Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sri Ayesha Islamic School

For more info please visit Sri Ayesha website at http://SriAyesha.edu.my

The Beginning

Alhamdulillah, I founded the school with my wife back in 1998 when we came back to Malaysia. Starting with a kindergarten program, the school quickly grew to cater the needs for primary level - initially to provide for our own children.  Alhamdulillah all our children were raised and groomed in this school's environment.  Our premise was, and still is, to provide a good and quality learning environment (take note: quality environment - not necessarily a luxury one) where children is the center of 'the universe'. We limit the teacher to student ratio at an optimal number in each level.  Alhamdulillah, on-the-ground-experience teaching Montessori school in the U.S. (and trained as one) my wife, Ummu Ayesha took the biggest responsibility overseeing the running of the school on day-to-day basis - may Allah blesses her and accepts all her sacrifices.  The good thing is that, she just loves children and teaching -- so not much complain there.  My role is to compliment whatever there's needed (everything else).

As far as I can recall, we were pioneering the Montessori method of teaching in Bangi/Kajang community; and safe to say that we're the first to introduce Montessori method at Primary and recently at Secondary levels.  If you need more info on Montessori method, you can simply google that and you will find thousand sites explaining just about that.  You can also check out my previous posting on the method that I've highlighted in this blog.  Apparently, we have good reason of our own to use this method in Sri Ayesha.  Alhamdulillah, it works!  (In reality, all good method works - accordingly).  I told parents recently that based on our records and observations, we're hitting almost 50% of our target (on execution level) of this method in our school's environment.  Alhamdulillah, we have a huge space to improve...and everyone will get the opportunity to chip in for its success!


This method is further enhanced with complimentary methods that we've introduced in various stages, namely: Huffaz method (developed by Dr Syafie al-Hafiz for learning and memorizing al-Quran) and Khalifah method (developed by Prof. Mohammad of the Khalifah Institute for Islamic parenting and disciplinary method used at school and home).  All these methods have done nothing but enhanced one another and benefited the child tremendously.  We can easily acknowledge and recognize the result when these methods are richly implemented during the learning session at school and at home.


Many have asked about fees structure -- how much it cost to school your child here?  I can tell you that we're sticking to our premise of providing a quality environment (to our very best, moderately) for the child and it costs us quite a bit.

One thing for sure, we need to raise the number of teacher-per-child ratio.  We also need to ensure that all children receive similar opportunity in an area of their personal liking.  Once the child is in, she shouldn't be left out - that's our manifesto.  If a child is later found out to have certain learning-disability (or delayed in specific areas), we will enrich him accordingly.  Extra attention (and hours) at no extra cost to parent (mind you, it costs the school to pay for the teacher's extra time though )  --- you get my point.  In so many cases, we see parents were paying a weekend program to 'motivate' their child - cost equal or higher than that of our program offered to their children for a month - go figure.  Your child gets daily motivation during morning briefing and after zuhur prayer.  They got a practical prayer (in jamaah).  Improve reading and memorizing Qur'an.  They can converse in English (or Arabic) freely.  Good environment with friends and the best of all...a very good Principal. Who wanna complain anymore, right?  So, the fee is what cost us to get all this up and running for the child.  And lemme tell you, it's not cheap.  For the same reason, I just couldn't quit my day job, yet... 

Bottom-line is: whatever we feel an acceptable quality can be achieved to deliver the program without overly burdening any particular party, we will consider it a fair value / arrangement. Sounds reasonable? Alhamdulillah.


What do we emphasize at Sri Ayesha?  Firstly, al-Quran.  We need to make sure that the child is holding on to the ultimate source of guidance shown by the prophet Muhammad (SAW).  We allocate an hour for al-Quran lesson everyday (compared to 40 minutes for other subjects).  He reads, understands, improves and memorizes it (whenever he's ready).

Secondly, we're dealing with human-beings, so the program at Sri Ayesha is designed to develop a quality person - who able and willing to learn and experience.  And the best part is, this 'person' will be empowered to understand and practice the best quality way of life ever! Islam.  This same person is the externalization of the promised Khalifah stated by Allah (SWT) al-Baqarah 30-32 in this world. I always emphasize to parents and teachers alike, our program should be: a simple and natural integration of Islam into the child's life --- understanding, knowledge and action.  No dichotomy.  We believe in simplicity and practicality.  Islam is the simplest and most practical way of life to follow.  If an adult/teacher has difficulty explaining and externalizing a knowledge to a child...than, it's a complicated idea and not a practical teaching - both academics and religious lessons. Apparently, every child benefits when knowledge can be implemented simply on a daily basis.  At Sri Ayesha, we allow mistakes and we encourage courage!

