HE failed his MCE (Malaysian Certificate of Education) twice and was a school dropout, but positive thinking brought 57-year-old Madenjit Singh far in the realm of education.
Today, he is the chief founder and international director of “SOLS 24/7”, a free school established in 1997 to provide equal education opportunities to individuals of all backgrounds.
The establishment now has 15,000 underprivileged students in 185 schools in Malaysia, Cambodia, Timor Leste, Laos, India and Thailand.
As a testament to his tireless effort, Madenjit has been shortlisted among the top 10 finalists vying for the Global Teacher Prize (http://www.globalteacherprize.org) where the winner will be announced at the “Global Skills and Education Forum” in Dubai on March 16.
He is the only Malaysian to make the top 10 list.
“I am so grateful that my work has finally been recognised as world class.
“My programmes are so simple and extremely effective that even slow learners are able to grasp them”, says Madenjit in an e-mail interview with The Rakyat Post.
After his early failure and lack of financial means to pursue higher education, Madenjit picked up the pieces by researching and creating his own learning system.
With the system. anyone can learn English within three to six months.
“I prayed and took a vow that I will research and create my own programme and never deprive anybody the chance to come up in life because of poverty.
“From that day till today, I have been abundantly blessed to fulfil my vow.”
SOLS 24/7 also teaches Mathematics and Life Skills for school dropouts.
Madenjit says the rise of middle-class population who are willing to pay high fees for the best education will not create a class divide if teachers at public schools use effective teaching methods to rival world-class education.
“Malaysia has done extremely well compared with most countries.
“The rich will always want better education for their children even in developed countries and they will either send their children to better schools or tuition.
“But the number of such parents is so small that International schools will never be able to reach more than 2% of the population in poorer countries.
“Once we introduce better methods to our teachers, our public schools will also be able to provide world class education.
“In Japan, one of the more advanced countries, we still have students who are not able to speak English after learning from public schools.
“In the USA, United Kingdom and many other countries, tens of millions of people, too, cannot speak English despite living in those countries for more than five years.
“It’s not the leaders or the education experts who are to be blamed. It is the lack of a better way to learn and teach English,” adds Madenjit.
Acknowledging that teaching is a great responsibility, Madenjit also hopes that more people will be aware of the limitations that teachers may face.
“Children the world over are dependent on teachers to educate them but teachers are not scientists or epistemologists who know how to innovate better systems to teach them.
“They use programmes or methodologies which are taught to them. We need to have better methodologies or knowhows to teach certain subjects and not blame leaders or teachers.
“I have studied this problem or cause for years, and that is why I have dedicated my whole life to finding ways to improve the education system and have tested it in my free schools in five countries.
“Finally, after so many years, the world may be taking me seriously.”