Saturday, October 5, 2013

Teacher and Child Refugee Project Funded in Malaysia!

Photo of Community Refugee Teacher Training Intervention Pilot, 2011



July, 2012

Our collaboration with refugee teachers and students in Malaysia continues! The U.S. State Department has awarded our team of Fulbright Alumni professors, interventionists, and students $25,000 to help refugee teachers and students in Malaysia.

We are a team of Fulbright Alumni from Malaysia, Germany, India, and the U.S. with the goal to help improve mental health and academic performance in the largely hidden refugee schools in Malaysia. Given that Malaysia does not recognize the rights of refugees, the 40,000 refugee children in Malaysia are prohibited from attending the Malaysian government school system. However, that has not stopped refugees from providing an education to about 30% of their school-aged children, often teaching their students in hidden kitchens and apartments in Kuala Lumpur. Most of the teachers are unpaid Burmese refugees who are untrained in how to manage their Burmese refugee students' mental health needs.

Building on a pilot refugee teacher mental health training intervention conducted in 2011 in Malaysia, the current Fulbright Alumni team will partner with UNHCR Malaysia, local universities, local NGOs, and refugee schools, to empower refugee teachers to improve their students’ socioemotional and academic functioning in the refugee classrooms.

Specifically, the US State Department Fulbright funds will be used in Malaysia to:

(1) Train refugee teachers to manage refugee students’ emotions, attention, and behavior,

(2) Use a “Refugee Teachers Train Refugee Teachers” model to help trained refugee teachers mentor new teachers,

(3) Conduct in-class consultations with refugee teachers,

(4) Evaluate the program using research, and

(5) Document the program via film and blog.

Here's our Fulbright team:

Dr. Ng Wai Sheng (Team co-leader; Fulbright Malaysia 2001/03) from Columbia Asia Hospital, Malaysia

Dr. Colleen O’Neal (Team co-leader; Fulbright USA 2010/11) from University of Maryland-College Park

Liz O’Sullivan, Ph.D. Government & Politics (USA, Fulbright 2008/09, currently in Malaysia)

Ng Siew Li, