Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Alhamdulillah. The glory of 2008 is back, at this very same stage. The then talented bunch of confident Upper Sixth Formers combined with the fifth formers, which somehow became a controversial issue, surprised themselves and everybody else in the school by rendering the school anthem and the then state theme song Impianku beautifully in full harmony and became the top in the state. This time, a different group of mostly Form four and five boys and girls, 1/3 of them could not even reach the fourth note of the C octave range, but with sheer determination and hard work, presented strong and beautiful combination of the sopranos, altos, tenor, and bass, and eventually announced the champion of Terengganu state level choir competition for cleanliness.  
Compared to the 2008 when I was a lone ranger from A to Z, this time around I have Cikgu Man, who just moved into the school a few months ago, to contribute two new songs. Listening to the songs for the first time, after requesting for them a few days earlier, I just had the feeling that we're going to create another history. Five-days-a-week of practice for two weeks seemed to be quite a pressure for everybody. Me, over the fact that I will not be around on the competition day as there is a very important meeting in Kajang, and that the altos were being so inconsistent, the sopranos once in a while off key, Cikgu Man for being left alone as he has this 'class control' problem over the group, and especially for the boys and girls who had to cope with examinations as well. Anyway the kids rose to the occasion, giving their best at the state final, perhaps motivated by the presence of the principal. Despite the absence of their "Sir Lan", they proved that hard work and discipline come together with talent and guide from teachers to be the best. The confidence shown should be reflected in their performance in life, to motivate them to be also the best in exams, as proven by their seniors back in 2008, 90% of them now in universities.
Personally, being the one responsible to start this activity in the school, I feel that our children should be allowed to develop their talent, be it in arts, music, or even sports, as this is relevant to our "Falsafah Pendidikan" objective in creating balanced all-rounders, emotionally, physically,intellectually, and spiritually. They may or not excel in examinations, but having experienced these activities, they would have the self-confidence that would be a help in their survival.
To the organisers, I wish that they consider issuing the prize cheques, RM8000 altogether, as soon as possible, as there is a need for a celebration before the school ends this year. My boys and girls, I hope this would be a beautiful memory for the years to come.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Malaysian out of top 400.

One news caught my attention last week (7th of October to be exact), drafted this comment, and just remembered about it a moment ago. Times High Education (THE) magazine  revealed its ranking of top 400 universities in the world, and no Malaysian made the cut. I'm fine with our football ranking of 142, and our number one tennis player only between 1050 to 1100 in the world (forgot the exact number), but this is something different. I'm with the opinion that our University Malaya, and lately University Science Malaysia, going by numerous statements by government officials, would at least be in the list. The Thai Mahidol University, which is quite uncommon for me, is somewhere between 351 to 400.

Ironicaly, our neighbouring country, Singapore's National University is at 40, 2nd best among Asian, after University of Hong Kong. And Hong Kong and Singapore has another five and two in the list, respectively. Being involved in preparing Form Six students for university, this is rather disturbing. What with qualifying terms of entrance getting tougher by the years, having at least two in list, even in the last 50 of the 400, would be an achievement.

At  top 10, nothing is new, except for the 1st ranked United State of America's California Institute of Technology, ( not even a university by name), which leaves the more familiar compatriots Harvard and Stanford, both at number 2. Oxford of the UK is at fourth.

Being a mere secondary school teacher, I do not think I'm qualified to comment on this, but every citizen of the country has the right to wonder what has been done, or as a matter of fact, what has not been done, to put our 'Menara Gading', (once I came across a student who translate it as Tusk Tower) at such a low place. I've always been very proud of my alma mater, ITM, its achievement in my days, even without  the word 'University' then, but  not so sure now. Should check where UiTM stands in the local ranking first.

A vice-chancellor of University Malaya mentioned that Malaysian universities need to fork out RM200 million    on its Research and Development programs, to be on par with the world's top universities. If that is accepted as an excuse for not making it to the top 400, then I think they should go ahead with it. After all, RM200 million is only a tip of the iceberg in the recent budget proposal.

A White Elephant in the school?

