Education in Malaysia
Whether in textbooks or spoken in lectures, language is crucial in effective education. Without a common means of communication, many students will be left behind. While education in Malaysia has predominantly used Malay, the country’s official language, in its classrooms, some Malaysian schools also include more English, Chinese and Tamil cultures into their curricula.

In most instances, immense diversity is a privilege to instill greater global awareness, but, in the Malaysian education system, it has hindered progress, especially in keeping up with other countries’ educational opportunities. To keep up in an ever-changing economy and job market, education in Malaysia needs to establish a common language for all schools.

Despite its linguistic differences, Malaysian education is goal-driven and focused on improving itself. The government released an ambitious Malaysia Education Blueprint in 2013. The detailed plan hopes to achieve universal access and full enrollment of all children from preschool to upper secondary school, improved student test scores, and reduced urban-rural, socio-economic and gender achievement gaps, all by 2020.

To meet such high standards, however, promoting a mother tongue language for education in Malaysia is key. The benefits of doing so include higher enrollment and success rates, especially for girls and rural-based students, and greater parent-teacher communication. The students that tend to feel the most marginalized, those from poorer households, are more likely to attend school, retain information, and participate in their learning.

Other countries in the region with similar struggles serve as examples of how to overcome potential language barriers. Laos has dozens of diverse languages that are mainly spoken in rural, impoverished communities. However, with education requiring fluency in Lao, the official language, children from different ethnic backgrounds were left out. With UNICEF’s support, the government took a “Schools of Quality” approach that starts children in their native language and slowly transitions them into Lao. The change has been a successful way to boost student morale and attendance.

Such benefits of a mother-tongue-based education will propel Malaysia to become a world leader in a digital economy. Students who face language barriers in their education have limited opportunities to reach their full potential. If students fall behind in understanding their studies, they will also fall behind when facing an increasingly technical-based economy. Acquiring skills in technology and STEM-related fields requires a quality, forward-thinking education as a foundation. That education appropriately requires a cohesive language to teach and learn.

Education should be an accessible service to every person, regardless of their language, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. Education in Malaysia is on the right path to improving its system, but an important step forward will involve overcoming language barriers. Other countries in the region serve as testaments to the positive growth in preserving the mother tongue, and, with continued support, Malaysia too can experience this progress.

Allie Knofczynski

Photo: Flickr

Female Experience of War

Contrary to the title of this article, there is no singular female experience of war. The very statement illuminates one of the issues in historical and contemporary engagement in understanding and analyzing women during wartime. Too often, the intellectual and political community groups women from different countries, ethnicities and religions together to presume they suffer the same wartime experiences. The world sees war through a gendered lens which colors women as victims who idly wait for their husbands, sons and fathers to return home. War is as immediate and tolling for women as it is for men in ways that vary drastically across the board.

Take World War II as an example of the diversity of the female experience of war. The white American woman gained access to the workforce during WWII and momentum in furthering her cause in the feminist movement. Meanwhile, her black counterpart experienced barriers and institutionalized racism. These consequences did not decline until over a decade later. When employed, African-Americans were forced to use separate bathrooms and often worked the lowest-paying jobs despite having high qualifications or manual and cognitive skills. Black men and women accounted for only 6 percent of employees in the American aircraft industry while white women accounted for approximately 40 percent. Despite the pushback, black women used WWII as a platform to herald the inequalities back at home with campaigns such as “Victory Over Racism at Home” and “Victory Over Fascism Abroad”.

Across the Pacific Ocean, the Korean female experience differed significantly from that of women in the U.S. Thousands of Korean (and other southeast Asian) women under Japan’s imperial rule were forced into sexual slavery and served as “comfort women” for Imperial soldiers during WWII. Gross violations of human rights included female genital mutilation, forced abortions and even murder. Under colonization, many women turned to prostitution as a means of survival, adopting the fetishized symbols of orientalism that their oppressors projected upon them. In the eyes of the public, many of these survivors of sexual slavery lost their virtue and thereby their value to their community following liberation from Japan. Their communities ostracized them, forcing them to live isolated lives. In this way, it not only becomes a question of women’s experiences during the war but also their experiences after the war.

