Lessons From Sarawak

WHAT is, of course, so remarkable about Sekolah Kebangsaan Ulu Lubai’s admission to the ranks of high performance schools is that it is a small rural school with six classrooms and fewer than 40 pupils in the middle of the jungle in the district of Limbang, Sarawak. It is so remote and isolated that it was closed in 1974 as no one was willing to teach in the school and only reopened in 1977. But it has recorded 100 per cent passes in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah exam for five consecutive years since 2006 and occupies top spot in the primary school ranking. In fact, it is an award-winning school that has garnered some 47 prizes at the district, state, national and international levels.

As SK Ulu Lubai seems to have figured out how to raise pupil achievement, it obviously has lessons to offer to other rural schools as they look a lot like it geographically and demographically. In this regard, it is not the only school in Sarawak’s Fifth Division that can show the way to school success. SK Ba Kelalan in the highlands of the district of Lawas may not have made it to the list of top performing schools, but it is a cluster school. It also shared the honours with SK Ulu Lubai in the 2009 Commonwealth Education Good Practice Awards. What the two have in common are locally developed strategies that put the total involvement of the whole community at the centre of the efforts to improve school performance. What they have documented is the positive impact that parents, families and communities can have when they work together with schools to support learning. Pupils become more eager to learn, have higher aspirations, attend school more regularly, and get better grades.

Indeed, community support is considered one of the characteristics common to high-performing schools and this holds true regardless of the parents’ education, family income or background. As what happens before and after school can be just as vital as what happens during school hours to success in school and in life, the whole community has an essential role to play. Our ability to move from middle-income to high-income status depends on how well we educate all our children, not just the few that the best schools can handle. There aren’t enough top schools. Moreover, learning is not the sole responsibility of the government and educators. They cannot do it alone. Parents don’t have to be tiger mothers but they have to get involved if we are to produce the best and the brightest.

Source :  www.nst.com.my/

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