So far it has not shown any purpose of its existence.
Familiar with the shade in the picture? It was built somewhere in the middle of this year, very near the fishpond opposite the PMR laboratory, and cost, I was told, not less than RM1000.The fund somehow  was said to be a part of donation by a political figure. But the real reason I bring this issue up is, having been there for some months, I have never seen a soul, be it a student, a teacher or any human being using it, or even passing through it. And I dare anybody from  SMK Bukit Besar who is reading this article, tell me, with proof, that people are using this shade, for any reason. The fact that money is being spent for things that do not serve any function, in this case the benefits of the students and teachers, is rather disturbing. This also goes to show that we never learn from past experience. Look at the picture below. This has been around for more than a decade, and the only purpose for its existence is to shade a few teachers' motorcycles. With parts of the roof  falling off, this is a typical example of an abandoned building. 
A shade for teachers' motorbikes.
Passing by the location when the new shade was still under construction, a few times, I remember telling colleagues that the shade will never serve any function if not built together with benches and tables. Go to any parts of the school where there are tables and chairs, like the Pondok Sahsiah and Pondok Ilmu, and  the benches at the Pendidikan Khas block, you will see students grouping, discussing, doing home work and browsing the internet over their laptops. The afternoon session students, while waiting for classes to start, would sit under the shade doing home works or reading books. Others would have meals during recess there, with proper manner, rather than squatting in the little garden beside the canteen building, which as it is known, is not big enough to cater all the students. This is just common sense,  that  I learned in the very first year as a teacher some 24 years ago, that I seriously feel other teachers learn also.
The Pendidikan Khas Block.
A friend, trying to be positive, reasoned lack of finance, assuming that the benches and tables would come later. I however differ in opinion, as, if they realise the problem, they should have put benches and tables at the older shade that is shading motorcycles now, not forgetting to replace the falling roofs.
I have the feeling that this new shade is going to rot  in some time, just like the older one. And this one will not even serve as a motor cycle shade, going by its location.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Academic excellence guarantees a successful life. Do you agree?

This topic also has been discussed with my upper six this year and they have written their version of the article. This sample answer shows beside the appropriate approach and language, how ideas should be generated and developed. The bold phrase at the beginning of each paragraph is the main idea, and after the details it is closed with a summary that relates the argument with the topic.

No. I simply do not agree that academic excellence guarantees a successful life. If academic excellence means having a degree from a university, and a successful life is where a person is able to get whatever he desires and be happy  with it, than there are other elements in life that helps in making life a success.

It is obvious that during the last decade, academic qualification does not guarantee jobs for graduates, much to the frustration of the youngsters, who, throughout their university days were hoping for guaranteed posts in government agencies or steady private firms. Thousands were seen applying for jobs that were unpopular before, taking the teaching profession for example, where only a handful were recruited. Graduates without the extra qualities like the desire to move on, motivation, and communications skills will be left out, proving that academic excellence is not the license for a successful life.

The blue-collar sector promises bright future for the non performing school students. The vast and rapid development of the various industries in the country, led by the successful automotive sector, has provided jobs for those with skills rather than academic qualification. School leavers with vocational skills, taking automotive as example, see better future compared to their counterparts on the academic line.  Thus, it is a common scene nowadays to see mechanics and technicians in the various fields doing well in life, even without academic excellence.

Some people who excel in academics do manage to land in secured jobs in the government and corporate giants, and went on to the highest and powerful position. These are the few lucky ones, as in most cases, there are other factors that help determine their success. It is not a secret that cronyism and nepotism are being practised everywhere, much to the dismay of those who depend only on academic qualification. Unless they really stand out with brilliant and extremely noticeable performance, they should be prepared to be ordinary officers up to the day of retirement. This is evidence that excellence in academic alone does not guarantee success.

There are also people without academic excellence doing well in business. Through sheer determination and the urge to succeed, plus a little bit of aid from the bank perhaps, people have proven to be successful, earning way more than the salary of chief executives in the corporate sectors. In fact, with a hand from political influences, some are able to secure projects worth millions of ringgits. Would academic excellence be able provide this?

To conclude, academic excellence does help comfort a person’s life, securing him a career to earn a living. Nonetheless, it is simply not enough to guarantee that he will be successful in life, as it takes a lot of other factors to achieve it.

Friday, 7 October 2011

E-mail from the grave.

This joke I heard from a hotel room-mate while attending a course seven years ago. Since then, I've been using it to test my new students on their listening ability. The focus ones, normally the more fluent, would laugh out instantly, some would ask around first and laugh few minutes later, some were left blank  until the end of the lesson, and became the laughing material instead.

