Wangsa Maju,17 July 2019
Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Trustee and Sunway Group Corporate Advisor Tan Sri Dato’ (Dr) Ramon Navaratnam delighted a class of 47 students of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Seksyen 5 Wangsa Maju when he turned up at the school to teach English with Teach For Malaysia Fellow Jason Yap to Form 1 and Form 2 students yesterday.
In a half-day session, Tan Sri Navaratnam elicited laughter with his trademark convivial personality while teaching the students English. In addition, he regaled the enraptured students with stories from his close to three-decade service with the government and spoke of the importance of English as the medium for scientific development and innovation.
Tan Sri Ramon received his B.A. (Hons) in Economics from the University of Malaya, his Diploma in Public Administration from the Royal Administration in London in 1963, an M.P.A. (Econs) from the Harvard (USA) in 1969, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the Oxford Brookes University (UK) in 2000.
He joined the Malaysian Civil Service in 1959 and held several positions in his long career of 27 years in the Malaysian Treasury and became the Deputy Secretary -General of the Treasury. He was promoted as the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Transport in 1986. He was the Alternate Executive Director of the World Bank in Washington from 1970 to 1972. He retired from government service in 1989 and became the Chief Executive Officer of Bank Buruh (now BSN Commercial Bank) from 1989 to 1994.
The teaching session was part of Teach For Malaysia (TFM) Week. TFM is an independent, not-for-profit organisation that enlists Malaysia’s most promising future leaders in their mission to end education inequity.
Sunway’s top management including Sunway Group Founder and Chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah and Sunway Group Deputy Executive Chairman Tan Sri Razman M. Hashim who are also Trustees of the JCF, have previously “taught” as part of the TFM Week. TFM Week is one of TFM’s most significant events where key influencers, including corporate figures, celebrities and members of the civil service spend time as “teachers” themselves for a day, co-teaching a lesson in school with a TFM Fellow. TFM Week has been crucial in raising awareness on the importance of education in grooming the next generation.
Summarising his experience, Tan Sri Navaratnam said, “I must congratulate the school because it is a really well-run and organised school. It was a very good programme that included a lot of interaction between the teacher and students. The programme allows the school to benefit from getting exposure to corporations and individuals who have a different experience in teaching. I think it is a truly good exercise and collaborative work in the field of education.”
Sharrvesh A/L Ganeson, 13, who is a student of the class said, “The session was very interesting. Tan Sri Ramon shared some of his life experiences from the Japanese era to when he became an office boy at the age of eight, which I thought was very impressive. He also shared three elements that are very useful to life, that I will always remember. These elements are maintaining our soul, our body and our mind. If these three areas are covered, you will be successful in life. “
The JCF’s involvement with TFM stems from a shared belief in the importance of quality education. In addition to the teaching sessions by the corporate chiefs, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation has pledged another RM150,000 to TFM, bringing the JCF’s contribution to a total of RM 600,000 since the partnership started in 2012.
The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation has also supported Closing the Gap, an independent organisation powered by TFM aimed at helping underprivileged children from disadvantaged families gain access to quality higher education through mentoring programmes.
Sunway Education Group, which is owned and governed by the JCF, has also pledged RM1 million in scholarships to deserving students nurtured by TFM, to reduce the post-secondary gap and create opportunities for underprivileged students to pursue quality tertiary education.
The donation has helped TFM advance its mission in reducing the gap between rural and urban schools. In Malaysia, more than two-thirds of students in the majority of under-performing schools come from challenging socioeconomic backgrounds.
Almost half of 15-year-old Malaysian students do not meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and one in five in Malaysian students do not complete secondary school.
The Fellows or teachers of TFM will teach for two years in high-need schools across Malaysia. They work hand-in-hand with other educators, the community and private sectors, to impact and improve lives of those within the classroom and beyond.