Former SK Long Sukang teacher wins RISE Educator Award

Nazmi, known as Cikgu Nazmi, and his students of SK Long Sukang.

KUCHING: Taylor’s College and The Risers announced the RISE Educator Award in conjunction with Teachers’ Day to recognise teachers who had made a difference to the lives of Malaysian students.

They allowed parents and students to nominate teachers who had inspired them.

Muhammad Nazmi of SK Lugaan, Lawas swept both the RISE Educator Award which was voted by the public and for the RISE Educator of the Year Award, which was determined by a panel of judges.

Nazmi, previously a teacher at SK Long Sukang for four years, revealed that children of Sarawak’s rural villages — isolated from the outside world, where the nearest town is roughly four hours away via timber roads — were very far behind their urban counterparts.

He said the communities were surrounded by jungles. With no Internet connection, rationed electricity and poor coverage, teachers could become demotivated because they were unable to communicate with their loved ones or the outside world.

“Many people perceive the children as ‘hopeless.’ People tell you that you don’t need to put in any extra effort. They’re not going anywhere. They will forget what you educate them today. Why bother?”

Nazmi with one of his students.

Seeing that his students faced discrimination, Nazmi took it upon himself to implement the Danger Room concept.

“In the X-Men comics, Professor X brought in all the mutants and trained them in the Danger Room, where holographic representations of the outside world were used. My children, I realise, experience the same issues — they are alienated from the world, and they encounter discrimination. So, I introduce the outside world to them, “he added.

Together with the principal of SK Long Sukang, Nazmi rode for hours on trucks delivering food into 13 villages to give homework and school materials to all 111 kids, giving birth to what is now known as the ‘offsite’ approach, which is now recognised and adopted by the Ministry of Education for rural and urban underprivileged youth.

Nazmi’s story was chosen as one of five finalists for the RISE Educator Award.

Other inspiring teachers with over 20,000 cumulative likes on Taylor’s College Facebook include Abdul Muiz Hussin, who taught himself Mandarin in order to teach Mandarin to a fishing village, Hairul Azuan, who helped collect funds for the needy in a Felda community, and Law Yee Chen, who worked to ensure poor students had access to devices and Internet data for online learning.

“The community must step in to guarantee that no child falls behind in his/her education, Taylor’s College plans to deliver DuckiePi learning gadgets made by our own Taylor’s students to SK Long Sukang, pre-loaded with educational programmes for the benefit of students there,” said Josephine Tan, Taylor’s College campus director.

RISE Educator Award winners won RM2,000 cash, while their nominators took home RM500 cash. Additionally, the five shortlisted finalists’ stories can also be viewed on Taylor’s College Facebook page or visit college.taylors.edu.my.

Nazmi with his students.