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By incorporating arts performances in lessons, students can express their creativity and find their voice.

EDUCATORS are the nation’s game-changers ― playing the critical role in building, developing and shaping the future generation. They have the opportunity to mould students into lifelong learners, which will help them succeed beyond school life.

Dr Swaroop Rawal, a 2019 Global Teacher Prize finalist, said it was important to note that a teacher’s role is not only confined to teaching, but also a mover and a shaker.

Speaking in Kuala Lumpur recently, Swaroop revealed that becoming a teacher was never in her plans. When she became a mother, the former Miss India Universe, model and Hindi movie actress decided to leave her glam career and go into teaching.

She wanted to help children to be more resilient by equipping them with life skills and introducing new methods of teaching. According to Swaroop, teachers could build their students’ confidence by learning through play.

“This is because through play, they are not looked down by anybody and they feel they can do the tasks. So, how can we present our lessons in a way that’s fun for kids?

“For me, drama is the way,” she said, adding that incorporating drama and storytelling in the classroom came naturally for her.

2019 Global Teacher Prize Finalist, Swaroop Rawal

“It is something that my students enjoy a lot and the methods work really well,” she said, adding that she was always engaging ministers and bureaucrats in her country to bring about change in the education system.

“I am fighting to bring life skills education into classrooms because I want my children to be equipped with those skills that not only make them resilient, but emotionally empowered,” she said.

Educationist, consultant and trainer Puan Sri Sherina Leong-Aris said teaching is a calling and teachers should return to the basics of education to find inspiration and motivation.

Coming from a family of seven and growing up in a small room above a coffeeshop in Ipoh, Perak, Sherina was determined to break out of her family’s poverty and pursue a meaningful cause.

“I came from a poor family where we did not have much to eat. Life wasn’t great but we were happy.

“At that time, my parents only wanted me to finish school and get a job to support the family as I am the eldest daughter. Pursuing further studies was not an option.

“As fate would have it, my teacher put in the application for me to enrol in Form Six and I took the entrance exam. I was the only one who passed in the whole school. I started being a teacher at age 17, where I taught tuition to support myself through Form Six.

“Sharing a tiny room with other siblings, I did not have a proper place to study. My teacher was kind enough to invite me to study at her home. Every weekend, I would ride my bicycle to her house where I could eat good food,” she said.

Another unforgettable memory was the kindness and care shown to her by a teacher.

“I had another teacher who was concerned if I had tuberculosis because I was so thin. So, he took me to a doctor and found out that I was malnourished, which was a socioeconomic problem.

“That teacher told other teachers about my plight and they were all ready to help. Every month, they would send all sorts of groceries, such as milk, eggs and vitamin supplements to my household,” she said.

Sherina added that the sacrifices and deeds of her teachers had inspired her to become an educator herself.

“One of the main reasons why I teach is because I love kids. For me, the biggest reward for a teacher is when you see the light in the students’ eyes when they understand what you teach. I’m sure all teachers can relate to this.

“Teaching means you’re dealing with hundreds of young lives. We take responsibility for our students’ future,” she said.

Puan Sri Sherina Leong-Aris (right) with YTL Foundation programme director Datin Kathleen Chew during the keynote session at Leaps of Knowledge Conference.

Teach For Malaysia (TFM) English teacher Soonufat Supramaniam is advocating new initiatives by teachers for the future of education in Malaysia, no matter what constraints they face.

Having worked as a performance artiste, producer and movie director in Brisbane, Australia, Soonufat realised something about arts education that Malaysians should treasure.

Upon returning to Malaysia, he joined TFM and was posted to a rural school in Kedah.

While teaching English there, he explored how to combine language learning and performing arts.

He gathered 45 students from five rural schools to stage a play.

“The project discovered so much potential and talent. Even students from the most challenging areas could express themselves creatively and find their voice.

“I always believe that education should not be confined within the four walls of the classroom. It extends beyond that,” he said.

Swaroop, Sherina and Soonufat were sharing their experiences in the latest edition of the Leaps of Knowledge Conference organised by FrogAsia and YTL Foundation last year.

Themed HEART, the sessions were aimed at addressing issues, trends and initiatives in the education landscape.

The Global Teacher Prize is a US$1 million (RM4.09 million) award established by the Varkey Foundation to recognise exceptional teachers around the world, who made outstanding contributions to the profession.


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(from left) Global Teacher Prize finalist 2019 and India Early Childhood Association vice president Swaroop Rawal, Varkey Foundation policy and advocacy manager Nicholas Piachaud and educationist, consultant and trainer, Puan Sri Sherina Aris at the Leaps of Knowledge 2019 conference as keynote speakers.


