Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teach for Malaysia Classroom Series - Mariyam

Teach for Malaysia Classroom Series #1 Live blogging at Mercu UEM.

Dzameer and Keeran, as founder of Teach for Malaysia shared about the amazing initiatives.

Only 6% of orang asli children enrolled in schools complete their secondary education.
25% of school children in Standard 4 is not able to count up to required levels. 80% of Malaysian workforce do not have a diploma or degree.

This initiative would place the participants into some under-privileged schools, and after two years, they can choose whether to stay in teaching or move to corporate world

Teach for All has now expanded to 17 countries. Malaysia is the 17th country, and all these are achieved within the past 3 years.

Mariyam Farooq initially was with Teach for America and helped to start up Teach for India. She is now dedicating her time to help start up Teach for Malaysia. According to Keeran, Mariyam worked longer than 15 hours a day.

Mariyam shared about back in 1984, her father felt that education was not good enough in Pakistan, so the entire family moved to US in 1988. And always, the topic that came out was education. Her parents left everything they had for a better education and better life for their children, from people they know, things they are familiar.

Mariyam shared about the perfectionist of her father. If she didn't do well, her dad would highlight on her bad grade, and would write the word "responsibility".

Mariyam really wanted to go to Berkeley, whereas her father wanted her to go to USC. She lost her battle and eventually, she went to USC. She had an amazing professor in her final year. Looking back, she cherished that experience. She felt very good about being at USC.

During her final year, she went to local elementary school and helped to teach lessons and mentored students there. USC is located at a place, where neighbourhood were from impoverished background.

One day, she asked her 8th grade student, Jose, where he wanted to go to college. And her 8th grade student told her that he won't go to college. She reflected on her own high school class, and all of them had known where they wanted to go for college.

It is not acceptable that some children do not have a choice of education. Mariyam told herself that she cannot go to graduate school. She had to go out to do something for community.

She applied for some graduate schools and she got some offers. She got offer for Teach for America as well. She felt that she had the responsibility to do the same as the sacrifice that her parents do. She talked about the importance of education to her parents and she shared that passion to them. She wanted to pass that spirit on to other students.

Her parents reluctantly agreed, and he followed her to school often and checked on the safety of the places there. Mariyam taught 5th grade to the students, when she didn't attend 5th grade back then. She requested for a year to skip and she was granted back then, after she lost a year when she moved from Pakistan to US.

She shared about how being a teacher is being everything to the students. A teacher provides everything to the studetns and it is an amazing experience. She shared on her classes, and most of the students were not from English speaking background. Lots of gap in terms of gap of the students. So, it is really a challenging experience. And it is tough to adapt to it and implement it.

So, a lot of multi-tasking and small one-on-one instruction. It was an amazing year of her life. There were a lot of very caring students and tried to bridge the gap between students of different races. Tried to support the students and have Saturday lunch for them.

She helped the students to get their rights, helped them to register and if they were deprived of these rights, they would be deprived of many things along the way. The effects would cascaded along the way.

The idea is that this experience is something that people would begin to understand. It would have an effect after one person leaves the teaching.

In the middle of 2nd year, Mariyam applied to extend for one more year to teach for Teach for America. And after that, she knew that this is something that she really wanted to extend. So, she wanted to definitely do something on it.

While she was doing her thesis for graduate school, she started searching around opportunities in South Asia. She felt that with her extended family around that region, her father might give her the opportunities to do so.

She came across "Teach for America - India", and she applied for the position as Managing Director of the India project. After 4 months and 7 interviews, she got the job!

She broke the news excitedly to her parents. At that time, her parents have seen her transformed. She was afraid that her father would say no. But the first question they asked her is "when can we visit you?"

Mariyam shared about how she had transformed over the years, especially during the three years in Teach for America.

Mariyam moved to India, and she lived in suit cases mainly for two months. She went around to speak to lawyers there to get it registered as non-profit.

For the first year, there were 86 teachers started at Mumbai and Pune, and in June 2010, there are 155 teachers. So, within one year plus, about 8,000 students have been affected. The fellows over there were really amazing. They started library in the hallway, and they did everything to ensure the kids have a fighting chance in the world. They were very committed to change things. There are a lot of amazing people around the world, and we just need to facilitate the process.

All these initiatives give the youth an outlet. Mariyam shared about her being so honored to be in Malaysia at the birth of a movement that is going to transform the education movement in a country - Malaysia. A lot of different people are going to be transformed in this process.

The movement of Teach for All include in US, UK, Spain, Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Australia, China, India and now Malaysia. And the relationship is not just about receiving the benefits, but also giving.

So, eventually this Teach for Malaysia movement would have ripple effect of the global movement. It would be able to lend the experience to jump start other movements around the world.

So, we can imagine in 10-15 years that all these young teachers who have gone to teach in these schools and they could be in position of leadership one day. So, all these would have ripple effects and can bring the transformation in that area.

There would be a lot of such people with a lot of similar strong passion and together can transform the education in the world.

In UK, 16% of pupils who are eligible for free school meals attend college.
In Brazil, the poorest children on average 7 fewer years of schooling than their richer counterparts.
In Pakistan, only 28% of girls and 37% of boys are enrolled in secondary school.
In US, 50% of the 15 Million children living in poverty don't graduate from high school. Those who do graduate, operate at the level of high-income eighth graders.

The number of out-of-school children in India surpassed the total population in 136 countries in the world. it is so unacceptable. It is the longer term mission.

The aim is to eventually transform the outcome for the nation and the world.

