Lately I am bogged down with so many things at work that I hardly have time for myself or blogging. Although some teachers have gone off for the year-end holiday, but others are in the midst of invigilating the most important examination in the country - Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).
It is not supposed to be my turn to be the Pengawas this year but I have to take up the responsibility voluntarily. Just to fill in the vacancy left by people who are not willing to sacrifice their long holiday. Well, Saya Yang Menurut Perintah or more accurately, Saya hanya menurut perintah. Since I have invigilated SPM last year, so this time I am assigned as the Timbalan Ketua Pengawas (TKP). I have to admit it is more challenging physically although it can never match up the pressure faced by a Ketua Pengawas. They have countless of things to mind and do throughout the invigilation.
At times I just wonder why this task is not given to those who never had the experience invigilating SPM, especially the ones who already received the Anugerah Perkhidmatan Cemerlang (APC) and novice teachers. There are many other teachers who can take my place, especially the new ones. Not that I dislike this job, but certain people could use some compassion and consideration that I am not physically fit. Yeah, I have a knee that is still hurting badly. What makes the situation worse is now I am suffering an excruciating pain on my spinal bone after carrying heavy boxes that contain materials and papers for examination use. Just for your information, I have cracks on my spinal bones (which I have not fixed yet) and went through arthroscopic knee / ACL Reconstruction surgery in 2011. I also had a second surgery on the same knee in 2012. In fact, there are two screws planted in both my left thigh and shin bones. Only God knows the pain I have to bear each time I walk up and down the stairs during invigilation.
Sometimes I wonder if this sacrifice is worth it despite being paid to invigilate. The perk is really nothing if it is deteriorating one's health. In this case, health is wealth. I could just simply say NO to the administrators when I was asked to fill in the spot, but how would that affect their perception of me? Yes, that is another problem although I realise we cannot please everyone all the time. Moreover, impression sometimes can be translated into yearly appraisal marks! Yeah, you can say it is subtly intimidating which makes us give in to whatever we are not interested of doing at the first place. So, either way it will have effect on our career development and we are likely to end up in dilemma just thinking about it. Like it or not, that is how things are in working life.
Nevertheless, I am still grateful that this time it is not so bad compared to last year. Back then I had to wake up at 4am and start driving at 5am, so that I could board the earliest ferry at 6am. If I missed it, I would not be able to make it to that isolated rural school in time for invigilation and that would spell trouble for me. Each day I would only reach home at 8pm and it was indeed physically exhausting. What really frustrated us was the pay we received, lesser than we could actually claim. Besides, no one understood it better about the risk of crossing a super wide and croc-infested river like we did. However, I do remember one good thing from this epic adventure. The scenic view at the break of dawn. It brought forth the feelings of serenity and gratefulness while standing on the ferry deck. That was something money could not buy.
I learned a lot of new things throughout the invigilation process in these two years which I truly appreciate. One more paper for us to invigilate next week at this religious school before I can shout "Freedom!" together with Form 5 students. I just hope next year I will not be requested to take on this task anymore. It is time to give way to those without similar experience so that they will have a taste of invigilating a public examination such as SPM. Let them savour the zest of underpaid assignment. It may sound a little harsh but I survived it anyway. If I can do it, so can you.