Students see volunteering as first step in landing teaching job

National 5 minutes, 8 seconds


MORE students are volunteering to teach as a stepping stone to realise their aspiration of imparting knowledge to the younger generation.

The students, who are as young as 16, are taking the opportunity to get work experience through the Ministry of Education’s assistant teacher volunteering programme.

Introduced by the Early Childcare Care and Education Unit in 2012, the volunteer programme was initially offered to sixth form graduates to work as pre-school teacher assistants. However, the programme has been expanded to include O Level students.

Speaking to The Brunei Times, Abdul Muaz’zam Azri Zulkifli said he volunteered because he wanted to make use of his time to get working experience while waiting for university admission after his public exams.

“I am excited to be part of the programme as my ambition is to become an educator once I graduate from university in the future. I get to interact with the students, parents and the society.

“I take this opportunity as part of ibadah where we get to teach and share priceless knowledge while waiting for university admission,” said the 19-year-old student who finished his A Levels at Sekolah Menengah Arab Laki-Laki Hassanal Bolkiah (SMALHB).

Abdul Muaz’zam, who has applied to further his studies at Seri Begawan Religious Teaching College, is now an assistant pre-school teacher at Raja Isteri Fatimah Primary School.

Another student from SMALHB who volunteered to teach is Nurhazirah Mohammad.

“It’s an exciting experience watching the preschool kids on the first day of school. It gets tiring but it’s worth it.

“From the programme, I learn to be better and dedicated especially when interacting with the students. It’s important to gain experiences like these because it would look good to future employers,” said the 18-year-old who is teaching at Pengiran Setia Jaya Pg Abd Momin Primary School in Kuala Belait.

Dk Nur Udzratul Liyana Pg Zul Amri, an O Level student from Lambak Kiri Secondary School, said she was informed about the programme during her school’s morning assembly.

“I joined this programme as my parents would be assured that I’m doing something productive, rather than going out with friends.

“It is a nerve-wrecking experience as I had no experience handling children before, but we had a briefing beforehand on how to handle the students,” she added.

Working as an assistant teacher at Dato Othman Primary School, Dk Nur Udzratul said the volunteering programme is an excellent platform for those who aspire to become a teacher.

She said the programme allows them to polish up the necessary skills to be an educator.

Sufina Insyirah Yusoff Zaky, a 17-year-old student from Sultan Sharif Ali Secondary School, shared similar sentiments.

“I gain the experience and somehow feel the ‘pressure’ being a teacher. It helped me to be more prepared and learn to be extra patient, given the challenges dealing with preschool children.

“I think for those who are still undecided what to do after their O or A Level exams, they could join the programme and experience the excitement,” Sufina said.

Another volunteer from Pengiran Anak Puteri Masna Secondary School, Nur Nazawatul Raihani, 16, shared that the experience gained from the programme had made her more confident in communicating with teachers and students.

She also made friends with other volunteers from different schools, including fellow 16-year-old Nur Aqilah Hj Abdul Latif from Lambak Kiri Secondary School.

“We developed a range of skills, for example time management. It feels good being an assistant teacher, to have something to look forward to do everyday. We get to know what it feels like to be a teacher,” said both of them.

According to the Early Childhood Care and Education Unit, volunteers registered for the programme would be briefed to prepare them in working with young children before going to their school of choice.

They will be trained to stimulate these children with learning activities to keep them engaged, according to a report of the programme.

The unit further stated that students would also be introduced to pre-school children curriculum and play-based teaching methods, such as singing, playing and colouring.

The ministry also hoped experiencing the teaching environment first hand would inspire the volunteers to take up a career in pre-school education.

However, the report stated that there are some challenges for volunteers, including unavailability of transport as most do not have driving licences yet, adding that this is solved by school placements near where they live.

Ermawaty Yacub, an education officer at Early Childhood Care and Education Unit, said they are welcoming O and A Level students who are waiting for college and university admissions to join their assistant teacher volunteering programme.

“The programme has received positive response from last year’s batch of O and A Level students. Our unit recorded a total of 114 volunteers who registered under the programme. We are hoping more students will volunteer,” she said.

As of press time, the unit observed an increase in registration for the programme, where 154 students have applied to become assistant pre-school teachers.

The officer added that students have to register with the unit before they proceed to the primary schools as the unit has to notify the school principals for safety and recording purposes.

“At the moment, we are only giving out appreciation certificates as an incentive to these volunteers. Nonetheless, we have been receiving positive feedback from the volunteers of their valuable experiences,” added Ermawaty.

Meanwhile, Datin Dr Hjh Asmah Hj Morni, director of Schools and Head of Early Childhood Care and Education, said the volunteers would help teachers during the demanding start of the school term.

She also spoke on the valuable experiences gained by volunteers who joined the programme.

“Nothing compares to doing voluntary work as it comes from the heart. It is one of the values that should be developed from an early age; hence parents should understand that volunteers are not paid because they are too priceless!”

“The response from students has been incredible, so I would encourage others to take this opportunity and think of the difference you could make in the future to yourself and to your country,” added Datin Dr Hjh Asmah.

The Brunei Times