Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sunday May 26, 2013
Exemplary educators

Terrific teachers: (From left) Rabiah, Wan Hamzah, Noor Rezan, Mathews and Freida posing with their awards at the event. Terrific teachers: (From left) Rabiah, Wan Hamzah, Noor Rezan, Mathews and Freida posing with their awards at the event.
THERE could be nothing sweeter for a teacher than receiving a national education award with a former student.

National Tokoh Guru 2013 recipient Jacob P. C. Mathews beamed with pride as he congratulated his former student Datuk Noor Rezan Bapoo Hashim who was honoured with the National Education Leadership award at the national Teachers Day celebration recently.

“A teacher is always very happy when a student has turned out well. I am very proud that Datuk (Noor Rezan) has carved out a successful career holding high positions in the field of education,” said Mathews.

Noor Rezan is the former Education Ministry deputy director-general. She is currently education adviser for Khazanah Nasional Berhad. An avid sportsman, Mathews had coached Noor Rezan in hockey when the latter was a Sixth Former in Sultan Ismail College, Kota Baru.

“I was a a rather quarrelsome player who always made a lot of noise and fought with the referee,” said Noor Rezan who was the goalkeeper.

She praised Mathews for being a wonderful sports teacher.

“Thanks to him, my school had the first all girls’ hockey team in 1969, together we built a very solid team,” said Noor Rezan.

Reminiscing on the good old days, Mathews said he used to treat his team to a meal after they had played a match.

Those school girl da ys: Noor Rezan (standing, fourth from left) posing with schoolmates from the Sultan Ismail College, Kota Baru. – Photo courtesy of Jacob P. C. Mathews 
 Those school girl da ys: Noor Rezan (standing, fourth from left) posing with schoolmates from the Sultan Ismail College, Kota Baru. – Photo courtesy of Jacob P. C. Mathews
“Win or lose, I always took the players out for a meal even with a teacher’s salary of RM310 back then.

“We have to teach the students that sportmanship and team spirit are above everything else in a game,” he said.

Mathews and Noor Rezan did not meet for almost 35 years after she left school until he saw her name on the senior management board when he visited the Education Ministry a few years ago.

“I immediately recognised her name, I spoke to the secretary and asked to see her.

“Tears rolled down my cheek when she came to see me later and called out my name, she had not forgotten her teacher after all those years,” said Mathews.

After the emotional reunion, Mathews and Noor Rezan kept in touch through telephone calls.

Mathew even visited Noor Rezan at the ministry occasionally and the latter was delighted when her teacher once showed up with pictures of her schooling days and the poetry she composed.

(One of the poems she wrote is published below.)


For all our wrongs,
Let’s make amends,
Part not as enemies,
But as everlasting friends.

The time has come for us to part,
But keep me always fresh at heart,
Your memory will I treasure near,
Your friendship for me true and dear.

The times we’ve had,
Haven’t been bad,
Always happy and always glad,
Never gloomy or ever sad.

When you’re over across the sea,
Bid me not true adieu,
For years have yet to come along,
When love returns so fresh and true.

When time comes for you to go,
Weep you not for hearts desire,
For love in me will always grow,
Like flames of love in glowing fire.

Dress me up in love’s attire,
For in me’s burning desire,
When tis over, away you go,
To leave me here, tears to flow.

Lower Six Art s 1969
Sultan Ismail College,
Kota Baru, Kelantan

Building trust

Fellow National Tokoh Guru 2013 recipient Wan Hamzah Wan Daud understood the full extent of the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” when he was sent to transform SMK Semenchu, Kota Tinggi, Johor, in 1995.

The school was labelled as “super problematic” then with high incidence of juvenile deliquency cases.

“Some of the students came from troubled families, and because of the lack of attention from parents, some of them were involved with drugs,” said Wan Hamzah.

He was quick to realise that he had to rope in the parents, teachers, Rela and the police to put the students back on the right track.

The Kelantan-born former principal who began his teaching career in SMK Anderson Ipoh had an ingenious way of engaging parents from the school.

“The first few weeks after I was first transferred to Kota Tinggi, I went to the coffee shop in the afternoon to introduce myself to the parents knowing that most of them would be catching up with the day’s happenings there.

“Everytime I was at the coffee shop, I went quietly to the counter to pay for their food and drinks, I think that was how I got the parents to warm up to me,” said Wan Hamzah.

His efforts began to bear fruit when a group of parents went to see him and asked how they could help.

“I pleaded with the parents to assist me in ensuring that the students went to school everyday.

“By keeping students in school, we could keep them away from deliquency,” said Wan Hamzah.
He also spearheaded the guru masuk kampung (teacher enters the village) programme where tuition classes were offered near the students’ homes.

“Students had no excuse to skip tuition when the classes were held just a few steps away,” said Wan Hamzah.

His methods proved to be very effective as SMK Semenchu went on to be the school with the second best Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination results in the district after being at the bottom of the list for many years.

The school even bagged the prize of the national Sekolah Harapan (school of hope) award in 1996.
“My biggest achievement is in turning a school with a bad record into a sekolah harapan,” said Wan Hamzah.

When asked whether he was a strict disciplinarian, Wan Hamzah said he was known to be strict but kind.

“I always use the psychological approach because students like to be spoken to nicely rather than being screamed at,” he said.

A shoulder to cry on

Beneath her stern demeanour, National Tokoh Guru 2013 recipient Rabiah Johari was a caring tea-cher to her students.

“I am very firm but I always have my students’ welfare at heart,” said Rabiah who hails from Sarawak.

When her students were in trouble, they usually turned to her.

“I usually would have a have a heart-to-heart talk with my students to find out what their problems were,” said Rabiah.

She said that teaching was a job that gave delayed gratification.

“Sometimes, when students are still in school, they may be too young to appreciate their teachers.

“It is usually when they are older that they are able to see the good their teachers had done for them. I find it satisfying and rewarding when students express their gratitude after connecting with me on Facebook,” said Rabiah.

The well-loved teacher began her teaching career in SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg, Kuching, and was formerly the principal of Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang, Miri, and SMK Simanggang, Sri Aman, all in Sarawak.

She also made history by being the first woman to be appointed as Sarawak Education Director in 2006.

Raising leaders

Like most mothers, Datuk Freida Pilus wanted to give her sons a good headstart in education.
She wanted them to learn as much as they could. Freida left her job in the civil service and set up Sri Cempaka School with only 30 students at a rented bungalow near the Royal Selangor Golf Club in Kuala Lumpur, in 1983.

The pioneer of private education was honoured with the national Tokoh Guru award in the national private schools category at the ceremony.

“Our mission is to inspire students to be different. With quality education, students will have the confidence to be successful in life,” said Freida.

She was especially proud of the Cempaka International Ladies’ College which opened in 2009.
“Educating girls is a good investment for the future. Education helps girls to have a positive impact on their families when they become wives and mothers,” said Freida.

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