Sustainable learning transformation
tHE fast-evolving challenges of the 21st century require that students of today be versatile, competent and well-rounded learners.
They need to be equipped not only with effective communication and critical thinking skills, but also ethical and spiritual values that will serve as their moral compass for life,” says leading academician and LeapEd Services Sdn Bhd chairperson Prof Tan Sri Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.
Dzulkifli is optimistic, however, that an education promoting such attributes will soon be accessible to a growing number of Malaysian students.
In his involvement with LeapEd Services, a home-grown education services provider and wholly-owned company of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, he is seeing progress in holistic and student-centred learning under the Ministry of Education’s expanding Trust Schools initiative.
“If you go to one of the Trust Schools, you can see that even the classrooms are organised quite differently,” he says.
“Not only is the learning environment enriched with teaching and learning resources, but students don’t sit theatre-style any more with everybody facing the teacher in front. Now, students are organised in clusters of four or six, depending on class size. They are guided to form groups among themselves where they interact respectfully and learn from one another.
“They are able to correct the mistakes of their peers and discuss to find answers together. They work and learn collaboratively.
“In other words, the responsibility of learning is given back to the student.”
Igniting a love for learning
This student-centred approach to learning is a hallmark of LeapEd’s school improvement programmes.
Founded in 2010 to deliver holistic school improvement in Malaysia through a diverse and energetic team of local and international education experts, LeapEd operates on the principles of a social business.
It is best known as the design and implementation partner of the Yayasan AMIR Trust Schools Programme, which now has in its network 13 Trust Schools across Malaysia and could expand to as many as 30 schools in 2014.
While traditional education approaches tend to rely on exams, memorisation and rote learning, LeapEd’s teaching and learning experts work to enhance learning environments through improved classroom resources and collaborative learning structures that empower students to take responsibility for their own learning.
“Our goal is that every student will want to learn instead of merely feeling that she has to learn,” says LeapEd Services chief executive officer and managing director John D. Chacko.
“By enriching the learning experience in public schools, we aim to inspire a deep love for learning in young Malaysians so that they grow up to be learners for life.”
Chacko adds that the uniqueness of the “LeapEd way” is its holistic approach to integrated school improvement, building a network of support and accountability that helps strengthen a programme’s robustness and sustainability.
This is reflected in the way learning transformation at Yayasan AMIR Trust Schools is guided by strategic goals targeting the four key stakeholder groups that are essential to a vibrant, cohesive school environment – the school leadership team, the teachers, the students themselves, and also parents and the larger community.
“Performance monitoring data has shown that teachers in the Trust Schools are increasingly effective in their teaching competencies, which we believe will ultimately result in improved student outcomes,” says Chacko.
“It has been an amazing privilege for the LeapEd team to support these teachers in their practice through our programmes and approaches.”
In its ongoing effort to build and strengthen networks in the regional education ecosystem, LeapEd has also embarked on strategic partnerships in the area of school leadership development and introducing virtual learning environments in schools.
“As a company, we are driven by the belief that every student has great potential that just needs to be unlocked and nurtured through the right learning environment and experiences,” says Chacko.
“The fact that the aspirations stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint are guided by this very same conviction is truly inspiring. It’s an assurance that we’re all in this together, investing in a common journey of education transformation for the long haul.”
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Prof Dzulkifli (left) and Chacko at the recent launch of LeapEd’s brand manifesto and tagline, ‘Learning Enriched’.