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Cross-Sectional Collaboration - The Key to Collective Efforts to Nurture Holistic Youth

Global Peace Education Forum 2015
By Archana Divi Chandra Mohan Pillai, Global Peace Foundation Malaysia

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

Global Peace Education Forum 2015 in Malaysia
A participant engages in an activity at the Global Peace Education Forum 2015.

With growing concern about the future generation, on September 17, 2015 the Global Peace Foundation-Malaysia brought together education stakeholders from various sectors at the Global Peace Education Forum 2015, “How Might Educators, Entrepreneurs and Public Authorities Foster Synergies for School Transformation?” at the University of Malaya.

The forum kickstarted with a little exercise to understand the perspective of the forum participants who were from all walks of life. Principals, teachers, students, government officials, entrepreneurs, gamers and social enterprise and technology company reresentatives shared their thoughts and ideas on how we could integrate the 21st century learning skills into our classrooms.

In session 1, “Cross-Sector Alignment in Transforming Education,” moderator Dr. Teh Su Thye (MBBS), Chief Executive Officer of the Global Peace Foundation-Malaysia, emphasized the necessity and importance of the platform. “Transforming education is a global effort,” he stated. The speakers of the session were Dr. Habibah Abdul Rahim of PADU (Education Performance and Delivery Unit), Lien Shariatmadari, Global Peace Foundation International, and Jess Tinawin of INTI Education Group, a group of passionate education drivers in the global education landscape.

Global Peace Education Forum 2015 in Malaysia
Section I Moderator, Dr. Teh Su Thye with panelists (Left to Right): Dr. Habibah Abdul
Rahim, Lien Shariatmadari, & Jess Tinawin.

Starting off with the big picture, Lien shared how youth unemployment is a rapidly growing challenge for graduates of the current educational system. The forum speakers jointly expressed the need for a better working model to transform education, and that the model has to integrate a cross-sector approach. Each sector clearly has it’s strength and mechanism of support that it can offer to the transformation of the current educational system.

Dr. Habibah stated how we need to create compelling stories, to invite people from different sectors to be part of the change management. “If people believe in what we are doing, I believe that they would want to be part of the change process as well. The change management has to happen,” shared Dr. Habibah.

Meanwhile, with an experience of 24 years at INTI, and having worked with 252 senior executives across different sectors, Mr. Jess Tinawin brought in the employer’s perspectives as to what they look for in candidates. According to Mr. Tinawin, the crucial skills are communication, problem finding instead of problem solving, skills to collaborate with one another to get things done and critical thinking. He called on parents, learners and teachers to change their roles to develop students who are capable to contribute in today's workplace.

In conclusion, it was clear that awareness is the first step in the collective effort towards reforming the current education landscape. Everyone has his or her own role to play with their own circle of influence that could be used in the effort.  

Session 2, “Implementing 21st Century Skills in Schools in Interdisciplinary Ways,” was moderated by Mr. Puniamurthy Krishnasamy of the University of Malaya; Mr. Alfred Wong, Headmaster, SJK(C) Choong Wen; Ms. Rahayu Ramli of Google Education Malaysia, Ms. Liew Lai Foong; Catherine, English Teacher, SMK Bandar Baru Seri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur; and Professor Dr. Suhaiza, Director University of Malaya Entrepreneurship Centre (UMEC).

The session started with sharing perspectives about holistic educational approaches incorporating different disciplines instead of working in silos. Much easier said than done, participants suggested, as we have been conditioned over the years by a fixed and restrictive system.

Principals play a key role in leading the educational culture of a school, but “teachers are the front line to teach the students,” Mr. Alfred said,  emphasising the role of teachers in leveraging  the support provided in developing their students. “Teachers need to change. Teachers need to engage and interact with their students,” said Ms. Catherine, who is also a Character and Creativity Initiative (CCI) innovator in SMK Bandar Baru Seri Petaling.

“People have a very strong sense of individuality, a sense of self. When you have a voice and are given a voice, that’s when your sense of empowerment kicks in. There has always been a strong sense of wanting to tell a story, and wanting to fix the problems around the world. And that is the skills we want to look for," Rahayu said. “We need to pivot away from problem solving. Not necessarily changing the curriculum but the method of delivering it. It’s not about the technology, it has been there for a very long time, but how do we contextualize the environment around it,” she added.

Global Peace Education Forum 2015 in Malaysia
Distinguished panelists and participants gather for the 2015 Global Peace Education Forum, "How Might Educators, Entrepreneurs and Public Authorities Foster Synergies for School Transformation?" at the University of Malaya. 

Empowerment carries a weight in increasing the ownership of everyone that plays a role in the educational ecosystem, with school principals are key. While mechanisms should make it viable for companies to come in and invest in the schools. Hence, the interdisciplinary approach becomes the catalytic motion that would induce a wave of positive change in our educational landscape.

“If we all do our effort and how do we sustain, it is here, we are seeing it, it is just a matter of would you like to be counted in this campaign. And I indulge you to please helps us Dr. Habibah and the Global Peace to get our citizens really truly global.”- Jess Tinawan, INTI Education Group

Education is the foundation of the development of peace. The school culture transformation is in need of a cross-sectorial commitment and collaboration to reinvigorate collective efforts to nurture holistic youth who would drive global development for a better tomorrow.