The Global Education Practicum (GEP) was piloted as a program in 2013 through DFAT (formerly Australian Education International (AEI ) Malaysia, where 16 students across five Victorian universities (Deakin, Latrobe, Monash, RMIT and Victoria ) travelled to Kuala Lumpur (KL) to take part in a cross institutional teaching placement in five Malaysian schools. The experience counts as a supervised teaching practicum towards accreditation with the Victorian Institute of Teaching.
The Malaysian education system differs from the Australian system in several ways including much larger class sizes, primary school teachers teaching a specialty instead of being generalists, differences in timetabling and in many cases, the practice of corporal punishment. All are challenges PST’s are prepared for during a compulsory day long pre-departure program, delivered by the steering committee prior to each program.
PST’s must apply and are selected by their home institution for suitability for the program. They are selected from a range of disciplines and come from all tiers of the education system. (Early Childhood, Primary and Secondary). Those in P-12 programs are asked to nominate which levels they need to teach. TGS provides the MOE a consolidated list of PST’s with their methods, the level they require to teach and any other interests or specialisations they might have eg another language. The Ministry then provides TGS with a list of schools. Schools vary in level of affluence, English proficiency of its pupils, and enthusiasm of its teaching staff. They are currently only located in the Klang valley; however discussions are underway to develop programs in Sabah and Sarawak.
TGS then allocates the PST’s a school, splitting up those from the same university, allocating them a place with a PST from outside of their own institution. The theory behind placing PST’s from differing institutions together is that it assists with their workplace learning and the sharing of ideas and teaching pedagogies. Past feedback from participants places a high value on this peer learning and they find this to be a beneficial way of improving their teaching methods. Similarly, they are allocated a room at their accommodation with someone from another institute, and a different local school, and where possible from a different teaching level. This further increases the potential for comparisons and contrasts between local schools and their teaching methods and facilities, and the differing pedagogies from the home university.
Due to the nature of the Malaysian system, PST’s are sometimes responsible for teaching outside of their specialty and are often shocked to learn that Malaysian Primary school teachers have a specialisation, which is only the case in Australian secondary schools. Those teaching in Primary usually will take classes in maths, English, sport, or music ie things that might not require a high level of understanding of English from the pupils. Those PST’s with Secondary methods in areas such as humanities, psychology or other subjects not taught, or taught solely in Bahasa Malaysia, will default to English teaching. If they have another area of personal expertise such as a native speaker of a language the school teaches, they might also teach that.
To date, the 316 (265 female/51 male) students from 6 universities have taken part in the program at 72 schools in and around KL. The program is now looking to expand into east Malaysia for future programs.
"JMD Consulting helped me establish new International Professional Experience partnership in Kuala Lumpur, the Collaborate International Paired Placement program. Jan dealt with all the in-country arrangements that would have been time consuming and tedious to manage from a distance. She helps students acclimatise quickly, for example The ‘Race around KL” that each student undertakes at the start of new program is great fun and challenges students to try new foods as well as manage public transport (see photo). Jan is flexible and adaptable in organising programs and tailors them to specific needs. I have no hesitation in recommending JMD Consulting for your International Education experiences"
- Professor Catherine Lang, La Trobe University