In 2012, Samuel Isaiah was tasked with the difficult job of teaching English at SK Runchang, an Orang Asli school in Pekan, Pahang. When he arrived, a fellow teacher told him that he didn’t need to do much for the children as they are just Orang Asli. Yet, these words inspired him to take up the challenge and change the perception of the community towards Orang Asli students.
Cikgu Sam, as he is affectionately known to his students, transformed the conventional classroom environment into a fun experience to encourage his students to attend class. He started the “Speak Up With Poetry” Programme which enabled his students to improve their English vocabulary through guided videos by reading and speaking in English using poetry. His students even had the opportunity to perform songs and play the ukulele by teaching chords which are in sync with the English words in a particular song. (How cool, is that?)
Through his efforts of launching a crowd funding campaign to help the school get laptops, his students now embrace technology as part of their learning experience, like their urban counterparts. That’s not all – his ‘Asli E-Pal’ initiative also encouraged students to learn and communicate in English with volunteers from around the world!
Cikgu Sam’s tireless efforts finally paid off when his students scored A’s for English in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and the passing rate for English increased from 30% to 85%. An amazing feat for Orang Asli students who initially hardly knew a word of English!
Having won the Anugerah Guru Adiwara (Superhero Teachers Award) in 2019, Cikgu Sam recently made headlines as one of the top 10 finalists vying for the Global Teacher Prize 2020. He is nominated along with teachers from India (Ranjitsinh Disale), Nigeria (Olasunkanmi Opeifa), the United Kingdom (Jamie Frost), Italy (Carlo Mazzone), South Africa (Mokhudu Cynthia Machaba), the United States (Leah Juelke) and South Korea (Yun Jeong-hyun).
Watch the video below on Samuel’s nomination by actor and comedian, Stephen Fry.
Source: YouTube/Talking Education
The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah also congratulated Samuel for his noble efforts and achievement and was overjoyed with his nomination for the Global Teacher Prize 2020.
Comptroller of the Royal Household, Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said His Majesty also expressed hopes that Samuel’s achievement would be a source of inspiration and example to all Malaysians, especially teachers to strive for success in their respective fields or on the world stage.
Samuel intends use the prize money to start a foundation to help the Orang Asli. He hopes to eradicate poverty, build better infrastructure and provide the Orang Asli community and students, a better quality of life.
We salute Cikgu Sam for breaking stereotypes and making a difference in education.
All the best, Cikgu Sam! Malaysia will be rooting for you all the way and we are truly humbled by your dedication to empower our future generation.
*Feature image credit – The Sentral.my