In theory, your child should get 'enough' with time he or she spends every day at school from 8.00am to 4pm.  All enrichment programs will be scheduled by teachers, if required, after-hour or on weekends.  Just follow through the program religiously and no extra tuition class is actually needed!  (I'm opposed to the notion that a teacher is making a 'business' deal doing home-tuition with the same child - at home.  Unless, we are clear on the arrangements with parents, such 'activity' is considered unethical for our teachers).  Yes, at the appropriate time, the child will certainly be geared up to face the national exams - UPSR, PSRA, PMR & SPM!

We do take extra efforts to identify motivators and master trainers to lend their expertise to our children to further unleash their potential during events that have been scheduled throughout the year. Some misunderstood us for overemphasizing the co-curricular activities vis-a-vis the academics.  I just want to say that we just have a different paradigm in the child's development.  At Sri Ayesha, everything is integrated and interdependent.  


To enroll your child into Sri Ayesha, you'll need to bring your child personally for our assessment and participate in interviews.  For transfer student, bring along the 'report card' from the old school and discipline report.  Essentially, the two most important prerequisites to enroll into Sri Ayesha are: Child's readiness and parents' commitment.  (Due to so many interests and wait-lists we have received, eventually we will have to screen the admission based on the score of UPSR/PSRA/PMR)  


We have the child, who during the course of learning at Sri Ayesha, starts to understand his or her full potential.  That's an achievement! We have seen this; and others can spot that fairly quickly.  This is the Khalifah's part that we try to unleash in each one of them.  First off, they understand that they're the servant of Allah and they should be beneficial to their surroundings (friends, family and the world at large).  To achieve that, they have to have knowledge - through experimenting, observing and experiencing the new information attained in classrooms, during interactions and from the readings.  I can safely say that our children are more inquisitive, interest in new knowledge and able to work independently.

As far as the exam is concerned, I'm not going to boast around.  We don't take pride solely on how many A's our children have scored -- but you as parents should be proud to see that your child is a much better person now compared to before, holistically. Similar to other good Islamic schools in Malaysia, we pride ourselves with an integrated benchmarking; one of which is the child exam's score.  Simply generalizing the child achievement based on a National exam is quite unfair to the child's tarbiyah because we're catering to different child's background, needs and expectations.  Each child is unique.  Since ours is child-centric, we set the target for each child uniquely and separately.

Other achievements can also be seen in areas such as self-courage and determination.  This is clearly seen in areas such as debates, hands-on research, personal commitment, self-integrity and leadership.  This achievement didn't come in easily... It's the hard works of both parents and teachers - working on the same team!

Final thoughts

The majority of parents that wish to send their child to school such as Sri Ayesha have certain expectations.  We should get this expectation synchronized for the good of the child.  Work with your child - communicate and engage them positively.  Let them understand the importance of 'good knowledge and environment' for them.  Using the school like Sri Ayesha as a test-bed for your child is not the right way to start.  Get comfortable with the school system and methods and work closely with the teacher is key.  (Alhamdulillah, you can do this with Sri Ayesha).  For that matter, any school with a good Islamic environment will work just fine with your child. I'm all for good integrated Islamic schools.  The more quality we can offer to our community, the better our country would be!

Sri Ayesha was founded on a dream to give back the best of what the greatest wisdom of life, that Allah SWT has provided in this world and the hereafter for our children in particular.  I have seen and experienced loads of that 'learning wisdom' while living abroad and Ummu Ayesha and I believe that all our children deserve something similar or better. If we deserve that, Allah will grant us one day, insyaAllah. Nevertheless, the hereafter is a much better goal to attain and is a sure thing.  That's why we're preparing the Sri Ayesha children now...towards achieving the end!

Status quo, it is not easy to raise the next Imam ash-Syafie, ibn Sina or ibn Khaldun of this century, though it's not altogether impossible.  If we light up, the path will surely be clearer. Some people want it to happen. Some wish it would happen.  Others make it happen.  Here's the deal: I'm not only the President of Sri Ayesha, but I'm also a parent!