SUNGAI BESI: On his first day of school at the Royal Military College (RMC) in 2015, Muhammad Luqman Islam arrived at the boarding school with only the clothes on his back.
His teachers knew Luqman as the poverty-stricken boy who could not afford a pair of socks and a son who was dedicated to caring for his ailing parents.
After the SPM results were announced on Thursday, teachers will now remember him as the hard working boy who strived against all odds to become a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) high achiever.
The Kedah boy scored 7As for his SPM at the RMC here yesterday.
His life at RMC began two years ago. His father, despite facing many illnesses, rode a motorbike for seven hours from their home then in Temerloh to bring Luqman to Sungai Besi for the RMC entrance interview.
“When Luqman arrived for the first day of school, he did not even have the basics like underwear, singlets or socks,” RMC teacher Datin Anissdza Buyong said.
She said his father sold as many chickens as he could to pay the then RM600 yearly tuition fee, but was not able to earn enough.
At a loss, he requested to pay the tuition fees by instalment. The school saw potential in Luqman and decided to waive his tuition fee.
Anissdza and other teachers took it upon themselves to help Luqman by sponsoring his basic necessities like clothes and bus tickets to return home during the holidays.
“He used to be very quiet and reserved.
RMC has built him into a confident, eloquent man,” she said.
Now, Luqman is aiming to become a doctor to help manage his parents medical condition.
Luqman’s parents are unemployed. His 50-year-old mother has high blood pressure while his father, 55, suffers from gout, cellulitis and an unknown medical condition.
While most students happily celebrated with their families, Luqman was alone because it was too expensive to travel to Sungai Besi.
For Luqman, the seventh in a family of eight siblings, the decision to enter RMC was not only due to interest, but it was also a necessity.
“It is a good place for underprivileged children because the clothes, food, accommodation and learning facilities are readily available for us,” he said.
A total of 17 students scored straight As in RMC, with an orang asli student named as the school’s top scorer and winning a RM150,000 scholarship to the University Malaysia of Computer Science and Engineering.
Morven Manu, from the Jakun village in Kampung Orang Asli Sungai Buloh, was at a loss for words as he walked up to the stage to accept his award from Commander Brigadier General Mohd Shahada Ismail.
Morven was one of four Jakun SPM candidates who broke personal barriers by scoring high in the SPM exam.
Ismarol Fizal Saprie from Rompin passed with five As, Sang Wei Cieh from Pekan passed with four As, while Hafizzal Hamdan from Kulim passed with three As.
The three boys were classmates from the Aboriginal Students Intellectual Centre in Kuala Rompin, Pahang and entered RMC together after completing their Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination.
The SPM certificate was especially meaningful to them as they are the first in their families to go to the city and complete their education.