2016 was a year fraught full of strange events.
In brief, we witnessed the rise and fall of the phenomenon that was Pokemon Go. Niantic appealed to the nostalgia many of us have for Pokemon and netted up to 1.6 Million USD a day from iPhone users alone. Meanwhile, in South America, the Zika Virus is declared by WHO as a public health emergency of international concern, as with every outbreak we’re still unsure how long it will persist. In other news, we also witnessed Samsung’s credibility take a massive hit with exploding Note 7’s, which might be why Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 plus’ sales haven’t dropped despite the fact that they no longer have a universal earphone port. On a more hopeful note, Russia and US agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” between the Syrian government and groups fighting, it in a deal that excludes the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Group. Though, like the Zika Virus, we have no idea how long this is going to last either, with those calming that the cessation has already broken down. Prince passed along with other beloved celebrities, hurricanes devastating the Caribbean, typhoons similarly smashing up the Philippines.
Yes, 2016 was a strange year, and worrisome if trends continue. True, it looks like 2017 is off to a rocky start with an oil spill in Johor, spreading to the coast of Singapore. So how are we supposed to have hope when the entire world seems crazy?
The answer is you just have to look. There are thousands of social enterprises trying their very best to solve problems, starting with the roots of society, education. Here are 3 organisations (in no particular order) trying to work towards a better future, starting with where they can, Malaysia. Boleh.
First up, EduNation is the largest free primary and secondary school online resource in Malaysia. EduNation aims to bring free educational resources to every Malaysian child. EduNation began as Khan Academy’s advocate in Malaysia where they mapped out Khan Academy videos to the Malaysian school syllabus and translated them to Bahasa Malaysia. They have thousands of videos covering all core subjects such as maths, science, biology, chemistry, physics in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Tamil and Mandarin.
EduNation also provides exercises and test papers where students can practice their understanding of key concepts. Students can also sign up and log in to track their progress. All in all, EduNation is determined to be the leading provider of free education for all Malaysian students and ensure that every child in Malaysia has access to the best education through their videos and online content. They believe in access to education, collaborating with the community, yielding creativity and excellence.
FutureLab is excited to have Edmond Yap, the Co-founder of EduNation as a mentor here.
2. 100% PROJECT
Second, 100% Project believes that great strides can only be made in education through collective impact. This means everyone – corporations, foundations, start-ups, social enterprises, schools, parents, teachers, and individuals, can move education forward in Malaysia.
100% Project has been helping teachers achieve funding for their student-related projects, since its inception in October 2015. The startup first sources for passionate teachers who need the money to improve their classrooms, organise field trips, or implement some of their more innovative teaching ideas, followed by engaging the public and connecting them to these teachers, so we can all have a chance to contribute. Though 100% Project are new to the startup community, they have already seen two projects being fully funded within the first few days, and by two weeks, half of their projects were completely covered financially.
At FutureLab, 100% Project gives us a lot of hope, chiefly because its proof that as a community, the impacts we make are not small. We hope to have members of the 100% project team on our mentor list one day to be able to share their journey with us. If you’d like to support 100% project, more information can be found here: https://www.100percentproject.org/
3. TEACH FOR MALAYSIA
Thousands of Malaysian children don’t have the chance to realise their potential because of many different factors, like how much their parents earn or where they live. Imagine this – what if the cure for cancer is trapped inside the mind of one of these students ? – Teach For Malaysia
Third is Teach For Malaysia; an independent, not-for-profit organisation on a mission to empower our nation through education. They seek to do this by firstly empowering teachers through a fellowship which involves a demanding, challenging, and incredibly rewarding two-year leadership development program — so teachers can be part of the solution. Teaching for two years in high-need classrooms gives the Alumni a deep understanding of what the real challenges are, and what it will take to really empower students and communities. It is anchored in this collective vision, that they continue to champion education and influence change in different ways.
Chow Geh Tsung, an alumnus from the Teach For Malaysia program shares that — A person who has mastered the art of teaching does not need to raise his voice, threaten, hit, nor entice students with rewards to awaken their true potential. He understands the subtleties of the human mind, of different personalities, and of different circumstances to bring about enlightenment within individuals. True teachers are respected even when they aren’t around, spoken about with admiration behind their backs and remembered for life.
He goes on to share an experience that he had with a student:
This year I have a Form 2 ‘gangsta’ student who has a lot of disciplinary problems. I engaged him through sports. He is a good runner and happened to be in my sports house. I acknowledged him and treated him with respect. During house practice, I gave him the responsibility to lead the juniors during practice. He took pride in his work and did his job dutifully. I trusted him with the work and he did not take advantage even when I wasn’t monitoring him. No signs of misbehaviour whatsoever. He then went on to win the Best Athlete Award during the School’s Sports Day. He was suspended from school during the Prize Giving Ceremony, but he came to school anyway with a neat long-sleeved uniform. He really wanted to be acknowledged. When he went on the stage, I was really proud of him. I later sent him a photo of him holding the trophy and congratulated him, he then responded with this:
“Thank you teacher… without you, I may not have won the events that I participated in.”
At FutureLab we deeply value education, we believe that it is the basis for society.
Which is why we support organisations like 100% project, EduNation, and Teach For Malaysia. By improving the mind, we can improve ourselves. This extends into other aspects of society, which is why we built FutureLab. For some of us it’s too late to change our education, but we can still take action in order to get into the industry we desire. Which is why if you’ve read to this point and you’re a student, or fresh grad, or anyone that needs to speak to someone with more experience, we encourage you to speak to one of our mentors.
For mentors reading to this point, in order to teach others, we need to be able to learn ourselves. So your homework is to book a session with someone who has more seniority than you!
Good Luck Readers, on your journey of self-discovery. Bon Voyage!
-The Family Ferret