Mdm Noraini Bte Sapuan is a 52-year-old preschool centre principal, while Ms Ummu Aimaan Binte Abu Bakar, 28, is a Kindergarten 2 form teacher. They may be years apart in terms of age and experience, but both mother and daughter made a challenging journey studying and graduating together with a University of Warwick degree in Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) from KLC International Institute.
They proudly received their certificate for the degree at a ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel on 29 April 2017, together with 24 other graduates – all preschool principals and teachers – who completed their three-year part-time degree course last year.
And who performed better? Ummu was non-committal, saying “It’s hard to tell. We are very competitive.” Her mum was sure, affirming that it’s “Ummu of course as she is young and fit”, and admitting that at her age she had more responsibilities and a bigger workload at home, and she also had her health to consider when the going got tough.
Noraini joined the EC industry back in 1981 as an assistant teacher after a short, unfulfilling stint working at the Stock Exchange. Since then she has had an interesting journey of study to acquire her Basic, Intermediate and Advance Certificates and then her Diplomas in Early Childhood Care and Education for Teaching (2010) and Leadership (2012). She had pursued her Degree in Early Childhood to keep herself “current and abreast of the changing context of the Early Childhood setting”.
For Ummu, EC has been, and still is, her first love and career. “I started teaching Malay Language for about four years. After I had attained my diploma in Early Childhood (Teaching) in 2012, I was appointed as a Nursery form teacher. I was subsequently given more responsibilities as head of Kindergarten 2, as well as the centre’s representative for Innovation Projects,” she said.
Both mother and daughter had chosen the Warwick degree because it is prestigious and well recognised, and especially it is being offered by KLCII – a well-established and reputable institution in the EC teacher-training sector.
Noraini who has two other grown-up children aged 24 and 26, said she and Ummu had gone through the course as a “mother and daughter team”, “lending support to each other as we did our cross referencing, spent countless long nights with our reading, and worked together to prepare for the various module examinations”.
“We practically went through thick and thin, spills and thrills together. It was a comforting feeling to know that we could count on each other and motivate ourselves in this leap of faith. Overall, though we sweated together, we finally got to enjoy the sweet success of our effort. It certainly was a great feeling for us,” Noraini added.
Sharing her feelings, Ummu said she was very proud of her mother who had, since young, been “truly committed in her studies and work”.
“Her determination, perseverance and her dedication to do things well were among the reasons that prompted me keep telling myself, “If my mother can do this, I can too.”
For her, the most memorable classroom experience was the group activities. “We had very interesting activities that pushed us to think creatively and out of the box,” she said.
She also felt that having the highly qualified and experienced lecturers from Warwick University to conduct the course was also a big plus.
“They taught and guided us with a lot of patience and understanding, especially when everyone of us had to rush for our classes after work.”
Her mother Noraini was more emphatic describing the lecturers as “AWESOME!”
Noraini said: “They seemed to have everything at the tip of their tongue, ever ready to give a good lecture, at any time and at any moment. They were so well versed with early childhood theories and it was obvious that they had conducted volumes of research studies in this field.”
With the Warwick degree under her belt, Noraini hopes to become a practicum supervisor or curriculum specialist in the near future. She would like to take a short break before considering future study options.
Her advice to those planning to enroll for the Warwick degree course is – “ Consider it as a leap of faith. Think positive that you can do it, muster your courage to persevere and keep improving yourself as you go along”.
For Ummu, the takeaway from the degree course would certainly help her to contribute to improvements of her centre’s EC curriculum and in her classroom delivery. Meanwhile, she has her eyes on a Master’s.
“We were taught first hand by the finest and most knowledgeable lecturers. These are experts well looked upon in this industry. This degree programme is certainly value for money as we never felt shortchanged in their delivery.” – Noraini Bte Sapuan
“I felt a great sense of accomplishment. It made me realise how far I could achieve in my studies. I felt that all the hard work and stress were worth it in the end.” – Ummu Aimaan Binte Abu Bakar
KLC International Institute (KLCII) has partnered with Warwick since 2009 to offer the 22-month part-time degree programme taught in KLCII classrooms by the University’s faculty.