A couple from a northern state of the country had planned a holiday in a city in a southern state.  However, on the day they were supposed to leave, a cousin from the wife’s side passed away.  Since everything had been arranged, the wife suggested that the husband leave first, and that she would take the earliest flight a day after the funeral.
Upon arrival at the hotel room, the husband couldn’t wait to send the wife an e-mail, that he forgot to switch on the air conditioner.
While typing the e-mail address, he realised that he was not sure of a few letters.  But he typed anyway, and sent the mail, thinking that it would not do any harm if the mail did not reach the wife. She was coming over anyhow.
As he had typed the wrong address, the mail reached a woman, whose husband died the day before. After reading the mail, the poor woman had a heart attack and fell dead.
A family member who found her dead was shocked when he checked the e-mail.
“It's the e-mail sir, I think that is the cause of her death,” he told the police officer during the investigation. The officer could not believe it but went to the computer and read the mail to make sure. It said:

“Darling,  just checked in.  Can’t wait for your arrival tomorrow. It’s mighty hot down here.”

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Cleanliness Campaign Choir Championship - SMKBB the champ!

Costume was on members own initiative, which made
them looked good on stage.
In 2008, out of sheer interest, considering the students' potential, after 4 years of missing from any choir competitions (was confined in a religious school as PK Hem), I took the initiative to form the first choir group of the school ever, with little expectation that we would end up champion of a state level competition. The advantage then was, as the PK Kokurikulum, I was in control of everything. Preparing the melodies for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th voices for the school song and IMPIANKU, then the state theme song, all by myself, training the Form 6 and Form 5 boys and girls was like peanuts, as they were a bunch of talented singers. As a hostel warden then, I made use one of the rooms  there as the training studio, shying away from everybody else, keeping  the group in low profile, until we won the district level competition. When we won the state championship, it was like an eye-opener for the school, that, choir, an activity under the co-academic category, would create the character of the school, besides our fame for the girls softball team.

Things did not work out as expected the following year, and the year after that, when I had to let go off the PK Kokurikulum post for the higher-grade post of Form Six Academic teacher. Having prepared a new team, disappointment took over as there was no instruction from the school  management  to take part in any competition. Instead, I took the offer from a school in the Northern KT district to train its choir team, and they emerged district champion in 2009 and 2010, in the competition in conjunction with the state cleanliness campaign. 2011 however was a surprise, because as late as August, in the fasting Ramadhan, the choir team was asked to take part in the competition. So, reluctantly I formed the team, trained them once, before deciding to proceed after Hari Raya.

A pose with the coaches before the competition.
Two weeks of training, this time with a talented buddy, Cikgu Man, who composed both songs for the competition, resulted in a, well, I would say, strong choir. This time the boys and girls are not as talented as those in 2008, in fact, I dare say that 30% are tone-deaf! Well, you want good singers, you will end up with only 15-member choir, which is inappropriate. So we drilled them,  I trained the bass and altos, talented Form 4 lass Syamin helped with the Sopranos, Cikgu Man on the tenors, conductor Mat Amirul helping here and there, together we surprised 6 other schools in the district with a harmonious choir. Much to my disappointment, or perhaps delight, as most of them were trained by full time music teachers, unlike me and Cikgu Man who only treat music as a hobby, the opponents did not stress on the harmony aspect of choir. Deep down in my heart I knew that we were going to win, as there were too much focus on dancing and style. Cikgu Man however was scared as he knows one of the judges who is a dance coach, who would put us only as runners-up for not focusing on style and dancing. But the other judges are musicians.

Well, RM3000 is already in hand, and another RM7000 will come, if we win the state championship, and that needs more training and some adjustment to the composition of the songs. But, guess what, the winning team will not be allowed to take part for the next three years! So this is about RM7000 + pride of the school, against the chance to win second place RM5000, and come back n xt year with another RM3000 from the district, and possible RM7000 from the state. That would total up to RM18000 in two years, compared to only RM10000 if we win. This is  tough to decide.

Meantime, training goes on. Only this time, Cikgu Man will be on his own, as I have to be somewhere else officially, on the 20th of October, the day of the state-level competition.The team looks a bit demotivated though, but things have to go on. The altos need to work harder, the sopranos need more confidence, and be less dependent on Syamin. To my 2011 choir team, prove yourselves as good as those in 2008, most of whom are now in universities. Shafiq, Ady, Fahmi, Siti Nabilah, Nur Nabilah, Intan, Fatimah, Arissa, Pikah, Naim, Lokman, Ghani, the list goes on, how I wish you are around to watch the tradition goes on. Personally for me, this could be my last choir, as I feel odd, being the oldest during the competition. Besides, Cikgu Man will do fine.

