Project Teringai 2015: Day Eight – The Blackout

Project Teringai logo final


as logged by Sean Thum

11900765_10153247638923218_536490288_oDay 8 began with a dose of nostalgia as schoolchildren, standing at attention, belted out the national anthem as the flag slowly rose to its rightful position at the top of the flagpole.Monday assemblies, which are an opportunity for the officers of the school to address students, is something I missed after leaving high school. Words of wisdom were always advised by the speakers on the stage; I felt privileged to be a part of it today.

day 8

Head boy leading the attentive students during the assembly.

As the headmaster Mr. George had to leave his station in Teringai to Langkawi for the call of duty, the deputy headmaster of student affairs Mr Edwin took the stage. He firstly allayed concerns of the students regarding the absence of the headmaster (it was heartening to see how much the students love the headmaster; there were constant questions regarding his absence at the assembly).

Mr Edwin spoke of student attendance being at 89%, which was very poor. He mentioned sources disclosing that several students of the school were working during school hours, and some students were collecting coconuts for 50 cents each. Upset that the students weren’t treasuring their education, he emphasized that this was not the time to work, but to accrue adequate knowledge so to be able to obtain better jobs in the future!

This is an extremely important talking point. A few nights ago we had a discussion on the importance of education, and we concluded that in addition to educators having the responsibility to make students understand what they teach, they also have the responsibility to make their students (and their parents/guardians) understand the reason, and the need for education. It is very disheartening to know that students are playing truant to work (Caveat: this is a general statement, not for Teringai only). The teachers have to put in their best effort to convince the students (and their parents/guardians) that the best thing at this age is for them to focus on their studies.

Class began shortly after recess. Celina, Shafiq, and I took the 5th years for English. We prepared cardboard cutting with simple nouns (spectacles, trousers, collar, ponytail; you’d be shocked to learn that eleven year olds can’t tell you what these words mean) and broke them down to three groups. I used a game where I give an instruction (etc: those with trousers, stand up) and they had to follow; those who didn’t would be punished. The kids responded very well to the game and we had a good time. The cardboard cuttings definitely made the task easier.

In the afternoon, I was supposed to take the two kids assigned to me (Relson and Wandeh) for Mathematics. Unfortunately Wandeh was absent, so I brought Relson for an impromptu outdoor Mathematics class. I got him to collect blades of grass, and then arrange it according to their lengths. I then brought out a ruler, and taught him the principles of the measurement of length. We did some simple conversion too (millimeter to centimeter to meter and back), and I measured his height, and used it as teaching material.

I personally feel education does not need to be confined within the four walls of the classroom. There are plenty of resources around the school which we can use to make the learning process fun, exciting, and adventurous. Teachers utilizing natural resources as materials to consolidate information will make the learning experience more real for the children, enabling them to understand the topics better. Relson came to grasp the concept of length pretty efficiently.

We had frisbee in the evening (:D) and dance practice before dinner.

Alas, disaster struck.

There was an electricity cut. Complete blackout.

We had to consume our dinner by candlelight, and our planned nighttime revision session had to be scrapped. Yes, Einstein studied by candlelight but we are in an era where prolonged blackouts shouldn’t exist! Nevertheless, we made the most of the situation. Using flashlights from our handphones as a source of light, I instead learned the Rungus dialect from the children.

Bahasa Malaysia – Rungus
Selamat pagi – Selamat minsusubab

Selamat malam – Selamat minsosodup

Saya – Yoku

Kamu – Yikau

Jangan – Kada

Jangan menangis – Kada pogihad

Sungai – Bavang

Laut – Dahat

Cantik – Avasi

Tua – Dumohing

Saya suka kau – Ozi oku dikau

Takut – Rumosi

Lapar – Vitilon

Mandi – Moudsu

Handsome – Ohinsom (kids insisted)

Lelaki – Kusai

Perempuan – Tendu

Mari – Sitiko

Sakit – Orulall

Datuk – Aki

Nenek – Yindi

Nombor – Numbur

Telinga – Telingar

Kepala – Tulu

Ikan – Sada

Hidung – Todung

Makan – Maku

Kening – Sambakon

Gigi – Nippon

I managed to get a simple list written down while visibility was poor. Any inaccuracy is regretted.

Relson, the child under my wing who does not stay in the hostel, had made a wasted trip to the school for the revision session. I brought him out onto the field, and we had a heart to heart talk on various topics while admiring the stars, which ranged from constellations (he loved the story of Orion), his interest in football (Relson aims to play for Malaysia one day), and he reciprocated by telling me the history of the village. It was a very touching moment we shared.

After the children were sent to bed by the matron of the hostel, we returned to our room (there was still no electricity) to complete the board for snakes and ladders which we would be using as lesson material for the following day. Thanks to the cooperation of all Charismen (Shafiq and I took turns to hold a flashlight while the girls completed the drawings), we managed to produce a decent board for snakes and ladders. Teamwork rules!

day 8(1)

Unfortunately, there was no light for us to admire our handiwork. How sad.

(Picture taken in the afternoon when we were setting the groundwork for the board)

When the lights came on, it was close to midnight. I was assured by the matron that this was a common occurrence. One pertinent issue to raise is that if this phenomenon occurs frequently, how are the children able to focus on their revision of their studies? This is a blatant evidence of substandard service to not only the school, but the people in the village as well. This may very well affect the livelihood of the village folks, and indirectly affect the economy of the country!

Let’s hope this doesn’t happen again during our stay.

One thought on “Project Teringai 2015: Day Eight – The Blackout

  1. Ada bbrapa ayat translate malay ke rungus tu yg slah..
    It suppose to be:
    Selamat malam- salamat minsosodop
    Telinga- Tolingo
    Org Tua- Lumohing
    P/S: i am originally from teringai.. i am glad that u enjoyed your 2 weeks stay there..😊


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