By Zahid Zamri
Last semester (Semester 2, 2021/2022), as the instructor for the Ethics and Politics (PSCI 4610) class, my students and I, together with the Secretariat of Political Science (POSSA) members, went to Kampung Tengah, Gombak for our Synergised Academic Activities (SAA) programme. The programme’s purpose was to help the community with problems that they considered essential to be solved for society’s betterment. We focused on two pertinent issues surrounding the community: cleanliness and school truancy.
First, the Ethics and Politics students collected the data needed through interviews with the villagers. Earlier, the Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung (JKKK) of Kampung Tengah helped us arrange the meetings with the villagers. The students interviewed the villagers about the factors that contributed to the problems and how to overcome them. POSSA members also helped in documenting the data.
Later, based on the collected data, each group of students wrote a report on the problems and added their own ideas on how to solve these issues. Then they included their reflections on the ethical-political ideas they learnt in the Ethics and Politics class. Besides, they also produced videos that addressed the matters. These activities later constituted parts of their carry marks for the subjects.
After the semester had ended, based on my discussion with the Deputy Dean of Student Development and Community Engagement of the AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences (AHAS KIRKHS), Associate Professor Dr Noh Abdul Jalil, we decided to do our first intervention in overcoming the problems through educational means before we take a more robust approach.
Therefore, with the help of the AHAS KIRKHS Students’ Society (IRKHSSS), which concurrently, I was also its Advisor, headed by its Gombak Sejahtera Engagement Team (G-SET), as well as the Secretariat of Usul al-Din and Comparative Religion (UDCY), we conducted a programme called Ruhul Muhsin, wherein in this three-day programme we taught primary and secondary schools children and youth of the Kampung Sungai Chinchin, Gombak about the tahsin (correct recitation of) al-Fatihah and the proper way to perform salah (prayer). Then when we conducted sharing sessions with the participants, we inserted lessons about the importance of cleanliness and attending school.
Even though, as mentioned, when we collected the data, we did it in Kampung Tengah, and when we did our first intervention, we did it in Kampung Sungai Chinchin, both of these villages are still within the Setapak district. What is more, the social backdrop of all seven villages within the district is more or less the same. Hence, our first intervention was still beneficial and aligned with the villagers’ needs.
Our next Ruhul Muhsin programme will be conducted in Kampung Gombak Utara before the opening of the next semester (Semester 1, 2022/2023). Although our first intervention involved villages other than Kampung Tengah (where we collected our data in the first place), we plan to come back and do our first intervention in Kampung Tengah when the new semester opens together with the new batch of Ethics and Politics students. Such a repetitive or rotational effort is part of the action research that runs together with these community engagement programmes, which will be translated into academic writings afterwards. Over time I will keep improving the approaches adopted in solving these problems faced by the villagers within the Setapak district with the help of the same size or more extensive group of collaborators.
As mentioned, in conducting the programmes, I am very fortunate to be part of the bigger team that has played their part as organizers and facilitators. The Office of the Deputy Dean of Student Development and Community Engagement of AHAS KIRKHS (Associate Professor Dr Noh Abdul Jalil, Br. Nor Iskandar Mazlan, and its office members), the students of the Ethics and Politics class, POSSA, UDCY and the IRKHSSS members especially Sr. Siti Nor Athirah Zulkifli and her G-SET’s team, the Coordinator of Community Engagement and the Head of Department of the Department of Usul al-Din and Comparative Religion, as well as the JKKK of Kampung Tengah, Kampung Sungai Chinchin, and Kampung Gombak Utara together with the representatives from the Majlis Perbandaran Selayang, are amongst those who had contributed to the success of the programmes, and insya-Allah, to the accomplishment of future programmes too.
Not to forget the Head of the Department of Political Science, Dr Rohana Abdul Hamid, who was the one that had suggested for Ethics and Politics to be the subject for SAA in the first place and for keep on updating on the matter. Still, others had directly or indirectly involved throughout the programmes, and I can’t thank you enough for your invaluable commitments and efforts.***
(Assistant Professor Dr Zahid Zamri is an academic in the Department of Political Science, AbdulHamid AbuSulayman Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences. The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of IIUMToday).