Friday, October 26, 2007

Who cares if Faizudin can't read!

ISTIMEWA - an eight-letter word that a Std 4 pupil couldn't read! Istimewa is Special in English but there was nothing special in Faizudin whom I met yesterday when he dropped in with his friends to my house for Raya.

I've been sitting with my junior guests when they came for Raya. Angah would prepare the drinks and the kueh and I'll sit with them to chit-chat. It has been a habit in the last week or so to ask these children how their schooling were.

I'd ask them how they fare in their studies. Of the 50-odd children who dropped by, I've met only two boys who seemed to be doing well, reading the newspapers and magazines with confidence. And able to converse reasonably well too. Most of them are in primary school while a handful are in lower secondary.

It's this age group that makes the Raya rounds. Those who are older wouldn't visit houses of people they don't know.

Faizudin was in his Chelsea jersey, bought by his father for Raya. He sat in one corner enjoying his root beer when I asked him about his studies. He wasn't talkative at all, unlike the others who were joking and chatting non-stop.

Faizudin's father is a driver and his mother is a full-time housewife. He has 2 other siblings. He was looking at the pictures in a magazine when I asked him to read aloud. He just sat there, staring at the first word, not uttering anything. When I put my arm around him, he whispered that he couldn't read.

I just couldn't understand it. Here's a Std 4 pupil and he couldn't read a word! Who's responsible for this? His parents? The school? The education system? All of the above? What will happen to this boy when he grows up? Doesn't his parents know and realise that their son couldn't read? Didn't the teacher in school spot this? Nobody cares?

Adoi! I don't know what to make of the situation. My conversation with these boys always reveal the same facts - their parents work day and night to make a living; they play all day; they go to a school nor far from their flats; they went back to their kampong every Raya; they can't speak English; they enjoy television programmes; most want to be soldiers or policemen when they grow up.

My chat with them also revealed they all have a minimum of two new shirts for Raya. Very few of them have new shoes. And most of their parents bought nothing new for themselves for Raya.

It was almost deja vu for me. I went through the same Raya when I was a boy. But I was lucky I guess. I lived in a tough neighbourhood where everyone knows each other, and we played and studied together. Our parents were coolies and labourers, and none of us were spared the rod if we were not with our school books as night falls.

I guess times have changed. Faizudin will have to realise soon that he's got a long way ahead of him. I don't see a future in him unless his parents or teachers realise the small boy has a major problem.


Anonymous said...

A lot of students cannot read due to learning disabilities for eg dylexia.But it is a sad facts teachers at school are not trained to detect it and do something about it.These students are usually label as stupid and lazy.

My second son can only read when he was in std 4 .When I mentioned the word dylexia the teacher said she never heard of the term!

So students like Faizudin and my sons will be label as stupid but in actual fact they bright students with only reading difficulty.

Ahmad A Talib said...

TQ Anon 1.20.

You are absolutely right. The teaching profession is a lot more demanding now, and teachers are required to learn new skills in managing their classrooms. This can be done via proper and careful training. As for parents, they need to be alert about their children's disabilities too. I'm worried that if teachers do not spot the children with such disabilities, parents ouight to be able to detect them.

I hope your child is doing well now. TQ for the input.

Anonymous said...

kes faizudin hanyalah satu contoh kecil kepada masalah yang lebih besar. salah siapa atau siapa salah? masalah ini lagi besar dari masalah tadi.

sekiranya anak-anak yang memulakan persekolahan tahun satu masih belum boleh membaca, ia akan menghadapi masalah besar. ia akan tertinggal dan terus ditinggalkan.

gurubesar dan guru-guru tidak menggangap mereka ini murid istimewa. hanya nasib menentukan masa depan mereka.

*cosmic freak* said...

Its the education system where either the administrators or educators are taking their responsibilities forgranted.

I remembered during my schooldays, after our monthly exams, gifts were given such as sweets or stationaries for those who excelled. and we all wanted that special eraser, or pencil colour set, if not the recognition. thus, the want to strive harder falls on us. teachers, as much as they were freakin' fierce, but they show concerned.

these days, they don't care much. because most of them are graduates who couldn't land better government jobs that they're dreamt for, or they are just looking forward to receive that end-of-the-month pay and annual bonus if not increment.

teaching has been not a career, but just another job with consistent pay.

by standard four, teachers SHOULD have been aware of students inability to read or write, and they should not be afraid in conducting special extra classes for slow learners. I had extra classes for english when I was in my pre-school in australia. even my elder brother and sister and other foreign students joined the class. just 2 hours a day during school time. it didn't hurt the teacher. and we all learned together.

it falls back to the administrators to structure the teacher's requirements and raise awareness in the teaching profession.

