Mr Mohamad Faiz bin Mohamad Shakri
From Sekolah Kebangsaan Balar
Nominated by Zulhazmi bin Che Seman
The school is remotely located in the jungle. From the comfort of a city, we have to go off-roading for hours through the jungle and pray that the pickup truck will not get stuck or break down along the way. It caters for indigenous Orang Asli learners who are described as having English as a foreign language. For most of them, school is a scary place where they experience many things for the first time, including encountering non-Orang Asli teachers who are considered as outsiders. , the children have to tolerate being confined in a classroom, learning things that make no sense to them. Despite the challenges, my colleague, Mr. Faiz rises above. Working there and getting the students to love learning require more fights. He started Project Kindness with his children and used his own money to fund a project to build them an Orang Asli-themed English/STEM Park for teaching, learning, and recreation from scratch. Rather than seeing their culture and community as a problem, he tried to understand his roles as a teacher to provide his underprivileged children necessary supports for meaningful schooling experiences and successful educational outcomes. Mr. Faiz created a whole new environment for them so that they won’t have to be confined in a concrete building by spending more than RM7000 to build a green classroom that functions as an alternative learning hub or a makerspace for sustainability projects . It is also a collaborative work space for teaching and learning and activities that require movement, singing, or hands-on. The cost is high as he had to buy the building materials from outside and spend on the cost of transportation, bringing the materials into a remote area. He also spent about RM5000 to buy his children computer tablets to create a technology friendly classroom. Why didn’t he ask for funding? The first reason is he is doing it out of love for his children. The other is to inspire kindness in people. I truly admire him for his efforts in bringing out the best in his children. Luckily, God sent him amazing and beautiful souls. His family, friends and even a complete stranger started to contribute a little without him asking. These kind benefactors contributed some money, ukuleles, reading materials, and a lot of help. Yes, the Hut is made of metal, cement, bamboo, love, and kindness. Using the alternative classroom as a learning hub, Mr. Faiz implemented a project-based learning that motivated his children to learn and helped them develop sustainable literacies which is part of global citizenship. The key to sustainable literacy development is their relationship to the land and nature. That is why he started funding the green classroom made of recycled and sustainable materials. He started the Photovoice Project which is a learning process by which the students reflect their community through photographic techniques. The students went around the village, took photographs, organized ideas, wrote stories based on the pictures, edited the images, and digitised the stories into media presentations. It is able to improve the students’ writing, literacy, and communication skills. In addition, it motivates reluctant writers, promotes collaborative learning, and boosts their creativity to represent their community. I believe that Mr. Faiz's greatest achievement is being able to inspire his children to love learning. Last year, 15 out of 40 Year 6 students passed the English Comprehension paper and 5 out 40 Year 6 students passed the English Writing paper for UPSR 2019. Imagine the achievement, compared to zero percent pass percentage for both papers in the previous year before he transferred to the school. His genuine gesture of enabling quality education for underprivileged children is inspirational and empowering. I would say not all teachers are able to empower students personally and he has done it.