Six outstanding Malay school teachers recognised for their work

SINGAPORE - Teaching the Malay language is a challenge today, when more than half of Madam Azizah Shaik Kadir's pupils speak English at home. But the teacher of 24 years at Chongzheng Primary uses a variety of ways from tech tools to drama to make the language come alive.

"Instead of just sitting in the classroom, students learn through things like going on learning journeys conducted in Malay language, or reading fiestas where they read Malay language books with their parents," said the 48-year-old. They also write drama scripts in the language, and come dressed as characters to act out scenes, she added.

For her efforts, Madam Azizah on Saturday won the Arif Budiman Malay Language Teachers' Award given to outstanding Malay Language teachers. It was also given to Madam Zaleha Ahmad (Park View Primary), Madam Nuraina Mohamed Sin (Fuhua Primary), Ms Nurbaya Ismail (Townsville Primary), Madam Yahida Yahya (Yusof Ishak Secondary) and Mr Ridzuan Abrahim (Pasir Ris Crest Secondary). The award is jointly organised by the Malay Language Council Singapore, the Malay Language Teachers' Association, Malay daily Berita Harian and the Malay Language Learning and Promotion Committee.

At the ceremony at Concorde Hotel, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said teachers exemplify a trait that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had encouraged Singaporeans to have in a speech in October. That is, he added, to "never be hard-hearted" but "never shy away from being hard-headed". "You make difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions from the student's point of view," he said. "But you do it with a softness of the heart towards your students, assuring them that you care, and pushing them to expect greater things from themselves."