Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Day in the Life Of

Article excerpt

Moving from the big city to a rural area of Borneo has led this teacher to appreciate a simpler way of life

It wasn't easy making the switch from being trained academically in banking and finance, to teaching full time in a high-need school on the island of Borneo. But I couldn't let the opportunity to be a Teach For Malaysia Fellow slip by: this was my chance to be more than just another keyboard warrior lamenting the current state of our education system.

I teach science to 13- and 14-year-olds in a high school in Miri, Sarawak. It is dubbed The Oil City due to its rich source of petroleum along the division's coastline. The lifestyle here is surprisingly slow-paced - a stark difference from Kuala Lumpur, where I was born and bred, and where it's about keeping up with the Joneses and 24-hour eateries to cater to workers slogging through their jobs at ungodly hours.

Despite being rich in natural resources, there is a long road ahead to fully develop and modernise Sarawak, due to existing challenges - and this includes the education sector. There's still much more to be done to increase access for east Malaysians, compared to the multitude of opportunities that most of their western counterparts get.

As a science teacher, I try to play my part to bridge the exposure gap by teaching current issues and development in science, technology, and even world news in my lessons. Some of my students were completely unaware of plans to build a mega-hydroelectric dam just 250km from Miri.

But there are merits to living in a city that is not rapidly urbanising. In my year-and-a-half teaching here, I've come to understand and empathise with my students' perspective on life. It's about making just enough to get by, with a little extra for savings and personal entertainment. Most don't dream of migrating elsewhere, because it's simply not them. …

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