These Two Gen.T Honourees Are Helping To Launch Malaysia's First National Teacher Prize

By Chong Jinn Xiung

Educators Cheryl Ann Fernando and Samuel Isaiah share how the Malaysia Teacher Prize will help to raise the profile and prestige of teaching as a career in the country

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Photo: Pixabay
Cover  Photo: Pixabay

Research from the Global Teacher Status Index 2018 found points to the fact that in countries, including Finland and Singapore, where teachers are respected and paid better, their students tend to perform better academically.

In Malaysia, Cheryl Ann Fernando, CEO of non-profit organisation Pemimpin Global School Leaders (GSL), is hoping to increase the country's level of education by improving school leadership and promoting teaching as an attractive and respectable profession. To date, the organisation has worked with close to 200 schools, providing training and support to education leaders and teachers in the hopes of increasing student engagement and performance. 

Recently, Fernando, alongside Pemimpin's programme director Samuel Isaiah, approached The Varkey Foundation, the organisers of the Global Teacher Prize. Their goal: to launch the inaugural Malaysia Teacher Prize to honour the best teachers in the country. Similar awards are being held in more than 40 countries worldwide. 

See also: How This Y Combinator Alum Is Levelling The Playing Field For SMEs In Malaysia

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Cheryl Ann Fernando CEO of Pemimpin GSL
Above  Cheryl Ann Fernando CEO of Pemimpin GSL
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Samuel Isaiah Program Director of Pemimpin GSL
Above  Samuel Isaiah Program Director of Pemimpin GSL

"Everyone wants to be recognised for their efforts, especially in the teaching profession," says Fernando, who is an alumni of Teach For Malaysia, an NGO seeking to provide an education to every child in the country. "We have heard of teachers being duped into paying for fake awards. By launching the Malaysia Teacher Prize, it would serve as the national award that all teachers aspire to win." 

The prize's selection process will be rigorous: All participants are required to submit an essay in either English or Malay, detailing their work and why they think they deserve to win the prize. Their entries will be reviewed by a panel of 50 judges, made of individuals from academia and the Ministry of Education, who will vet each submission, interview teachers and conduct due diligence, before selecting the final names. 

Pemimpin aims to attract 4,000 entries when it launches the prize's registration site in mid-March this year. There will be one grand prize winner, who will receive a generous cash prize as well as access to professional development courses by Pemimpin that will help to hone their teaching and leadership skills. The winner will be announced in October, coinciding with World Teacher's Day. 

"The majority of teachers are doing their best every day, but it has been especially challenging for them as they grapple with adapting to remote teaching and adjusting their lessons to keep students engaged during the pandemic," says Fernando. "The award will give Malaysia's teachers the incentive to continuously innovate [in their work]."


See other honourees from the Education category of the Gen.T List.

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