The 5 unifying principles for Teach for All include:-
a) Recruit and select as many promising future leaders, to effect systemic change in the long term.
b) Training and developing participants to build the skills, mindsets and knowledge to maximize impact on students' achievements.
c) Placing participants as teachers in areas of educational need, with clear accountability for their classroom.
d) Accelerating the leadership of alumni by fostering network between them.
e) Driving measurable impact.

Teach for All is engaging with about 30 countries through social entrepreneurs over there. So, it would be amazing to see the number of countries to have Teach for All would expand greatly.

For Teach for America, it has been around for 20 years. For the 2009-2010, there were 46,000 applicants for 4,500 places. More than 17,000 alumni are there in America.

Hopefully, one day, all children will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Mariyam shared about how she is inspired by many people who are willing to make a leap of change to make the difference for others.

She shared about how it is amazing of how people would make the leap of faith to step in and do what people can do to make that change, not just for an individual, but for the future generations. Some of the changes may not see direct results immediately, but would eventually see the difference one day.

We would hopefully be able to live in the world that no longer broken. Eventually, every child would have the same opportunity.

Keeran shared about his passion and intention to focus on education. He shared about how he previously didn't expect many people were disadvantaged, but in reality there are a lot.

He shared on how Teach for America initial survey of new joiners were that about 15% of the participants would eventually stay on in education line, but in reality, 60% of those participants are still working on things related to education.

Mariyam shared on some of the Teach for All's networks are focused on certain subjects, example Maths and Sciences. Despite teaching on one subject, would still have impact on students on other aspects. This would help the students to master the subject.

Mariyam shared on language being an issue for many people, like in India, for each floor of the school, different floor could be in different language. So, for India, they focus on English language teaching, to help bridging the gap.

Mariyam shared on how they bring Spanish language teaching aid, to help the students in both Spanish and English, over in US.

Dzameer shared on 3 points - language, time spent with children and also alumni network. For first year, would focus on Malay and English Language. Dzameer shared about the effect is to spark the desire to learn about the children, and not just to teach the subject.

Dzameer shared on the 40% of those who do not stay in education line after Teach for America, but these people still continue to channel idea and support, and eventually become the ambassador of the program.

Zain shared that the issue should be looked at a larger scale, where we should not only look at the policy or retention. And we should look at how we view our teachers and today, some of them do not get our respect.

Kian Ming asked on 3 questions. Mariyam responded on the question of other teachers viewing these Teach for Malaysia participants. She shared about selecting those who would be going in there to approach it as a learning and not mention that it is from Teach for Malaysia. So, not going to go in pompous and arrogant, but instead, should go in with utmost respect and humility and treat another person as someone whom one can learn from. Go in with the right kind of attitude and mindset to learn, before they talk about change. The training program would support that kind of mindset.

If look at the survey in US, 96% of principals want more participants of Teach for America, indicating that they are happy with what Teach for America has contributed.

The aim is so that the impact is not just at the classroom level, but also at individual level.

Michelle Rhee, who was the chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system of Washington D.C. in US, just announced her resignation as chancellor recently. In 1997, she founded The New Teacher Project (TNTP), which in ten years has recruited 10,000 teachers in twenty states. She was one of the first cohort of Teach for America.

Mariyam shared about the fellows who would support the participants of Teach for America and they get the support throughout the two years and provided them training, seminar etc, to leverage on the network of each other, as a mechanism of support. They helped together in retention and support.

Dzameer shared that the program would put in these teachers at the fresh entry pay scale, but they are looking into working with the corporation partners to see how they could work out a better way to get in young professionals. He shared about in UK, where a grandmother joined the program, so they don't discriminate the age.

Keeran hoped that the alumni of Teach for Malaysia would go out into the system and eventually impact the system from within the system. Number one problem today is that a lot of non-teachers making decision for teaching, so it is better for these people who have teaching experience to make the decision.

Keeran shared about unfortunately the perception of art stream is not high, when in reality, art stream could be a great thing for students.

Keeran also shared about people should not discriminate on people and not have stereotype.

Dzameer shared that they need the support from people to make Teach for Malaysia a success. Dzameer also hoped for a strong support from Ministry of Education to let these youths to innovate and make the difference. Dzameer also hoped for corporate sectors to make a difference. A lot of things the corporate could make a difference.

Teach First in England had a lot of support from corporates over there, where those who got into companies like PwC and Deloitte, they could defer their employment to do Teach First, and then only join their work. So, it is amazing the amount of support that corporates are doing.

There are corporates who are exploring sending their staff for 2-year program to do Teach for Malaysia, instead of going to do MBA.

50 of the top Malaysians would be placed in disadvantaged schools, starting in January 2012.


Choy HH said...

A GREAT posting,my friend.

You wouldn't mind if i share this entry of yours on one my posting for TFM ? Feel free to drop by & share your words at my blog

Care to share how did you produce this posting - LIVE ? You have voice recorded it or you must have that lightning - fast typing skill :)

Anyhow, thank you for this posting.


Jia Yaw said...

Thanks heaps for the posting. I only managed to join the session very late last evening, so this is great!

Chen Chow said...

Choy HH, yes, you can share the link. I basically just typed what I could type as she is speaking.

Jia Yaw, my pleasure. Great that you made the efforts to be there!

Nithya Sidhhu said...

A fantastic and moving account of what the program is all about. Driven by passion, willing to commit and ready to make a difference where it matters the most - that's what teaching for your country should mean. Here's to you for saying it out loud for Malaysia! As for the initiators of the program, may success be yours.

Chen Chow said...

Nithya Sidhhu,

Thanks for dropping by my blog, especially after reading your columns for years.

Yes, really salute Keeran and Dzameer for initiating Teach for Malaysia. May this be able to transform Malaysia's education landscape and we would have passionate people joining in droves to be educators.