LEAPS of Knowledge Conference is back for the seventh year focused on core values of “HEART, ” an acronym for “Here To Make A Difference, Enjoy What You Do and Who You Do It With, Act With Integrity, Reach For Perfection and Think Ahead and Out Of The Box”.

The theme addressed current issues, trends and initiatives in the education landscape.

About 600 participants attended the event organised in Kuala Lumpur by FrogAsia Sdn Bhd and YTL Foundation to inspire teachers, educators and education advocates.

FrogAsia Sdn Bhd executive director Lou Yeoh said the conference was held to give educators the space to learn, be inspired, to reimagine and to be reminded of what was possible.

Among the speakers was Varkey Foundation policy and advocacy manager Nicholas Piachaud, who revealed that the occupation of a secondary and primary school teacher was in 10th and 11th place on the list of the most respected jobs in the world.

“Based on our research across the world, teachers are taken for granted, their social status is very low and they do not get the recognition they should get, ” he said.

But Varkey’s research found that Malaysia was among the countries that honoured teachers and considered a teacher as important as a doctor.

“We should look to Malaysia where its people see teachers as equal to doctors. The esteem of educators in this country should be an example to the rest of the world, ” said Piachaud, adding that this conference allowed teachers to speak up and engage in discussions.

Veteran educationist, consultant and trainer Puan Sri Sherina Aris shared about the situation in Malaysia today.

“The reality is that many people become teachers due to a lack of opportunity, ” she said, adding that the profession was among the last options for jobseekers.

Sherina cited as example that a number of engineering graduates had to undergo training to become a teacher because they could not get a job in their area of study.

“The ministry should be getting the best people for the right job and by that, we should look into increasing the wages for teachers, ” she stressed, adding that it would make more people be willing to become teachers in the future.

One of the keynote speakers, Global Teacher Prize finalist 2019 and India Early Childhood Association vice-president Swaroop Rawal said it was important to spread positive stories of educators to leaders, parents and advocates.

“Besides teaching, you need to talk about your teaching experience and journey, ” said Swaroop.

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Dari kiri; Pengurus Dasar & Advokasi Yayasan Varkey, Nicholas Piachaud, Naib Presiden Persatuan Pendidikan Awal India, Swaroop Rawal, Pengarah Program YTL Foundation, Datin Kathleen Chew, Pengarah Eksekutif Frogasia, Lou Yeoh, Tokoh Pendidik, Puan Seri Sherina Leong-Aris dan Pereka Senibina, Red Hong Yi pada Persidangan Pendidikan Kebangsaan Leaps of Knowledge anjuran YTL Foundation di JW Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur. - Foto Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

By Norliza Abdullah23 November 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Tugas guru semakin mencabar dengan pelbagai kerenah terutama ibu bapa yang sering menyalahkan pihak sekolah gagal mendisiplinkan anak mereka.

Tokoh Pendidik Puan Sri Sherina Aris, berkata tidak dinafikan mereka berhadapan pelbagai ugutan selain tindakan disaman yang seterusnya menjejas imej mereka sebagai pendidik.

Beliau berkata, senario ini tidak sepatutnya berlaku jika kedua-dua pihak memahami tugas masing-masing dalam mendisiplinkan anak bangsa,

Katanya, tugas mendidik tanggungjawab semua membabitkan keserasian antara ibu bapa dan guru serta sokongan masyarakat setempat dalam melahirkan generasi muda berilmu.

“Tugas pendidik bukan sekadar mengajar di bilik darjah semata-mata, malah berperanan mendisiplinkan murid selagi mereka berada di bawah pengawasan sekolah,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian pada sesi ceramah persidangan pendidikan kebangsaan Leaps of Knowledge anjuran YTL Foundation dengan kerjasama penyedia pendidikan berasaskan teknologi digital, FrogAsia, di sini hari ini. Hadir sama Pengarah Program Yayasan YTL, Datin Kathleen Chew.

Sherina berkata, guru bukan profesion semata-mata, malah lebih daripada itu dalam membentuk generasi berilmu dan berhemah tinggi.

Katanya, guru perlu ada keberanian, berwibawa dan mempunyai jati diri sebagai pendidik tanpa mengira agama dan keturunan.

Tokoh Pendidik Puan Sri Sherina Aris. - Foto Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

“Ada pihak mendakwa segelintir graduan memilih profesion guru sebagai pilihan kedua selepas gagal mendapat pekerjaan lain, kesannya golongan ini dedikasi dalam menjalankan tugas. Bagaimanapun saya optimis insan bergelar pendidik mampu menggalas tugas murni ini dengan sempurna.

