Nurul(right) and other teachers in a photo with their pupils upon arrival at Rumah Pilai longhouse at Nanga Pila, Batang Rajang to deliver the learning materials to them. Photos courtesy of Nurul Solehah Md Zulfakar

KUCHING: Many rural school children continue their lessons despite the closure of schools nationwide since Nov 9.

Take SK Nanga Merit in Kapit, for example. Its students had to return to their respective longhouses when the school closed.

These rural students were the lucky ones as they continued to receive learning materials from their teachers. They were in fact greatly surprised when their selfless teachers came to their longhouses to personally deliver the related school works.

A teacher from Pekan Nurul (left) and her colleagues getting ready to deliver the school work to their students at the longhouses.

All their parents were very happy that these teachers were willing to take the extra miles by travelling to the longhouses located in the upstream and downstream area to accomplish the feat of delivering by hands the learning materials to their pupils.

Furthermore the teachers travelled not by road, but by boat, and having to pass the mighty Rajang River in order to reach the children’s longhouses.

Nurul Solehah Md Zulfakar, 30, an English and Science teacher in SK Nanga Merit, shared that the students were jumping with joy when they saw their teachers arriving by boat to deliver homework and other learning materials.

“Actually, a school teacher from West Malaysia Mohamad Rizwan Mohd Nor had started sending the school work by boat during the movement control order (MCO) period as he was the only teacher that had stayed back during the school holidays at that time,” she said.

Now as the school is closed until the final day of the school year on Dec 18, the school teachers will continue the initiative by sending the school work to ensure that the children do not fall behind in their homework, she pointed out.

“Some longhouses do have mobile network and Internet but the connection is slow, while some still do not have such facilities,” she told.

TWO selfless teachers take a boat to meet their students in the longhouses.

She said the teachers wanted to send the homework so that the students would continue to have the spirit to study.

“From the school to the children’s longhouses, one of our challenges is that we have to pass the Rajang River to reach the longhouses. Most of the longhouses are located near the river.

“For those longhouses farther away, it took us nearly two hours to reach them while some nearer longhouses were reachable in about 30 minutes,” Nurul said.

SK Nanga Merit teachers enjoying the view while on their way to the longhouses.

The teacher from Pekan, Pahang, who has been teaching in SK Nanga Merit for four years, added that during normal school days, parents would also take the boat to send their children to the school.

“We started with the longhouses situated at the upstream area first then continued our journey to the downstream area,” she said.

Nurul and her colleagues would cover about seven longhouses in a day, and would spend some time with the students at each longhouse before moving to the next longhouse.

“We started our journey in the afternoon. It would take us about seven hours to finally call it a day and we would reach the school at night around 10pm,” she said.

“The feeling of taking the boat during the day was quite exciting. But at night it did give me the chill because we barely could see anything in the dark.

“We only used torchlight and lights from our smartphone to shine the light next to the boat to prevent it from getting hit,” she said.

The school also plans to conduct tuition for the students at the longhouses, she said and hoping the situation would permit it.

SK Nanga Merit teachers in two boats heading back to the school at night after a long day visiting their pupils in some longhouses.

Despite the challenges faced by the rural students, Nurul hoped her students would not give up and continue to strive for success.

“To all my fellow colleagues and other rural teachers, all of you are the greatest. No matter what the obstacle there is, we must do our best to make sure that our students do not miss out on lessons.

“It is hoped with all the efforts and sacrifices, it would be able to provide a better life and opportunity for our students,” said Nurul.

SK Nanga Merit currently has 152 students including pre-school kids.  The school is served by 16 teachers, including five from West Malaysia.