|Shaheed Salim (near centre of circle) training teachers in a Mathla'ul Anwar school in Karawang, Indonesia in 2016|
For a long time, I dreamt of training teachers in the region. Well, that day came about 7 or 8 years ago. A training consultancy called Irsyad International (now Irsyad Trust Ltd) was funded by Temasek Foundation to train teachers in rural parts of Indonesia. I was contracted as a trainer-cum-consultant on and off, and I have trained teachers in Indonesia, Thailand and Fiji. Funding and grants do not last forever, and so, after a couple of years, the training projects ended.
When the training ended, my heart ached. I realised that there are hundreds of thousands of teachers teaching in village schools in Southeast Asia who have not received proper training in the art and science of teaching. We, as Singaporeans, can make a difference. A new vision gripped me and refused to let go. I saw myself leading a small team of trainers, conducting free teacher training in the region. 2 years ago, I acted upon this plan and now I am conducting teacher training workshops in Indonesia and Thailand. God willing, I hope to expand this to Fiji and Vietnam in the future.
Singapore has been marketed as an education hub in the region, and our education system is a notch above our neighbours' (though in my opinion, it is still far from the ideal). There are many things our neighbouring countries can learn from us. For example, the Primary Mathematics Model Method and the teaching of English language can be something we share in the region.
Why is it important for Singapore teachers to share their expertise free in the region? So many reasons. Your worldview of the world and teaching will be transformed positively. You will become more creative in teaching your students because you will start to crack your head on new ways of teaching. You will gain a satisfaction of giving that money cannot buy. You are reaffirming that as a country, Singapore is a blessing to the region. Remember, compared to our neighbouring counterparts, Singapore teachers are highly paid and professionally trained. You can conduct this free training annually during the school holidays. Treat it like a holiday. Pay for your flight and accommodation, and give something back to the third world. After all, we are from a first world country.
To teachers, ex-teachers and interested adults, if you are keen in helping teachers of village schools during your free time and willing to travel (and pay for your flight and accommodation) and would like to join me in Indonesia and Thailand in 2018, do drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org