Hard life for rural educators
PUTRAJAYA: SK Sungai Terah teacher Syed Fazli Syed Zainal Abidin was on his way to the school in Gua Musang two years ago when his motorcycle hit a wild boar.
The story of this 25-year-old, who now walks with a crutch, illustrates the many hardships rural teachers face – and how they rise above the challenges.
After the accident, he stayed only a week in hospital.
“Although the doctor told me to rest, I felt bad about leaving my students without a teacher, so I continued teaching,” said the Kedah-born educator.
Syed Fazli, who has been teaching English at the school for five years, said his biggest reward was increasing his students’ love for the language.
DUE RECOGNITION: Azlee (right) receiving a token of appreciation from Hishammuddin (second from left) and being congratulated by the minister’s wife Datin Tengku Marsila Tengku Abdullah (third from left) and Education Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Ambrin Buang (left).He was one of 35 teachers recognised at a function held by the Education Ministry to honour rural teachers yesterday. There are currently 13,480 teachers posted in rural areas nationwide.
Mathematics and Living Skills teacher Azlee Makibin, 24, from Sandakan, was the subject of a short documentary shown at the function.
Being posted early this year to SK Abuan in Kota Marudu, Sabah, more than 300km inland, and accessible mainly by river, came as a shock to the young man, whose parents were both teachers.
“It is often a very difficult life, but if my mother, who was also posted to rural areas, could do it, then so could I,” he said.
How Siew Guat, 23, is one of just four teachers in SK(C) Poay Chee, Kuala Sangga, Taiping, which has an enrolment of 43.
“We have to drink and cook with rainwater, and we are only allowed to use electricity from 7pm until 7am,” she said, adding that the teachers even had to clean and maintain the school themselves.
The ministry wants to provide rural teachers with free higher education – but only if they pledge to stay in the profession and continue to serve in rural areas.
Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said he had been mulling over the idea after learning that many teachers were pursuing Open University Malaysia degrees at discounted fees.
“Why don’t we do away with fees for those who are willing to teach in remote areas?” he asked.
The minister also proposed that rural teachers be placed under a special category within the teaching profession and be provided with insurance coverage.