Reaching out to homeless kids through education

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Being an educator requires sincerity and great patience, especially when teaching children who had never received formal education.

However, thanks to the sheer determination in ensuring that children nationwide have viable access to education, Zulkernai Fauzi, the principal of Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (SBJK) in Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, Kampung Baru initiated efforts to seek out homeless children in the city to join the school.

SBJK, which was established as an initiative of the education ministry, provides access to free education for homeless children, aged between four and 19, in Kuala Lumpur.

Up till now, the school has 16 teachers who not only dedicate their time to teaching but also seek children in Kuala Lumpur to be imparted with knowledge and skills.

Zulkernai said their focus was on children who could not afford to attend the usual daily school due to problems with their identification documents; those who had to drop out of school due poverty; orphans who stayed in welfare homes; and, children with social problems.

“The teachers in this school are special as they commit to tasks that go beyond the usual routine; each week they would follow me scouting for students around Chow Kit, in welfare homes and along pavements in Kuala Lumpur.

“Although it may not be an easy task and even a small effort on our part, but with the commitment of these great teachers, I believe we will be able to provide better education to more neglected children with a view to changing their future,” he added.

Sharing his experience, Zulkernai said they had to go through various challenges in bringing them to school, including being scolded by parents and guardians who assumed that it was too late for the children to be educated.

As such, he had to coax the parents and guardians until they were willing to allow their children to be schooled.

“With their stressful life, they need to be convinced that the government had established the school to enable their children to gain education.

“We (teachers) will share with the parents and children the enjoyable school environment, facilities prepared including meals and skills, that these children can use to build their career,” he said.

The school that began operating on Aug 19, 2013, offers four education systems: preschool (between four and six); primary (between seven and 12), secondary (between 13 and 19); and, basic vocational for skill-based classes such cooking, sewing and music.

To date, SBJK has 143 students with an 80 per cent daily attendance rate.

On June 17, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced an allocation of RM30 million to build a hostel for the school to provide comfortable and secure accommodation for the students.

Delighted with the news, Zulkernai who has managed the school for nearly three years hoped the facilities offered would provide for the needs of the students while developing their character and personality.

“With the construction of the hostel, I am further inspired to persist in my efforts to scout for neglected children to provide them with education as I feel a sense of satisfaction in witnessing their changes in attitude and personality. — Bernama

 

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