RECIPIENT / PROFILE

Anugerah Harapan Merdeka

 

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"I’ve realised just how important it was for me to inspire kids; to make meaning of what they’re doing, to understand that whatever they’re doing has a purpose, and to bring out the best of their own capabilities, whatever that may be." 
- Samuel Isaiah - 
 
The teacher who traveled 200 km a day to inspire indigenous students
Samuel Isaiah, or “Teacher Sam” as he is fondly known to his pupils, is best known for his  commitment to educating the Orang Asli (indigenous) children of SK Runchang, Pahang.

Upon completing his bachelor's degree in 2011, Samuel had hoped to serve in an elite urban school with the best facilities and environment. 

Instead, he was deployed to a rural primary school for indigenous children, where, on his first day, quickly saw that the main obstacle in teaching these children was the perception held by other teachers that the indigenous children were not worth their efforts.

Making learning richer and more equitable
During his stint at the school, Samuel explored various innovative methods of teaching using nature, indigenous pedagogy, technology, music and arts, to inspire a love for learning and bridge the substantial education gap faced by the community.

Samuel also spearheaded a crowdfunding initiative to furnish a classroom with laptops and tablets, ensuring Orang Asli children received the same learning opportunities as their urban peers.

His efforts saw students improve in national examinations, while Samuel himself was  nominated as a top 10 finalist for the 2020 Global Teacher Prize - referred to as the Nobel Prize for teaching.