Friday, March 11, 2011

Young Corporate Malaysians Special Session - Teach for Malaysia

This is the posting of live blogging of the Young Corporate Malaysians Special Session. Today, we have Teach for Malaysia with us. 

Keeran Sivarajah, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Teach for Malaysia would be speaking tonight. He met Dzameer at PricewaterhouseCoopers and they worked together to start up TFM. He would be speaking today with Yong Su En.

The statistics shown was 1 out of 4 people do not have required level of numerical skills. 4 out of 5 working Malaysians only have education up to SPM. 3 out of 5 head of poor households only have education up to primary schools or less. 

There are 9 Million people between age 7 and 17 and there are 400,000 who never go to school. For those from Orang Asli, only 6% finished high school. (Hope that I got the stats correct.)

Keeran shared on his experience visiting a school in Klang. It is March and one parent just brought the kid to school, and the kid missed two months of school, because he didn't have money to buy school uniform.

Keeran shared on another experience yesterday in Gemas, where a parent wanted to take the 16-year-old kid out of school, because he has lost faith in the schooling system. He felt that even though the kid goes to university, the kid might still be unemployed. So, the kid might as well started working now and helped to earn a living.

These kids breathe the same air as all of us. They eat the same food as us. A lot of these kids do not believe that they can achieve big things.

Keeran shared on his experience attending the 4th Young Corporate Malaysians CEO Series of Talk and the speaker was Seelan Singham, Managing Partner of McKinsey & Co for Malaysia. Seelan said that everyone should have a scary dream, and that scary dream of him makes him to dream big. Seelan stressed that being idealistic is good and once we lost that idealism, especially after we worked for 18 hours a day and busy to go on dating/marriage, as well as paying for mortgage, we might look back and see "what the hell has happened to my dream/idealism". Seelan shared that it is important to have a sense of purpose.

Keeran shared this dream of Seelan and he sees the dream of getting there for Teach for Malaysia. TFM was incubated by a company called Khazanah Nasional Berhad. They wanted to find 50 most eligible Malaysian youths, who want to make a difference in Malaysia. They want to build a movement of people, where people can make a difference to the community.

TFM is recruiting heavily in universities and young professionals. They are looking for people who want to make transformations in high needs schools. These people would be having the mandate to transform the outcomes of the kids, after going through the training.

TFM get their fellows to lead in classroom and community. These two years would be most exciting and rewarding tothese people's lives.

Keeran shared on the exciting bit of him quiting his job. This program started with Teach for America 20 years ago, and by now, Teach for American has 18,000 alumni who are now in various sectors to solve this huge challenge of providing opportunities to attainan excellent educationfor all children.

Teach First is now the 5th most popular recruiter in UK, even ahead of KPMG. They are the top recruiter in Oxford and Cambridge. They also reject a lot of people from Oxford and Cambridge. 

Malaysia is the number 3 in Asia, after India and China. Pakistan just joined the network recently. Malaysia is the first in South East Asia to join the network. There are another 20 countries that would join this network within the next 2 years.

54 years after independence, not every Malaysian kids have the access to quality education. Teach for Malaysia hopes to build the next layer of leaders, who could one day be a minister, Prime Minister or any other leaders, who would have a mission to solve this education issue.

Teach for Malaysia hopes to look for the best 50 in the country to join this year. The first deadline would be in two weeks' time. This group would be the founding cohort for Teach for Malaysia.

Su En just took over the rostrum. Su En studied Economics at LSE and her favourite class was developmental economics. She did a lot of case studies on how initiatives that can transform the world. While those are fascinating, those were just theory. She went into management consulting in UK for 3 years, and decided to come back to Malaysia to serve the mission of developing the nation.

She initially found that there wasn't a lot of initiatives from grassroot in Malaysia, especially compared to developed nations. She also spent time in China to help with migrant kids. She was then introduced to Dzameer and Keeran through a mutual program. She had known about Teach First back when she was in UK.

She came on board to join Teach for Malaysia in October 2010. She hoped to recruit the best and brightest among Malaysians to join this movement.

This is going to be the most challenging experience for TFM joiner. They would have to engage with 40 disenchanted teenagers and having to engage their attention. TFM required its fellow to go into the school and change the mindset of the students. The fellows would need to have huge confidence and solid teaching skills.

The Teach for Malaysia Leadership Academy would have an 8-week experiential, residential training in end-October 2011. These trainings are developed in collaboration with Teach for All, corporate partners and Minister ofEducation. They would practically be applying teaching, learning and leadership theories, based on the Teaching as Leadership framework. The trainers would be from Teach for All. This would adopt the methodof Teaching as Leadership, by Steven Farr from Teach for America. The TFM fellow would have the opportunityto practice teaching, live in a real classroom.

There would be ongoing support and training. There would be Leadership Development Officer, providing personal coaching, resources and guidance. There would be mentor, who would be senior teacher in the same school. There would be Business Coach, who would be senior manager from one of TFM's corporate partners. There would be workshoips by training partners to share innovative teaching methods and best practices. There would be seminars by corporate partners on a wide rangeof transferable skills. They would also be getting Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching after first year of teaching, as well as earning credits towards Master's degree.

The role of TFM Fellow is to make a difference in the classroom. They are expected tolead students towards academic achievements that defies traditional expectations, and they would be engaging, teaching and challenging students inside and outside the classroom. They would also work collaboratively with other teachers and school staff to build skills, share knowledge and obtain resources for the classroom. The fellow would lead by example and be inspirational role model to give the students  the courage to dream big.

