Five game-changing Malaysian schools have been selected from a total of 10,000 Malaysian schools to compete for the world’s most prestigious education prize – T4 Education’s USD 250,000 (MYR 1.1 million) World’s Best Schools Prizes. The schools were chosen by a panel of judges which includes representatives from the Ministry of Education, Yayasan Hasanah, and Pemimpin GSL. Each of the schools demonstrated game-changing leadership that transformed the lives of not only the students but also their communities.
Sarawak’s SK Luagan, a rural school serving a B40 community, will compete in the Innovation category. Students had dropped out of the school as roads were submerged under water during the floods. As an innovative solution, the school set up Filpen Club, a film-based entrepreneurship programme that taught students the art of film development, marketing and financial literacy, creative expression, and leadership skills while helping raise funds to purchase a boat.
The school worked with NGOs to produce multiple award-winning short films highlighting social issues, one of which made it to the international Screamfest Horror Film Festival in the US. By selling tickets to viewings of their short films, the school raised enough funds to purchase a boat to ferry students to school. In the future, the school plans to work with film production companies to highlight the most challenging issues in Sarawak such as; nationality, literacy, single parents, floods, and HIV.
Perlis’ SK Seberang Ramai, a rural school which undergoes Trust Schools Programme serving a B40 community, will compete in the Community Collaboration category. The school faced significant learning losses as students struggled with remote learning during the pandemic. With the help of the National Registration Department, the school worked with villagers to create community-based learning stations within homes in the village.
The colorful stations, manned by volunteers, featured cooking and gardening classes, traditional games, and mini fitness centers, amongst others. The vibrant stations transformed the village, and soon drew the attention of tourists who participated in the various activities, increasing local economic activity. Students also began producing and selling homemade goods, such as traditional snacks and crafts which generated revenue once tourism increased, resulting in better livelihoods for their families.
Selangor’s SK Kanchong Darat, a rural school, will compete in the Healthy Lives category. The school had seen a decrease in student attendance post-pandemic. To address the dire situation, the school put together a “Great Mind, Healthy Citizens” programme that encouraged student attendance while improving physical and emotional health. Instead of a regular recess, the school organized fun jump rope competitions during break time which attracted students back to school.
The school’s imaginative approach to student well-being drove an increase in attendance with improvements in tracked student health data, ensuring that students achieve their potential in the classrooms. The school received recognitions at district, state, and national levels for fitness, sports, and a positive school environment which brought the entire community together.
Penang’s SK Seri Permai, serving an urban B40 community, will compete in the Innovation category. Students were facing health and safety challenges as they carried 10 kg bags to school. They invented the Smart and Easy desk (SnET) 2.0 by adding lockable compartments to their school desks, reducing school bag weights from 10 kg to a mere 2.5 kg. Apart from health and safety benefits, students practiced creativity in solving real-world problems through the project. The school plans to share their SnET 2.0 invention with every school in Malaysia.
Ministry of Education School Management Division Deputy Director, Zulkifli Nordin, who was one of the judges said, “I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the five shortlisted schools for the World Best School Prizes, Malaysia Chapter 2.0. I am very proud of the commitment and creativity that was showcased by all the participants in implementing educational programs designed to improve the quality of education in their respective schools. All contestants demonstrated their ability to find innovative solutions for their schools and community by thinking out of the box.”
Yayasan Hasanah Managing Director and Trustee, Dato’ Shahira Ahmed Bazari, whose Foundation had sponsored the World’s School Prizes for the second year, said, “Prize philanthropy is important for several reasons – it provides financial support for schools, while celebrating innovation and creativity, no matter where they are. Most importantly, by rewarding inventive ideas in these schools, the award also recognises the role of our teachers, educators, and our youths to inspire real-world solutions at a global level, as we move towards a more inclusive and progressive society.”
Pemimpin GSL Programme Director, Samuel Isaiah, who was a Top 10 finalist for USD 1 million (MYR 4.5 mil) Varkey Foundation and UNESCO Global Teacher Prize in 2020 said, “It’s always impressive to see schools taking the initiative to create positive change in their communities and the world at large. It takes dedication, hard work, and creativity to come up with innovative solutions that address real-world problems. Addressing issues related to the environment, education, community, and health are critical areas that require attention from all sectors of society. By taking part in this competition, schools have shown that they are committed to making a positive impact and creating a better future for all.”
“It’s also heartening to see schools encouraging their students to think beyond traditional academic subjects and to develop skills that will prepare them for a rapidly changing world. By fostering creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, schools are equipping their students with the tools they need to succeed. Overall, the schools that participated in this competition should be proud of their efforts and the positive impact they are making. Congratulations to all the schools, and keep up the excellent work!”
Last year, Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Kempadang, a Trust School in rural Kampung Kempadang, Kuantan, Pahang, which serves predominantly B40 students, catapulted Malaysia to international renown by being named as a Top 3 Finalist from 3,500 shortlisted schools from around the world for the inaugural World’s Best School Prizes in the Innovation category for their SMARTZOOM innovation which tracks student progress in real-time during the COVID pandemic when lessons were taken online.
T4 Education’s World Best School Prizes celebrate the stories of schools that are transforming the lives of their students and making a real difference in their communities. Participants will be shortlisted by a Judging Academy of 207 key opinion leaders from the most prestigious institutions around the world including the World Economic Forum, Harvard School of Education, University of Oxford, London School of Economics, YouTube, Thomson Reuters Foundation, and will be placed for Public Advisory votes later in the year. Shortlisted schools and their game-changing solutions for education receive coverage from the world’s top news organizations. The Prizes are sponsored by Accenture, Fundacao Lemann, American Express, Yayasan Hasanah, University Camilo José Cela, and Mellby Grad.
The five Malaysian schools were selected through a shortlisting process and mentored by the education-focused social enterprise LeapEd. The Ministry of Education had called for submissions from all schools in Malaysia. The top 15 entries received a total of RM 10,500 in cash, while the top five selected schools also received a total of RM 5,000 in cash. Judges for the Malaysian Chapter competition were Yayasan Hasanah Chief Strategy Officer, Zadil Hanief Mohamad Zaidi, Pemimpin GSL Programme Director Samuel Isaiah, and Ministry of Education School Management Division Deputy Director, Zulkifli Nordin.