“Mereka perlukan pengiktirafan, penghargaan, bimbingan serta latihan berterusan serta imbuhan saksama dengan tanggungjawab yang dipikul,” katanya.

Berkongsi pengalaman lalu, Sherina yang berasal dari Ipoh Perak, berkata kemiskinan keluarga bukan halangan seorang murid untuk mencapai kecemerlangan akademik.

“Dulu saya kurus, pakaian tidak kemas, seorang guru Datin Azizah (ibu pelakon Jit Murad) memanggil dan mempelawa ke rumahnya untuk bimbingan tambahan.

“Ketika itulah saya berpeluang menikmati sajian makan tengah hari paling lazat dan disajikan dengan minum petang setiap minggu mengikuti kelas tambahan di rumah beliau,” kata anak sulung daripada lima adik beradik yang terpaksa tinggal dalam sebuah bilik tujuh sekeluarga.

Sherina menerima bantuan bulanan RM70 daripada Kelab Rotary ketika itu, berkata lahir dalam sebuah keluarga berbangsa Tionghua tidak menghalang beliau bersama keluarga Melayu semata-mata untuk mendapatkan ilmu.

“Saya bersyukur kerana ibu bapa begitu mementingkan pelajaran walaupun mereka tidak belajar tinggi, bagi membolehkan kami meneruskan kelangsungan hidup dan keluar daripada kemiskinan,” katanya.

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Featuring a Series of Inspirational Keynotes and Seminars by International Experts focusing on the HEART of Education

23 November 2019 - Leaps of Knowledge invites everyone to be a game changer in education, empowering the community to raise resilient leaders who are able to reimagine what could be, and have the confidence to pursue that vision. This year, the conference featured impactful leaders such as International Artist and Architect Red Hong Yi, Global Teacher Prize 2019 Top 10 Finalist Swaroop Rawal, International Psychologist Dr Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, Child Developmental Specialist Racheal Kwacz, Teach for Malaysia Founder Dzameer Dzulkifli and many more.

“The Leaps of Knowledge Conference organised by FrogAsia is a platform for thought leadership that inspires and empowers educators to mould lifelong learners. Through this year’s conference themed around our core values, HEART, we aim to inspire a sense of purpose and joy by changing hearts and shaping minds. Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to inspire thousands of teachers, parents, students and advocates, and we look forward to the positive impact this year’s line up of speakers will bring,” said Lou Yeoh, Executive Director of FrogAsia.

During the conference, five keynote sessions were conducted with each embodying one H-E-A-R-T value, zooming in on the importance of each HEART value by addressing current issues, trends and initiatives in the education landscape.

Lou Yeoh took to the stage to speak about changing hearts and shaping minds. Focusing on the H in HEART, Lou spoke about the values that FrogAsia believes are the foundation to <b>making a difference</b> in education. “At FrogAsia, we see our technology as a tool that helps us make education relevant in today’s world, it helps us to be more effective and efficient; creative and engaging. But at the end it’s not really about technology, but what you do with it that matters. Behind this technology, are real people, people whose purpose is to make a difference,” Lou added.

Nicholas Piachaud, Policy and Advocacy Manager for the Varkey Foundation and Swaroop Rawal, Global Teacher Prize Finalist 2019, Vice President of Early Childhood Association India and a former Miss India took the stage for the E value. Nicholas talked about the Global Teacher Prize and how it celebrates teachers who enjoy what they do and who they do it with whereas Swaroop explained how she uses the performing arts and elements of fun to teach children life skills.

Meanwhile, Datin Kathleen Chew, Programme Director of YTL Foundation, interviewed educationist, consultant and trainer Puan Sri Sherina Leong-Aris on how education has evolved throughout the years, and the importance of acting with integrity by having the right character and values in education. Besides that, Dzameer Dzulkifli, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Teach For Malaysia, Soonufat Supramaniam - an English teacher and Teach for Malaysia alumnus as well as Tay Sue Yen, Co-Founder of MYReader discussed how teachers can continue to start new initiatives to reach for perfection for the future of education in Malaysia. Lastly, Malaysian artist-architect Red Hong Yi gave insight on how individuals can think ahead and out of the box to wrap up the keynote session.

During the seminar sessions, insightful discussions on topics such as how individuals can manage a school on Cloud, implications of exam stress on students, Frog’s new features, respectful parenting and best practices for students to protect themselves from predators. The seminar sessions were led by speakers such as Martyn Soulsby, a teacher and senior leader at North Lakes School; Dr Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, an International Psychologist, Life Coach and 2019’s Young Global Leader; Racheal Kwacz, a Child and Family Development Specialist; Aizat Izyani, Head of Product in FrogAsia and Karen Wong, an Early Childhood Educator and Head of Kindity Preschool.

