Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib

SMK Jerlun, Ayer Hitam, Kedah, Malaysia

Norhailmi   Abdul Mutalib

Norhailmi’s parents were not high earners, but they both believed that education was the only way to thrive, and they worked hard to give it to him. After Norhailmi graduated from university, he believed that he should give something back to society, so he chose to help others and become a teacher. At the school he now teaches in, many of the students are of humble background: a large majority live with less than $10,000 per annum household income, and problems of low self-esteem often lead to behavioural issues.

To tackle these problems, Norhailmi’s main teaching approach is to empower his students by letting them decide how they will learn. Creating content online, blog writing and video-making present opportunities for students to express themselves creatively instead of being passive in how they learn. Collaborative strategies like Jigsaw Classroom help them develop from individual learners into charismatic collaborators and leaders. The Flipped Classroom approach, which Norhailmi advocates, has also given his students’ performance a huge boost: in science, the percentage of students getting an A grade has increased drastically from only 3.9% in 2015 to 29.9% in 2017.

Norhailmi has also worked with the Education Ministry to reach teachers in challenging locations, include those who teach in a deep rural area, a high-risk school, a school for indigenous peoples, schools in hospitals and schools in prison. As part of his “Empowering Teachers’ Creativity” initiative, he has travelled around the country to inspire other educators – and with more than 300 workshops and seminars to date, he has impacted thousands of other students indirectly. Norhailmi was named Science Ambassador for the Community by the Malaysian Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation in 2016, and in 2017, the Ministry of Education named him its first Icon Teacher for STEM. Norhailmi’s content has even received attention from the Minister of Education, who has promoted it through his social media channels – meaning that Norhailmi’s blog has now received 32 million hits.

If Norhailmi wins the Global Teacher Prize, he would fund new STEM facilities to be used by students, teachers and the community. His aspiration is to build a hub to educate the community about STEM, including a library, tablets, computers, 3D printers, a drone, and robotics kits.