Happy Teachers Day.

I just cannot believe that I've been that ignorant. I just found out today, after more than 25 years of service as a teacher, that today, 5th of October, is actually the world's Teachers Day! If the minister involved, or  any officer from the ministry, state education department for that matter, have at least mentioned about it, in the last 24 years, in any related event, I'm very sure I would not have missed this information. Having been involved in the celebration on  every 16th of May all these years, be it at school, district, state, or national level, there must have been a mention over this matter, and obviously I've missed it.Thanks to Fara Fauziana of Hot fm, for bringing up the issue in today's Hot fm morning crew program..

Disturbed over the matter, I decided to test fellow teachers. And to my delight, none of the 10 teachers whom I wished Happy Teachers Day were aware! Yes, delighted I was, as I'm not the only one left behind. In class, before lesson, I brought up the matter and beautiful Rahima and and the gang were kind enough to google over the issue. Yes, launched by the UNESCO back in 1994, and among the Asian countries celebrating on the same day is the Phillipines and South Korea. Most other countries stick to their own day of celebration. Malaysia must have opted to stick to MAY 16 because October is when our schools are focus on public examinations. While PMR is in this week, SPM and STPM is just around the corner. 

Come to think of it, will one day appreciation to the teachers affect the students' performance? Just imagining celebrating the day worldwide, wouldn't it be merrier?

Anyway, Happy Teachers Day to me, and to all teachers, worldwide!!!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Do women make better teachers than men?

(To my fellow lady teachers, please don't get offended by the point of view in this article. It was a case of provoking the students to be brave enough to think different.)
Women make better teachers. Well, given the motherly nature that God had gifted them, teaching, and the myriads of clerical tasks that need them to be meticulous, they should be better teachers, but I beg to differ in opinion, as I’ve had the experience of being taught by great man-teachers. It is not the gender that decides who is better in this noble profession, but the approach, method, knowledge, and the personality of the individuals. Under certain circumstances, however, men  have proven themselves to be the better teachers.  The nature of certain aspects of the job needs the touch of the more physical and less emotion men.

In a normal peaceful situation of the teaching and learning process, the positive side of emotion helps, an advantage to the female teachers. When things become  more complicated, however, where  disciplinary problems arise, emotion is the last thing that you need. The more cool and calm men would handle the situation better, especially if the unwanted behaviours become physical and robust.  Most high-profile disciplinary cases like bullying, gangsterism, fightings, and playing truants need the credibility of man-teachers. Hence, the dominating  population of women in the profession  could be the reason of the fall in the  quality of discipline among school students of late. Would you still say that women make better teachers? 

Sports and outdoor activities are compulsory as part of the school co-curricular syllabus, that, besides training the students to be more disciplined, confident and balanced all-rounders, makes up 10% of the requirement of entry to public higher education institutions. Since it is a commonly known fact that very few woman-teachers knows about sports and indulge themselves in outdoor activities, their man-counterparts play better roles here. Except for the few female games, we need the men who know the techniques and rules of all athletic events and games to train these students, besides  becoming referees and umpires. To train and handle flying-fox, wall-climbing, and abseiling activities, obviously the men are more qualified. So I believe that men make better teachers.

The great responsibilities of women-teachers as mothers and wives is another reason why they don’t make better teachers. Having to go through 90-day maternal confinement, taking leaves in cases of the children getting sick, and attending to doctor’s appointment, these teachers would be away from the students for quite some time in a year, risking incompletion of the syllabus of subjects. Schools have to replace teachers on maternal leaves, thus involving finance, not to mention the quality of the replacement teachers. In the end, it is the students who suffer, as they might not perform well in examinations. Men would definitely be better teachers.

To conclude, despite being good teachers, circumstances hinder them from giving the best  in the profession. Men, however, has no reasons not to be the better teachers.

'Korban' at school.