The conference not only included keynote sessions and seminars but also included a playground where participants were able to solve challenges together. The participants had the opportunity to step into a world of wonder and excitement by solving puzzles and challenges with friends and strangers alike. Upon completion of each activity at the playground, participants get the opportunity to show support for two high-need communities. Together with YTL Foundation, FrogAsia brought together partners like Me Books, CzipLee, Pelangi, Leaderonomics, and Pops Malaya to build community centres in Kampong Sion, Sarawak and Sentul, Kuala Lumpur.

The annual Leaps of Knowledge Conference was first started in 2013 and has thus far featured over 55 workshops sessions, inspiring more than 20,000 teachers, parents, students and advocates. In the past, the conference has featured international thought leaders, shapers and technologists such as Nick Vujicic, Dr Sugata Mitra, Dr Alice Wilder and Shaheen Mistri, and local education heroes such as Cheryl Fernando and Alvin Ung, who have all made a strong impression.

For more information on Leaps of Knowledge, please visit

By Zulita Mustafa -

UNIVERSITI Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is the first university in the country to have a ‘Frog Classroom’ in its Centre for Literacy and Sociocultural Transformation at the Faculty of Sciences and Humanities.

The project is a collaboration between Frog Asia Sdn Bhd and a UKM team led by Professor Dr Radha Nambiar, who is chairman of the centre, to create a classroom that encourages student participation in learning with the integration of technology.

It is also a product of a three-year partnership with YTL Foundation, which funded a study on the effectiveness of the Frog Classrooms.

“For one year, myself and three colleagues studied whether there was a change in teaching and learning in classrooms at various schools.

“We spoke to teachers of various disciplines and they said students were eager to learn and would be on their best behaviour the whole week just to come to the classroom.

“The study also found that the Frog Classrooms were a conducive learning environment at schools,” she said.

Her study on the impact of Frog Classrooms was published in 2017. It was further applied in UKM, with YTL Foundation programme director Datin Kathleen Chew Wai Lin opening the university’s first Frog Classroom recently.

Present were deputy vice-chancellor (academic & international affairs) Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Marzuki Mustafa and deputy vice-chancellor (industry & community partnerships) Professor Datuk Dr Imran Ho Abdullah.

Last year, Radha spoke with a group of students to get them to set up the classroom at the faculty. They did so based on guidelines provided by Radha’s team, such as the colour scheme, and furniture from YTL Foundation.

“It is the combined effort of students and staff, who cleaned, fixed and painted the walls and tables, that created this learning space.

“The creative part was from the students as they were the ones who decided what they wanted their classroom to look like.

“We even allowed them to draw on the tables to make the environment attractive.”

She added that the front feature, where a teacher stands by the blackboard to teach, had been eliminated.

“In this space, you can facilitate from anywhere in the room. This will ensure that no learner is left behind. This classroom is designed for peer interactions and group work to foster 21st century learning skills, such as collaborating, problem-solving and critical thinking,” she said.

The classroom is now ready to be used by lecturers and students on a rotational basis. According to Radha, access to technology was a key component to personalised learning.

“The only condition is they must make use of technology. We don’t want it to become a traditional classroom.

“Teachers don’t have to worry about bringing their laptops or projectors. We have already put everything inside.

“We have done our part, the rest is up to the teachers and students. We need to give them a chance to show how creative they can be with knowledge.”

Marzuki said the nation’s education landscape was constantly changing and UKM needed to adapt fast.

“We need to think and ask questions on the future of learning so we, as educators, can create better opportunities for our learners. And, it is important to remember that educators are no longer the only source of information in this digital era.

“These facilities will guide learners to develop skills to leapfrog into the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” he said.


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The 2018 Leaps of Knowledge conference themed ‘Power Up’ is a sequel to last year’s conference themed ‘Level Up.’ More than 1,000 educators and parents in total from all over Malaysia attended the conference. The aim of the conference was to recognise educators as superheroes (Gamechangers) and empowering them to continue raising the bar in education and encouraging 21st Century teaching and learning.
The first keynote speaker was Kiran Bir Sethi, founder of Design for Change (DFC), the largest movement of change by children and Riverside School, Ahmedabad, India. DFC is now in over 60 countries, impacting 2.2 million children and 65,000 teachers. Kiran spoke about empowering children by character building and design thinking.

The second keynote speaker was Cheryl Ann Fernando, the inspirational teacher portrayed in the Malaysian film ‘Adiwiraku’. Cheryl shared her experience as a teacher in a rural school and how teachers can empower their students to reach their highest potential.

The Leaps of Knowledge conferences are organised by FrogAsia and supported by YTL Foundation.

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