Connect-ED: A Ripple Effect

By Tien Chia Lim

Teach For Malaysia (TFM) placed our first Cohort in Johor in 2016. We now have more than 100 Fellows & Alumni in 23 schools in the districts of Johor Bahru, Pasir Gudang, and Kulai. 

At TFM, we believe that collective effort is needed to end education inequity. Therefore, it is key that we collaborate with different groups who share the same values and beliefs to impact and transform the education system. On the 27th July, Teach For Malaysia’s South Region hosted a bi-annual regional conference, Connect-ED. 

Connect-ED was our first “un-conference”, developed to bring the key players in Johor’s education ecosystem, including government officers, principals, teachers, private partners, NGOs, parents and students together to explore how give students an excellent education. This was termed an “un-conference”, as everyone there had the opportunity to have an equal voice and share their views. 

Participants discussing different education topics in mixed groups 

Connect-ED was anchored in the mindset that “I alone cannot change the world, but change will happen when each of us see that our individual contributions make a difference”. Our individual actions cause ripples, that build into a current that is insurmountable. Through Connect-ED, we saw this ripple effect come to life. 

Here is what our participants had to say: 

A parent shared how she was glad that everyone in Connect-ED had an equal voice to share openly and be heard. She said she used to judge the education system and felt that this experience helped her to understand more about what is going on and to therefore better appreciate teachers.

A student (who was also one of the emcees at Connect-ED) said this about leadership: “With great power comes great responsibility”. He realised that he has a role to play in being confident in who he is, in order to build confidence in others. 

An NGO representative said that this was an interesting conference, unlike anything else she had ever attended. Moving forward, she wants to figure out how to pool resources together with other education players, in order to make a greater impact. 

Our Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri (JPN) Johor desk officer remarked that Connect-ED helped all participants understand and explore how to best maximise student potential. He explained that we shouldn’t work in silos; everyone needs to work together to address the dynamic, ever changing realities of education. 

A student sharing  about Project Kim Kim, an initiative run by TFM Fellows to increase environmental education.

Through the conference, participants also gained a better understanding of TFM’s work and impact in the South. Project Kim Kim is a great example of this, a pilot project started by 14 Fellows in TFM to help students understand the root causes that contribute to the complex environmental problems that resulted in the pollution of Sungai Kim Kim. Our JPN officer shared that while Project Kim Kim may not completely resolve the environmental challenges, merely starting it caused a ripple effect in the local community; improving environmental education among students that would eventually reach  adults, and then the community.

Teach For Malaysia hopes to continue to empower students to take an active role in being the voices of their community. Students led a leadership dialogue, where they explored leadership qualities and discussed what students want in their education. These findings were then shared with all the attendees at the end of the conference.

“We shouldn’t work in silos; we need to work together to address the dynamic, ever changing realities of education.” Our Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Johor desk officer shares his reflections on Connect-ED.

Connect-ED successfully helped us learn from one another and  explore how we can all be involved in giving all our students an excellent education. It was truly inspiring to see so  many people who care and are committed to work together to better education in the South, and in Malaysia.

Moving forward, TFM will  work more closely with different players in the education ecosystem to impact education for the children of Malaysia, We are extremely appreciative of all our stakeholders, partners, parents, students, Fellows, Alumni and the South Region team who have paved the way for our success so far – thank you for doing your part to create a better Malaysia!

 

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. As of 2019, we’ve impacted over 111,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners.

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