Wednesday, June 26


SCHOOL SPORTS DAY has always made me uneasy - especially now when I know about the need for aurat coverage and modesty.
Parents, how would you feel if your teenage daughter who gets cramps due to running is carried by boys, when there are other female first-aiders around who can do that?
Girls, would you like to be stared at by the male first-aiders when you are attended to by the female aiders, with your hijab taken off ?
Muslim Teachers, would you stand and pretend that guarding a girl's modesty can be pushed aside because getting first-aid is more important?
Why can't there be some sort of gender segregation at the emergency tent during a school Sports Day, if there are enough first aiders and facilities?

Oh PLEASE laaaa, this is not about gender discrimination or racial discrimination just because I told some male first aiders to move away from the tent.
This is putting into practice what our religion, ISLAM tells us to do.
The Malay girl collapsed at the finishing line after the long run.
I looked around. Only some students on duty were there to run to her and give first aid.
The runner was crying in pain. I guessed that she had cramps, so I reluctantly went to check on her. I repeat,  I did so reluctantly because it was not my duty to give first aid to students. There were supposed to be other teachers in charge of providing that, but only God knows why they were not around. I did not want to poke my nose into somebody else's job but that poor girl was in distressed and I am a trained first aider.
I called for the stretcher to be brought over.
I heard my immediate boss telling the group of first-aiders that the girls should carry her into the stretcher., so I gave some instructions to the female aiders to do so. The boys hovered around, ready to carry it to the emergency tent nearby.  They did carry her over there, so I followed to check on her, as there was no adult first-aid teacher supervising her.
I found her still crying in the stretcher in the tent, with the first aid box placed under her elevated feet.
"Why are you crying? Are your legs still painful?" I asked in Malay.
Anis [not her real name] nodded and continued to cry. With some help from the Chinese girls who were first-aiders on duty, she was soon lying in the recovery position on the mat. I told the girls to massage her legs and keep her calm before I left for my actual duty on the track. They had taken off her white cotton hijab, exposing her hair. I held my tongue.
Minutes later, when I returned to the tent, Anis was putting on her hijab.
"Well, here's a girl who actually wants to cover her aurat." I thought to myself.
Suddenly she began to vomit.
"Did you take your breakfast?" I asked her.
"No," she replied as she vomited again and again.
I sighed. Somehow, despite all our advice, some students would still skip breakfast. That's not a wise thing to do, especially when one was due to run on the tracks.
I called Jason, a hardworking male first-aider on duty.
"Get her a little warm Milo-o, please," I requested.
Minutes later, he returned with the beverage.
I asked a female first aider to give Anis the drink as she was still weak and leaning on another girl before I left to resume my duties.
Thankfully, the male athletes were strong and only suffered from cramps, which they seeked treatment under one of the teachers' tents.

After a few minutes, I saw a number of boys at the tent with Anis and the female first aiders.
I called Jason again to ask them to leave the tent as they were not giving first aid to anyone there. They could stand elsewhere in the field. And I didn't like the idea of them staring at Anis who was still unwell at the tent.
"Can you stand somewhere else? Please don't stand at the tent," I said when they told me that they were on duty.
Apparently I had not seen them helping except to move the tent.
I left the field at 10.30am. It was then that I met the teacher in charge of first aid, a nonmuslim lady who was attending to other matters elsewhere.
Minutes later, while having my break at the canteen, that teacher came over to me and asked if there was a 'casualty' in the field.
"Yes, there was a girl.." I started to explain when she cut in.
"Please don't tell my boys to leave the tent. They're on duty and two of them are trained officers. They complained to me that you asked them to leave their posts," she said.
"The girl was shy and they were not helping her, so I just asked them to stand elsewhere," I replied.
"Don't make any sweeping statement. In First aid, no racial discrimination or gender discrimination," she continued.
I decided not to pursue the matter at the canteen where many teachers and students were eating. "Ok fine, I'm sorry," I said nonchalantly as the teacher in front of me rolled her eyes. We all knew that she herself had left her charges, the students, to provide first aid while she skipped her duty in the field.
All the students on duty, the male and female first-aiders were Chinese. Some are my own students. I found out that only a small number of them had certificates in giving first aid; others were school-trained. Teachers are needed to supervise them in the field, no matter how well trained they are.

I would have left this issue to die down but something kept bugging me till this post is written.
Should a female, especially Muslimah athlete be left to be attended to by the male first aiders, with her hair exposed, when there are many female first-aiders around to help her? It's not darurat yet.
Should a conscious female Muslim athlete share an emergency tent with other male athletes and allow herself to be seen lying down while receiving first aid? It's not darurat yet.
Sorry to say, this has been happening in co-ed secondary schools especially those underfunded and the teachers in charge are nonmuslims, who don't seem to understand the discomfort of some female Muslim students when they are being touched, carried or stared at by the male nonmuslim students.
No gender discrimination ? Sure, I know that first aid should be given as an emergency treatment to a sick person. But if there are both female and male attendants available, why can't a Muslim girl be given a choice of being treated by a female? 
I personally believe that we, the Muslim public, should make the effort of ensuring that our daughters, sisters and nieces are given the choice and due respect to follow our religion, Islam's code of conduct.
And no, just because I'm bringing up this issue and suggesting gender segregation while providing first aid at school sports meet, I'd be a PAS member, as an FB friend accused me of being. [hello, does everyone who is snsitive to covering the aurat and suggesting protecting a Muslimah's modesty should be a PAS member? Skip the labelling laaa!]
I'm just a normal Muslimah who believes in helping other Muslimahs protect their modesty and aurat.
I've said my piece. 
 Now what about you??

