A well-weaved web of knowledge
Article from the Sun daily by Jeremy Cheong (posted on 27 July 2016)
EDUCATION is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world,” the late, great Nelson Mandela once said.
Despite being in an ocean filled with knowledge, many of us hardly share with others what we have learnt in order for them to have a more fulfilling life.
Serving the needs of people who have no access to education or basic necessities, are individuals like Chan Oga, who strives to give everyone a chance at learning a new set of skills that is practical and beneficial to communities.
After graduating with a degree in psychology, she joined Teach For Malaysia (TFM)’s Fellowship, a two-year leadership development programme that aims to “successfully break the link between a child’s origin and his or her education”. She became a teacher coach for the next year and a half, and is now a freelance community consultant for two social impact platforms.
“The education system shapes a country’s people. My experience with TFM showed me that we need a better system that empowers individuals to identify and grow their passion by learning things that matter, rather than one that conditions the mind to score A’s in examinations – that sadly, does not translate into economic and social independence for many,” she explained.
The 28-year-old added that training children to fit within standard moulds produces “regurgitators” and yes-men who often have no idea why they do what they do.
“It does not prepare them to be independent thinkers, problem solvers, and meaningfully contributive members of society.”
Can you share about the programmes you’re now involved with in Penang?
Kelip-Kelip is a platform where children and adults get their ideas and projects heard by like-minded individuals, and where inspiration, connection and collaborations take place.
Village School is a more hands-on school that allows people to explore things they love while learning to make things that matter. Inspired by the maker movement and the idea of resilient societies, The Village School aims to empower each individual to be their own maker with a sustainable concept. Funds collected from The Village School’s workshops are used to sponsor children with learning differences to study alongside diverse peers, unlike in schools where children are segregated based on abilities.
What’s the best thing about meeting people all the time?
Unearthing under-appreciated talents and skill sets. Every individual has something valuable to offer to society, only if we let them. The world of knowledge is so big that nothing and no one in this world can capture it all. The beauty of doing what I do is, I know people who can make furniture out of discarded pipes, grow selfsustainable gardens, code programmes that can solve everyday problems, build clay and concrete housewares, make handmade shoes, and upcycle clothes. These are skills we need for a more self-sufficient and resourceful society that does not overrely on the superficial, capitalistic economy.
What do you think is the most important trait, attitude or skill one should have to be a successful educator?
An educator must be passionate about educating and sharing knowledge. They must also be able to genuinely appreciate each student’s potential to be a contributive member of society, and be resourceful at problem-solving.
To end the interview, what’s in store for Chan Oga in the years to come?
I am exploring to set up a creative coworking space in George Town, Penang to incubate the creative talents and economy of Penang. I hope to bring Kelip-Kelip and The Village School into the co-working space too as content and networking session providers.
The mission of the co-working space is to provide a platform that grooms creative talents’ skills, products and marketability to the point that Malaysians appreciate local talents and products so much so that they no longer rely on things made in other countries. The day we have things made in Penang/Malaysia dominating retail spaces with people buying and wearing these products, and where our local creative talents are in popular demand (even more than those from overseas) is when the creative co-working space has done its part well.
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