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Building foundational pillars of a young local entity, to drive long term impact

Pemimpin, Malaysia

GSL was invited to Malaysia by the Asia Philanthropy Circle, a collective of Asian philanthropists who had identified school leadership as a key area that required improvement in order to better student learning outcomes. While the Malaysian education system had a fixed set of guidelines for school leadership training, the support offered was primarily directed towards new principals with a short induction program. Beyond this, there was little assistance provided for the continuous professional development of school leaders.Using our experience and learnings from working in India, we were keen to expand our program reach to neighbouring South East Asian countries. Over the course of multiple conversations with various individuals within the Asian Philanthropy Circle, we were offered the opportunity to create an organization to deliver the GSL program in Malaysia.

Understanding the local context to identify opportunities
GSL began operations in Malaysia by thoroughly researching the context and education landscape of the country. It was through this exercise that we discovered an existing government body tasked with the training of teachers and school leaders. One of the key challenges we identified was the absence of an on-ground organisation working to develop programs and tools in order to help school leaders continually develop their professional skill set.

Filling in the gaps. Building an organisation to continually support school leaders on the ground.
Once our team familiarized itself with the education landscape of Malaysia, establishing an organisation to assist continuous on ground school leadership training was determined to be the most practical solution. We then began working on developing an organizational structure that would meet the needs of the region. As a first step, we identified and brought on board a primary funder, YTL Corporation Berhad. Once we brought on board our primary funders we were then able to bring on board Hap Seng Berhad and Tan Chi Tuan Foundation to fund our organisation in Malaysia.

With the funding partnerships established, we then spent our time and energy in identifying a capable founding team for the new organization. We were certain that the team we brought on board needed to value student growth, educational equity and was committed to organizational learning. Furthermore, to lead this team, a strong, grounded CEO was essential. Someone who had a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the education system in Malaysia. With the team set up, we also nurtured ecosystem partnerships like FrogAsia to help bring in elements of technology as well as government participation into training programs.

Launching Pemimpin
After months of intensive groundwork, we established Pemimpin, our partner organisation in Malaysia, in 2017. Pemimpin was built around the unique requirements of the Malaysian education system and aligned with the education ministry's vision. The core focus of Pemimpin was improving school leadership with the implementation of professional development programmes to drive high-quality learning instruction and create a positive culture that can have an effect on improved student learnings.

Creating a lasting impact
Working closely with government officials and with the design support of GSL, Pemimpin launched its first program with a cohort of 25 principals, 50 vice-principals from the 24 schools in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor. Over the course of the first two years since its inception, Pemimpin has seen a 97% satisfaction rate with the school leadership training workshops.

By 2021 Pemimpin will be serving more than 150 schools, 450 principals and vice-principals annually. Our involvement within the Malaysian education system has evolved from offering research insights on effective school leadership practice to establishing a robust organisation that works extensively on-ground implementation. Together with Pemimpin, we are committed to continuously support school leaders in their professional development, to see a lasting impact on schools across the country.

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