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 EDUCATION

Outstanding teacher in a class of his own

7th September, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Mohd Sirhajwan Idek has proven that it was not impossible for those from humble backgrounds to achieve success on a global scale.

The 30-year-old teacher from the Keningau Vocational College (KVC) recently headed a delegation comprising his peers and students to the World Invention Innovation Contest in Seoul, South Korea. They brought back four gold medals and four special awards.

One of the gold medals was for his project Think Tales, an English language teaching tool tailor-made for his students at KVC.

“I wanted to prove that no matter who you are and where you come from, nothing can stop you from achieving what you want, even if it’s on a global scale.

“I hail from a village in Kota Belud, received my education locally and worked in a rural area in Keningau. Despite that, I have managed to win several international competitions, beating contestants from other countries, including those from developed nations,” he pointed out.

KVC is located over 100km from Kota Kinabalu, The Malaysian delegation had outdone contestants from nine other countries namely the United States, Philippine, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, India, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia.

The contest, held in June, was the 11th international victory for Mohd Sirhajwan.

CONTRIBUTING TO THE NATION Think Tales: Borneo Collection is a set of English language teaching materials, tools and techniques that were developed based on a collection of Bajau short stories, poems and dramas originally written by Mohd Sirhajwan, who is of Bajau descent.

“It is a passion project that started as a collection of original short stories and poems on Bajau traditions and folklores that I wrote. I then began to expand the scope to include stories of other indigenous and immigrant cultures in Sabah.

“I used these materials to raise students’ awareness on the significance of their origins, childhood memories, past experiences and most importantly, their cultural backgrounds and how it has influenced their lives,” he explained.

He then asked them to share their stories in written and spoken forms to foster their language and thinking skills. It was an exercise that also served another important purpose.

“It helps the learners embrace their origins, establish it as a part of their identity and develop pride for it,” said Mohd Sirhajwan, who was also the 2017 recipient of the Teacher Icon Award and the national, state and Keningau district level.

He has made the collection available for free via iSLCollective.com, a website that assists teachers and students in teaching and learning English as a second or foreign language (ESL/EFL).

Mohd Sirhajwan, who has a degree in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), has previously won the Community Award for Citizenship at the Global Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) Education Awards in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for his contributions in education.

He was also the second place winner in the Innovation in Teaching of Research Methodology Excellence Award (Rome, 2018), recipient of the Express Publishing International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) Scholarship (Brighton UK, 2018), the world champion at the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Excellence in Teaching Award (Paris, 2017) and recipient of the Macmillan Teachers at the Heart scholarship (Norwich UK, 2016).

MINI AMBASSADOR Mohd Sirhajwan saw himself as a mini ambassador for Malaysia when representing the country to competitions overseas. As such, he would do his best to share as much information as he can about Malaysia with the world. “In addition to highlighting Malaysia’s achievements in the education sector, I also strove to illustrate Malaysia’s commitment to progress and its ability to compete globally.

“I want the world to know the beauty of our multi-ethnic people and the richness of our traditions,” he said. He also wanted to show his fellow Malaysians, particularly the youths that with determination and effort, success was theirs for the taking.

Mohd Sirhajwan will be participating in another international innovation competition in Indonesia this month and presenting a research paper in Brunei in November. –Bernama

   
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