Tanah Airku

“Through caring, we can save the beauty of the environment. For our country. For our future generations.” – Izzati

2013 Alumna, Cheen Yee has taught in Permatang Tok Labu for 4 years. Contemplating on moving to research after finishing her Master’s degree in Educational Psychology, she opted to continue teaching for one more year – for one more project.

Cheen Yee

Being a teacher and a student, life was hectic at times for Cikgu Cheen Yee.

“In my fourth year of teaching, I actually thought about taking a break due to the immense stress in working as a full-time teacher and studying part-time to get my Master’s degree.”

As she pondered on the decision, her ever-supportive Vice Principal, Pn. Aziah, approached her to lead the school and the state of Penang in a national competition, the 2017 Toyota Eco Youth Program. Remembering the trust that Pn. Aziah has given her in the past and her love for the school, she decided to take on the challenge.

The Toyota Eco Youth Program is an ongoing national competition organised by UMW Toyota Motor Sdn Bhd and the Ministry of Education. It aims to get more Malaysian communities involved in environmental conservation using Toyota’s 8-step problem solving method.

Cikgu Cheen Yee and her 19 Earth Guardians brainstorming for ideas

Despite being the ‘underdogs’ of the competition, it didn’t stop them from working full-speed ahead!

“Although I was excited to work with the students in the competition, I knew it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing.”

Teaching in a high-need school, she knew that her students would be disadvantaged in terms of funding and resources unlike other high-performing schools.

Instead of seeing it as a weakness, the students embraced their situation and created ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions to foster environmental conservation in their community.

Knowing the lack of resources they had, they instead focused on educating and encouraging others who had the means to make an impact in their own way. The students went to their local mosque and talked to old and young individuals alike regarding environmental conservation. One such philanthropist was inspired by their actions and donated brand new LED lights to replace all the lights in the mosque, in a move to save electricity.

But that wasn’t the extent of their reach!

“They understood that a sense of environmental responsibility should be taught from a young age, and was driven to make sure they pass on the message.”

In a move to educate students of other schools about environmental conservation, the students planned and organised workshops with 120 primary school students. The workshops encompassed all aspects of how they can reduce the use of electricity and water in their own schools.

Cikgu Cheen Yee's 19 Earth Guardians doing their bit to keep Earth clean

Winners or not, Cikgu Cheen Yee is extremely proud of what her students has achieved.

“These 19 Earth Guardians have taught me to never give up, no matter the odds, and continue working towards achieving my goal. They drive me to become the person that I am today.”

From the start of this 6-month journey, Cikgu Cheen Yee has witnessed the resilience and drive of her students. From planning events and programs to executing them flawlessly, they have defied what was thought to be their limit.

But what inspired her the most was their response to her question:

“Why is this competition important to you?”

To which, they replied:

“We need to take the first step because if not us, then who would? We only have one Earth, one Malaysia.” – Nurul

“Through caring, we can save the beauty of the environment. For our country. For our future generations.” – Izzati

In their eyes, Cikgu Cheen Yee saw hope for the future of Malaysia. Although individually their actions may be small, together they are making a difference.

Cikgu Cheen Yee, Pn. Aziah, Cikgu Noryani and their 19 Earth Guardians

Pn. Aziah, Cikgu Cheen Yee, Cikgu Noryani, and the team of 19 Earth Guardians are currently competing in the ongoing Toyota Eco Youth Program. Aside from the ones mentioned earlier, they have planned and organised many other various programs and projects as part of the 6-month competition. To support or learn more about their initiative, visit this website and vote for their school before 15 September 2017!


Teach For Malaysia recruits, trains and supports Fellows to teach in high-need schools across the nation. Beyond the Fellowship, our Alumni continue to champion education in different ways. To date, we’ve impacted over 73,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.

RM50 monthly helps empower one Fellow to impact two students. Donate now and your gift will be doubled by our corporate partners at teachformalaysia.org/donate

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