At last, today, after weeks of worrying over the project, due to the slow, very  slow response from the teachers and staff, there is enough participants for the ‘korban’, due to be carried out in a month time. So I took the time off to a kampong 15 km away from the school, with two colleagues, to check on the cow. A beautiful healthy one indeed, which the owner agreed on letting  go for RM2800, inclusive of the cost of transport. Shared among the participants, each will have to fork out RM400 for this once a year ritual.
Anyone confused over the topic? Haha.. in case you are not aware Sir Lan has been chairman for the teachers and staff club of the school, for two consecutive years, a post that is unofficial, handling things that is related to the staff socially, focus on the relationship and welfare among the members. Mind you, dealing with 150 different characters is like hell for the committee, especially when collecting funds is concerned. If only they are as obedient as my Form Six students.
 After a successful stint last year, with the Family Day in Marang as the peak event, 2011 has been  bleak for the club. A well –planned trip to Langkawi was a failure, with tons of reasons given for not being able to join, just a case of difficulty to face something new, as there had never been a trip for the staff since the school was established 20 years ago. The family day put aside, with the committee unable to agree on mutual date. This ‘Korban’ project was at first in a blur, with negative response even from  one of the ustazs, but later on, after  serial of verbal promotions, is ready to become a reality.
Back to the cow, on the way back, one of the colleagues complained on difficulty to handle the ‘korban’. Thinking that we could use more meat to treat the thousand over students, I agreed on her joining us at the school project. So there are two cows.  Surprise.. upon entering the staff room,   Kak Non the treasurer suggested on another cow, as there were extra 4 interested in joining , meaning I have to search for another 3 participants. OK. I called the cow breeder, confirmed on three cows, at the same price. And he sounded very delighted. By noon, there were enough. Seven participants for the third cow.
So its now time for delegation of the task. The special committee is to be formed. The PIBG has to be involved. My tentative flow for the ritual is, slaughtering ritual at 10.00 of the third day of ‘Hari Raya Aidil Adha’, chopping and cutting into pieces should go on until 12.00. The next morning, the cooking will start, and students are expected to have their meals by 10.30. The afternoon session students will come at 11.30 and help themselves before class.  And then there is still the fund to be thought over, for the ingredients, rice, drink, and vegetables.
Almost a month to go, at which I would be busy marking PMR. And after the ‘Korban’, two weeks later  will be the annual end-of-year high-tea, Riyaz Heritage being the venue. That should be my last task. Still in the dark over the person to take over the job next year. Any suggestion? 

Monday, 3 October 2011

Arranged Marriage. Do you agree?

(This topic came out in an actual MUET test some time ago. Having discussed the topic with my present students, I've tried giving my own opinion on the issue, and this is what I came up with. Guys, I hope this will help.)

Arranged marriage takes place when parents or the elders in a family choose the spouse for their child, usually to tighten the bond of families involved, for social or business benefits. Popular in most ethnics in the olden days, a man normally did not know his wife to be, or vice-versa, at least until a few months before the wedding day, and in most cases, the couples were not allowed to meet, what more to have dates like youngsters do today. I believe that this practice, for whatever reasons it may be, is irrelevant in today’s modern world, and is certainly against the global basic human right.

A marriage is like a lifetime contract, where a man and a woman agree to spend the rest of their lives together under the same roof. To be able to do that they need the bond of love, where understanding and tolerating each other are among the fundamental aspects of life to be practised. This will lead to a long and happy marriage that will later be inherited by children, generation after generation. As in the case of arranged marriage, where couples are supposed to fall in love only after the wedding, all these are not guaranteed, thus resulting in unhappy marriages, if not short-termed. Yes, some may argue that couples who are married out of love today are bound to be divorced too, as obviously reported in cases of artistes and celebrities. In my point of view, these are results of not true love, more towards the love of materials and the glamorous lifestyles. If only understanding and tolerance are put as priorities, the marriages will definitely be long-lasting.

Many years ago, in a world where most working sectors were dominated by men, where women were confined at home for household chores, youngsters had very little chance to meet, make friends, fall in love and eventually marrying spouses of their choices. This was why arranged marriage was very much in favour then, without which, the home-bound girls would end up as spinsters, and the men would suddenly realized that they are old and without families. Imagine being forced into such a marriage, despite having gone to school, colleges and settling down with jobs that allow you to meet people of the opposite genders that provide a wide choice of the Mr or Mrs Right? Certainly it would be a frustrating experience to be married to a stranger without your desired quality, especially when you have identified one that suits you among your colleagues. This proves that arranged marriage is not suitable today.