In her book, “Bananas, Beaches and Bases,” international relations theorist and author Cynthia Enloe illustrates how women in Jaffna, Sri Lanka played a role as ethnic minorities during the armed conflict between Tamil guerrillas, the government’s military and the Indian army. These women describe how their experiences as women compared to their oppression as Tamils in the Singhalese-dominated nation, penetrating what had been a male-dominated intellectual space. Eventually, these women played a crucial role in the reconciliation period, finding allies in Singhalese feminists and voicing their concerns about the militarized state and lack of female rights. Enloe further notes that these women, who played an essential part in stabilization, were repressed by their husbands who believed their outspoken critique to be outside the parameters of their female duties.

These examples neither serve to pit woman against woman nor seek to rank their experiences, but rather illustrate the diversity of women and the female experience of war. These women as individuals and as participants in a wider community have their own narratives and experiences. Giving them the due diligence they deserve begins with recognizing the diversity of 50 percent of the world’s population and their nuanced participation as both victims, perpetrators and protestors of war.

How do societies break out of masculinized power structures of international politics to acknowledge women as a priority during conflict and post-conflict discussions? It is critical to recognize the many different and extremely nuanced versions of war that women around the world experience. The idealized projection of the ‘female’ is so deeply entrenched that society often glosses over the experiences of women from ethnic, religious and sexual minorities. The female experience of war is extremely diverse, and it is critical that existing international and domestic power structures acknowledge and embrace it.

Sydney Nam

Photo: Google


In 2015, millions of migrants came to Europe in the hopes of finding security and safety for their families and themselves. The welcoming of refugees continues today and is likely to endure. The majority of recent migrants are not only coming from Syria to Europe but also from Iraq, Eritrea, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Adapting to a new country and culture can often bring initial resettlement discomfort and uncertainty. Countries seeking to encourage resettlement success are encouraged by nongovernmental organizations to take into account ways to facilitate refugee integration:

1. Education

Many European countries such as the U.K. and France provide education to refugee children. Education is considered a significant factor in successful refugee integration into society.

The British Council asserts, “[Education] would help to combat at source some of the factors contributing to mass migration, extremism and the risk of a lost generation that could blight Syria’s chances of recovery for years to come.”

2. Early Intervention

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) claims that immediate provision of language courses and access to health care is essential to integration. Additionally, when application-processing times cannot be shortened, it is important to provide refugees with skills training and civic integration training.

Children are especially encouraged to participate early in the process. Learning the language predicts overall educational outcomes. A year without education may have critical results.

3. The Work Force

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) encourages European countries to step up in assisting refugees in further developing their skills. The organization expresses that we should not forget Einstein was also a refugee.

The organization further states that assisting with refugee skill development also means ameliorating the economy. OECD recommends the placement of refugees be near the labor market where jobs are “readily available.”

4. Customized Integration

OECD encourages receiving countries to take into account the diversity of refugees. Oftentimes, refugees are coming from a variety of countries with a diverse range of educational and language backgrounds.

The organization asserts that customized attention to individuals will provide the best results for integration. This method will prepare migrants for self- dependence and the labor market.

As stated by UNHCR, “Far from a problem, refugees can and should be part of the solution to many of the challenges our societies confront. They bring hope: the hope of a better life and a better future for their children and ours.”

A substantial investment by countries is essential to provide refugees with the tools and skills necessary to advance and adapt in a new society.

Mayra Vega

Sources: British Council, Euractiv , UN Refugees, Keepeek
Photo: Google Images

Hillary Clinton Global PovertySince her time as First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for American involvement in fighting global poverty. Particularly, her efforts have focused on the rights of marginalized groups and on building lasting development through targeted aid programs and community-led initiatives.

Clinton strongly believes in a “smart power” approach to development and diplomacy, supporting government and non-profit involvement. Lasting and sustainable development, she holds, has the power to transform lives and, by extension, improve stability and prosperity in the U.S.

In a 2010 op-ed for Foreign Affairs Magazine, she wrote, “[Positive development] can strengthen fragile or failing states, support the rise of capable partners that can help solve regional and global problems, and advance democracy and human rights.”

In 2014, Clinton announced her support for a USAID campaign that aims to harness science and technology to end extreme global poverty by 2030. The U.S. Global Development Lab involves 32 partners from private industry, universities, philanthropies and non-governmental organizations. They are working together to develop innovative solutions to a variety of global poverty issues including health, food security and nutrition, education and climate change. The Development Lab, which started in 2011 during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, aims to reach at least 200 million people by 2019.

In July 2009, Secretary Clinton launched the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a general review of the State Department and USAID to “recommend how to better equip, fund, train, and organize ourselves to meet current diplomatic and development priorities.”