Friday, June 7


"Where's Ziana? Sick?" I asked my colleague when I was asked to relief her class.
The new part-time English Language teacher or commonly called GSTT [guru sandaran tidak terlatih] had been absent for two days. It was bad enough having to teach for 5 periods and then being asked to relieve another teacher's class. I was dead tired.
"She's quit!" came the short answer.
"Quit? Why? Didn't she continue her contract just 3 days ago?" I was surprised.
Nowadays, the GSTT teachers are required to be under a 2-month contract.If they perform well, then they are allowed to continue teaching in the same school. As most of the new-graduates from the local universities are jobless or "waiting to be posted to schools", one of the options they have is to apply for a temporary teaching post in schools which are in short of teachers.

It has been a common thing to see these GSTT teachers in the schools I work in. If  we are lucky, we'd get the hardworking and conscientious workers. Otherwise, it's a struggle for us and the newly hired ones who think that they are still in their honeymoon year in universities. Tell them to move and they'd move a step; if we don't approach them, they'd remain in their comfort zone and wait for further instruction. Heck, the senior teachers are always busy and from the first day they step foot in school, we have told them to always approach us if they are in doubt or need guidance. We have no time for chit-chat or slow talk when we ae in school, so if they need something, they should come and see us.

"Why did she quit?"
She was not the only GSTT teacher who quit in the beginning of May. The new group of English Language graduate teachers have decided to stop their stint and to "rest at home while waiting for posting". I want to say that I almost rolled on the floor laughing when I heard this lame excuse. They call themselves TESL graduates and they have trained in the teaching institution and local universities for 3 years to prepare themselves for a career in teaching. And they quit as a GSTT teacher just because they find the school environment ' too difficult for them'?
Hah.. with the excess of graduates from the teaching colleges and universities, it'd be a long time before they get a posting to schools. Some states like Kedah, Kelantan and Trengganu have enough trained teachers that they have postponed any transfers of teachers to those states.

Frankly speaking, I find the current group of new graduates who happen to be teaching part-time in schools to be lacking in positive attitude towards their duties. Of course, there are a few exceptionally good ones like Suffi, whom we have trained so well during his one-year service with us that he's now happily teaching in an elite school. However, there are many who need to buck up if they were to be respected teachers in future. There should be no gossiping and online Facebook in the staffroom where they should be marking books and preparing the day's lessons. They ought to be smart and avoid being caught in office politics. Most importantly, they must learn to manage the naughty students during lessons, because they can't expect to be given only the good classes in school. They have to be able to cope with paperwork and other minor duties given by the senior teachers, who have more work and responsibilities to manage. In addtion, they ought to be friendly with all the teachers and staff and not be selective as to whom they want to talk to. Most importantly too, they must learn to ignore any gossips and not be sensitive to other teachers' personal remarks.

One would have taught that the universities and colleges have trained the graduates these soft skills but experience tells me that they have a lot more to learn before they are ready to be good teachers. If these graduates who have teaching diplomas and should be better GSTT teachers compared to their colleagues from other fields who have opted to be called GSTT teachers feel that they cannot cope with the work pressure and other personal problems faced in the school they are currently teaching, then please do not take up the posting offer by the ministry of education. Such teachers will only create more problems in their new schools with their negative attitude, not to say give a bad impression about English language teachers to parents and students.

I have worked with other GSTT teachers who are not trained as English teachers but due to their ability to speak well, they are offered to teach this subject in my school. I'm happy to note that they are able to teach well and their work attitude is sometimes better than some new TESL graduates. Don't know why this is so, but it's a sad fact that some young teachers think that they are above reproach just because they 'speaking Mat Salleh' and dislike being nagged at and given a tongue-lashing by the other senior teachers for their lackadaisical attitude toward their duties [something English teachers seem to be famous for, by being direct to the point]

By the way, I'm still waiting to see who will be taking over Ziana's duties in school, now that she has quit her job[hopefully the pejabat pelajaran daerah will stop posting her as a GSTT to another school].
As another senior teacher lamented," We have trained them from the beginning of the year, with all these PBS stuff and set system.. and when they quit suddenly, we have to start all over again. Why can't they send us a permanent trained English language teacher?'
Yeah, right!

p/s: When the school breaks ends, I returned to my school to find that another GSTT who reported for duty in May and was assigned to teach English has also quit. So we've 2 new untrained English Language teachers who we have to supervise and be mentors to, hopefully they'd last till the end of the 2nd term.