GEORGE TOWN, July 25 — Bullying in schools has become a concern in recent years and the problem clearly resonated with a group of 40 secondary school students who worked together to develop a play spotlighting the issue.
A project spearheaded by Teach for Malaysia alumnus Soonufat Supramaniam, the play is both a platform to empower and educate secondary students on the use of English as well as to raise awareness on bullying.
This is the second year Soonufat roped in students from high-needs secondary schools in rural areas to be involved in an English theatre production.
“We believe that excellent education is beyond academic achievement and it’s about transforming mindsets and exposing students, about creating opportunities for them to succeed,” he said.
Last year, a group of about 30 students from four schools in Kulim, Kedah underwent six months of leadership training, community project challenges and drama camps before participating in a play titled Find Your Light at the annual George Town Festival (GTF).
This year, Soonufat has gathered together a new group of students from SMK Lubok Buntar, SMK Serdang Baru, SMK Serdang, Maktab Mahmud Bandar Baharu, SMK Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin to develop and perform in Singing To The Lions at this year’s GTF.
“After camps, intensive workshops and many reflection sessions, they opened up their minds and became engaged,” he said.
He said some of the students rarely spoke English before taking part in the production but now, after six months of intensive training, they are fluent in the language.
“They are able to engage in reflective conversations on bullying,” he said.
He said this year, the students worked together to develop a story based on bullying cases that happened in Malaysia in the last five years.
He said last year’s performance encouraged more students to join in the programme this time round and more schools are also asking for similar programmes to be implemented in their schools.
“There is now a stronger bond and teamwork between the students and three strong performers from last year will be performing again this year,” he said.
He added that the students who took part last year have also showed great academic achievement across all subjects.
The storyline of Singing to the Lions was loosely taken from a traditional Tonga story in Zimbabwe, Syankombo, which tells the story of a young girl who rescues her older sisters from lions by singing to them.
The students added a local spin to the story and developed the script on their own during the six months of workshops and camps, Soonufat said.
The production is seeking sponsorship for less fortunate students to attend the ticketed performance. Well-wishers can contribute by contacting Lean at [email protected].
Singing To The Lions will be staged at Penangpac on August 23, 24 and 25 at 3.30pm and 8.30pm.
Source: Malay Mail