Transforming education for a better Malaysia
Education | January 30, 2019 |By Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director
Transforming education for a better Malaysia
Rapid advancements in innovation and technology have significantly transformed the way we live, and with that the role of education in modern society. There is now a greater need than ever before to re-evaluate the necessary knowledge, skills and values that our future generations will need. This will ensure that they not only survive but also thrive in this new reality. As an impact-driven organisation, Yayasan Hasanah (Hasanah) truly believes that we can create an inclusive and empowered society as well as a healthy and sustainable environment through education. Education acts as a driver and catalyst of all key development parameters; health and well-being, meaningful livelihoods, economic security and the full development of human potential. Thus, we are deeply committed to supporting innovative and scalable education models that promote equity and increase access to quality learning for all.
Innovative and Inclusive
Teaching every child to master basic skills such as literacy and numeracy is extremely important. However, we also need to ensure that students can also excel in areas that matter to them the most. There is no one-size-fits all approach to achieving a dynamic balance between teaching basic skills and giving children agency over their own education. Thus, it is important for the government and its stakeholders to truly evaluate how this can be done. A good starting point is expanding on the private-public partnership (PPP) model for education. The government’s commitment and support has enabled Hasanah and our partners Yayasan Amir and LeapEd Services to successfully implement the Trust School Programme (TSP). For the past eight years, TSP has focused on an innovative approach to teaching and learning. Trust Schools are empowered to put together a more effective and customised framework that supports the development of more well-rounded students. TSP highlights what could be achieved when the government supports the private sector through the PPP model to bring systemic change to our education landscape from the ground up. To date, we have seen significant overall improvement in student outcomes across all 83 Trust Schools. An independent impact assessment on TSP conducted by the University of Melbourne in 2015 also identified many positive changes from the programme. These include better teacher competency; improved school management and day to day operations; increased student engagement and a greater degree of parental participation.
Investment and Improvement
Investing into new education models often demands significant financial commitments. Nevertheless, the investment cost should be measured against the immediate and potential benefit of having a highly educated society that is able to innovate and improve the quality of life for all. Furthermore, it is important to remember that education is the key to all progress, be it as a nation, community or individual. Every child deserves quality education and every generation deserves relevant education for their current times. Thus, the financial responsibilities of investing into education should not be on the government alone. It is with this realisation that Hasanah has invested over RM100 million in education in the past year alone. In fact, the TSP has received over RM500 million in funding from various donors over the past eight years. Most recently, we also introduced the country’s first socially responsible investment (SRI) Islamic sukuk bond. To date 2 tranches of the bond has been issued totalling RM200 million. The proceeds of the issuance have been channelled towards TSP as part of our innovative financial solution to fund the cause. Nevertheless, for inventive education models like the TSP to be successful and sustainable in the long term however, it requires further investments by corporate as well as individuals, through a more strategic and collaborative PPP. This will enable implementers to conduct more research and development to refine the programme. It will also ensure that more schools in Malaysia can benefit from the programme through scaling up and optimisation.
Sustainability and Success
At Hasanah, we have also stepped up from a single school improvement approach to a state-wide, multi-level, multi-stakeholder education transformation programme with our Projek AMAN in Kedah. Adopting the approach and successes of the TSP, we work with northern stakeholders to impact the three key components of the Kedah state education system; the State Education Department (JPN Kedah), the nine District Education Offices (PPDs) and schools. Hasanah’s education efforts with our partners do not stop there. We support the PINTAR Foundation to develop a comprehensive programme with mental health professionals to improve mental health knowledge and awareness of secondary school teachers and counsellors. We also worked with Khidmat Nurani Khalifah (KNK) to develop a revolutionary assessment model for students with learning disabilities and MySkills Foundation to equip at-risk youths with skills towards gainful employment. Beyond that our partnership with the Association of Science, Technology and Innovation (ASTI) is aimed at unlocking student talents in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. We also work with PINTAR Foundation and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), to promote sustainability practices such as rainwater harvesting, organic composting and waste recycling in secondary schools in Kedah. Ultimately, education transformation is a significant journey for every Malaysian regardless if you are still in school or otherwise. Therefore, all initiatives must be founded on shifting our hearts and minds towards continuous life-long learning and improvement. Young people in today’s extremely competitive landscape are faced with higher expectations. They must master basic literacy, develop critically inquisitive minds and hone new physical capabilities; all while leading in the utilisation of modern technology. Hence, equipping them with the right skills to succeed require the collective effort of every member of the society. By working together, Hasanah believes that we can achieve a stronger education system for Malaysia; one that empowers students to develop the right skills and capabilities to become productive members of society, for now and the future.
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