even help organise a school trip for students nearby. Even the smallest contribution like asking if your kids need any help in school or volunteering some hours to oversee some school projects can make a big difference.”

Image: Soonufat Supramaniam
Apart from the obstacles faced, most teachers are often burdened with the impression that they have an easy, breezy nine-to-five job. “Some of us work from 7am to 5pm every day. A teacher’s job isn’t as easy as marking books, and chalk and talk. We do more than teach. It doesn’t stop and start within the four walls of classrooms. It extends and breathes into every moment of a student’s life,” he says.

He also wishes to change the negative mindset of some students and parents who treat schools as ‘day care’ centres. “They view schooling as irrelevant to their life goals and believe it doesn't bringing them a step closer towards their ambitions. I don’t blame them. I was in their position. As an educator now though, I can make a difference in transforming this mindset. I want to work together with communities, NGOs, public members to bring relevant education alive," Soonufat told Rojak Daily.

Taking a cue from these teachers' accounts, if you're inspired to help but don’t really know where to start, check out The Big Give campaign? What is this campaign about, you may ask? Well, The Big Give campaign is an initiative organised by 100% Project, which aims to rally Malaysians to send specially designed care packages to teachers across Malaysia so that they have what they need to conduct awesome lessons at the start of the school year.

There are 366 teachers across Malaysia who are in dire need of this care package and each package costs about RM5,000. You can chip in as low as RM10 or even up to RM5,000 to fully sponsor an entire package. Remember, every cent counts. There are four types of packages you can select from: Classroom Aids, Multimedia Kit, Sports Kit, and Digital Maker Kit. The packages will be sent to the teachers by 31st January 2017 but the campaign will be ending really soon – this 31st December. So act fast before it's too late! Find out how you can be a Big Giver here.

Image: The Big Give Campaign

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