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Ahead of polls, villagers at Tambun Malay enclave fret over education

They say that raising the standard of education for their youth is the only way to improve their lot in life.

Nur Hasliza Mohd Salleh
2 minute read
Abdul Hamid and some of his friends outside an election operations room in Manjoi, Ipoh in Perak.
Abdul Hamid and some of his friends outside an election operations room in Manjoi, Ipoh in Perak.

Behind the alleys of the houses in the Manjoi enclave on the outskirts of Ipoh in Perak stand a number of schools known as sekolah pondok where religious classes are held. 

Built over the past few years, they are an established feature and were enthusiastically welcomed by those from outside the state, especially the middle-aged group and senior citizens who wished to attend such classes in a peaceful environment away from the hubbub of city life. 

But for the locals themselves, joining these religious classes is a distant dream. 

"Let me be frank," one of them, Abdul Hamid, told MalaysiaNow. 

"These schools are not for the B40 group. Here in the village, we can't afford to pay such expensive fees. So they're not popular among the locals."

Instead, the villagers organise their own religious classes which are given free of charge or for a voluntary fee. 

There are about six mosques throughout the enclave as a whole. 

But despite their inability to attend the religious classes at the pondok centres, the locals acknowledge the tremendous help these schools have been to their socio-economic situation. 

Even the real estate market has benefited from the influx of visitors who come flocking from various parts of the state.  

Education for the youth

According to Hamid, the villagers place a high premium on education and the academic development of their youth. 

He said most families are from a middle-class background but have many children, meaning that chances of providing all of them with high-quality education are limited. 

Domestic problems such as divorce and family conflict also lead to a number of youth falling into crime and drug-related activity.  

"The problem is a lack of education," Hamid said. "This is why we want to focus on education issues. 

"When people are educated, their attitudes and behaviour are different." 

There are perhaps four schools, both primary and secondary, in the Manjoi enclave. 

For now, the villagers are doing what they can to launch tuition classes for mathematics and English. 

Through the programme, which they hope to begin next month, several teachers will be paid to teach these subjects several times a month. 

Hamid said the community leaders believed that these two subjects were important in raising the standard of education and, in turn, improving the lives of the generations to come. 

"Education is important," he said. "The students shouldn't have to worry about money. They do have financial problems, but we should be the ones worrying about that." 

His hope as political parties gear up for the election campaign period is that the villagers will benefit in terms of funds and moral support for their initiative. 

"Whoever wins, we hope they will channel some funds for our project," he said. 

"We don't want to see anymore children from broken families being sent to the orphanage, or falling into crime and drugs.

"Education is their only chance to change their lives for the better."