Coming together to rebuild our world for a better 2021

Thursday, November 26, 2020

In a conversation with the people behind Leaps of Knowledge: The HEART Series, we find out their perspective of 2020, what they hope for in 2021 and why they think you should come for Leaps of Knowledge. Lou Yeoh, Executive Director of FrogAsia, Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach for Malaysia and Cheryl Fernando, Director of Pemimpin GSL also share what changed for them personally and what they’re grateful for.

2020 was a year of change for everyone. What were some of the changes your organisations faced?

“I think essentially everything changed in 2020, we basically had to throw almost all of our plans out of the window. And I think the key thing was just being able to adapt at every key juncture and just being able to be open and willing to take on all the changes as they came along.” - Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach for Malaysia

“I think traditionally, pre-pandemic, we do all our workshop face-to-face. So we've never done online workshops before. But during the pandemic, we have been forced to actually do online workshops. And that really changed everything - the way we structure our training programmes, the way we looked at teacher training. It really changed everything.” - Cheryl Fernando, Director of Pemimpin GSL

“Another big change for us, I think, is that our annual Leaps of Knowledge conference, which is the biggest highlight for us every single year, is now going to have to be digital because we can't meet physically. And that's a real challenge and change because we really, really look forward to meeting people. It’s just such an energizing time. So the big change is rethinking how to go digital, and use this opportunity to reach as many people as possible.” - Lou Yeoh, Executive Director of FrogAsia


On a personal note, what were some of the challenges you faced and what are you grateful for?

“I think that one thing that has really mattered a lot is relationships. Being able to stay connected to family and to friends and reconnect with people who I might not have connected with in a while, has been something that's really special. Just knowing that while we were in lockdown, and we were sort of isolated in our homes, I could still connect with people and still have people in my life that care for me, and that I could also be of support to. ” - Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach For Malaysia

“So I gave birth, right smack in the middle of the lockdown - the first phase of the lockdown! Personally, that was really challenging. My husband and I didn't have any help. So we did everything by ourselves. That was really and will remain one of the greatest challenge - never doing it again! But I’m definitely grateful for the new baby. He's healthy and striving in seven months now. Just being able to be with my family at home despite all the circumstances and challenges that's going on - I’m so grateful for it.” - Cheryl Fernando, Director of Pemimpin GSL


“I am grateful that I have the most amazing husband who managed to make the sourdough bread work! It really isn't easy to get your starter working and to try so many times to make it work. It was difficult!” - Lou Yeoh, Executive Director of FrogAsia


Through the changes in 2020, what do you hope to see different in 2021?

“We’re beginning to ask more questions about what the purpose of education really is. And I think we're beginning to see a shift away from just a singular focus on academic examinations to also a focus on teacher and student well-being, and what it really means to educate the whole person instead of just looking at academics. Another thing is also just the innovation and creativity that has come out of this time, I think we've been really forced to learn new things, think outside of the box and just try new things. And so if we continue that spirit of innovation, I think we're going to end up in a really great place.” - Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach For Malaysia

“We have to accept the fact that, post-pandemic, there are going to be dropouts and there are going to be students who are left behind. But how do we deal with this? I'm hoping that 2021 will be just a year of reset, recovery and repair.” - Cheryl Fernando, Director of Pemimpin GSL

“We want to go into 2021 not just feeling like we're coping with the circumstances, but to be able to thrive in the year. Who knows what's going to happen as the pandemic is still with us, who knows how long schools will be open for before there'll be shut again for a period of time. But we don't want to be a victim to circumstances and we want to keep kids learning and engage throughout this time.” - Lou Yeoh, Executive Director of FrogAsia


Why should people come to Leaps of Knowledge and what can they look forward to?

“Engaging in a forum like Leaps is really important - to be able to just reimagine and take time out to understand or just envision what a different education experience could look like.” - Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach For Malaysia


“While everyone talks about being in the new normal, we also have to accept that the new normal is going to be using a lot of technology to learn. And the other thing is that a lot of our students are going to be experiencing learning loss. So attending a conference like Leaps of Knowledge will help our school leaders and our teachers gain new insights on the best ways to use technology - not only to deal with learning loss, but to also better themselves as an educator.” - Cheryl Fernando, Director of Pemimpin GSL


“Leaps of Knowledge is a space to come for your dose of inspiration, to recognize that you're not in this alone, to refocus on what matters most, and to remind yourself why you do what you do. It is a place to spark new ideas, to connect with a community of people who are in this together. If we're going to rebuild back better, we're going to need each other. So come to Leaps of Knowledge to be inspired and to be empowered.”


Join us at Leaps of Knowledge: The HEART Series - a series of free virtual events, aimed at tackling key issues at the heart of education by bringing together parents, teachers, and thought leaders from across the world.