‘Heaven is in my classroom’: Malaysian teacher thanks students for saving him from depression

Safwan and his students share an emotional group hug during his last day teaching at school. — Picture from Twitter/awanjebat
Safwan and his students share an emotional group hug during his last day teaching at school. — Picture from Twitter/awanjebat

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PETALING JAYA, Sept 5 — Mohamad Safwan Zulqarnain Jebat was left in a dark place after his father succumbed to cancer in 2013.

The budding teacher, then 21, felt like a failure for not being able to return to his hometown in Johor to see his dad one last time as he was working in Kuala Lumpur, mStar reported.

It was the cheery smiles and enthusiasm of his students, however, that ultimately gave him the strength to power on as he grieved the passing of a parent.

In a now-viral Twitter thread, Safwan explained his journey of becoming an English, Bahasa Malaysia, and History teacher and how his pupils helped him pull through after he was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and dependent personality disorder.

“Many people say teachers are heroic figures that can change their students’ lives.

“My story is slightly different because I’m not a knight that can fly high to protect my students. (My students) are the little heroes who saved me.

“They changed my life and saved me from depression and suicidal thoughts,” he wrote.



Safwan has been teaching at schools on a contractual basis and is now on a break after his last stint as a substitute teacher ended.

His tweet came with a picture of him embracing his Form One students in a teary goodbye on his last day at the school.

Safwan became a viral sensation earlier this year after clips and photos of him using creative costumes to teach History made the rounds on social media.

Many of his lessons take place outside the classroom and encourage students to think outside the box, including making a rap video to master the Bahasa Malaysia language and roleplaying as weather forecasters for English class.

Working hard on his curriculum has provided Safwan a refuge from the pain of mental illness, allowing him to heal as he seeks help from professionals to treat his condition.

“I used to cry every night before I slept and wake up feeling empty and unmotivated to do anything.

“When I teach, I have a reason to get up each day.

“Seeing their smiles, their excitement to learn, and their improvement makes me feel happy,” he told mStar.

Twitter users were touched by Safwan’s dedication to his students and commended his tireless efforts to become a better teacher despite facing challenges with his mental health.

If you are under mental distress, please contact the Befrienders at 03-7956-8145/8144, or email [email protected] For more details on Befrienders helplines in other states, visit www.befrienders.org.my.

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