During her term as Secretary of State, the United States invested in strengthening global structures such as the G-20 and regional institutions such as the Organization of American States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to increase cooperation at the government level.

Her goal in supporting the U.S. Global Health Initiative was “to put an end to isolated and sporadic care by tying individual health programs together to create an integrated, targeted system of care.” An added bonus of this coordination approach was that it shifted leadership to the affected countries themselves, encouraging self-sufficiency and grassroots idea development.

Clinton’s global development advocacy has also focused on promoting human rights, particularly focusing on women and members of the LGBTQ community, whose marginalized statuses have led to continued economic and social disenfranchisement.

In her 1995 speech at the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women, Clinton focused on women’s economic and political mobility as the key to creating flourishing communities and nations abroad. In her speech, she argued, “Every woman, every man, every child, every family and every nation on this planet has a stake in what is being discussed here today.”

As Secretary of State, Hillary made women’s rights a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. She created the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and helped create the first U.S. strategy on women, peace and security.

Additionally, Clinton has urged foreign governments to support policies that establish LGBTQ rights. In 2011, her advocacy helped successfully launch the first-ever U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution on LGBT Persons.

Hillary Clinton continues to support global policy initiatives through her involvement in The Clinton Foundation, which assembles businesses, governments, NGOs and individuals to improve global health, increase the opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and help communities address the effects of climate change.

Many Clinton Foundation initiatives focus on supporting small businesses in target countries and educating citizens on improving their practices, such as providing agricultural programs for farmers in Tanzania.

As the 2016 presidential election closes in, Hillary Clinton hopes to highlight her extensive foreign policy experience and her commitment to global development to prove her ability as the most qualified presidential candidate. On her campaign website, Clinton maintains that a key pillar of her foreign policy will be to uphold America’s humanitarian ideals: “America is defined by our diversity and our openness, our devotion to human rights and democracy, and our belief that we can always do more…”

Taylor Resteghini

Sources: The Clinton Foundation, Foreign Affairs Magazine, Hillary Clinton Campaign, The Huffington Post, Human Rights Campaign
Photo: Mashable

Pipeline Fellowships Represents Underrepresented VoicesAccording to the 2014 data from the Center for Venture Research, 26 percent of U.S. angel investors were women and merely 8 percent were minorities. Intending to increase the diversity in the U.S. angel investor community, Pipeline Fellowship creates capital for underrepresented black women and Latina women.

Pipeline Fellowship is an angel investing bootcamp for women social entrepreneurs, especially minority businesswomen, and its programs include training, mentee-mentor pitch and commercial practice.

Participating in Pipeline Fellowship, members will gain access to workshops on various business topics, such as Due Diligence, Valuation, Portfolio Strategies and Measuring impact. The experts who lead the workshops include seasoned angel investors, VCs, experienced entrepreneurs, and impact investing professionals.

During the Pipeline Fellowship Pitch Summit, invited women entrepreneurs could present their for-profit legal structures to secure their funding.

“We’re changing the face of angel investing.” The slogan marked on the homepage of Pipeline Fellowship, accompanied with the black background, shows the intention of supporting female entrepreneurs with colored skin.

Recently, Pipeline Fellowship cooperated with Black MBA Women and BeVisible, two social media platform for Black and Latina businesswomen, and enlisted them as recruitment ambassadors for African American and Latina women.

Both Black MBA Women and BeVisible offer black women and Latina women who participate in Pipeline Fellowship $1,000 scholarships.

Daria Burke, the founder of Black MBA Women, said, “We simply have to do a better job in supporting black women leaders by taking an active role in their development.” BeVisible Co-Founder Andrea Guendelman thought, “Relationships and access to capital are the biggest roadblocks for Latina Entrepreneurs.”

With the effort from Pipeline Fellowship, from 2011 to 2015, the percentage of women angel investors in the U.S. has increased 14 percent, and the percentage of minority angels in the U.S. has increased 4 percent.

Aware of the obstacle that black women and Latinas are facing, such as the lack of networking and funding, Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder & CEO of Pipeline Fellowship, told us that, “We need to bet on black women and Latinas. There are enough white guys investing in other white guys—let’s get more of us investing in more of us.”

As a Latina entrepreneur at the same time, Oberti Noguera added that “I’m committed to engaging underrepresented voices.” By offering supports on education, mentoring and practice, Pipeline Fellowship fights for the success of women who are originally from undeveloped countries and impoverished areas.

Shengyu Wang

Sources: Black Enterprise, Pipeline Fellowships
Photo: Flickr