“Teachers are very important, teachers will shape a child to become a person with [qualities like leadership, integrity, and kindness]. In that case, teachers must learn and accumulate knowledge from many sources [to shape themselves first],” said Chairwoman of Global Peace Foundation Malaysia, Tan Sri Datin Paduka Seri Hajah Zaleha Ismail, at the Transforming Education Summit on Jan 27, 2018.
Carrying the theme “Moral and Innovative Leadership: Realign the Purpose to Educate”, the summit was held to provide capacity building opportunities and a leadership framework for educators as they are the driving force of education transformation in order to make an impact in their students. The summit is part of the Character and Creativity Initiative (CCI), which seeks to make education more relevant in the twenty-first century by integrating character and creativity into all aspects of school culture towards the development of the whole person. This initiative by Global Peace has been ongoing since 2013, and in Malaysia alone has engaged over 10 schools and various cross-sector partners.
Transforming Education Outcomes with Character, Creativity, and Leadership
Hasnul Nadzrin Shah, Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs of IBM Malaysia, was one of the high plenary speakers and he shared that Malaysia’s education is already on the right path, but it falls on teachers to do minor tweaks and customise their teaching to meet the needs of the students. Anne Tham, Group CEO and Founder of ACE EdVenture Group, is an education reformist who pioneered Malaysia’s first entrepreneurial school and is passionate about injecting fun into teaching and learning. She emphasised that character and creativity should not be taught as a separate subject, but should be incorporated into academic subjects as a main component. Anne also said that it is important to cultivate leadership skills in all students.
The education forum featured a panel of entrepreneurs, students, a representative from the Ministry of Education, and Google-Certified Educator, Nur Afiqah Suhaimi. Nur Afiqah contributed her thoughts to how entrepreneurship, leadership, and digital learning can enhance learning outcomes. “Teachers are the frontliners,” she said, following up with a call for action to her fellow educators to continuously seek out opportunities for capacity building and upskilling.
Dr. Devine facilitated the Principals and Teachers Workshop that focused on transformative leadership development. The interactive session saw educators brainstorming in groups as they engaged and discussed on the characteristics of a leader, building a team that leverages on each other’s strengths, and the importance of moral and innovative leadership in generating creative processes and highest contributions towards meaningful individuals and wholesome school culture.
Attendees brainstorming on the qualities of a moral and innovative leader during the Principals and Teachers Workshop.
Character and Creativity Practice Sharing: Seizing Opportunities, Overcoming Challenges, and Success Stories
As part of the Character and Creativity Practice Sharing session, educators who have successfully implemented CCI in their schools shared their experience and inspired their peers to seize opportunities for change.
Eugene Morais from Katholik Petaling Jaya Secondary School was one such teacher. He talked about how he used choral speaking and drama activities to make learning English more fun. The entire classroom had to be involved from start to end and in the process, they learned skills like teamwork, time management, and communication. By getting every student included, Eugene gave each of them equal opportunity to learn and grow and consequently, they became more engaged, motivated, and confident.
Madam Yap Ming Yee, Head of the Economic Unit; Madam Buvaneswary D/O Subramaniam, Head of the Mathematics Unit; and Madam Amutha D/O Rakwan, a chemistry teacher; from Puterijaya Secondary School shared how they fostered a culture of collaboration amongst themselves and the importance of leadership and trust between peers after attending a CCI Educators’ Retreat organised by Global Peace Malaysia.
Madam Yap shared a proverb that her colleagues and herself live by, “None of us is as good as all of us. The teamwork is very obvious among all our Economics teachers. We share all our ideas, we share our materials, and if we have problems, we thrash it out together. And there is an understanding that every student that takes Economics belong to us. So we work together to make sure that all our students achieve good results.”
Madam Buvaneswary also encouraged collaboration amongst her colleagues. They discussed what are the priorities for a teacher, whether to focus on teaching or to changing the student. Collectively, she and her team decided it is essential to teach and nurture at the same time. They set this as a common standard in their teaching from then on. “What we need to do is teach and at the same time nurture good qualities in the students.” She added that as a result, students are more creative, interactive, innovative, and are eager to start their lessons. “They changed and when you see students like that, you change too.”
“They changed and when you see students like that, you change too.”
Madam Amutha’s first brush with CCI happened when she took part in a Professional Learning Community (PLC) week where educators collaborated on how to improve the delivery of lessons through knowledge exchange. At the end of the PLC, teachers had to come up with and carry out a lesson plan in their classes. Madam Amutha was hesitant at first but when she applied the lesson plan, she saw an increase in performance and attendance in her students. She concluded that it is important to have PLC to encourage collaboration amongst teachers to encourage new ideas in teaching to benefit the students.
Madam Rose Haliza Kamaludin was a former principal of Puterijaya Secondary School. Despite cancelling her attendance due to an emergency the night before, she still showed up because she wanted to share an important message with her fellow educators. “The biggest challenge is the teacher’s mindset.” She explained that it was difficult to convince all her peers initially to adopt CCI in their teaching but she had the support of a group of teachers who truly wanted to make a change. Eventually, CCI was successfully infused into the school and the teachers learned the value of collaboration and leadership towards shaping a student that is both academically and holistically excellent.
The group of educators who shared their stories of change after implementing CCI in their schools. From left to right: Eugene Morais, Anne Tham, Dr. Teh Su Thye (CEO of Global Peace Malaysia), Amutha D/O Rakwan, Rose Haliza Kamaludin, Buvaneswary D/O Subramaniam, Yap Ming Yee, and Dr. Tony Devine (international Vice President of the Education Division of Global Peace).
Building Momentum for Impact
At the end of the summit, the attendees were asked to give their feedback. Madam Laila, a headmistress, said, “School leaders have to take what they learn today and create a school culture that is welcoming to both students and teachers. A leader must motivate and be positive to be able to motivate teachers and then students.”
Madam Ayeesha, an administrator from Desa Mahkota Form 6 College, felt fortunate to be able to attend the summit and called for more capacity building and development opportunities for educators. She said, “Moral and innovative leadership comes from [our] inner self. [Thus], inner self is the most important thing.”
In the closing ceremony, Global Peace Malaysia’s CCI Programme Director, Pick Ching, spurred the participants with a call for action to “Be Moral and Innovative Leaders” by cultivating moral values, leading by example, and encouraging new ideas through collaboration.
“Today is not the end, today is for us to celebrate our achievements and aspirations. Let us continue to inspire and grow together after this summit with each other’s support.”
The summit ended with a call for action to “Be Moral and Innovative Leaders”.
We thank our main sponsor IOI Group for their generous support, without whom this event would not be possible.
Yong Joy Anne, Storyteller