Honoured guests, Dato’ Dr Siddiq Fadzil, Tan Sri Dr Gauth Jasmon, Mat Luthfi, Teach For The Needs (TFTN) Board Trustees, TFTN Managers, Volunteers, Mahasiswas, Students, and beloved Teachers.
Assalamualaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh and a very pleasant morning I bid to all.
Firstly, I would like to express my highest gratitude to everyone, who has driven the success of this Second TFTN Education Convention with the Theme; Love Education – For the Future of Malaysia. Without you, we would have never made it this far. Congratulations.
Since 1985, millions of volunteers worldwide celebrate the International Volunteers Day every December 5th. The celebration connotes a world-wide appreciation for voluntary institutions and organizations around the globe.
I think it is not too late for me to congratulate all volunteers which I always refer to as the ‘Gift from The Sky’- Volunteers who had sacrificed themselves without expecting any reward; volunteers who have always been there for the needy, volunteers who gave TFTN children their utmost care and love, and cherished them. I shall not try to name each and every one of them as I will surely commit injustice. Congratulations again.
Eurobarometer estimated that there are 140 million volunteers contributing RM 1.3 trillion or 7% of world GDP. Volunteerism is fundamental in a civilized society; it is formed by individual groups which have identical interests, objectives, and values. In other words, civil society is the society itself, moved by the determination and the personal will to struggle and strive for public service and welfare. This is one of the rationales, why TFTN was established in the very first place.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
YB Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in his keynote speech in the TFTN Fundraising Dinner on the 5th of July stated that, “Our National Education System is a failure and we can not defend it anymore”. He added that a sincere, brave and a radical act must be taken to spark a revolutionary process in learning and teaching. This has been proven successfully with encouraging results demonstrated in China, South Korea, and Finland. Tengku Razaleigh had also praised and supported TFTN’s proposal to adopt Love as the Education Pedagogy and as the basis of a new National Education Philosophy.
Before I go further, let us reflect on Malaysia’s international education position. We are ranked number 98 of 181 nations in the United Nations Educational Index; definitely not a position to be proud of. In the Program for International Students Assessment (PISA), we ranked no 52 of 65 nations researched. The Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) report exhibits our consistent declining performance in both Mathematics and Science in the past four evaluations in since 1999, and the subsequent ones in 2004, 2007, and recently 2011.
These international ranking and figures contradict our local newspapers, which are reporting an ever increasing number of As year by year. The question arises, are our students merely local champions who are only good to compete domestically from memorising answers for the PMR and SPM assessments?
This also begs a second question: to score 11 As, to graduate from University, to be employed in a good job, but does this model in anyway address the issue of a person’s empathy towards society? It is unfortunate if the definition of education is limited to such meaningless ends. We have to always bear in mind that school is not a prison while university is not a factory.
TFTN was established on the 1st March of 2012. TFTN is a grassroot movement, anchored in promoting education activism. TFTN is involved with educational activities which is focused to assist under-privileged children such as orphans, the poor, and rural children, with the hope that equality in education could be achieved. We carry the philosophy of the “pedagogy of the oppressed” in providing education. Today, we are a culmination of 800 registered volunteers, 300 Mahasiswas, 60 teachers, 300 Anak-Anak TFTN, and 13 Orphanages and Special Projects nationwide.
TFTN has no plans to take over the government’s role but we see that there is space to provide significant role as a Third Force and to fill in the gaps that exist between the government’s role and the private sector.
TFTN encompasses three major needs encompassing our three pillars – Anak-Anak TFTN, the Volunteers, and our aspiration to become the Third Force in education. What we are doing now, despite the encouraging recognition it has garnered, is merely akin to firemen extinguishing fire as and when there is one. In other words, we are solving the problem but not the root cause. The only way to do address the root cause is for TFTN to equally participate effectively as a Third Force, at the same time as a grass root movement to be able to impact changes in both direction, bottom up and top bottom.
2013 started with TFTN Love. TFTN is in the view that the scope of the current target of the National Educational Philosophy is too wide and requires a revisit to make it more focused. TFTN is proposing to adopt Love as a pedagogy and the new national philosophy of education in order to achieve the objective of education in humanizing human, as had been recommended by Malik Bennabi as opposed to mainstream education today that really seems to be better at producing human machines or robots.
We understand that the reality of the global world today calls for an education system that provides a labour force suited for the market. However, the process also needs to be imbued with great human values. The education system should produce humans, first and foremost, with compassion and love, not heartless machines and robots fit for the economic machinery.
Love is not merely a “touchy feely” notion; it has potent revolutionary capabilities to shape humankind. Che Guevara had once said, “At the risk of sounding ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by feelings of love.”
