Celebrating MCO best practices to enhance teaching in the new normal

Inaugural ‘Highly Immersive Programme-FINCO Outstanding Teacher & Student Competition 2020’ award ceremony looks back to recognise educators and pupils who went above and beyond to continue teaching and learning remotely.

Inaugural ‘Highly Immersive Programme-FINCO Outstanding Teacher & Student Competition 2020’ award ceremony looks back to recognise educators and pupils who went above and beyond to continue teaching and learning remotely.

KUALA LUMPUR, 25 February 2021 – With face-to-face school sessions set to progressively kick-off nationwide next week, educators and students alike are reflecting on best practices to take back into physical classrooms after almost a year of teaching and learning remotely. This reflection was also the timely focus of a recent livestream of the ‘Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) – FINCO Outstanding Teacher and Student Competition 2020’ virtual award ceremony.

Organised by the Financial Industry Collective Outreach (FINCO) with strategic partner, the Ministry of Education Malaysia (MOE), the virtual award ceremony celebrated the winners and runners-up of an inaugural national competition for English language teachers and upper primary students who went above and beyond to continue teaching and learning throughout last year’s movement control order (MCO). Prizes for the 12 winners and runners-up included cash, school grants for teaching materials, and book vouchers. 

Representing the financial industry during the YouTube livestream, FINCO Chairman, Tan Sri Azman Hashim said, “The ‘HIP-FINCO Outstanding Teacher and Student Competition 2020’ is part of the financial industry’s long-term commitment to support students in improving their proficiency in the English language, for broader career options in the future. Unfortunately, not all students have access to the support they need to achieve their respective learning goals. School closures also deeply affected young people and parents, both in terms of the loss of educational opportunities and also the impact on their mental health and well-being. The competition thus looked for individuals who worked in their communities to help foster motivated, engaged learners equipped to conquer the unforeseen challenges of today as well as tomorrow.”

The competition received more than 360 entries across Malaysia. Outstanding educator categories included remote efforts to teach using medium to high technology, low to no technology and a special award for existing FINCO-programme educators.  According to FINCO CEO, Clare Walker, the judges gained insights into the efforts made by educators in adopting new approaches to teaching that met the needs of students within very diverse contexts. The volunteer panel of judges were also inspired by the innovative approaches used to reach students and encourage increased engagement. 

“Depending on the technology available, teachers used mobile apps, recorded assignments, Google Classrooms or basic platforms such as WhatsApp and Telegram to engage students in learning. Sustainable themes that emerged from the entries included a more personalised, student-centred approach to teaching, leveraging on parental support and actively empowering young learners through decision-making in lessons,” said Walker. 

Girl power dominated the young learner categories with 10-12 year olds demonstrating how they continued learning English, maintained well-being and helped their communities during the school closures. Inspired projects by the six all-female winners and runners-up included designing comics to expand their vocabulary; creating instructional videos on proper handwashing techniques to prevent the spread of COVID-19; and recording rugby training videos to help kids stay fit while indoors. 

Also present at the award ceremony on behalf of MOE was English Language Teaching Centre’s Director, Farah Mardy Aman. Developed under the MBMMBI policy (upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening Command of English), HIP represents highly immersive programmes with language-rich initiatives that aim to inculcate positive behaviours towards the learning and usage of English language. As learning had to continue beyond the traditional classroom, the HIP-FINCO competition also intended to recognise efforts that encourage students to be deliberately and recurrently exposed to English at home. Outreach partners such as FINCO play a vital role in helping MOE raise the standards of English language among the community, and innovative programmes continue to spark peer-learning among teacher and student communities. 

The non-profit FINCO is a collaboration between all financial institutions in Malaysia with the guidance of Bank Negara Malaysia. The virtual judging panel of the ‘HIP-FINCO Outstanding Teacher and Student Competition 2020’ included volunteers from MOE, LeapEd, British Council, Generasi Gemilang, Teach for Malaysia, members of the financial industry and Bank Negara Malaysia. Winners were selected based on clear learning objectives, creative lesson or activity design, student engagement and ease of adaption by other teachers. The winning lesson plans and practical best practices of home-based learning will soon be available via FINCO’s website, www.finco.my. In the interim, those interested can still tune into the award ceremony at bit.ly/hip-finco.