Motivating students to Personal Excellence

Some 50 at-risk students attended a motivational talk organised by SMK Taman Selesa Jaya in collaboration with the Johor Baru District Education Office or Pejabat Pelajaran Daerah Johor Baru (PPD JB), recently.
Students heard about his journey to success from
Nicholas Vincent of Nworks Photography
While most public secondary schools are dealing with absenteeism among a host of problems with their students, records indicate a drastic increase of such cases in the last two decades.

In view of this, a ‘Motivation for Personal Excellence’ event was arranged with a half-day programme of talks by guest speakers, aimed at giving students an awareness of their error in consistently being absent from school and its dire consequences if this behavior went unchecked.

In the current education system, Form Five students and school-leavers are issued with a School Leaving Certificate where the remarks recorded included the number of days the student was absent from school.

Some students approached Nicholas to ask more qeustions
Students who do not hold a SPM certificate would present their School Leaving Certificate when they apply for a job or the next course of study. 

And if the certificate showed that the student was a regular absentee, this would reflect badly on his/her character and may not be considered for the job.

With the support of school principal, Safar Zainal, a team of teachers and counsellors identified the group of at-risk students and invited them to the event.

Awak berjaya, kita gembira,” said the principal as he encouraged the Form Four and Form Five students to work hard to pass their SPM examination, emphasising that, “The success is yours and for your own future!”

Absenteeism is a real problem and students may be
expelled from school due to their irregular attendance
Student counsellors encouraged the students to sleep early so as to wake up on time for school and to do their best to ensure that their School Leaving Certificate still looked favourable.

In a case where a female student returned to school to ask for a copy of her School Leaving Certificate, she was then desperately seeking a job with a secure income because the man who fathered her two young children, had abandoned them.

Students were advised not to waste their education opportunity but to look further into their future and have no regrets later because life could get challenging without this certificate.

They were reminded that while schools have to maintain their rules and regulations, it was not worth it if students were expelled due to absenteeism.

Guest speaker, professional photographer, Nicholas Vincent of Nworks Photography, the first Indian from Johor to be added into the prestigious Master Photographers Association UK in 2015, encouraged the students with his own journey to success.

Students also heard some hard truths from
Inspector Wong Chee Hoong, Officer-in-Charge of
Police Station, Iskandar Puteri, Johor
After his talk, there was a tea break and it was encouraging that four students stayed back and approached Nicholas to ask more questions about a career in photography.

Sensing their genuine interest and to encourage them to pursue photography as a hobby, Nicholas offered to give these students a basic course in photography.

When Inspector Wong Chee Hoong walked into the room, there was complete silence. Perhaps it was his uniform that commanded respect but it certainly made the students shut-up and sit up.

Inspector Wong did not mince his words as he shared his experience about dealing with youths arrested for crimes that were committed on behalf of their tah-ker, Mandarin jargon for ‘big brother’ or crime lord.

He had witnessed how young people were often enticed by temporary pleasures and foolishly fell into the wrong company and a life of crime.

Inspector Wong, taking an interest in a student's comments
As the Officer-in-charge of the Iskandar Puteri Police Station, Inspector Wong said he often received requests from organizations to check the backgrounds of job applicants to ascertain if they had any criminal record.

He explained that a criminal record is permanent and it would affect future career opportunities because the reality is, employers are not likely to employ anyone with a criminal record.

He went on to share about his own career in the Police force and encouraged the students to work towards achieving the minimum qualifications to join the service.

The Inspector concluded with advice to be wise when mixing with people and warned the students that he did not want to meet any of them in the lock-up cells!

After providing the motivational input as beneficial alternatives to absenteeism, the school hopes that it would steer the students towards changing their attitude and instead, aim for personal excellence and a better future for themselves.

A version of this was published in the June 2018 issue of The Iskandarian

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