Sunday, October 23, 2011

RESURGAM

"Alhamdulillah Rabbil 'Aalamiin ...".

Aku mendengar mukaddimah ucapan murid di atas pentas. Agak lancar juga. Tidak kusangka murid-murid seperti mampu mengungkapkan patah-patah perkataan Arab dengan baik. Aku terlewat tiba sedikit tadi. Ustazah Kamariah telah menelefon aku ketika aku berada di Simpang Bukit Katil. Aku pun tidak tahu di mana letaknya Sekolah Henry Gurney sebenarnya. Aku hanya memandu berdasarkan panduan peta yang aku cetak daripada Google.

"Aku hanya kenal ayah ketika berumur 13 tahun. Itu pun setelah emak aku kahwin lain. Tetapi aku tidak dapat menerimanya sebagai ayah. Mana mungkin aku hendak memanggilnya ayah sedangkan selama 13 tahun aku hanya tinggal dengan emak. Aku selalu dimarah oleh emak. Emak selalu berleter kalau aku balik lewat. Emak selalu memukul aku kalau aku balik lambat. Lalu aku tidak balik langsung. Dan ketika umur aku 13 emak aku kahwin. Dia paksa pula aku menaggil lelaki itu sebagai ayah. Mana mungkin aku memanggilnya sebagai ayah. Aku rasa janggal sekali."

Mendengar bait-bait ayat yang keluar dari mulutnya, aku terkenang diriku jua. Jalan hidup murid itu sama seperti jalan hidupku jua. Aku bersyukur kerana diberi hidayah oleh Allah memilih jalan yang betul. Emak aku dulu pun ada juga marah-marah pada aku. Aku ingat lagi pada suatu petang aku balik dengan mata merah. Dengan kulit kelarin berdebu kerana selut yang menyelaputi kulit sudah kering. Emak aku bertanya kenapa aku lambat. Aku diam sahaja. Dan akhirnya belakang aku jugalah yang berjalur dirotan dengan getah paip. Aku tahulah dia marah aku pergi berenang. Itulah yang aku ingat pun emak aku marah. Yang lain-lain aku rasa dia taklah marah sangat.

"Akhirnya aku join budak-budak nakal. Aku malas hendak balik rumah mendengar emak berleter. Aku benci melihat lelaki yang emak aku paksa memanggilnya sebagai ayah. Akhirnya aku ditangkap polis. Aku diperintah oleh mahkamah untuk dibawa ke sini. Dalam program ini, aku berterima kasih kepada ustaz-ustaz yang mengajar aku kembali mengenal Allah. Kecil sahaja dunia ini aku rasa. Kerdilnya aku di hadapan Allah. Aku mula belajar solat. Aku melihat diriku. Aku insaf. Emak! Aku minta maaf. Terima kasih kerana datang melihat aku pada hari ini. Ayah! Aku minta maaf kerana selama ini aku tidak dapat menerima kamu di dalam hidup aku. Aku hidup di dalam sekolah ini. Entah bila aku akan keluar. Kamu jagalah emak aku baik-baik. Doalah supaya aku dapat menjadi insan yang baik selepas keluar nanti. Ampunkanlah dosa aku, Mak, Ayah!"

Celaka! Air mata aku keluar. Aku sedih atau apa? Aku bersyukur atau apa? Ya Allah! Aku bersyukur kepadamu. Walau aku tidak punya ayah seperti budak itu, nasib aku agak baik. Emak aku hantar juga aku belajar ke Jordan. Supaya aku menjadi manusia. Aku tidak tahulah kalau aku mengikut perasaan dan membuat pilihan yang tidak betul, mungkin aku juga salah seorang penghuni sekolah ini.

Wajah-wajah penghuni di sini aku lihat ada persamaan. Insan-insan yang perlukan kasih sayang ibu dan bapa mereka. Ada di antara mereka yang kehilangan bapa disebabkan perceraian. Hidup dengan ibu, setakat manalah mampu mengawal anak-anak. Ada juga yang hidup dengan bapa. Tahu sahajalah bapa. Kalau dia tidak kahwin lain, pasti dia asyik marah-marah sahaja. Lebih-lebih lagi kalau air sudah mula bertakung dan meleleh keluar dari lubang telinga dan lubang hidung.

