For Mismona Manggai, a Form One student of Sekolah Menengah Kubong in Limbang, the year 2011 is going to be a meaningful one for her.
Her landscape used to be one of muddy laterite roads, thick jungle foliage and a narrow river, but now the sandy beaches of Labuan beckon for this former pupil of Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Ulu Lubai.
Mismona, the daughter of a labourer and farmer, has been picked to continue her studies at Sekolah Menengah Sains Labuan for her outstanding results in last year’s Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), the only student so chosen from the primary school of this remotely-located settlement.
“I never expected to obtain the result. During the trial examination, I only managed to obtain A- for English paper and this had made me worried when sitting for the actual exam,” says the daughter of Kampung Rantau Panjang, Hulu Limbang.
Her fears were unfounded and hers is a rare achievement for primary schools of remote areas such as Hulu Limbang.
Mismona is the youngest of five siblings from an under-privileged family.
Her two elder sisters are married while two others are still in school – one in Form Five at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Medamit and the other is in Form Four at Empat SMK Kubong.
Both schools are in Limbang Division.
Mismona’s father, Manggai Igang, works as a labourer in Lawas town and while still in SK Ulu Lubai, the girl lived with her mother, Banun Franchis.
“Apart from taking care of me, mother also tills the land for some money,” she says.
Her under-privileged background has only strengthened Mismona’s spirit and determination.
Her parents never stopped encouraging Mismona in her studies, she says she has been fortunate to have committed teachers.
“I owed my outstanding success to teachers in my primary school”, she says.
The teachers of SK Ulu Lubai are sensitive to the needs of the pupils despite the school lacking in almost everything and being remotely located.
So encouraged, Mismona worked towards her examination success, revising her lessons for three hours in the morning and another three hours at night outside of school.
She aims to become a doctor, and provide for her family and community.
“My ambition is to be a doctor so that I can go back and serve the community,” she avers.
Mismona’s result reflects the success of SK Ulu Lubai which recently was named a high performance school (SBT) by the Education Ministry, the first rural school in the state to be so acknowledged.
The school’s headmaster, Jaul Bunyan, hails from Nanga Merit in Limbang and became SK Ulu Lubai’s headmaster in 1998. He considers the recognition of the school as a success of the local community.
“There is no secret; only the close cooperation between the school and the local community. The community knows that only education can empower the new generation,” Julai says of the school’s success formula.
The school, previously accessible only by boat, was closed for from 1976 to 1977, when no teachers were willing to serve there. They then had to send their children to SK Nanga Merit, located about an hour’s journey by boat from their village.
Bunyan says the episode had fired up the awareness of the local folks — they needed a school of their own.
SK Ulu Lubai was founded in 1998, and the rest — 100 percent success in the UPSR, two international awards, five national and 14 state-level awards later — is history, and history in the making.