Monday, August 5


Nur Aliya Yeoh Binti Abdullah 
SMK Seberang Jaya, Penang

In SK Lerek, a rural school, I was assigned to teach Mathematics to a class of Year Five students. The pupils were very weak in adding numbers, so I had to start from scratch. I tried mental arithmetic but they were too weak to catch up. So I had to go down to the very basic level - using the fingers. It was then that I discovered that Sufiah, one of the weakest in Mathematics, had only five fingers. She was born disabled; her left arm ended as a stump at the elbow. 

Shocked, I realized that I had been too busy with my work to pay proper attention to the students. 

Sufiah, despite her physical condition, voluntarily swept the floor and tidied the classroom every morning. She was not one to wallow in self-pity or make excuses not to do her chores. As her teacher, I decided that she must learn to add and subtract like her classmates and not be left behind in lessons. 

For almost two months, I worked quietly with Sufiah. We devised a way which helped her to add and subtract without pen and paper. Instead, we made full use of her five little fingers. It was not easy because nothing in college had prepared me for this task. It was hard work on both sides. 

Fortunately, Sufiah had a good imagination which helped made the task easier. She began to show interest and understanding of what we were trying to achieve. I praised her efforts and congratulated her each time she succeeded in answering the questions correctly. As the weeks moved on, Sufiah improved by leaps and bounds. By the end of the month, she didn’t need her fingers to count any longer. She had understood the concept and had learnt to memorize. She quickly moved on to subtraction, multiplication and division with little problem. Her friends, seeing her improvement, worked harder so as not to lose out to her 

By the end of the year, the whole class could do sums on addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I had never been more proud of my students. 

By teaching Sufiah to add, I too learnt an important lesson. I learnt the true spirit of giving. I learnt if a disabled person can succeed there is no excuse for the able-bodied to lazy or incompetent. I learnt to be more observant in classrooms. I became more alert and quick to notice minor changes and moods of the pupils I teach. I realized that being a good teacher is not just to teach the able-bodied and good pupils to score an ‘A’, but to make sure that all pupils are given the opportunity to learn and perform to the best of their ability, regardless of who they are, and how many fingers they have. It became my mission that no student is left unattended or ignored in my class.

Year 5 class of  SK LEREK, Kuala Berang, Hulu Terengganu, 1993

Sufiah was at the far left, the smallest and shortest in the class. I had managed to keep in touch with two of her classmates through Facebook, Mahani [3rd from right] and Wardah Azirah [second from right] and they told me that Sufiah has two children now. In fact, most of these batch of students are parents now, with children older than mine :)

Syukur alhamdulillah, I managed to remember to write this 50-word essay a few hours before the closing date. INTI international Universities and Colleges have always been teacher-friendly but this year it organised an essay-competition among Malaysian teachers, which offered 10 grand prizes and 90 consolation prizes for the winners.
And this is what I won :)

photo taken at the staff room after the prize giving ceremony in the principal's room

The grand prize of a new Samsung Galaxy S4.
The representative from the university came to the school to present me with the prize and framed certificate last week.
I'm especially pleased as I've never won any grand prize in any competition before, and during Ramadhan too. How lovely as a Eid gift this year.
Thanks Allah for this wonderful gift.
Thanks to INTICollege International University and Colleges for organising this interesting competition which allowed us teachers to share our most memorable teaching experiences. I enjoyed reading about the experiences of other grand prize winners as well.

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  1. wah, dpt S4, Alhamdulillah :) dah follow sis :) salam perkenalan ye :)

  2. Anne Rihann, memang bersyukur :) sebab tak mungkin saya beli handfon berharga RM1800++ ni.
    Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri

  3. Wah! Tahniah Cikgu! Dok pikir juga S4 ape ke benda yang aliya dok cerita tadi? Rupa nya Samsung Galaxy S4! Hadiah sempena Ramadhan dan Raya lah ni! I am happy for you aa Cikgu! Selamat Hari Raya!

  4. Salam Aliya,

    Syabas atas usaha murni yang dijalankan sebagai seorang guru yang cukup prihatin! Tahniah atas kemenangan dalam pertandingan menulis esei!

  5. Trimakasih ooo sifu, dapat 'toy' baru raya ni, memang 'heppi' sangat-sangat. Selamat Hari Raya to you too, maaf zahir batin :)

  6. Ummu Madihah,
    Terima kasih, hanya ungkapan 'alhamdulillah' sahaja yang mampu dikatakan, lebih-lebih lagi dapat berhubung semula dengan bekas pelajar sekolah tersebut :)
    InsyaAllah, kemenangan ni bakal menjadi pendorong untuk terus menulis lagi.

  7. S4, a reward for helping Sufiah. What more can one ask for? Selamat Hari Raya Cikgu.

  8. Pakcik,
    I didn't expect any reward for helping my students, Sir. Hwever, it's good to see [in Facebook] and to know that this batch of students have done well, earning a good living and having their own families.
    The S4 will make a great teaching tool :)
    Salam Aidilfitri to you too

  9. Salam Che Gu Aliya.
    Tahniah Che Gu.S4tu canggih danhebat.Menjadi guru ni banyaklah pahala kerana mengajar anak2.Teruskan berikhidmat.
    Salam Eidilfitr.

  10. Waalaikumussalam Al-Hussaini,
    Terima kasih. Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Bab handfon ni saya tak pandai sangat, tapi memang S4 canggih. Anak-anak pula asyik minta nak tengok 'angry bird' dalam handfon sebab suka tengok burung terbang, hehehee..
    Cuti lagi tetapi insyaAllah akan mula uruskan kerja sekolah yang perlu dibereskan.. kerja cikgu tak terhad kepada hari sekolah.