SINCE her entry into the teaching profession in 1971, Hamedah Wok Awang’s belief has been to encourage teachers to love teaching and students to love learning.
“When people do something out of love, they will always do their best,” said the former principal from Pahang.
Hamedah who has a string of motivational books on teaching and learning to her name, shared that her own teachers inspired her career choice.
“In 1997, I was involved in an accident which left me paralysed and bed-ridden.
“I’ve erased all memory of the accident and what happened immediately after because I’d rather focus on what I am able to do now,” she shared.
Hamedah was one of the four recipients of the Tokoh Guru 2011 awards given out during the national Teachers Day celebration in Kuching, Sarawak last Monday.
Presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the awards are given by the ministry in recognition and appreciation of teachers who have imparted their knowledge and demonstrated their excellent teaching skills in the classroom; made great contributions to the profession; been actively involved in activities outside the classroom and in community service; and excellence in other fields.
They received RM10,000 each, a medal, plaque and certificate. Besides Hamedah, the other award recipients are Prof Datuk Dr Ab Rahim Selamat, Datuk N Siva Subramaniam and Datuk Rita T Jaafar @ Rita Bagong.
With 25 years of teaching experience, Siva Subramaniam is former National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general, Cuepacs president, and a former commissioner for the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.
Reflecting on his days with the NUTP, Siva Subramanaim said he was almost arrested under the Sedition Act at one point for bringing up the fact that Indian students were being discriminated against in some schools.
“But I felt that if I didn’t stand up for issues I believed in, there was no point in being part of the union,” he said.
Currently a consultant in the Cabinet Committee on the Indian Community in the Prime Minister’s Department, Siva Subramaniam thinks that his teaching experience prepared him for other roles.
“A good and professional teacher knows how to deal with people effectively – if you can do this in classroom, that skill is going to help you in other careers as well,” he shared.
Starting out as a teacher at Malacca’s Catholic High School in 1964, Prof Ab Rahim has since gone on to chart a diverse career in education.
He was formerly Institut Aminuddin Baki director and Universiti Industri Selangor’s Education Faculty dean, and has also been a consultant to the World Bank and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).
Prof Ab Rahim says his decision to go into teaching was not one “of real choice”.
“At that time, I saw teaching as my only option.
“So in my case, the lack of choices was the best thing that happened to me; I was destined to be a teacher,” he said, adding that teaching is his blood as his father and seven siblings were also teachers.
“A teacher’s primary job satisfaction comes from watching his students do well in life,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Education Leadership Award was presented to former education director-general Datuk Dr Nor Adam @ Matnor Daim.
In addition, the ministry also presented other awards for special education teacher, teacher with special needs and innovative teacher.
SMK Bandar Sunway senior assistant (special education) Juairiah Johari who received the special education award, continues to teach art and cooking to the 67 students with special needs, who range from low to high functioning at the school.
“It is important to see the potential of our students although they may not be good in academic studies.
“We work on a blueprint for our students so that they can become more independent,” she added.
Juairiah who has been a special education teacher for the last 27 years, received a certificate, plaque as well as RM1,000 from the ministry and RM250 from the Selangor education department.
By PRIYA KULASAGARAN and KAREN CHAPMAN