I was not instructed to design any specific kind of change. The only thing the BOD put their trust on me, is to do whatever is needed to achieve the school vision, and run it according to the full Khalifah Method.
But, my first question is, what do I understand about Khalifah Method?
Firstly, I believe that education must based on a specific world view that is accurate, positive and motivating. The three components of this part, are Alhamdulillah, embedded in the idea of being KHALIFAH.
Khalifah connects a man with his Creator, with the perspective of his role towards mankind, and the surrounding where he lives. He is special, unique, and positive towards natural differences. The mindset is positive, and motivating enough for a person to explore his uniqueness, and thinking forward about what is the best he can offer to human civilization. His role is self chosen, he appreciates the opportunity to contribute and his social activities bring him closer to his Creator.
The second part of Khalifah Method is to follow the law of learning. The process of learning should be made into small understandable steps. The early steps should be well rewarded each time the learning outcome is achieved. Gradually the reward is reduced to give more room for self motivation. Whenever a downfall or a mistake happened, it has to be dealt with firm but gentle approach, with the objective to bring the learner back on track.
In order to achieve this, I cannot initiate simple changes, or simply adding some cosmetics to the present setting of KMSS. I must access the school thoroughly, and during my first round of the assessment, I found that:
- The physical limitation of the current (temporary) building contributes to a higher level of stress among students.
- The long annual term is exhausting for both teachers and students.
- The combination of Quranic memorization program, Diniyyah subjects and SPM requirements is again very exhausting and yet it does not serve the objective of Khalifah Method.
- The wide gap between students in their competency sucks huge amount of energy and focus among teachers.
For these reasons, I decided to propose an overall transformation to the curriculum, including the reconsideration of sitting for PT3, IGCSE and SPM. The proposed transformation can be summarized as follow:
- The annual session is changed into semester.
- Two semesters are dedicated for academic and one shorter semester is dedicated for outdoor education; experiential and environmental.
- The total year for KMSS education is 8 semesters (4 years). The foundation semesters are 6 (three years), before streaming for IGCSE at semester 7 and 8.
- KMSS students do not sit for PT3. The Ministry of Education had confirmed that PT3 has no impact to SPM. It is only taken to assist streaming and placements at SBP which both are not relevant to KMSS.
- For students who want to sit for IGCSE, they will complete their secondary education within 8 semesters (4 years), one year shorter than the average mainstream education. For those who want to sit for SPM, the fifth year will be their room to familiarize themselves with the requirements before sitting for the exam at the end of that year.
- Subjects are divided into semester-size modules, for shorter lesson plan, easier assessment and more option for elective topics.
- Students will choose among the modules offered, with the guidance from their academic advisors, which modules they want to take for that particular semester. I want the students to exercise the risk taking, decision making, creating their own circle of peers to take similar subjects and study together, so that the environment will be more positive, motivating and rewarding.
- A ‘traditional’ teacher centered education will be transformed into a learner centered education, in a progressive setting of classroom. Teach less, learn more.
These are some of the major changes proposed. Alhamdulillah after presenting the plan before BOD, BOG, parents and students, it seems that all are optimistic enough to put trust on our team, to work on the plan.
It is not an easy task, since I myself was not, and perhaps still not an educationist. But the online certification Islamic Education program offered by Razi Education based in Toronto Canada comes really at the right time. Each week, I am required to read around two journal articles related to the philosophy of education, write a report on my reading with specific emphasization on our own practice and experience. I found that every single material discussed is very significant to the current needs. Alhamdulillah.
By the end of December, everything must be ready. I pray to Allah to accept this deed, and to help us make our dream into reality, for a better future, not just for our students in KMSS, but for other independent Muslim schools nationwide. And who knows, the mainstream education would also benefit from it.