Samuel Isaiah, 2020 Global Teacher Prize finalist, has been bestowed the Anugerah Khas Diraja by Tengku Mahkota Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah.

Taking to Facebook, Samuel said that he was handpicked by the Pahang Crown Prince cum Regent himself, and awarded the prize during the recent Hari Belia Negara Celebrations in Pahang.

"While I’ve never been too concerned about awards or accolades for the work I do, I must say that receiving this was truly an honour. I appreciate the prominence given by the state in recognising and platforming young people and my work in championing quality education for every child in Malaysia.

"I’ve always believed that we need greater representation of young people, not just in receiving awards like this, but in key decision-making positions. My journey from a classroom teacher to now leading an organisation continuously shows me how important it is to have that space to grow, to thrive and to lead," Samuel wrote.

He added that he hoped to create opportunities for young people in whatever capacity he has, especially in the field of education.

"I hope that my journey, my work and the chances given to me will in turn inspire people to do the same, and if not, do better than me. And more importantly, I hope to never rest on my laurels but to continue to dedicate my time and my work towards building the education ecosystem in Malaysia."

For the uninitiated, Samuel made the headlines a couple of years ago for his dedication in teaching Orang Asli children.

Apart from travelling 200km a day to teach pupils at SK Runchang, Samuel also introduced the tree school (sekolah pokok) concept, where he taught under the trees at the Runchang settlement twice a week after school hours.

He was announced as a top 50 finalist for the Global Teacher Prize 2020 in March that year, and was shortlisted as a top 10 finalist that October. He lost to Ranjitsinh Disale from India.

To date, Samuel has worked with 60 schools across four states in Malaysia. He also co-founded Edufication, a platform for teachers by teachers that aims to encourage critical educational discourse, and is also the programme director at Pemimpin GSL which aims to improve school leadership in Malaysia.

Source: Facebook, NST
Photo source: Facebook