What’s Next? Policy

Now that they’ve completed their two years in the Fellowship, what comes next for Teach For Malaysia’s first cohort of alumni? Tham Yin Yee reflects on her journey as a Fellow and shares with us how the Fellowship will help her in her new role with PADU.

Tham Yin Yee, TFM Alumni ’12

What is the position you’ll be taking on after the Fellowship?

I will be joining the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU), a unit established by the Ministry of Education to drive the delivery of all Blueprint initiatives. Specifically, I will be working on ministry transformation.

What made you decide on this particular pathway after the Fellowship?

Education gives those who starve today bread on their table tomorrow. Education makes people human, to be civic-minded and morally upright, to not litter, to not steal, to care for one another. Education moulds society. Education advances a nation. Education upholds civilization.

Education is more than putting teachers in classrooms. 2 years of teaching rural kids from struggling family backgrounds taught me invaluable lessons. It also made me realize how powerless I am, as one teacher to support [so] many children.

Every year, the biggest portion of the government expenditure budget goes to education. Yet, we see a decline in student outcomes. Kids drop out from schools. Students graduated illiterate. University graduates unemployed. Talents refuse to return to their home country. I do not want to be a passenger hitching a ride and whining. As a Malaysian who cares, I choose to be in the front wheel.

How do you think being part of Teach For Malaysia helped prepare you for this role? What skills do you think you gained from the classroom that will give you an edge in this position?

Being placed in a high need school gave me the worst and best experiences a teacher could ask for. This on-the-ground experience would definitely help to bridge the gap between planning and executing, challenging me to think beyond common solutions.

How do you think you’ll be able to further the cause of ending education inequity in this position?

In my work in ministry transformation, I hope to establish a clear line of leadership in the ministry so greater support can be given to teachers, which would translate into better student outcomes.

What will you miss most about being a teacher in a high need school?

The students.

Faizal would complete his tasks when I deliver a good lesson, and he simply wouldn’t comply when I deliver a lousy lesson. If I wrongly accused Lorna in class today, she will forget about it and still greet me brightly tomorrow. Syazmin has a bad temper. Once, he was chit chatting away in a tuition class. After (many) warnings, I told him to leave the class. He did, after kicking a chair. The next day, this big-sized boy came to me with an embarrassed smile and apologized.

These kids are so annoying. They are loud and noisy. Yet, they are so adorable. They always let me know that I am appreciated.