School of second chance

Caring teacher: Hishamuddin feels immense satisfaction when he managed to change the lives of his students at Sekolah Henry Gurney.

MELAKA: Hishamuddin Husin has absolutely no regrets about his decision to transfer to Sekolah Henry Gurney (SHG), a school for young offenders, in Telok Mas in Ayer Molek, in 2019.

Although some may perceive teaching at such an institution as a thankless job, for Hishamuddin it was quite the opposite: he sees the school as a place where young offenders get a second chance at life.

“If you ask me, yes, given the chance again, I would still choose to teach here. SHG presents young offenders the opportunity to do many great things; more importantly it gives these students a second chance,” he said.

Hishamuddin was previously teaching at several science schools, where he had even established a Japanese Department in one due to his fluency in the language.

ALSO READ : A new lease on life after SHG stint

However, the dedicated English teacher asked to be transferred to SHG in 2018 after two of his students came into conflict with the law.

He said learning that his students had ended up in the juvenile system hit him hard, and led to him to try and understand the education system at SHG.

“Both students were committed to their studies, and so I was affected by what happened to them. It became a turning point that changed my focus in the education field,” he said.

ALSO READ : No need for jail, ‘diversion approach’ will do for kids

Hishamuddin admitted that he, too, had a preconceived negative impression about SGH, but he now sees how the system is designed as a correctional centre for juveniles, working together with the Education Ministry.

“The students are also offered religious, moral and counselling guidance to prepare them for returning to their families and the community,” he told The Star.

Hishamuddin said SHG students came from varied socioeconomic backgrounds: some are school dropouts and others were involved in criminal activities in the past.

As such, many find it hard to cope with the education system.

ALSO READ : Education key to keeping children away from crime

In fact, he said, many had to “start all over again”, especially in learning English, which is why Hishamuddin felt compelled to try his best in helping them achieve their goals.

“I cannot do anything on my own but, by being part of the system, we can have a positive effect. Hopefully, by helping them achieve their goals, the students will go on to contribute back to their families and communities,” he said.

Hishamuddin said helping the students get on the right track was immensely satisfying as there had been many success stories.

“After two solid years of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia preparations, many of my students thanked me for taking them ‘out of darkness and into the light’.

ALSO READ : A new lease on life after SHG stint

“This really touched me so much because it feels good to help them. When you do a good deed, there is always a reward and my students have given me an opportunity to do something,” he said.

When asked what can be done to keep these children and youth from ending up inside the juvenile correctional system, Hishamuddin said education had to start from home and that the community, too, had a part to play.

“We cannot rely solely on teenagers to do the right thing. Nowadays, parents are busy working, and these young people seek attention outside. If they are lucky, they find good company, but if they are unlucky, they can fall into the wrong company.

“There are also many who come from broken families, so they lean towards anyone who can offer them something.

“This is why we should all be aware of our responsibility. The community should work alongside parents and teachers in helping children avoid coming into conflict,” he said.

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