Teachers who think out of the box

(From left) Teacher Anita Md Yasin, Shyielathy, Tan, Education deputy director-general (teachers’ professional development) Ahmad Rafee Che Kassim, Isaiah, Tengku Zatashah, Anuthra, teacher Shahril Othman, YTL Foundation programme director Datin Kathleen Chew and teacher Khairil Azmir Ahmad.

SOME teachers go the extra mile in preparing their students to face the future.

The winner of the first-ever Malaysia Teacher Prize is Anuthra Sirisena from SMJK Chung Hwa in Tenom, Sabah.

She went the extra mile to ensure her students were able to explore their talents and be ready for the future by integrating technology and gamification.

The Malaysia Teacher Prize competition was organised by Pemimpin GSL with the support of YTL Foundation in conjunction with the latter’s 25th anniversary celebration.

It is the localised version of the world renowned Global Teacher Prize which recognises outstanding educators.

Anuthra, 41, a chemistry teacher, was inspired by a student to set up a robotics maker space at her school.

A maker space is a place where people come together to create or invent things.

Anuthra feels that all students, including those who are academically weak, should be given the opportunity to explore robotics and programming.

She decided to create the Tenom Innovation Centre, a maker space.

For her efforts, Anuthra took home RM50,000 and plans to set up more maker spaces in all districts in Tenom so children from remote areas could excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“When my student said she liked robotics after participating in an innovation competition, I decided to create a maker space.

“It is a space where teachers and students can learn and create robotics.

“We have 13 teachers and 14 mentors who run the maker space at the Tenom Innovation Centre.

“We have reached 46 schools with the robotics programme and trained 2,000 teachers and students from rural areas.

“I am an avid believer in STEM. In 2017, I attended a teachers’ training programme where I learned coding and programming within three days.

“It was apparent to me that my students could do better if they were introduced to robotics and programming too,” said Anuthra.

She said students also learn tenacity, grit, teamwork and computational thinking through robotics.

Based on her experience, she said schools could kick start robotics lessons from as low as RM1,000.

With her prize money, she plans to set up innovation centres in all primary schools in Tenom.

At the prize presentation in Kuala Lumpur, Pemimpin GSL chief executive officer Cheryl Ann Fernando said Anuthra’s Tenom Innovation Centre was an inspiration.

The Malaysia Teacher Prize competition attracted 800 entries from around the country.

The idea behind the competition is to find inspiring teachers and support quality educators.

Pemimpin GSL programme director Samuel Isaiah said the top 10 teachers who were finalists of the Malaysia Teacher Prize would go on to become ambassadors for future participants of the competition.

“We have outstanding teachers in the country and we want them to be celebrated and take part in the Global Teacher Prize competition,” said Isaiah who was among the top 10 finalists at the Global Teacher Prize 2020.

Among the top 10 finalists of Malaysia Teacher Prize 2022 was Dr Shyielathy Arumugam, 41, a special education integrated teacher at SMK Datuk Haji Abdul Wahab in Sungai Siput, Perak.

She teaches students with learning disabilities and also imparts skills so they can work from home.

“I had a student’s mother ask me if I could keep her son in school for another year because as a severe slow learner, he would not be hired.

“I came up with a workshop to teach soap-making and bean sprout farming to parents of special children so they could help them earn a living.

“We also created storybooks and had children illustrate them.

“Publishing companies hired them to become illustrators upon viewing their work,” said Shyielathy who enjoys researching and improvising ideas to suit her special needs students.

Teacher Tan Shi Min, 34, from SMK Syed Ibrahim in Pendang, Kedah, teaches students English using her “wheel of learning” technique.

She teaches them simple words and emotions and expands these words into idioms to help students who are poor in English.

Aishah Mohamed Hamdan, 41, teaches students English through performing arts.

She got her students to act in an adaptation of the novel Sing To The Dawn and they managed to raise RM30,000.

“Students like to learn in an authentic setting and my students went on to do well in their exams too,” said Aishah.

The prizes were presented by Selangor princess Tengku Zatashah Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah.

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