RISE Educator Award organised by Taylor’s College and its student engagement arm, The Risers crowned the winners of its two categories, RISE Educator of the Year and RISE Educator Award at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus. RISE Educator Award is currently in its third year celebrating educators in the nation who are making a difference in the lives of students by empowering and supporting them in accessing and attaining education.
Five finalists were selected from over 200 inspiring stories, and in recognition of their endeavours to ensure inclusivity and equity for all students, Taylor’s College awarded RM10,000 each to the finalists’ schools. These educators and their nominators come from various states across Malaysia, including Selangor, Kedah, Kelantan and Sabah to join the ceremony. The ceremony was graced by Zainal Abas, Director of Educational Resources and Technology Division at the Ministry of Education. “On behalf of the Ministry of Education, I commend Taylor’s College for acknowledging the invaluable role of teachers and the significance of inclusive education for all with RISE Educator Award. By embracing the power of technology for positive change, it exemplifies our commitment to equipping students with the necessary tools and skills to succeed. It is through such collective efforts that we can create a future where every learner is empowered and where education becomes a transformative force," he said.
The RISE Educator of the Year title was awarded to Cikgu Kumaresan Muniandy, a special needs teacher at Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Merbok Kedah. His inspiring journey of providing vocational training for children with special needs to ensure their smooth transition to the workforce captivated the hearts of the award’s panel of judges, which included last year’s RISE Educator of the Year, Cikgu Hazeem Azemi from SMK Kuala Krau, Pahang.
“This journey began simply as a response to a mother’s concerns, a desire to help my students to transition into the workforce. Working with these incredible young individuals, teaching them entrepreneurial skills, and instilling confidence to support themselves is a privilege. I am honoured to receive this award and am humbled that the judges were touched by the efforts that we have pioneered. I will continue to support children with special needs and ensure that they are appreciated and valued for the unique talents they possess,” said Cikgu Kumaresan.
He started ‘Hello School to Work’ in 2018 to equip special needs children with vocational training to seamlessly transition into the workforce. Collaborating with supportive parents and industry partners, the project has successfully trained and secured employment for 20 students so far. In the same year, he spearheaded ‘Projek School Enterprise Kedai Dobi OKU’ to foster entrepreneurial skills, as students were trained to operate their own laundry business. Two students from this initiative are now working at the school’s cooperative, a testament to Cikgu Kumaresan’s unwavering commitment to empowering students with disabilities towards self-sufficiency.
Pn Rabthah Abd Rahim, the nominator of Cikgu Kumaresan’s story shared in her nomination that he has been teaching special needs children for 13 years, and his heart for them continues to spur him to ensure that they can secure meaningful employment. "The tireless dedication of Cikgu Kumaresan in empowering students with special needs has been nothing short of remarkable. I nominated him because he continuously strives to create opportunities for these students, equipping them with the skills necessary to open doors of employment opportunities after completing their studies.” She is also the headmistress of Sekolah Menengah Pendidikan Khas Vokasional Merbok Kedah and shared her gratitude for the sponsorship of RM10,000 from Taylor’s College, as it will contribute to the ongoing initiatives to empower students with disabilities on their journey towards independence. She added, “His passion extends beyond his own classroom, as he also seeks to share his experience and knowledge with other special education teachers. This commitment to enable others to do the same demonstrates his belief in the collective impact we can have on the lives of these exceptional students.”
“At Taylor’s College, we believe that it is our shared responsibility to ensure that every child, regardless of their background or circumstances, has equal opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. Cikgu Kumaresan’s remarkable efforts serve as a reminder that teachers have the power and influence to shape the future of education. Together, we can create an environment that fosters lifelong learning, inspires innovation, and nurtures the potential of every student. Beyond the sponsorship that was awarded to all five schools, we look forward to extending our continuous support to fuel their aspirations in offering education for all”, said Josephine Tan, Campus Director of Taylor’s College.
The ceremony also saw Cikgu Velerie from SK Bingkor, Sabah, bringing home the title RISE Educator Award. He is a special education teacher at SK Bingkor, Sabah, who is a State Cultural Icon and enjoys performing arts. He is also active in the production of special education modules and is committed to educating students, especially special needs students in the interior areas of Sabah. Cikgu Velerie was chosen through popular voting on Taylor’s College Facebook page, and won RM2,000 in cash. This is in addition to the RM10,000 sponsorship that all five finalists received for their schools to support them in their positive endeavours.
The RISE Educator of the Year title was chosen by the award’s judging panel, while the RISE Educator Award title was chosen through popular voting. For more information about RISE Educator Award, please visit here.
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