I wouldn't mind being a teacher. only that, I suck big time in teaching. heh.

BoxxTomoi said...

Dear Datuk,
Tahun depan (raya) kita buat nationwide survey about budak2 yang datang beraya,family and education background,juga what they do with all the duit raya.
It will be an interesting study.

cakapaje said...


My mother is a retired teacher. Back when she was teaching, I normally drive her to and fro. Once in a while, she would mention about this or that student who, though failed all subjects in year-end examination, are still promoted to higher levels. Then she would relate how tough it was back when she was schooling - before and after the Japanese Occupation!

Quite recently, I shared a table at one of the restaurants at Sungai Buloh on the NKVE, with a high ranking officer from the Education Ministry. We got into conversation and he admits that the Ministry purposedly lowered the marks for the SRP exams last year, just to show how efficient the system is to the public.

Who's to blame? Everyone, mainly the Education System set by the ministry.

Pardon my views.

Unknown said...

As a parent I would very much like to see some inprovement in our school system.Namely the ratio of students and teachers and more facilities to cater for various kinds of students need.

There are just toooo many students per class that teachers have problem controlling the students.

Lucky for the bright ones ...they will be chosen to go to good schools but what happen to average and below students.

As for lowering the passing marks in PMR ...isn't that suppose to keep the students in schools.

Ahmad A Talib said...

Dear commentators,

The children I've written about will have to fend for themselves. I'm not sure how they'll fare. Based on what I saw, these children will have to work triply hard if they want to have a chance of doing well in life.

This compares greatly with a situation faced by another family. The father is a businessman and his children are doing reasonably well in school.

But the father wants the children to do really well in their studies. He wants them to compete internationally and be global players when they grow up. The family is moving on to Australia soon as father is able to hand over his business to someone else.

At the end of the day, parents play a big role in preparing their children to face the hardships of life in the future. Parents make their children (pardon the pun) and mould them from the very beginning.

CAO- Chef Azura othman said...

Dyslexia or learning difficulties could be the reasons,they definitely needs to be taught by speacialist teachers and tutor in that arena.
As for me, I still remember in the 80"s when I started reading at the age of 3,I guess my parents reading habit had certainly helped me to build my confidence.I really hope that more parents today would read the newspaper together with their young children to make reading a habit, spell and read together .

I have a dyslexic friend and he is now a successful businessmen oh and so does Sir Richard Branson .

Anonymous said...


My daughter gave me a scare last two years. I sent her for her early education for three years prior to her primary education. When she was in Std 1, she failed her BM and yet got an "A" for English She can't even read in BM. The pre-school was in English medium. I was so worried and "malu" of course. We are all Malays in the family and yet, one of us cannot read in Malay though she speaks Malay. Her brothers did not give any problem eventhough they went to the same pre-school.

When she wanted to know any particulars articles in the Malay newspapers, she would asked us to read for her. To make her learn how to read in BM, I refused and told to read them herself especially any articles on Erra Fazira (She is EF's no. 1 fan). To show her stubborness, she would rather not know the stories. Probably because she was thinking we were not trying to help her. But slowly, she changed, while the others in the family started to teach her how to spell and pronounce the words. Alhamdullillah, she never fail her BM now and she will be the first one tell us on the news that she read in the Malay newspapers even before I could read them myself. I always praise her by telling, "See that is why we want you to learn to read in BM too. You will know a lot of things".

I tak salah sesiapa dalam soal dia gagal dalam BM. Probably I took for granted my children - anak2 Melayu sejati guarantee tak ada problem punyalah dalam BM. Thank God, we realized before it was too late.

Tapi Datuk, bila dia dah pandai baca newspapers, susah hati juga I sebab sekarang ni macam2 articles keluar dalam paper esp. yang berbau seks dan keganasan. Kadang2 susah nak explain to her.

Bila baca cerita Datuk pasal Faizudin, tersentuh hati saya. Harap2 belum terlambat buat dia....