Global Collaboration in Education: T3LFA Project Strengthens Ties Between Malaysian and South Korean Unions and Educators

published 6 November 2023 updated 22 November 2023

On 6 November, the Korean Teachers and Education Workers' Union (KTU) alongside Education International (EI) organised a school and union office visit for Malaysian teachers and members of the National Union of the Teaching Profession Malaysia (NUTP) who were in Seoul, South Korea, as a part of the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment (T3LFA) project.

The T3LFA project is currently being conducted in seven countries, including Malaysia and South Korea, with the support of its union members and the Jacobs Foundation. The project aims to provide teachers with the tools and support necessary to identify and establish promising teacher-led formative assessment practices that can be disseminated within and across education unions.

As a part of the project, thirty-nine teachers, facilitators, national researchers, and union representatives from Malaysia and South Korea had come together in Seoul in the preceding days to take part in a two-day Asia-Pacific learning event.

After a successful two-day exchange, South Korean teachers returned to their classrooms and the Malaysian delegation began the final day of their visit by being guided through Seoul Cheonwang Elementary School by its Principal Jeong Yong-Ju.

The school, whose motto is Learn Together Grow Together, aims to provide an inclusive educational community for its teachers and students. This was clear in the physical structure of the school, with the delegation having the opportunity to explore classrooms, indoor play areas, a woodcraft room, a therapy studio known by students as the mind playground as well as so much more.

Following the tour of the school, Principal Jeong Yong-Ju brought Malaysian teachers, facilitators and NUTP union representatives together in a circle to give a presentation that highlighted the ethos guiding his stewardship of Seoul Cheonwang Elementary.

During his presentation, Principal Young-Ju emphasised that a change to the curriculum in 2022 meant that teachers had more flexibility and adaptability in using their leadership skills to identify and establish teaching methods that ensure that all students can enjoy the benefits of education. Despite this change, teachers have faced challenges as balancing standardised testing with holistic evaluations has proved difficult and protecting professionalism so that the autonomy of the curriculum is not a teacher's responsibility has also posed a problem.

Principal Young-Ju clarified that the way forward included: continuous training and support for teachers; regular review and revision of evaluation methods; engaging stakeholders in the reform process; and fostering a democratic school culture. Malaysian teachers, facilitators and representatives from NUTP agreed, that continuous collaboration that accepts teachers as leaders in their classrooms, schools and communities was necessary to ensure inclusive quality public education for all.

After the visit, the delegation was guided to the KTU's office, built with compensation provided by the South Korean government after a historic conflict. During the welcome by KTU president, Malaysian teachers, facilitators and representatives from NUTP strongly mirrored Heeyeong Jeon's sentiments, reiterating that it was important to build solidarity and unity between NUTP, KTU and EI for the benefit of all teachers and students.

What followed was a presentation on the history of KTU by Hyunsu Hwang, International Director of KTU, as well as a tour of the office’s gallery that encapsulated the spirit of one of the union's moto's 'conservatives tried to kill KTU, but KTU is immortal.' Education trade unions are central to disseminating promising teacher-led formative assessment practices identified and established with the tools and support provided by the T3LFA project. KTU and NUTP's strength is crucial to continuing to realise the T3LFA project to provide inclusive quality public education for all.

The Malaysian delegation ended the day in Seoul inspired by what they had seen. Take a look at the photos from the day here! Want to find out more about our learning event in Seoul or even learn about the work that is taking place across our six other project countries? Take a look at the Teacher-led Learning Circles for Formative Assessment page.