Tuesday, May 10, 2011



If we were to ask teachers, why they become teachers, most answers that we will get is “to make a difference to the live of students”. How do teachers make a difference? At its core, after going through a period of schooling, students should be more knowledgeable. What about the attitude and the values of the students? Can we evaluate these changes? How do teachers play the role as agents of change? First and foremost let us clarify what is agents of change.

Agents of change are something or someone that causes or leads to change. Where as change is to transform something or cause it to be different.
In our context, there are two categories of change, quantitative and qualitative change. Quantitative change is a change that is measurable, such as a person’s age, sizes and test scores. Whereas qualitative change involves quality, such as personal gained through education and interactions with others, and change in likes and dislikes, interest and relations with others.
Access to an education system in which people attend schools or enroll in education courses, would be more or less meaningless if they fail to learn and if there is no change occurring. Conversely, it is more or less limited, if a school or education system is said to be high achieving, if its recruitment is on a selective basis, which fails to reflect the diverse composition of its population it is supposed to be serving.
Change is something all societies have to deal with. Teachers often resist change mandated or suggested by others but they do engage in change that they initiate. This is called voluntary change.
Changes of the mindsets of a whole society must involve all citizens. In order to bring about change, there must be the thought leaders who define and redefine, elaborate meanings and necessity of the desired changes. All societies have their own beliefs, attitudes, expectations, views, concepts and norms. Schooling and success of schooling is the best vehicle to challenge the mindsets to reflect and reform, thus setting new values and projecting the desired attitudes towards accepting change and adapting to them so as to be able to compete in the new era. Without doubt, teachers of quality will be the best agents of change since they are the ones involved in the process of change and the change they are supposed to bring about in their students.


The challenge for teachers is to move the society from mere thirst for news and information to the passion for knowledge, and to move towards the enlightened search for patterns of knowledge principles. This principles can become the tools for thinking inculcating long life learning, mastered by the public after they graduated out of school. With these the school, university going population as well as population as a whole will become more enlightened, more mindful and hopefully more rational in making decisions in daily lives and in time of crises.
School/teacher plays the role as agents of change especially for social transformation. By guidance and support from the MOE through educations policies, six types of the future generation of students can be produced:
a. Students who can contribute to the nation-building and have patriotic value, communication skill, moderate and active in co-curriculum;
b. Students who are able to bring change to/in the society, instill goodwill and do not have the compartmentalization attitude,
c. Learned students in the field of science and technology
d. Students who are literate in information technology
e. Student who are able to communicate in at least 2 languages.
f. Students who are able to think creatively and critically.

Access to education is partly a matter of education supply and school mapping. The MOE, is making sure that every citizen in Malaysia has equal access to education, as laid out in the Malaysian Educational Plan and is seriously carried out and implemented. Access, on the other hand , is also a matter of encouraging and stimulating demand so that the students is motivated enough to self access the open opportunity of self acquiring knowledge. Here the teacher plays the most important role as a change agent of attitudes of students and community towards education.
In preparing students to be successful future citizens, teachers should lay foundation for life long learning at school level and play an important part in helping children develop the ability to learn and to think independently, cultivating the basic skills and attitudes necessary for life long learning. The Ministry of Education Malaysia focused on the enhancement of educational instruction in order to foster self education responsibilities, specifically the willingness to learn independently and the skills needed to cope positively with societal change. In this era, every student should be equipped with computer skills and the know-how to access information. Thus many schools in Malaysia are encouraged to develop self access centres, where students set their own pace suiting to their own style of learning. Creativity of teachers are much depended upon, tirelessly creating contents, so as to be able to attract, encourage and motivate students to take the opportunity to use the self access centres. Modern schools are equipped with at least one computer laboratory, 20 computers with internet/school net access, accessible for student use. Teachers as agents of change must have the ability to develop generic skills in students equipping them with the ability to be long life learners.
According to Ibrahim Bajunid, in an article from an education journal, generic skills for life long learning in the adaptive age includes the following: … pg 5 Jun 2002, jld 12.
a. Developing the skills to learn how to learn different kinds of knowledge in different settings or contexts;
b. Developing skills to understand connection between theory and practice and to use knowledge relevantly;
c. Developing skills in managing information, including retrieving, analyzing, consolidating, using and generating new information;
d. Developing ability to express oneself verbally and in writing using various communication tools;
e. Developing personal efficiency and self esteem in self management;
f. Developing teamwork and willingness to share information and collaborate in achieving goals;
g. Developing capacity and positive attitudes towards adaptability and flexibility;
h. Developing problem solving skills encompassing creative and innovative solutions which are affordable and
of high quality products and services;
i. Developing thinking skills with constructive questioning and reasoning traditions;
j. The continuous development of updating and upgrading competence
(Adapted and consolidated from various sources)
As agents of change, teachers should be the one, first and foremost, understand in-depths the concept of change in educational thought and the concept of lifelong learning. The barriers between formal, non formal and informal should be demolished, thus removing the negative educational constructed realities of individual failures in academic achievements. It is in fact, the integrative concept of lifelong learning, which unifies the concept of developments in all its facets.
Teaching demands self-awareness, reflection and continual growth. Teachers must be self-reflective, as persons and professionals, understanding that their development occurs over the course of their careers. They must understand the philosophies and passions that motivate their teaching as well as their relative positions to the community including the potential impact of individual teachers as agents of change.


The challenge to all education is to lay the foundation for change and at the same time to maintain the best qualities of the present. Every new generation must learn how to improve and develop society and be able to base theses changes on the traditions and achievements already established. Teachers have to develop the potentials of the young to their fullest capacities, as well as providing the tools to cope with changes in their own era. Teachers should be aware that, in this changing world, what is considered quality education today might not meet the standard of tomorrow. This is particularly true if we take into considerations the rapid changes created by technologies.
Therefore, long life education is the best equipment to provide the students as future generation, to confront the challenges in the global market. Be a learning person.


Annual Report, Ministry of Education Malaysia.

Ibrahim A. Bajunid (2002). Changing Mindsets: Life Long Learning for All; In Educational Journal. IAB, KPM Malaysia.

Working papers from various conferences.

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