Sabahan teacher wins Macmillan scholarship
Published on: Thursday, February 18, 2016

Kuala Lumpur: A Sabahan teacher, Mohd Sirhajwan Idek, made his school proud by being the only Malaysian to win the Macmillan English scholarship.The 29-year-old teacher at Keningau Vocational College was listed as one of the five winners of the Macmillan Education Teachers at the Heart scholarship, which entitles him to a two-week training course at the Nile Institute in the United Kingdom.

The four other winners were Walid Chaafi from Emtiez Preparatory School in Tunisia, Cares Diaz Fare of Escola Ramon Llull in Spain, Ksemia Immel of British Club Language School in Russia and Anastaisa Reva of State School "Spring Voices" in Russia.

Macmillan, on its website, said: "Not only did these five talented teachers present outstanding examples and evidence of success, they also embody the spirit of our "Teachers at the Heart message.

"Teachers like these are the reason we do what we do. Why we publish what we publish. Why we run competitions like this one...they teach from and with their hearts."

Kote Belud-born Sirhajwan, who is pursuing his PhD and researching the English language and higher-order thinking skills, said winning the competition was a validation of his teaching.

"I received an email telling me that I won. I couldn't believe it at first. It's challenging to be a teacher and sometimes, I ask myself why I'm doing this, but I believe if teachers quit, students will give up, too.

"I'm really looking forward to the two-week course where I will learn and experience new things. I will be able to meet the best trainers and lecturers, and it will help me build a network," he said.

Sirhajwan, who followed his mother's footsteps in becoming teacher, said he would prepare his own teaching materials by reading books, referring to websites and watching YouTube videos to learn new and effective teaching methods.

"I get inspiration from these sources and create my own materials. I make it a point to check my students' work and give feedback. Feedback is a way to acknowledge a student's work. Besides trying to bring innovation to my classroom, I coach my students during English competitions, debates, public speaking and spelling bee contests.

"Over time, we started winning and it felt good. It showed how powerful teachers can be when they believe in their students and work hard. It's very challenging, no doubt, especially for rural children who have difficulty in conversing confidently in English."

"I felt like giving up, but chose to remain optimistic. A teacher can basically change a student's life."

Sirhajwan said he aimed to give his best to his students and would continue to emphasise the importance of thinking skills to his students to produce employable and quality graduates.


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