Teach For Malaysia
1.How long have you been with your organisation and what’s your favourite part of the job?
9 years, 3 months and counting. It would be the “Aha” moment in which a team member, a civil service partner or a donor shifts from a perception that change is impossible in Malaysia to,”Actually…just maybe… this crazy idea my work “.This personifies Teach For Malaysia’s most important core value,”the Sense of Possibility”.
2. What do you wish to pursue/Why did you start this organisation?
My big question is, “What if the cure for cancer is in one of the children that isn’t receiving the education he or she deserves in our schools today”?
I was privileged enough to go to the full range of public, private and international schools and sailed through fairly easy as the education system was set up for my learning style. My brother fortunately (deliberate choice of words) had dyslexia and ADHD that made him extremely intelligent and creative but did not fit into our education system. At one of the best schools in the region he was told that he would barely pass high school. As such, my parents took him out and put him in a school that believed in him. He eventually followed his passion in zoology and at the age of 24+, he was offered an opportunity to do a PhD in Environmental Science at the University of Zurich. His research paper was on conserving the diversity of our endangered trees in Malaysia and upon completion of his research, he successfully translated that into a career back home.
He was my inspiration and he got me to leave my job in consulting to start my life in changing the world, one student at a time.
3. Where are some of the challenges you faced/are facing with regards to the work that your organisation is doing?
One of the main challenges TFM faces, has to do with empowering the students we impact from B40 communities (households with a median monthly income of RM3,000 each month).
Children growing up in low-income families need different kinds of schools than their more affluent peers. One that instills a greater sense of self, belonging and possibility given the challenges faced by low-income communities.This is why Teach For Malaysia desires to change the situation to ensure all students are empowered to be leaders of their own learning, their future and the future of Malaysia.
There is also a challenge in creating public awareness on education inequity. We have seen systems and structures which were built to cater to the M40 and T20 students only and do not meet the needs of the B40 students. So, we engage the leaders of these systems to put the needs of the children at the forefront. There needs to be greater awareness of the challenges unique to each group.
4. How do you intend to tackle these challenges?
We believe that a child’s education and future should not be determined by their circumstances in life. Teach For Malaysia plays a part in this mission by recruiting talented graduates and young professionals to teach in high-need schools, through our selective two-year Fellowship programme. The Fellowship equips our teachers with hands-on experience as teachers and enables them to drive change in the wider education sector as TFM Alumni.
TFM teachers craft plans to match students’ needs by getting to know the students in and out of the classroom. They use the national curriculum, syllabus and assessments to track the student’s academic progress but continuously innovate their approach on how the lessons are delivered. A number of our teachers choose to run a variety of voluntary after school programme and activities that help support their students on their education journey and enhance their leadership skills.
One programme is Arus Academy, that provide after-school classes where students actively solve problems by building and creating their own digital and physical solutions. Another programme is Closing The Gap, which is also supported by OSK Foundation. Closing The Gap aims to improve access to higher education for young people from underrepresented backgrounds, by providing support for post-schooling options to selected students, personalised mentoring and career guidance to help them achieve their fullest potential.
5. How can the public be part of this?
It costs RM50,000 to recruit, train and support one TFM teacher for a year to impact 150 students. That roughly equivalates to RM25 to create an impact on one student monthly. That is only 12 Kopi-Os or about 2 Lattes a month! Donate today at www.teachformalaysia.org/donations; RM50 monthly impacts 2 students!