The rise of an educator

TO inspire not just a great student, but a great person, a teacher must rise above the crowd and make a lasting impression. Janarthanan Velliyathum, a teacher from SK Convent Pulau Tikus, boasts an impressive portfolio. He has been involved in many Tamil conferences in Malaysia and India, presented researches related to his studies, and has also launched his own book.

Although graduating with a Bachelor of Education, he had always wanted to be a mechanical engineer since he was a kid.

"Believe it or not, my childhood ambition was to be an engineer, but I guess God had bigger plans for me. After SPM, I got an offer to pursue a degree in teaching and my family advised me to enrol in the teaching course, and I had to prioritise my family's suggestion," the 25-year-old said.

Even though he gave up on his ambition, he felt he was able to make a far greater impact with the start of his new endeavour.

Not only taking on the role of a teacher, he took a step forward by involving himself in civil society movements. Recently, he attended a public forum on the Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) and voiced out some issues to the minister among the big crowd which became quite popular on social media.

Last August, Janarthanan voluntarily conducted the World Tamil Internet Conference (WTIC) at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris where research presentations, seminars and workshops were held in the Tamil language. Tamil specialists and experts from India and Sri Lanka, professors, teachers, researchers and students participated in the conference.

Can you share some of the issues you highlighted in public?

I felt it was a great chance to share my suggestions at TN50. Multicultural is one of the uniqueness of our country and to create unity, all the races should learn to tolerate each other. We should have a clear understanding of all the norms and traditions of all the races in our country. I feel this is important to create a better nation in the world without any discrimination.

Why do you think the profession of a teacher should be made a main career?

This is another request I had discussed at TN50. Doctors encourage their children to become doctors and the same goes with lawyers and engineers, but why aren't teachers allowing their children to become teachers?

Doctors are doing their part serving their patients but the other procedures are done by the medical assistants and nurses. Teachers do all the paperwork for the school's management as well as for the students. This takes away their time to teach the students.

Also, the main role of a teacher should be only to teach the students and not to do so much paperwork at school. The education system should make our career as professional as doctors, lawyers and engineers.

What is the one thing you would change in our country's education system?

Most foreign countries have four or five children being taught by one teacher in their early education but in our country, a teacher maintains 25 children in a class. The government should take the initiative to increase the number of teachers according to the number of children. High quality early education has lasting effects on learning and motivation, which will allow children to get a good amount of learning content.

Where did you find your interest in research to presenting research at conferences, and attending forums and conferences overseas?

My father is my idol. He used to always tell me we have to show something to this world every time. I was also interested in the Tamil language, so I used this teaching tool as my background to show my skills.

Teaching is one of those careers where you learn something new every day, and this is one of the main things that I hope to gain from my career. If you want to be a great educator, you must connect with your pupils and reach out to them on multiple levels.

To reach these multiple levels, I took a step and did research. I feel as a teacher I should be involved in this world and upgrade my teaching skills. I found that attending conferences help me gain new ideas that can be applied to the education system in the future.

In your opinion, what makes a great teacher?

For most teachers, their greatest reward is seeing students thrive and succeed. A great teacher should love educating students, and one of the principal goals many teachers set for themselves is to be the best educator they can be.

There are different styles and characteristics of students that teachers handle every day. A great teacher should continue trying to reach out to each of their students, and they should exercise patience to ensure a disinterested student would still learn.

Trivia
Role model: His father.
Favourite subject: Science.
Phobia: Fear of water (hydrophobia).