Making a difference as educators

Rokiah Mahmud

The road to become an outstanding and successful educator is rife with sacrifices, emotional challenges and engagement with society while also demanding full commitment, cooperation and teamwork.

The long journey for success sometimes leads one to stop in between and start over again. Some will go with the flow, meet all challenges and obstacles and confront their hardships. Those who have great heart and determination towards their goals of success in the education field will accept fears, challenges, keep going strong and stay positive.

For demonstrating such qualities, Hajah Noorliah binti Haji Aspar, Lim Soh Ngo and Hajah Ratnawati binti Haji Mohammad – three teachers from Brunei Darussalam whose contribution in the teaching field has provided significant impact and gradually become factors to their students’ success – have been honoured with Thailand’s Princess Maha Chakri Award (PMCA).

The PMCA aims at appreciating and recognising outstanding teachers in the 10 ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste.

The PMCA is given once every two years to honour not only the contributions made by the teachers, but also to look at how they cared for the society, especially disadvantaged groups.

The awards are also meant to serve as examples for their fellow educators in ASEAN and Timor-Leste.

The unique and most important aspects of the accolade are the activities carried out after receiving the award, which eventually enable these teachers to further expand their best practices not only in improving themselves but also assisting other teachers in the region with their expertise.

PMCA award recipients Hajah Noorliah binti Haji Aspar, Lim Soh Ngo and Hajah Ratnawati binti Haji Mohammad with Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand to Brunei Darussalam Wanthanee Viputwongsakul (2nd L). PHOTO: ROKIAH MAHMUD

The selection of these three teachers and other recipients was conducted through a process set by PMCA Foundation with the education ministries from all ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste.

In an interview with the Bulletin, PMCA 2019 recipient Hajah Noorliah said she has been in the education field for more than 30 years.

Her experience has not only allowed her to become an administrator, as she is currently headmistress at Lambak Kanan Jalan 49 Primary School, but also opened wide opportunities for her to give back as part of her social responsibility. She has also mentored her fellow teachers at different schools.

When her name was announced to receive the prestigious award, Hajah Noorliah said the recognition came with a huge responsibility.

During the presentation of the award last year, she received a Golden PMCA Pin, USD10,000, a PMCA Plaque and a certificate.

Hajah Noorliah began her teaching career in English Language, General Paper, Science and Mathematics in Sengkurong Primary School in 1987. She then embarked on another level with her career when she was appointed Jalan 49 Lambak Kanan Primary School’s headmistress.

Her contribution for over 30 years in education development has been very impactful as she actively plays a role in monitoring and carrying out evaluation for teachers’ and staff performance to deliver expected outcomes for more effective and impactful teaching and learning.

Apart from the PMCA 2019, she also received an Excellent Teacher’s Award during the National Teacher’s Day celebration in 2016.

“After being honoured with the award, my vision and mission in the education field is becoming more significant with greater responsibilities,” she said.

“I try to get involved as much as I can to ensure all the activities in our school or around the community are running smoothly. At the same time, I am also very much involved in teaching my Year 6 students and I am very happy that I am able to help improve the students’ results.”

In addition, she is also actively involved with her role as an educator for 50 special needs students at the school. She strives to involve parents and their guardians, updating them on the special needs students’ development including, among others, their ability for self-independence, progress in subjects they take and communication skills.

This success and involvement partly contributed to the accomplishment in receiving the PMCA recognition.

“With the monetary prize that I received, I carried out several projects and made contributions to schools around our cluster,” she said. This included contributing sets of printers for teachers for printing out their Home Learning Packs (HLP) and provide online data for students so that they could conduct online learning at home.

Insya Allah, if the COVID-19 situation gradually eases in our country, more projects and contributions can be made,” she said.

Meanwhile, Lim Soh Ngo who was a PMCA recipient in 2017 shared that even though she retired as a chemistry teacher from Duli Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College, her contribution has not stopped there.

She has been actively contributing as a mentor at several professional workshops, programmes and activities carried out for teachers. She often gives talks and shares experience especially with new teachers to increase their confidence level and for their self-development.

At the same time, she organised a special project with the PMCA Foundation named the ‘Fabulous ASEAN Breakfast’, which involves students from ASEAN member countries sharing their experience and thoughts while at the same time aiming to increase literacy in info-communication technology.

In addition, Lim Soh Ngo handled a project on the impact of online teaching and learning during the COVID-19 situation which involved 600 students and 300 teachers of ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste.

The 2015 PMCA awardee Hajah Ratnawati, a teacher in Keriam Primary School, Tutong also spoke with the Bulletin.

Hajah Ratnawati highlighted that as an educator one should be more progressive and innovative so that we can help students achieve success.

“Even without the award, we must give our full commitment and deliver positive values to our students,” she said.

“We must stay positive, especially when handling special needs students, as the challenges that we encounter are not the same with normal students. We need to find the best practice and solutions, while also respecting others experience and opinion, and improve the learning process,” she added.