|The race and religion of students do not matter to |
SMK Pesantren Abdul Taib Mahmud teachers.
Rather, the 17-year-old feels she fits nicely into the picture at SMK Pesantren Abdul Taib Mahmud, and is proud of being part of the minority at the school.
And the same goes with the three other non-Muslim students in the school of 520.
"I want to be in this school because of its good academic reputation," said Bong.
The school has been identified as one of the top 10 rural schools based on last year's Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination results.
Bong, who has been in the school for five years, can even speak Arabic with her school friends.
"Although I don't go through their Islamic studies, I've learned some interesting Arabic phrases from some of my friends," she said.
The single-session school offers both Islamic and the standard curriculums to its students.
The other three non-Nuslim students are Jeffery Masir, 14, a Bidayuh; Dennis Bong and Angela Teo, both 13.
The girls wear baju kurung without the tudung while Jeffery plays football in his track bottoms -- in deference to the school's dress code.
While the recipe of a 1Malaysia school is there, sadly this may not last for long. The school is considering delivering just the Islamic curriculum, unless it can attract more non-Muslim students.
Principal Junaidi Zulkipli said the school felt it was a burden to offer both curriculums to its students.
"Most of our students are taking both curriculums, which means that they are taking 22 subjects for both for SPM and Sijil Menengah Agama.
"But this depends on how many non-Muslim students want to enrol in our school next year," said Junaidi.
The school had its humble beginning as a madrasah 46 years ago, but it was not until 2005 when it became an Islamic school.
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