Towards better education in Sarawak
By Jude Toyat
Having worked closely with many different people involved in education, Sarah Lasung acknowledged that many people were passionate about developing better education in Sarawak and contributing in their own way.
“However, that is where it stops,” said the 32-year-old Lun Bawang from Kuching.
Currently working as a leadership development officer at Teach for Malaysia, an independent, not-for-profit organisation that works together with other educators, she clarified that communication and knowledge sharing was lacking among educators.
“We are not talking to each other about what we are doing and we are not sharing our successes or failures as we dabble in different areas in education.
“If anything at all that we need to improve, is to improve our collaboration. To improve on communicating more between different sectors, as well as to share on what good happens in school so that those in other sectors will also take note and invest more in education,” said Sarah.
Sarah opined that another area that needs to be improved towards education development in Sarawak was to give children or students in the rural areas more opportunities to shine.
“There are not many opportunities available for them to harness their talent and develop, let alone opportunities to showcase them,” she added.
During the [email protected] programme targeted to the youth of Sarawak, Sarah shared something that everyone can relate to – education. She framed it in a way that would encourage everyone, especially the younger generation, to give back to society especially in the field of education.
“I was interested to be part of TEDx because currently the TED movement across the world has a large following. Because of this, it is a great platform to be able to share your beliefs and ideas,” she said.
The topic that Sarah talked about for the first edition of [email protected] here was ‘Giving Back, for Better Education in Sarawak’.
“There are three different scenarios of people giving back in the Sarawakian context. This was to show how we never know where our influence stops.
“My favourite example is that of the three young men from Australia who came to reach out to the Lun Bawangs in the 1920s. As we were a dying tribe back then, these three young men invested part of their lives in helping us and that resulted in our survival until now. I am here today because of them,” she explained.
The other part of her talk focused on the simplified landscape in Sarawak.
“I shared about our literacy rate and also my experience visiting a few rural schools.”
Born and raised by her parents who are both educators help spark a passion in becoming a teacher.
“I wanted to run away as far as possible from this industry. But many opportunities during my studying years from matriculation until university days allowed me to teach, mentor and coach in one way or another which then ignited my passion for teaching and education,” said the former teacher who taught at SMK Green Road from 2008 to early 2012.
On her hope for better education in Sarawak, Sarah said that she hopes to see better opportunities given to children in the state especially in the rural areas as she believes in the endless potential of young people and the good that they can bring to society.
“There is a lot of talent there, it is just that we have not given them the chance to shine. I hope to see better collaboration between many individuals or bodies that are already investing in the betterment of education,” she said.
Having worked in Teach for Malaysia for the past five years, Sarah met many like-minded individuals who are passionate about the education landscape of the state and are doing things in their own way and capacity to improve it.
“Now imagine, if all that come together and collaborate, the possibilities are endless.
“The synergy generated would be so contagious, and you might just see the rise of an amazing generation that are going to be our future leaders,” she added.
There will be times when you plan certain things but they do not go your way, and Sarah encouraged aspiring educators to be okay with making mistakes and failing.
“Pick yourself up. Look for alternative solutions and act on it. Do not beat yourself up too much. Most of the time, it actually is not as bad as you think it is.
“Secondly, be okay to learn new things. If you get posted to a place where the culture is different to the ones that you are used to, even in school, open your mind to the things you can learn. See things with a silver lining. Bad days are days you can choose to learn from,” she added.
Sarah who fundamentally believes that everyone is a teacher and a leader also encouraged them to take time for self-reflection.
“Ask yourself hard questions. Why did that happen? Why did I react this way? How can I improve it? What can be change? Did I say/do anything that contributed to this situation? What other solutions are there available?”