Scott Thomas, Teach for America Corp member shared on his proudest accomplishment was starting an after-school tutoring program. They had 8th graders tutoring 6th graders, who were struggling in Mathematics. It was a fantastic experience watching the older students play this mature role, not only being academic stars, but also developing patience and empathy.

Su En shared on the kids that she had mentored back in UK, where a lot of kids might not have the perspective beyond their backyard. They hoped to do something that is better than their parents, but they might not have the visibility to know of any potential beyond that.

TFM Fellow is expected to impact the wider community. The role would provide unique opportunity to design, implement and manage a sustainable, transformational project in the school or community in which you serve, with the help of your Business Coach and community leaders. They are expected to develop a deep understanding of the many barriers to achievement and complex problems associated with achieving equity in education.

Zeenia Anwar, Teach First Ambassador shared on "If you want to stretch yourself and become a person you never thought you could in your wildest dreams, do it, apply for it. You'll have the two best years of your life."

TFM would also provide professional development opportunities. In Malaysia, TFM aimed to help on internship and employment opportunities with top-tier organizations in Malaysia. BCG, McKinsey & Co, PwC have helped tremendously in this early stage of TFM. There would be professional development workshops run by corporate leaders. There would be exclusive networking events with senior figures in private and public sector firms. There would be Business Coach as well.

TFM has gotten approval from the following programmes to do deferral, including Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Management, Harvard Law School etc.

There are five stages of admission process. It would start with online application, and then phone interview, and then a 30-minute long online assessment, with a full-day assessment including a group case study, a mock classroom activity and a one-to-one interview and then would be final offers.

The first round of deadline would be 21st March, and the second round of deadline would be 27th June. TFM practices rolling admission. So, do start apply now at . Please help to spread the words to others too.

The starting pay for teachers would be between RM2,300-RM2,700, which is similar to the starting pay that Keeran had when he was with PwC.

TFM Fellow would also engage the community and keep abreast with the parents. There are a lot of opportunities for TFM Fellow to reach out to the parents and community, but it would be up to the creativity of TFM Fellow and the TFM would be supporting the Fellow.

Keeran related on a case from Teach for America, where a parent wanted to take the kid out of school, as the kid doesn't seem to learn anything. The Teach for America Fellow asked the parent to give him/her a month to transform the kid. The Fellow put in efforts to educate the kids and keep the parents updated from time to time, and after a month, the kid can read a full page.

After the stint in Teach for Malaysia, the Fellow is flexible to do whichever route that they would want to explore. This TFM program aims to develop leaders and it would be up to the Fellow to chart their pathway. During the two years, there would be a lot of developmental support to help shape the leader. What is needed from this Fellow is that after the two years, they would be asked to support this TFM mission whereever they are. They would be alumni network too, that would support their mission.

One of the Teach for America Fellows said that if he is still not convinced that his children can get quality education in any school in America, then his job is not over. There is still a lot of work to be done.

TFM Fellow would be assuming full-time teaching positions in secondary schools, where they would be teaching English or Mathematics/Science-related subjects. What is important is not to change the curriculum, but the TFM Fellow would go in and set high academic and non-academic goals, to mould and guide the students. TFM is looking into Educational Impact Evaluation and they are looking at partnering universities or Teach for All on this area. TFM is working hard on this, to be able to quantify more objectively on the performance of the TFM Fellows.

One of the attendees highlighted that there might be possibility of putting the students at risk, if the Fellow is not able to perform up to expectation. Keeran and Su En reiterated that the Fellows would be getting continuous training beyond the 8 weeks, and there would be full-time staff who would meet with the Fellows continuously to guide them. There would be mentor within the school too, to guide the TFM Fellow.

For the first year, the 50 TFM Fellows would be placed in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan, so that more monitoring can be done. TFM would be investing a lot in training and building a leadership movement. TFM would be investing to develop the leaders.

TFM selection process would be very rigorous to select new joiners who have strong competencies in leadership, as well as their capacity to handle situations.

TFM Fellows would be fully responsible for their class and they would be expected to teach the normal school syllabus. For TFM, they are also interviewing the schools and the school heads, so that they would get the support needed.

Ministry of Education and Management Consulting firm ranked all the schools in the country, and they are looking into those 70 schools within KL, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan which fell into the grading of Band 6 and 7. TFM would be visiting most of these 70 schools and eventually select 17 schools, where they would be putting 3-4 TFM Fellows in each school. It is very important that those schools selected would have supportive leaders there. 

TFM applicants would also be subjected to Subject Audit Test during the application process, so that those TFM Fellows selected would have working knowledge in the subject and they would be getting help from more senior teachers on subject matter issues.

There is a suggestion from the audience where those who are not selected for TFM, could be put into a mailing list, and they could be put to good use by helping others in the community, for example teaching at orphanage etc.

Another audience shared on the practical training of being in real classroom would shape the teachers, no matter how much training is provided. He also shared on teaching students how to fish, instead of giving them the fish. He suggested on potential opportunities to partner with other organizations, to help the students and Fellows.

One of the big responsibilities for TFM Fellows would be to ensure that all students in the class are taken care of. There would be collaborations with various parties on this.

Finally, don't forget to apply for Teach for Malaysia ( Please help to spread the words too. Lets make a difference, by providing every kid in Malaysia with the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

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