Allowing children to choose their spouses should be a practice that inculcates a sense of responsibility which could be useful in building happy families and bringing up children of their own successfully. Parents are then not liable to whatever happen to their children’s marriages unlike in arranged marriages where they are held responsible for the welfare of their children’s marriage. Problems arising in their marriage lives should be solved through understanding and tolerance, which, as mentioned earlier, are the basic elements of love. Parents should be contented to just share the children’s happiness. This, again proves that arranged marriage is simply irrelevant today.

When a couple decides to tie the wedding knot they would be entering a life where everything is to be shared, which is impossible to be done with a stranger. Young people should therefore be allowed to choose their life partners for a happy and long-lasting marriage. Arranged marriage should not be practised.

Male Undergraduates Outnumbered; a different point of view.

Caught in a traffic jam on the way to work recently, the news from the local government radio station highlighting the Prime Minister’s wife (First Lady?) stressing  her worry over the number of females dominating the institutions of higher learning,  public and private, caught my attention. It seems that the fact that only 38% of our undergraduates are male has created panic to some parties, urging the boys to focus and work harder in school, excel in examinations, and  increase the  number of men in the various universities and colleges. This urge, personally to me, is rather untimely, at the point where the Education Minister had just launched the 1 Student 1 Sport program, yet another task for teachers to their already packed co-curricular activities. In fact, this is not really an issue, as things are turning their ways for some reasons. Yes, if you are asking, I’m not the least worried about the males being the minority in then tertiary education institutions.

Come visit any ordinary secondary school, you will see that this  problem starts as early as in Form 4. The best Form 4 in my school, the pure science, has only 9 boys out of the 31 enrolment, which is less than 30 percent. In the next two classes there are four rows of girls out of six. The number of boys and girls almost evens in the 4th and 5th classes, and ironically, in the 7th class, only four girls sit quietly in one row, in contrast with the 27 restless boys who would start moving around shouting at each other creating a ‘pasar malam’ situation in the classroom, once the teacher is out of sight. Do I have to mention the all 26 boys in the 8th class? And yes, the students are ranked from 1st to the 8th class by their academic performance. My point is, it is just natural in these days that the female students in school are more academically inclined, compared to the more adventurous and physically sporting boys, hence seeing the softer gender dominates the list of top scorers in public examinations.

The First Lady, or any other citizen of the country, should instead be thanking God that the so-called physically weaker gender is dominating the institutions, meaning there are still certain percentages of the males around, showing that hope is still there for man to survive in the world of intellect. 38% proves that at least there is still no sign of extinction, especially when some of the institutions are beginning to show compromise on the qualifying terms for male applicants. (Somehow, with due respect, this reminds me of the Borneo Orangutans in Sabah, and our closer leatherback turtles landing at the beaches to lay eggs.)
There is really nothing to worry when universities and Teachers Training Institutions nationwide are producing more women teachers than men, as their motherly touch makes them better teachers, although some men may beg to differ.  As it is, they are already controlling our education system in the schools, and everything seems fine so far. More and more exam candidates score straight A’s year in and year out, which is exactly what parents hope for when sending children to school. I also have no problem when our universities are also producing more female doctors. As proven in the nursing profession, the feminine touch heals better. Ask any normal man (like me), I bet a fortune that he would prefer a female doctor, especially young and sweet, to treat them. On the more serious note, Muslim women patients’ problem, especially mothers-to-be in the labour room are solved.  Other professions? Well, being meticulous and fussy in nature, don’t you think that these female undergraduates that we worry about would make better engineers, bankers or even politicians? Bye-bye to corruption, no more collapsing roofs of buildings!

Some people look at this issue as the reason for the declining number of males to lead the various organization, private and government sectors, or even in running the country in the future, which again I beg to differ. So if there are more females in our universities, let it be, so long as the man are still around, as I believe, despite being the minority, they would fairly compete with the girls, become better professionals and later on be the leaders in the various fields. Remember that they need not take the three-month maternity leaves, wondering what to cook for dinner and breakfast everyday, doing the laundry, going to the market or rushing the children to school every morning before work like their female counterparts do! I may sound like a chauvinist, but fact is fact. 8 out of 10 of my female working friends, from clerks to teachers to administrators and even high  ranking   police officers, would be very proud (shown in their facial expression) telling people about their contributions to their domestic lives, about making the husbands happy, about the joy seeing children growing up healthily, with their ‘feminine and motherly’ touch. Learn at the highest level you can, you will still end  up in the kitchen, the Malay elders are quoted to have said about girls opting for higher studies. So women, there may be more of you, but we man are still in control… or in power to be exact.

