Life is A Project-Selection for Boarding School

I dedicated this story to my late teacher Cikgu Zakaria Omar. He was my Class Teacher -Standard 6th Sekolah Kebangsaan Beris Kubor Besar, Bachok in 1964. It was seven years after our Merdeka(Independence from British Empire) on 31/8/1957. My school was made of concrete and financed partly the Lottery Box. It cost about RM60,000 and has six classrooms, one teacher room and a block of a toilet. The school was officially opened by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman in 1962, our first Prime Minister. He came in a helicopter. I remembered very well holding the tray with a pair of scissors for the PM to cut the ribbons.

At that time, I knew nothing about studying in full boarding schools. Only later that I found out that for selected students from Malay medium primary school,we can go to Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak in Tanjung Malim, Perak or Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Ipoh Perak or Sekolah Tun Fatimah in Johor Bahru, Johor.

Cikgu Zakaria selected three top students in my class. He is the Form Teacher for my Standard Six Class of 40 pupils. His mission was to get at least one of us to be selected to go to a boarding school with ith better teachers, well-equipped classrooms and laboratories so that we can go to universities. In the ’60s, no one in my village has studied at universities. Malaya was a very underdeveloped country at that time.

Every week we were given a special tuition class and a lot of homework to do. Honestly, I did not like him back then because as a young boy I preferred to go out and play with my friends. We were also made to read newspapers to improve our knowledge of current affairs. At that time, Utusan Melayu Newspaper, written in Jawi, only arrive a day later. We were told to study hard so that we can attend a better school that only take about 80 students every year from the whole country.

In December 1964, I got a letter from Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak(SDAR) located in Tanjung Malim, Perak on the 9th of January 1965. It really got me excited because I was one of the ten boys from Kelantan who was offered to study in SDAR for that year. My late father and my teacher were very happy but not my mother. I will be leaving home and only can be with her during school term breaks every three months.

Getting the chance to study in Full Boarding Schools is the watershed in my education. It changed the way I lived and studied with better accommodations and school facilities. One thing that really made a big difference in my life is the school library. We did not have a library at my village school and I only read school textbooks. At SDAR, I have three classrooms of books and most of them are in English. I have a great time reading The Famous Five books by Enid Blyton. My vocabulary grew from 200 words to 2000 words when I left the school four years later. When I was 16 years old, I was very happy to be able to read New Straits Times newspapers and Reader’s Digest.

In 1969, I left SDAR to join Technical Institute in Kuala Lumpur because of my interest in engineering. To cut the long story short, after my HSC examination, I got the JPA government scholarship to study civil engineering at Sheffield University in 1973–76. As they say, the rest is history. My teacher Cikgu Zakaria was very proud of my success and he told everyone in my village and his village that I was his student way back in 1964. His project was to get his students to be selected to be admitted to a better school and from there it was up to them to make the best of themselves. His efforts and dedication had a profound impact on his students. The role of the teacher is very important in nation-building.

Cikgu Zakaria had a mission. He did not have a chance to learn as I did after Merdeka. He wanted his students to be better educated. It was impossible to get 40 students to get selected to attend a government-sponsored boarding school. So he selected only three of the best and focussed his passion and effort so that at least one of them get selected. Thank God, I was the one that got selected that paved the road for better education and career opportunities.

From a project management perspective, my beloved teacher has accomplished a great project. Thank you, Sir. May Allah bless you.

Lessons learned:

  1. Select the best candidates to achieve great success
  2. Teach and train them with passion and dedication
  3. Inspire, motivate and facilitate them to grow and achieve success
  4. Do your best and pray to God.

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Adib Noh

Adib Noh

Project & Business Consultant/Coach with more than 30 years of experience. I am an engineer,entrepreneur,writer and enjoy cycling and photography.