Itulah bilah-bilah kehidupan manusia. Aku merenung lagi nasib-nasib insan yang telah lama aku tinggalkan di sekolah yang pernah aku mengajar dahulu. Wajah-wajah yang semiotiknya hampir sama dengan penghuni Henry Gurney ini. Wajah yang banyak mengubah hidup aku pun. Aku mula belajar erti kesukaran pembelajaran selepas melihat mereka tidak tahu membaca walau berada di Tingkatan 3 semasa di SMK Air Merah dahulu. Izzatinaim, Khairul Azhar, Fauzi dan entah berapa nama lagi yang menyebabkan air mataku menitis tanpa aku sedar. Apa khabar mereka sekarang. Mereka berada dalam kedudukan itu bukan atas kehendak mereka.

Dalam hidup ini kita diberi pilihan. Dan seringkali ketika membuat pilihan, kita memilih mengikut nafsu yang dipengaruhi syaitan. Allah mewajibkan kita solat sehari semalam lima waktu. Di dalam perkara wajib itu pun kita boleh memilih lagi. Kita memilih untuk tidak solat lima kali sehari. Tetapi kita memilih untuk solat sunat hari raya dua kali setahun.

Menjadi guru ini bukanlah sekadar memindahkan maklumat yang sendat di dalam kepala otak kita kepada murid dalam kelas sahaja. Ilmu itu perlu disampaikan dengan cinta dan kasih sayang. Sebagai guru, kita seharusnya faham masalah mereka. Sekiranya mereka adalah insan yang kehilangan kasih sayang ibu, kita perlu menjadi ibu dahulu sebelum menjadi guru. Sekiranya mereka memerlukan kasih bapa, guru perlu menjadi bapa dahulu sebelum menjadi guru.

Tindakan disiplin yang keras yang hanya bertujuan untuk menghukum murid di sekolah aku rasa perlu dihapuskan. Sikap guru-guru yang masih lagi membawa rotan ke dalam kelas sepatutnya dihentikan. Bukan rotan yang harus dibawa ketika mengajar. Tetapi perasaan cinta dan kasih yang harus bersama-sama guru ketika mengajar. Akan hadirkah cinta dan kasih itu sekiranya guru hanya asyik berlumba-lumba membuat kerja luar, terpengaruh dengan MLM, menjelajah dari surau ke surau mengejar sampul dunia, berlumba kereta siapa paling mewah di sekolah. Sikap-sikap guru seperti ini akan menyebabkan ramai lagi murid yang bakal dimasukkan ke dalam Sekolah Henry Gurney ini.

"MALACCA: The symbol of the Henry Gurney School is an eagle rising out of a fire. This symbol aptly describes the school and its students.

Henry Gurney is, after all, not just any other ordinary school. It is a place where students spend "time" for juvenile delinquency.

When they leave the school compound, they should be reformed, having turned over a new leaf and ready to start a new chapter in their lives.


The Henry Gurney School for juveniles in Telok Mas here is a highly secured area, and the procedures there are similar to prisons throughout the country.

Before you enter the facility, you will have to leave belongings, such as keys and handphones, outside. But once you're inside, you are greeted by a layout not too different from other schools.

The grounds are well tended. Near the entrance, there is a replica of the A Famosa fort. Walk a few more feet, and one can see the Malacca Straits. Along the beach, there is a perimeter fence, and one will be instantaneously reminded of where they are.


The school hall looks just like those in normal schools. It is air-conditioned with the emblems of various states in the country pasted on the walls.

On a podium, however, are these words: Jabatan Penjara Malaysia (Prisons Department Malaysia). Below that is the school emblem.

The word Resurgam -- or Latin for "I shall rise again" -- is emblazoned on the school badge.


If one opens the school shutters, the illusion of normalcy will once again be shattered -- a 5.5m-high fence encircles the entire building.

Inmates of Henry Gurney School have committed various crimes.

However, because of their young age, under provisions made for them under the law, they still have the right to resume their education.

An inmate, 19-year-old Aminah, was sent to the school after she was caught associating with a group of motorcycle thieves.

But when she entered the school, she experienced a total change in lifestyle.

Her day began at 5am, when she would get up and bathe before performing subuh prayers with her fellow Muslim inmates. After that, there would be a roll call.

At 7.15am, Aminah and other inmates would have breakfast and leave for classes about 7.30am.

Lessons would start at 8am until about 1pm. At 2pm, the inmates would have lunch and pray. In the afternoon, study groups were organised to revise what they had learnt that day.

Aminah had earlier ran away from a Tunas Bakti Correctional school.

There are 27 girls in Henry Gurney School. Aminah was only 17 when she was sent here.

Now that her schooling is over, Aminah practises batik making at a workshop in the prison.