Having talked about the young ladies mugging their brains out in the campus, why don’t we, for a moment, focus on the young men who could not make it to the universities.  For a start, I would look at industrial training centres, before proceeding to the blue collar sector. Most technical skills are just meant for men, especially those that involve smudges of black oil all over the body, working overnight shifts and worst of all, off-shore jobs for weeks, and these skills are not taught in the universities. I would just be contented to know that the number of these skilled men who generate our multiple industries, covers just nice to balance the number of the girls in the higher learning institutions.

Women in the armed forces? Yes they do make beautiful presentable uniformed personnel,  perfect to be posted in reception counters of the army camps if not to sit behind the desks going through the management files. Majority of the armed forces personnel are those carrying the M-16s, the bazookas, driving the trucks and  tankers, flying the jet fighters, travelling in navy fighter-ships in the sea, preparing to fight their lives out for their country, in case of any invasion. And these have to be the males, another reason why I am not worried that males are outnumbered in universities. The same can also be seen in the police force, as you do not expect a pretty policewoman to give chase to a dangerous and armed criminal, involved in physical combats, or patrolling the dark street of drug addicts and vendors and gangsters in the wee hour of the morning. So let the females mug their head out for the pieces of diplomas or degrees, as the man are doing us proud elsewhere.

So girls, go ahead, carry on with your excellent effort and prove yourselves worthy to the nation. Worry about the number of males around in the campus? I suggest not to, as there are plenty of men out there, doing their parts. Unless you are planning to have only graduates for husbands, accept the fact that the men are also contributing, their own way.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

MUET Band 4..

A fellow teacher came to me today with a daughter, currently doing foundation course in Law in UiTM, asking me to brief the young lady on how to answer the writing paper of MUET. The first issue that popped out in my mind was, how UiTM, setting the MUET Band 4 as part of the requirement to do its degree course in Law, could not prepare its foundation students for the test. As an alumni member, (back then it was ITM), I know that this university has an outstanding Language Faculty, which at my time was called the Language Centre. Well, its a good thing that I was free, as the upper six students were taken by the Sejarah and PA teacher for the so-called Jadual Anjal. Spending a few hours for her will do no harm.

Explaining the technical part of answering the stimulus writing, on how to create the overview from the graphics given, the difference between analysis and synthesis, and later on  the aspect of developing ideas on argument over the extended writing topic, took less than 2 hours. The moment she left after thanking me politely, I was left with this question; Now why, out of the hundreds of students that I've taught all these years, none is at the level of this one? Looking at the way she responded I can easily say that this young lady will have little problem getting at least Band 5 in her MUET! So much so for the upholding of the Form 6 management in schools, the quality of the sixth formers, especially the 'kemanusiaan' stream, seems to deteriorating by the year, where English Language is concerned. What can I expect when 20% of them failed  English in SPM, and 50% only managed to pass! With even the few A achievers are still  low for the MUET  level, can I ever dream on getting a Band 5 from at least, one of my present students?

Well,  its not a crime to dream. If you are reading this, Saiful Azlan, Ali, Shukri, Nor Rahima, Erna, Munirah, Sameera, Nazirah, Fatah, Fazilah, Rasyada and everybody else (sorry it would take some time to write everybody's name), take it as a challenge, if not a motivation. It would be very sad to know next year that you are not able to do your dream course in your dream university, only because you do not reach the MUET band required!

Bye for now.

Saturday, 1 October 2011


Assalamualaikum. Hello there.

Welcome to this new blog. At last, as someone who only became really computer-literate less then 5 years ago, I'm amazed at myself to be able to have this blog become a reality. Still unsure of what the content of this blog would be, I however guarantee it will have nothing to do with politics. Frankly, I'm thinking of sharing views on the teaching profession, probably more focus on the teaching of English in secondary school, be it at PMR, SPM or MUET level with fellow teachers, or anybody who is interested. Of course not forgetting my beloved students, the thousands of ex-students, I may have something to benefit them.

Well, until the next posting, I wish everyone the best...