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A Lasting Impact

By February 10, 2012No Comments

We’re just three days away from our next deadline (have you applied yet?), and we know there are plenty of questions that you may have as you navigate your way through the process. Recently, Lai Wei Shi left us the comment below on our Facebook page, and, as always, we thought we’d take the time and space to answer them in the clearest way possible.

“I looked through your website and I think this is a really great initiative. What I want to know is how the efforts of the Fellows or the Fellowship will be sustainable once their two-year contract ends. Who is going to see that the community projects are going to have a lasting impact or be self-sustaining? You have a training programme that aims to enable the Fellows to bring about long-term change, but with the kind of incentives you have it’s quite likely that you will attract very capable and ambitious individuals who might not be in it for the purely non-profit, selfless goals of the program. And how do you plan to integrate the program into mainstream education, across all levels of education (private and public) to truly achieve education equity? I’m sorry this is really long, but I think they’re important questions to ask. Thanks!”

Teach For Malaysia’s response:

  1. How is the Fellowship programme sustainable beyond the two-year contracts of the Fellows?
    There are two ways to think about the sustainability of the Fellowship programme. First: our commitment to schools. This year, we hope to send a new cohort of Fellows back to some of the initial 17 schools, and our plan is to continue doing so in the future, regardless of how much the programme expands. Ideally, we want students to be taught by a Fellow throughout their years in school, and we believe that a sustained presence of Fellows will not only change the culture of the school, but also the community around it.Secondly, once they complete the Fellowship, our Fellows become Ambassadors of Teach For Malaysia. Fellows leave the programme having dedicated two years to resolving education inequity at its fundamental level, and we trust that this experience will inform them when they make high-level decisions as future leaders in the community. Teach For Malaysia’s network partners, Teach For America and Teach First, have alumni working to expand education opportunities at every level – as teachers, administrators, and policymakers – and we want to get there too.
  2. Who is going to see that the community projects are self-sustaining?
    The simple answer is: the Fellows. Fellows will be advised by individual business coaches on the general management aspects of their project, and will have access to Teach For Malaysia’s network of contacts for additional support, but they are responsible for ensuring the long-term sustainability of their projects. This includes, but is not limited to, fundraising, forward planning, and training a successor at the end of their term.
  3. How is the programme integrated into the education system?
    Fellows are placed in high-need public schools and are full-time employees of the Ministry of Education. They perform administrative tasks, coach sports teams, advise clubs and societies, take part in merentas desa…like any other teacher. We work with the education system, not against it, and we make sure that Fellows have the support of their school principals, subject mentors, and district education officials.
  4. Who does the programme attract?
    The 2012 cohort comprises: An engineer at a large multi-national who left her job in Sarawak to teach in Selangor. A management trainee on the fast track at a global software company who now chases down parents in paddy fields to talk to them about their child’s education. A fully-qualified MD. One of our Fellows didn’t speak a word of Malay when he accepted the offer, and now teaches his kids in Malay; another learnt Mandarin to better teach English to his students. We hope this tells you that while our Fellows come from different backgrounds – profit or non-profit – and will move on to various careers, they are all in this with one dream: one day, all children in Malaysia will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Thank you again to Lai Wei Shi for leaving such a great comment. It’s when we get questions like these that we really take heart, because we know that so many of us are thinking critically about education. Remember, we’re still looking for the best applicants to be part of our 2013 Fellowship! If you haven’t already, apply now and be part of the mission to end education inequity. And if you have any other questions for us, please feel free to leave us a comment below, on Facebook or Twitter, or by emailing our Communications Manager, Hanna, at

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