She obtained good grades for her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia and will be furthering her education.

She will leave the school next year to start her diploma in civil engineering at a tertiary education centre in Pahang.

"I was quite happy to be selected to take the diploma in civil engineering. My dream was to become an architect, but I guess this is close enough," she said.

Another inmate, Darmendra, 17, was sent to the facility for a drug offence. He has been in for just eight months.

From a well-known school in the Klang Valley, Darmendra speaks immaculate Bahasa Malaysia.

He was abandoned by his parents when he was 4 years old and was taken care of by his uncle.

Perhaps, because of a lack of adult supervision, Darmendra started mingling with the wrong company.

By 16, he was already pushing heroin and earning between RM300 to RM400 per day.

"I spent most of the money having fun and enjoying myself with girlfriends," he said.

Of course, his life now is completely different.

He said he had now developed an interest in education, particularly Mathematics and English. And he is also playing the trombone in the school's brass band.

Another inmate, Ah Chai, was sent to Henry Gurney School after getting involved with a motorcycle theft gang. Before entering Henry Gurney, he was illiterate. But now, he is no longer so.

Ah Chai, who is from Johor, said he went to school until Year Six, but did not pick up reading and writing.

After he left school, he got involved with a group of youths loitering around in his neighbourhood. The group was part of a syndicate "specialised" in stealing motorcycles.

He was caught by police after he was involved in an accident riding a stolen motorcycle. He was charged and sent to Henry Gurney School.

Now, two years later, Ah Chai is reluctant to leave Henry Gurney.

"Here, you always have something to eat and when you are sick, there is someone to take care of you," he said.

But others still dream of the day they will walk out of the school gates.

Azmi, 20, is the head pupil of Henry Gurney. He carries the title Kapten and is an "old-timer" there, having been in since 2005.

He was sent there when he was 14 by court order. Now he aspires to be a police constable.

"It's been seven years, and I've outgrown this place. I hope to move on and live my life outside these walls."

Most continue their studies to tertiary level
THE academic performance of students in Henry Gurney School rivals that of many other schools in the area.
Chief inspector Azman Mat Yashim said many of the students from the school furthered their studies at universities and colleges.

The school also recorded 100 per cent passes in all subjects in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination recently, he said.

The school has 113 students and 19 teachers.

"We don't get second-rate teachers. All our teachers are those who want to work here. They want these students make a better life for themselves," he said.

In 2008, 12 students made it up to tertiary-level education. In 2009, there were 23. Last year, 13 students were accepted into diploma courses at higher-learning institutions.

"The teachers are very dedicated, although they face a challenge here. Many of the students never had an A or a B in their report cards before entering this school."

He added that the school tried to ensure that all inmates left the institution with at least two certificates -- one vocational and the other, academic.

"When they leave this place, they are fully reformed and parents should pick up from where we left off."

He added that society should also not look askance at these students and learn to accept them.

"We must give them a second chance."

How it all started
THE Henry Gurney School for juveniles in Telok Mas, Malacca, was officially opened by British High Commissioner Sir Henry Gurney on July 19, 1950, just a year before he was assassinated.
In 1947, an ordinance was passed that led to the creation of a juvenile court.

The first juvenile detention centre was opened in 1948 in Muar Prison and was known as the Advance Approved School. It had 50 students. These students were transferred to Telok Mas when the school was opened.

The Henry Gurney School sits on 15ha running along the Straits of Malacca.

It was originally based on the Dorstal system -- a method used to reform seriously delinquent youngsters in the United Kingdom.

The new building, built in 2009, can accommodate up to 800 inmates.

Besides Telok Mas, there are two other Henry Gurney schools in Malaysia in Kota Kinabalu and Keningau, both in Sabah.

In Malaysia, as with most parts of the world, the age of legal responsibility is 10 years. Children below the age of 10, no matter how serious the crime, cannot be held criminally liable.

This is because children below that age are considered to be doli incapax (incapable of crime) -- because it is thought that they do not understand the consequences of their actions.

Under Section 74 Act 611 of the Child Act 2001, children below the age of 14 cannot be sent to Henry Gurney School.

An inmate will be released from Henry Gurney upon these conditions:

- After getting a licensed release after serving 12 months with good behaviour, or offered to continue his or her studies, or receive a job offer, all with the approval from the prison director-general.

- After having served three years with good behaviour, recommended for release by his pegawai akhlak (welfare officer), teacher and school board with approval from the prison director-general.

- Upon reaching 21 years of age."

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