Rural school in the running to be world’s best

Good job: Students of the school have seen their academic results improve, thanks to SmartZoom.

PLEASE vote and help one of our schools be the “world’s best”.

Congratulating SK Kempadang, Kuantan, Pahang, on being named one of the Top Three finalists for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin called on Malaysians to help ensure a win for the school where the majority of the pupils are from B40 families.

“May the success of SK Kempadang inspire all our schools, teachers and students to produce innovations in line with the digital advancements in education the world over.

“Let’s all give our support and pray that SK Kempadang will be crowned champion,” Radzi said in a social media post last Wednesday.

If it wins, SK Kempadang, which is a Malaysian Trust School, will walk away with US$250,000 (RM1,141,875).

The five World’s Best School Prizes – for Innovation, Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Overcoming Adversity and Supporting Healthy Lives – celebrate schools everywhere for the pivotal role they play in developing the next generation of learners and for their enormous contribution to society’s progress, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The global competition is organised by T4 Education in partnership with Yayasan Hasanah, Templeton World Charity Foundation, Accenture and American Express.

More than 3,500 schools submitted their entries for the inaugural prize. The list of Top Three finalists in each of the categories was announced on Sept 22.

Malaysians have a chance to make SK Kempadang’s efforts to transform education count by voting for the school.

SK Kempadang’s competition entry was SmartZoom, a fully automated tracking system that follows students’ progress in their studies.

Former SK Kempadang headmaster Baharom Bujang, who is the innovator of the digital solution, said he hopes every Malaysian will stand behind the school and vote for it to win the prize.

“Despite all odds, SK Kempadang has brought Malaysia to an international audience, demonstrating a resilient spirit in the face of adversity.

“This is a true display of the ‘Malaysia Boleh’ spirit,” he said. Recalling the difficulties the educators of SK Kempadang had faced during the pandemic when physical classes moved online, and when the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) was scrapped, SK Kempadang teacher Fatin Diana Zakaria said the main problem was that the school did not have specific tools to key in the students’ formative assessment results. “So we sat together and put on our thinking caps to solve this problem.”

Explaining the traffic light system that SmartZoom employs to track student outcomes, Fatin Diana said, “Red represents students who are not doing well, and green is for those who are performing excellently. Those in the red will usually ask their friends in the green for help and the latter are always ready to assist. Teachers just have to look at the graph to monitor the students’ performance.”

The students themselves, she added, are motivated and happy to see their progress, she added.

SmartZoom, said Baharom, has led to an improvement in the classroom results for each subject.

SK Kempadang senior assistant Rodzi Sidek said the rural school mostly comprised students from low-income families.

Innovation in education, he said, is very important.

“When something unexpected happens and we are not prepared for it, we have to find a solution.

“SmartZoom has helped teachers to overcome the challenge (brought on by the pandemic) and made it easier to improve student outcomes and academic achievements.”Fatin Diana and Rodzi were speaking in an interview for the T4 voting campaign promotional video.

Despite the vulnerability of its students, the school has invoked a strong faith in its ability to educate those who walk through its doors.

Since it became a Trust School in 2015, its enrolment rate has increased by 6% to 7% yearly.

The Trust Schools Programme (TSP) is a whole school transformation led by LeapEd, together with Yayasan Amir and the Education Ministry, and supported by Yayasan Hasanah.

LeapEd Services executive director Nina Adlan Disney, who designed and implemented SK Kempadang’s TSP, said the school’s success is a testament to what whole school transformations can achieve.

“We are very proud of SK Kempadang and we hope that it stands out as a role model of the collective effort of every stakeholder – government, state and district, collaborating with school leaders, teachers, students and parents, as well as the community,” she said in a press release.

If SK Kempadang were to win the prize, it would use the funds to improve and expand the capacity of SmartZoom and share it with other schools around the country.

The money would also be invested in supporting the co-curricular activities of the school, for instance, helping students to continue participating in the national robotics competition.

To vote for SK Kempadang, log on to

Voting closes tomorrow morning (Oct 3, 7.59am) and the winners will be announced on Oct 19.

T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes founder Vikas Pota said: “As the world looks to rebuild from the devastation of the pandemic, far too many children will continue to be left behind unless we see urgent action for education.

“Leaders must learn from the knowledge and experience contained within our schools because those on the frontlines of education know better than anyone else the change we need to see.

“The World’s Best School Prizes surface the expertise of inspirational schools from every corner of the globe. It’s time for governments everywhere to listen to their voices,” he added.

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