In their second year, Fellows work on initiatives that address issues within their communities that affect education inequity. In this series, we spotlight a few of our Fellows’ projects – and the impact they’ve had on the students and the community. Today, learn about MY First Graduate, initiated by 2012 Fellows Ratnadewi Lim, Nurkhalida Shabery and Jacintha Tagal.
What is your project about? What is the problem it hopes to solve? How does that problem affect your students’ ability to achieve?
MY First Graduate is a mentoring programme that aims to equip our students in SMK Segambut with the necessary skills to be ready not only for university, but also for life after university. This will be done by helping our students to build strong mentor-mentee relationships with university students, requiring their attendance at personal, leadership and academic development sessions with role models from various industries, and by facilitating and provoking deep thought on their life choices. We hope, through our students’ stories and experiences to also encourage our students’ classmates to aspire to university and to invite and challenge our communities to collaborate with us in putting them on the path to success.
We started with a clear vision of giving our students life skills that will be useful in university, but as time went on we realised that it is not so much about the hard skills that students need (skills like financial literacy, public speaking, and etc) but about changing how they think about the way they think–imparting metacognitive skills. Part 2 of our programme focused more on building metacognitive skills in our students.
What kind of challenges did you run into when implementing it?
Having full attendance from both our students and university buddies was one major issue; everyone was on a different schedule, and even in school we had plenty of afternoon activities that would sometimes be more urgent and necessary for our students to attend.
How did you manage to get your community involved, if the project involves them?
Our vision was to create a community; a village that would raise our children. So we enlisted the help of university buddies and young professionals as role models for our students. This became our community; the village that would help to raise our children. We would meet once every two weeks. It was important for us to keep our university buddies informed and up to date about our students’ exams, results, and they, too, would contact our students now and then to encourage them.
What kind of impact have you seen since the project began?
We make it a point to speak primarily English at our sessions, so we have seen students drastically improve in their fluency of spoken English. We now have many students asking questions in English, or about English words, and about scholarship options or universities overseas. As for exam results, we have seen a 10% increase in English results (from the mid-year exams) and we expect to see a bigger margin of increase in the final examinations.
Do you think this project will continue beyond this year?
We are not sure at this point. This really depends on whether there will be enough people to run this project next year, both from the Segambut side and from our sponsors’ end. We would love to continue this project, if not in our school, in another location; let us know if you’d like to operate a MY First Graduate chapter at your school!
MY First Graduate from MY First Graduate on Vimeo.