Primary school teacher in rural Sarawak transforms classroom into a ‘hipster cafe’ to motivate attendance


Primary school teacher Muhamad Tarmizi Awang@Yaacob (foreground) forked out his own money to transform a classroom into a cafe. — Photo via Facebook/Cikgu Al Tarmizi

KUALA LUMPUR (May 14): Six years ago, primary school teacher Muhamad Tarmizi Awang @ Yaacob was transferred from Peninsular Malaysia to a rural Pulau Bruit school in the Daro district of the Mukah division in Sarawak.

Wanting to help beautify the school, SK Kut, Muhamad Tarmizi started to think up of ways to do so.

And last year, the idea finally dawned on him when his pupils expressed their desire to visit a ‘hipster cafe’, which is not available on the island, with the nearest town in Sibu located some two hours away.

Beginning from the idea by his pupils, the teacher started preparing the materials needed to transform a classroom into a cafe.

“I bought materials needed for the transformation from online platforms whenever I return to Peninsular Malaysia to visit my family, and then bringing them along to the school from Sibu where I stay,” he said.

Doing so, allowed him to save on shipping.

Speaking to Malay Mail, Muhamad Tarmizi said he started the project in May last year by using his teaching allowance to buy the items.

“After discussing with school headmistress, Fariah Hanikal, the cafe was set up in a Year Five classroom.”

There are only six classrooms in the school, which has a total of 32 pupils and 10 teachers including himself.

When the “cafe” was finally ready last month, each pupil took turns to “operate” it.

“Every day, a pupil will look after the cafe.

“To get a feel of a cafe, I let the pupils wear an apron and chef’s hat.”

Instead of ordering food however, pupils mark their attendance there, which he says helps to motivate the pupils to attend school daily.

“The cafe creates happy vibes and the pupils look forward to school as they get to hang around there,” said Muhamad Tarmizi.

The classroom may be modelled after a cafe, and may not serve coffee, but the children do get refreshments.

“They will instead drink milk that has been provided by the Education Ministry,” he said, along with biscuits he supplies at the cafe for pupils who do not have breakfast at home.

The teacher’s creation has received the thumbs up by Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek, who shared it on her official Facebook page.

Muhamad Tarmizi said following the completion of the cafe, he is now working on a study hut for the pupils together with the school’s Parents Teachers Association.

“I am thankful that all my suggestions are well received by the school administration, colleagues and parents, who are mostly fishermen,” he said. — Malay Mail