TFTN is witnessing an ever-widening education gap taking place. TFTN is witnessing how children are left behind in the system as a direct circumstance of being positioned in households within the lower income bracket. There is only one solution to the income inequality – which is by solving the root cause; education inequality. Witnessing underprivileged children, TFTN is committed with the belief in approaching education with Love. Forums are held to explain to the public the meaning of the Love Pedagogy. Utilizing our experiences in the various orphanages that we are patron of, we hope to share TFTN Love with everyone.
Experience has matured TFTN, and our journey to alleviate the educational status of underprivileged children which are left behind in this education system has been most humbling; we have numerous times encountered shocking revelations, realities unfit for this upper middle income nation. Findings in the orphanages revealed children at the age 12 years old still unable to read! What can we expect from them in their UPSR examinations? These realities motivate us. Thus, with strong determination TFTN decided to take charge and mobilized our volunteers and teachers down to all our orphanages and conduct a literary assessment. Shockingly we found out that an average 10% is not able to read. If there are 60 orphans, 6 of them will not be able to read.
Surprisingly, the numbers are not isolated to orphanages, the same figures are found in an urban school where the whole of standard 6 students occupying the non-performing class are illiterate. The whole 30 of them! In response, TFTN launched a literacy program with TFTN Membaca campaign. Alhamdulillah, 6 months down the road, they are able to read and some of them even emerged as the best in their class.
10% and a classroom. On a larger scale, many would brush these of as isolated cases and hence does not prove anything about the deficiencies in the educaton system. But to them, this 10% and the 30 students, this ‘isolated case’ is their lives. What good is a system if many are left behind and is not being taken care of in the name of an isolated case?
For this reason, “We believe that everyone has the potential if given the opportunity”, such is our theme that we hold so dear to our hearts.
Dear Volunteers and Students,
TFTN sees the ‘Pedagogy of Love’ as the alternative to the current pedagogy and will be able to revolutionize the education philosophy. For today’s convention in all humility, TFTN will present five keynote speeches on how the education is key in poverty eradication, how volunteerism can become Third Force, education in future, the Love Pedagogy and the social media. The afternoon session will be a leisurely discussion on the wonderment of social activism touching youth issues and the society.
2014 will see more difficult challenges to this good deed. Because of that, our Love Pedagogy campaign will be continued dilligently. TFTN Membaca will be further empowered and we will introduce TFTN Fikir. Sekolah Falsafah TFTN will offer three intakes per year. We will introduce great philosophers to the student and at the end of each intake we will endeavour to produce a book. This is our offer to further inculcate the thinking culture in our society.
TFTN has also established and created two new wings which will become our new source of strength, Mahasiswa TFTN and Kelab Guru TFTN which will be launched today. It is my inspiration that they are able to spearhead a grassroot movement to the ground, and spread nationwide to carry our education mission.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let us imagine for a second – If the cure for cancer is trapped within the undeveloped mind of a Malaysian child that did not receive a proper opportunity for education? Isn’t that a lost to the world’s civilization? A lost to Malaysia? For that reason, education is an obligation for all, so that no one would be left in the pit of illiteracy and ignorance without any light to guide them.
Who is actually responsible for the society? The scholars, the intellectuals and everyone. It falls on our shoulders, the young, the old, teachers, non educators. Everyone needs to rise, shoulder this responsibility and execute. We have to create the awareness and give guidance to members of the public! Whatever talents that we have in philosophy, arts, sciences should be fully utilised to teach, write and guide the society towards awareness, for the benefit of education.
Therefore, I urge all volunteers, teachers, and students who are here today to consistently continue to read, understand, think, and take action. As once mentioned by Ali Shariati “There is no benefit to the society even if we have 1000 Aristotles with no one to take action”.
My aspiration – TFTN will be the defender of the oppressed children; the one that is left behind from the system. To bring love to every household.
My aspiration – all volunteers, teachers and students together to contribute towards education.
My aspiration – TFTN will be able to produce new pedagogies that will improvise, rectify, and revolutionize the national education system.
I believe many Malaysians are willing to be involved in empowering education for our young Malaysians. Education is solution to all world’s illnesses. Let us join forces to be in this platform. Question is, what do we need for our education system now? A reformation, a transformation or a revolution?
Today, before I end, I would like to put all of you to a little challenge, for all of you to write. Write anything about today’s convention and from any of the keynote speech or any combination. Email them to me and I’ll try to publish them.
As where there are benefits from this convention, continue to empower the ideas, if there are weaknesses, let us rectify it together. You are all very precious for the future of Malaysia. The future of this nation is in your hands. Continue the struggle!
Lastly, Read, Understand, Think and Act!
Wassalamualaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and Happy Convention!
*The original speech was delivered in Bahasa