Fund a Social Science Room to Spark Change

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“Look at this picture, what do you see? Why do you think he leave his original country and ended up drowning in the sea?” me, showing picture of the unfortunate drown Syrian boy that was washed upon the Greek shore.

“Omg, kesiannya. What happened to him? ”
“Who killed him?”
“Why did he leave his original country?”

And so begin the class on why people leave/flee their country of origin, or in the textbook terms, emigration factors. We discussed for 40 minutes, whether it is right or wrong for the EU to reject the refugee and relating it back to Malaysia and how we treat our Rohingya refugees. We also talked about why and in what situation would people leave their country of origin – why are people leaving Bangladesh and Indonesia and come to work in Malaysia, or why are Malaysians leaving Malaysia to work in Singapore or the US.

Everyone participated enthusiastically, and for some of them, this is the first time they hear the term “refugee” while others, they are not aware of the brain drain issue that is plaguing our country. For many of them, they have a new found respect for the millions of foreign workers working in our country.
They wrote down names of countries and events as this was the first time they hear about Syrian conflict and the Rohingya issue, or brain drain.

Believe it or not, I am doing all this, and yet, I am still teaching within my curriculum guide that was designed by the MOE. 

Contrary to popular beliefs, our country social science curriculum for secondary school (Geography and History) is actually not as bad as we think. We have topics covering from environmental sustainability, to urbanizations, to population issues,to poverty and to the country’s economic activities and its impact on the people in the Geography class while in History, we learnt how our weaknesses invite foreign power to colonize our country or how going on the street and going on strike was how we earned independence 58 years ago.

Having been a Geography teacher for close to 3 years, my heart warms up everytime when I hear students saying how they will start recycling, how they plan to improve the public transportation in Malaysia, and most importantly, how they will become better citizens of Malaysia, and a better global citizen.

I know I can do so much more with my experience, my understanding of how to integrate current issues with the syllabus, as well as my wish for my students to be better global citizen. But I need your help!

Social Science Room 

My name is David Chak and I have been a Geography teacher in SMK Taman Sejahtera, Bukit Mertajam for close to 3 years. I was first posted here under the Teach for Malaysia fellowship program back in 2013 and have decided to soldiered on to be a permanent government teacher after my 2 years fellowship with Teach for Malaysia.

One of the main reasons I stayed on after 2 years is that I always believe that change is not something that can happen in short term. I cant expect myself to be at this school for 2 years and expect my students to all grow up to become doctors, engineers and become the right people to lead the country in the future. The same belief applies for how I think we should improve and change this country.

I strongly believe in changing the world through education, one step, one topic at a time. How can our students be a leader of the country, if they are not aware of what is happening around them? We talked about the importance of language education, STEM education, and yet, we forgot about educating our children about the world around them.   

I have been trying to integrate current issues as I see fit with the current KBSM Geography curriculum and have seen tremendous interests from the students. For many of them, they do not read newspaper nor do they watch daily news. Their only source of information is the internet, and we all know how misleading internet can be sometimes.

They are not aware of the constructions of mega dams in Sarawak and its implications on the environment and the indigenous people, the bauxite pollution happening in Pahang, or rampant illegal logging in Sarawak. They are not aware of the gender inequality in education happening in India and Pakistan, the aging population in Japan and its implication, or urbanization problems happening in big cities around the world.

And yet, I know these are the topics that we could and should discuss in a Geography class. For all the things I’ve mentioned above, there’s at least one or two lesson objectives, taken verbatim from the Geography curriculum guide, that can be matched perfectly to them. I know i can do so much more with the curriculum – IF i can have a subject based classroom dedicated to Geography.

As the Geography panel head for this year, I was given the opportunity to transform an existing classroom/storeroom into a subject classroom.

To create a subject based classroom for Geography (and other Social Science subject) so that we can create a conducive, and properly equipped environment for the students to learn the subject. 

I have been fundraising since February and have managed to fundraise enough (RM1200) to install 1 unit of air conditioner in the room, 1 whiteboard, as well as fixing and installing several power socket in the room. But the process is painstakingly slow and ineffective. And if not for this initiative, I do not see an end to reaching my goal to fully equip the room. Hence, I need your help to finish the race with me!

Cost breakdown 

david cost

Upon reaching the project fundraising goal, I will also make my lessons open source – all the worksheets, powerpoints, videos, lesson plans and other resources will be packaged into lesson modules that any Malaysian Geography teacher can take it and use it – all free of charge. 

By helping us reach the goal, you are not only helping the Geography teachers of SMK Taman Sejahtera to impact the 400+ students taking the subject in the school, you are also enabling thousands more other Geography teachers to help educate our children to be a better citizen.

TL;DR Version:
My name is David Chak and I am a Geography teacher and the head of Geography panel at SMK Taman Sejahtera. I would like to fundraise for my school’s Social Science Room in order to create a conducive and properly equipped classroom for my students to learn Geography.  I have been trying to integrate current issues into my Geography lesson and it’s been working really well – it would be even better if I have a subject based classroom where I can put up all my classroom displays and the students’ work. I have independently raised enough to make the first step. I would love to have you on board to help finish my fundraising. If the project goal is reached, I will make my lesson opensource for all Geography teachers in Malaysia.

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