Making Malay literature (kesusasteraan Melayu) a component in the Bahasa Melayu subject may not necessarily increase the level of interest among students. Students are learning KOMSAS (komponen sastera) just for the sake of exam and do not show genuine appreciation for Malay literature. They may have read about cerita jenaka like Lebai Malang or Pak Kaduk, but try ask them if they have read about Pak Pandir, you'll be surprised that some of them may never even heard about the silly character before. Anyway, I don't suggest for Pak Pandir to be included in the syllabus though.
Sometimes I wonder if the ministry of education knows how to choose the right reading material to be used as textbooks. Maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps the problem lies in the children of today. They have no heart and soul for the poor or even tragic characters in their anthologies and novels. Many times when students were asked to read the novel Meniti Kaca, they will laugh about the character Mahyun, the mother of Nazar (the main character), because she had this penyakit nanar and who was later sent to Hospital Bahagia (so now you know why they laugh about it). When the mother was found dead under a coconut tree by the river, some students may even find that plot funny. Not only that, the majority of city kids can't relate to the story because the latar tempat and latar masyarakat in the novel were something they can't imagine of.
In a similar setting in Hadiah Hari Guru, a boy named Ramli was so poor he had to give ulam pucuk janggus as a present to his favourite teacher, Cikgu Fatimah. In reality, especially in this 21st century, a touching storyline using poverty and simplicity won't leave much impact on our students like the way it used to work on students in the 70s or 80s. Poverty still exists but this common kampung setting which keeps repeated in the school syllabus just won't work anymore especially in convincing the modern kids on how lucky they are. Perhaps we should have more short stories like Tina and Tangan Kanan, Kiri atau Kedua-duanya which are better readings for students because they emphasized on family values. I simply love the fact that the authors of the two short stories like to over use the teknik plot imbas kembali (flash back) and gaya bahasa hiperbola (exaggeration) respectively.
There are a lot of good puisi (whether tradisional or moden), prosa and drama in the anthologies used by students. Even the novels are good. However, it is not enough. In my humble opinion, students shouldn't just limit themselves to the textbooks. They must read more than what they were asked to do. There are a lot of good books that worth reading such as Syair Siti Zubaidah, Hikayat Malim Deman and Sayang Si Tina just to name a few. Sayang Si Tina, by Ali Majod is one of my all time favourite. The story is about a student called Tina who was involved in an accident and left her paralysed. The touching story is about the acceptance of oneself as well as the acceptance of others.
On the other hand, teachers must be creative in teaching KOMSAS in order to increase the level of interest among students. Instead of just asking students to read from the textbooks or give tonnes of notes on sinopsis, plot, gaya bahasa or nilai dan pengajaran, why not guide your students and start asking them to write their own piece of sajak, pantun or drama? I always believe that the opportunity to write and being guided will unearth someone's talent in literature.
Since most students never believe they could write a sajak (because teachers rarely ask them to do so), I'll share some tips on sajak writing in the coming post. I'll also let you see my first sajak published by Dewan Siswa when I was in Form 5.