The Beginning

There are few who would leave their positions in highly reputable companies on little more than a dream and a prayer. Yet, our co-founders Dzameer Dzulkifli and Keeran Sivarajah did just that in 2009, when they decided that something needed to be done about education inequity in Malaysia. Read on for Dzameer’s take on the early days of Teach For Malaysia.


22nd Nov 2010. It was our second day in London and we had just gotten out of an Addison Lee in a quiet London suburb for an informal social event to kick off Teach For All’s Annual CEO Conference. Both Keeran and I were here for our very first Teach For All CEO conference – back then there was about 18 partners in total in the network. The other CEOs either consist of highly experienced non-profit leaders or ex-strategic consultants. It was an exciting opportunity to meet like-minded individuals from across the world and pick their brains on how to build a similar movement of outstanding leaders in Malaysia.

Barely a year ago, we had submitted our first business plan to Teach For All, we had probably only had one meeting with MOE representatives, and we were still working in our strategic management consulting jobs during the day. In October 2010, our public launch was postponed due to implementation challenges and we had just started building a team without any clear indication if we could even launch the programme.

My main question at this event, therefore, was simple: What is the key to success?

In answer, Tomas Recart, Ensena Chile’s founder, told me there were only four things that we needed: “Vision, Mission, Core Values and 120% of hard work.”

After weeks of anticipation, I was dumbfounded by this seemingly simple answer. And despite Tomas’ patience in taking 15 minutes to explain the concept to us, we just did not have sufficient context to understand its importance.

And though 3 months later we sat down to draft our own core value – Sense of Possibility, Excellence, Collaboration and Integrity – as an inspiration to guide us, it was really only on October 31st 2011, when 50 Fellows arrived at our inaugural Training Institute did we finally have full context to appreciate Tomas’ advice. The team’s collective passion fueled our perseverance through various recruitment, financial, stakeholder and management challenges in order to realise the Teach For Malaysia movement.

As we continue to attract top graduates and young professionals to join the Fellowshp, we constantly remind ourselves that, “Those who can, create history”