THANKS to Top 50 Global Teacher Prize 2015 finalist Yasmin Noorul Amin, SMK La Salle now has a modern, state-of-the-art Chemistry Lab, complete with a mini Forensics Lab.
Though she didn’t win the Global Teacher Prize, it didn’t stop her from realising her dream of one day equipping her school’s Chemistry Lab with modern facilities and a mini forensics lab.
“I managed to get the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to fund the renovation project, which was completed last month.
You don’t stop dreaming just because one door closes. You channel your energy, love, commitment and ideas towards a better future,” the former analytical engineer said.
Now a Chemistry, Science, and Forensics teacher, she was the first government school teacher in Malaysia and South East Asia to be selected as a top 50 finalist for the Prize in 2015.
You’re chosen not because of what you’ve done, but for what you’re about to do, she said, sharing what Madenjit Singh, Malaysia’s only 2015 top 10 finalist, once told her.
True enough, for the past five years, her work has been gaining recognition, which allowed her to carry out more projects and activities.
“The lab idea was a long-time dream. I’ve always been very interested in Forensics Chemistry. Investigative thinking can be nurtured by forensics activity but students need a conducive place and equipment.”
Although it was her students who nominated her for the coveted prize, Yasmin now sees the importance of participating.
“As one of the Varkey Teacher Ambassadors serving since 2015, I realised that the Global Teacher Prize is a platform to recognise teachers around the globe. And, you get to challenge yourself to gain recognition for the sake of your students and profession.”
The Selangor Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Icon Teacher advises her peers to teach from the heart, because the reward is tremendous.
Active in uplifting STEM interest among teachers and students through talks, seminars, and workshops, she recently spoke at EduTech Asia 2018 in Singapore.
And, she was the sole Malaysian speaker at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2019 (GESF) in Dubai, having been invited to be on the “Getting Girls Into STEM” panel. The discussion was on how teachers, policy-makers, and parents, can work together to enable girls to succeed in STEM, an area they’re underrepresented in.
“I’ve been asked: ‘You’re a woman teacher. Do you light your own Bunsen burners?’
“I teach in an all boys school and it’s tough for a female teacher who usually has to prove herself before they’ll listen.”
During the session, Yasmin said both genders must be empowered with STEM because it is a necessity in today’s world.
“Many want to be social media influencers. They feel science is hard and it takes up their social media time.”
She said the lack of facilities shouldn’t be a reason to deprive children of STEM. A simple STEM kit is all it takes.
“We go to rural areas where there are no labs and we have STEM experiments in a hall. I bring my STEM bag and all I need is a water supply. So not having a lab doesn’t mean you cannot teach STEM.”
Parents too, she said must know what STEM is about.
“We need a global campaign to educate parents on the importance of STEM. Parents think STEM means that their children will have to study hard only to earn an average salary later on, which isn’t right.”
Despite all she’s accomplished, Yasmin’s not letting up.
“I’m unstoppable in my pursuit of the awareness of students in STEM-related subjects. Increasing the number of PT3 students pursuing science in the upper secondary is my lifelong agenda.”
Malaysians, she said, must change their mindset from being mere users, to becoming manufacturers.
In line with the National STEM Centre and Education Planning and Research Department’s STEM initiative enforcement programmes, teachers are the frontliners, she said. But while teachers are important, her students are the real superheroes.
“They changed my life, and make me a better person everyday.”
Yasmin and her students received last year’s Varkey Foundation’s Brian Lara US$5,000 (RM2mil) Sports Prize for their ‘Flag Challenge’. They climbed mountains, hills and caves, as part of the outdoor project.
“My boys and I love hiking so we came up with the idea to do this and submitted our entry. We hiked almost every week in Bukit Gasing as our school is fortunate to have a beautiful hill behind our yard.
“The prize money went towards our hike up Mount Kinabalu. (International cricket legend) Lara met us here during a visit last year. He was in tears when he saw the thank you video we made.”
Congratulating Yasmin on her achievements, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said her hard work and effort have made the country proud.
“Thank you for bringing Malaysian education to the world’s stage. I hope your success inspires our teachers to do their best for our children,” he said in a Facebook post on March 25. - By CHRISTINA CHIN