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Transforming curriculum and pedagogical practices in Malaysia through MYP

By Ashish Trivedi

Ashish Trivedi

Ashish Trivedi

I am delighted to inform the wider community that the first ever government secondary school, SMK Sungai Tapang, Samarahan, Sarawak, in Malaysia has become an IB World School authorized to offer the MYP. There are nine more government secondary schools currently seeking MYP authorization.

“With this authorization, the journey for SMK Sungai Tapang and others that follow is only now truly beginning and we believe that students from these schools would stand in good stead towards fulfilling our nation’s efforts in creating skilled, competent and innovative human capital.” – Mr. Mark Rozario, CEO Agensi Inovasi Malaysia (AIM)

The 10 government secondary schools’ IB journey began in 2011 when Agensi Inovasi Malaysia, a statutory body, approached the IB seeking a curriculum that would allow educators in these schools to effectively meet 21st-century learning priorities. Their inquiry soon became a formal initiative with a vision of transforming curriculum and pedagogical practices in the middle school classrooms in these ten selected schools.

SMK SUNGAI TAPANG“Both Agensi Inovasi Malaysia and the IB are committed to enabling greater access to the IB programmes across Malaysia. The addition of the 10 schools bring the total of MYP candidate and IB World Schools in Malaysia to 19, and we’re positive that there will be many more to follow.” – Ashish Trivedi, the IB’s MYP School Services Manager.

As the project unfolded between 2011 and 2013, the schools’ cohort of more than 800 educators embraced extensive IB professional development on curriculum design and delivery through 21st-century approaches to teaching and learning.

When they reached MYP candidacy status in March 2014, their trial implementation of the MYP commenced and three experienced MYP consultants arrived from the IB Educator Network (IBEN)—Roger Marshman, Cameron Hall and Adrian Gan—to support the next stage in becoming an authorized IB World School.

SMK PANTAI 2The implementation journey of the 10 government secondary schools has been both rewarding and challenging. For most teachers this was their first ever experience working within a programme of international education. Teachers and leaders in these schools have shown an outstanding level of commitment and dedication to overcome challenges and make the necessary pedagogical and organizational shift. Roger Marshman told me: “I’m impressed with teachers’ willingness to “have a go” despite their anxieties in relation the strangeness of the MYP. Their general courtesy, their good humour and their gratitude for sometimes stringent advice made the extended process a pleasure. And a growing number of teachers now share a new enthusiasm.”

SMK SERI TUALANG result from workshop GROUPSThe MYP is already positively transforming students’ lives in these schools; one student at SMK Sungai Tapang said: “Undoubtedly, MYP has transformed me for the better, and I am glad to be exposed to this programme although it was a struggle in the beginning. I am blessed to have supportive parents and dedicated teachers who have guided me along the way. I believe I am on the right track. Positive thinking is the key to facing all the struggles and challenges in this MYP programme. Hopefully at the end of my Form 5 life, I can proudly claim to have graduated from MYP!”

Maree Comerford, part of the verification team who visited SMK Sungai Tapang, Samarahan, Sarawak, found that “the students and staff are truly living the IB philosophy. The community has experienced great changes. However, they are open minded, courageous in taking risks and truly embrace life-long learning. It was my pleasure to spend time within this positive and vibrant environment.”

SMK SERI TUALANG Gallery walkThe Samarahan District Education Officer, Susan Nesserd, was present during the verification visit to SMK Sungai Tapang and felt that “the leaders, teachers, students and parents have changed in the way of thinking and acting. They are more open-minded and willing to face all the challenges coming in. With great commitment and support that everyone has shown, I believe this school will be able to become a successful IB school.”

There are many more milestones to achieve, but the schools involved in this project are on a path towards preparing internationally-minded students who are ready for the 21st century.

Useful resource:

Journeys to Implementation is a lively book that contains an assortment of IB World Schools who share their journeys in implementing the IB programmes. Their stories document their strategies for dealing with various challenges, including: Getting internal and external stakeholders on board; Integrating the IB and national standards; Funding the programmes. Each story includes inspiring photos and testimonials from the school community that illustrate a range of ideas and insights for “making the IB happen”. School leaders in any region and involved in any IB programme will find strategies that relate to their context. In particular, those who are considering the IB or are in the midst of the implementation process will find useful information and guidance. Go to the Follett IB Store.