His pupils always on his mind

Kalai and his pupils.

An extraordinary teacher not only imparts knowledge to the pupils but also reaches into the hearts and minds of the pupils by implementing engaging and interesting lesson plans that make them refocus on learning.

This was pointed out by Kalai Ampi, one of the 25 teachers listed as recipients of the Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s 2021 when asked what extraordinary teacher meant to him.

According to the 27-year-old teacher of Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Nanga Tau — a school located in the interior of Tatau in Bintulu — in addition to his essential duties as an educator, an extraordinary teacher must also have good relationships with his colleagues, pupils and their parents as well as locals.

Kalai and his pupils.

“After work, I usually spend time with my pupils doing various beneficial activities.

“This is to further strengthen our relationships. Close ties can also enhance a pupil’s academic performance. 

“Let’s not blame students 100 percent if they get low grades in their subjects. Instead, look for the cause. At the same time, do not ignore weak students because they really need encouragement from teachers to improve themselves,” he explained.

The logging road that Kalai uses to get to school.

Further elaborating, Kalai added that as a rural teacher and just like the others, he had to embark on a long and winding journey to get to school.

He said it took him about two hours on a logging road to get to the school in his four-wheel drive (4WD) vehicle.

According to him, that is not a problem. The problem is when it rains heavily because the logging road will be muddy and slippery.

“I almost fell into a ravine due to heavy rain and slippery road in February last year.

“Because of the incident, I was scared to drive. But then I remembered my pupils. I am worried about my pupils who need me to guide and educate them so that they can have a brighter future,” explained Kalai, as he recalled the tragedy that almost claimed his life.

Apart from that, this young Iban teacher from Daro also pointed out that the welfare of his pupils was always close to his heart.

According to him, spending part of his monthly salary on his pupils will not make him any poorer.

He said he always helped his underprivileged pupils and in return, their parents gave him rice, fish, venison, vegetables and other things.

“Because my relationships with the parents are very close, we have no problem doing home-based teaching and learning (PdPR).

“Because there is no internet access, we will send the students’ assignments or homework to their longhouses.

“Our PdPR process is running smoothly here as we have the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) which always helps the school in educating the children.

“Even though we are now facing the Covid-19 pandemic, the pupils remain enthusiastic about doing their homework.

“As a teacher, my colleagues and I are always committed to helping our pupils in their learning,” said Kalai, who has served SK Nanga Tau for more than four years.

In fact, this extraordinary teacher said thanks to their hard work, in wanting to give the best to their pupils, the percentage of pupils passing the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) at the school had jumped from just 34 percent in 2018 to 94 percent in 2019.

Commenting on the awards, he said he was surprised and did not expect to be selected for the Anugerah Guru Inspirasi McDonald’s 2021 as there were over 4,000 entries from all over Malaysia.

According to Kalai, who teaches Bahasa Melayu, the award is an encouragement for him continue educating the children.

At the same time, he also advised rural teachers and prospective teachers to take up the challenge of teaching in such areas and show the community that rural pupils could compete with those in the urban areas.

“Our affairs will be simplified as long as we sincerely carry out the responsibilities entrusted to us.

“As teachers, we must have the courage to try something new — serving in rural areas.

“It’s actually not as bad as you think. You will have fun because you will experience a lot of new things,” he said.

Kalai also called on all teachers to continue to educate pupils tirelessly so that they could become useful human beings in the future.

Kalai and his pupils doing Zumba.