Friday, December 22, 2006

A Dedicated Educator (I)

The following story is adapted from the Reader's Digest Asia Edition, April 2001, in a short story entitled "Everyday Heroes: Tech Teacher".

When Mr Tiong Ting Ming was appointed headmaster in 1992, his school, SMJK Dindings was a ramshackle set of wooden buildings. It is a secondary school in the village of Pundut, 100 kilometers west of lpoh. There were 320 students, and the number was failing.

"They were dropping out to help with their families' businesses," he recalls. At that point of time, school just wasn't a priority.

After becoming a teacher in 1977, Tiong had developed an interest in computers. By the time he arrived at Dindings, he realised that new technology was changing the way the world communicated and did business. To give his students an opportunity to break out of their rural poverty, he introduced courses in computer hardware and software, programming, networking and the Internet.

Many teachers and parents resisted the changes, but the students enthusiastically embraced Tiong's ideas. When he started a computer club, more than 100 youngsters signed up. To get equipment, Tiong lobbied tech companies in Malaysia for donations. Many contributed old, unwanted computers, which he and his students repaired in their spare time. Others, impressed by Tiong's dedication and enthusiasm, wrote cheques.

The school now has a new building wired with the latest high-speed Internet connections, and every student has access to a computer.

Thanks to Dindings' growing reputation, it now has 900 students. One of them is Zulkifli Mohamed, a 17-year-old who plans to start a Web design business when he graduates. Without Tiong's guidance, he says, "I would never have been able to acquire the computer skills I now have."

Tiong, a 49-year-old father of three, says he wants to give his students the tools to go on learning for the rest of their lives, so they'll always be able to find the information they need to survive and rosper. Like a computer-age Confucian, he adds: "I'm teaching kids to be paddy planters - not just rice eaters."

Both Kian Ming and myself have communicated with Mr Tiong, and we have certainly found out a lot more. His story is inspiring, on how one person's dedication can make a difference to the lives of many, and hopefully influence policy which will affect plenty more. There is much our own Government can learn from his efforts with the millions at its disposal to build our very own "schools of the future".

His story certainly cannot be justifiably told within a single short post, and hence we will flesh it out in a few subsequent posts. Happy reading. ;)


clk said...

It is such people who deserve "Datukship" if it's of any value anymore these days.

These are real leaders in the real sense of the word, they inspire future leaders, mgrs and others who have been touched by them.

Like the saying goes "Everyone can make a difference in this world!"

Anonymous said...

this is what dedication and true love for teaching is all about.
wish only if all teachers are like this, instead of doing private tuition for extra cash and doing teaching in schools half heartedly.
i pray that god will repay for all his kindness and sincerity
god bless mr tiong ting ming

Anonymous said...

Wah...second time daerah Manjung appears in 'educationmalaysia' this month. ;-) Congrats to Mr. Tiong. :-)

Anonymous said...

Off topic:

Care to comment?

Merry Christmas everyone :)