Teachers deliver homework by hand

Dedication to service: Nazmi delivering homework to students in a remote village in Sarawak.

KUCHING: For the past three months, SK Long Sukang teacher Muhammad Nazmi Rosli and his colleagues have been delivering homework to their students in 13 villages in Sarawak’s remote Lawas highlands.

Nazmi initiated the homework delivery in early April after the movement control order (MCO) started, as the pupils had no access to the Internet for online learning.

The weekly delivery used to take two days as the villages could only be reached by four-wheel drive vehicles, with the nearest three to four hours from Lawas town.

But since teachers were instructed several weeks ago to go back to their schools, the process has become easier.

“From the school in Long Sukang, we can now do the delivery within one day. We divided the villages into three zones; around eight of us distribute the materials in three teams, ” Nazmi said.

Over weeks of distributing homework, one of the challenges he came across was that the students did not have anyone to ask for help if they did not understand the materials.

“Sometimes the teacher delivering the homework is not the subject teacher. For example, if I’m the one delivering it and they have a question about Mathematics, I would tell them to wait until the following week after I get in touch with the Mathematics teacher, ” Nazmi, who teaches English and Art, said.

To overcome this, the school decided to complement homework distribution with a new initiative dubbed “ruai classroom” – small classes in the “ruai”, or verandah, of teachers’ homes in the village itself.

“We have three teachers who live in Long Sukang, so the school administrator saw the opportunity to conduct small classes.

“The village headman also agreed to this, ” Nazmi said.

He explained that the teachers allocated separate times to conduct the classes three to four times a week for 58 students in Long Sukang, which is about half of the school’s students.

“We started this two or three weeks before the ministry told teachers to return to school. The three teachers teach Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mathematics, so three major subjects are covered.

“Now, using the ruai classroom, the students’ homework projects are monitored by the teachers. The kids are also more motivated to do their work with someone there to help them, ” he said.

For Nazmi, putting in these efforts during the MCO period is part of his job as a teacher.

“I often get invited to give online talks and everyone is sharing how they are adapting to the new norm of teaching and learning using online platforms.

“But me and my kids, we don’t have the chance to use all these online platforms, so we just want to make use of whatever we have.

“We don’t want to abandon our kids. It wouldn’t be fair to them. As teachers, it’s our job to do our best, ” he said.

He also credited an officer, Hazelyn Rimbar, from the state Education, Science and Technological Research Ministry, with encouraging the school to come up with these initiatives during the MCO period.

“She’s been really helpful, not only for my school but other rural schools stuck in the pandemic. She’s the one who suggested doing the ruai classroom and she keeps checking on us to see how our schools are doing, ” he said.

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