The Sarawak Chief Minister’s Special Award: Recognising outstanding students, teachers

The 27th AKKMS Award recipients with Abang Johari (seventh left, front row).

“Seek knowledge even if you have to go as far as China” is a Malay proverb in revealing the true meaning of the importance of a knowledgeable society around the world.

Learning is not only a virtue, but also a source of competitiveness. Every religion in the world defines how important it is for a believer to deepen both the worldly knowledge and of the hereafter.

A knowledgeable society is a catalyst for the wellbeing of its country.

This is the real desire and dream of the Sarawak government in ensuring that the development of education starts from the grassroots, along the way giving acknowledgement and appreciation to all involved.

To make Sarawak a developed state by 2030, we need to tap on our human resources in order to continue our educational, social and economic development efforts. This is the aspiration of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

To achieve this, all parties need to mobilise their energy and ideas in ensuring that the education sector continues to be strengthened. Various efforts and initiatives introduced by the state government are clear and focus on the development of education. This includes the creation of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Research.

Besides that, let us not forget to give our appreciation to some of the important people in the field of education who were directly involved towards improving and uplifting the standard of education.

Thus, the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Special Award (Anugerah Khas Ketua Menteri Sarawak/AKKMS) was introduced in 1992 by the state government to give due recognition to all outstanding students, teachers, Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and school administrators for their outstanding performance either in public examinations or continuous efforts in improving the standards and performance of education.

The Sarawak Foundation has been entrusted with the role of organising this prestigious annual event, with cooperation from the Sarawak State Education Department (JPNS) to evaluate award nominees.

This kind of cooperation between the Sarawak Foundation and JPNS has played a role in realising the dreams of many Sarawak students — regardless of whether they are urban or rural areas — especially by giving them recognition to their excellent academic achievements.

Over the years, the award has encouraged many individuals to achieve excellence in their educational endeavors for the good of their family, community and Sarawak as a whole.

The award is the highest recognition from the Sarawak government in the field of Education. The recognition can serve as an encouragement and further boost motivation to work harder to improve the performance and produce excellent human capital.

Each year, the award is presented by the chief minister. It was first presented by our former chief minister, who is also the current Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, followed by the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem and now Abang Johari.

Each year, a few additional new categories are introduced for the award such as the Parent-Teacher Association Award, the People with Disabilities Student, the Special Education Teacher Award and the Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah Special Achievement Award. To date, 384 people have benefited from the award.

One of the former recipients of AKKMS is the current director of JPNS, Dr Norisah Suhaili, who had previously received the AKKMS Outstanding Principal Award and AKKMS Secondary School Category when she was still serving as the principal of Sekolah Menengah Sains Kuching Utara (SM Sakura). Dr Norisah is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Sarawak Foundation.

With the recognition given under the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Special Award (AKKMS), it is hoped that the recipients will inspire others in the field of education to be more proactive in their work.

The award recipients can also serve as a benchmark for other teachers towards quality educational services, dedication, creativity and innovation.

Education will propel the nation towards an era of excellence. Under such circumstances, teachers play an important role as agents and facilitators to achieve every noble dream enshrined in the vision of national education framework.

The seriousness of the state government in assisting and complementing the efforts of the federal government, especially programmes organised by the Ministry of Education to develop the field of education in the state cannot be denied.

In fact, the state government always strives to increase cooperation among all parties, including private bodies, non-governmental organisations and the people in line with the concept of smart partnership.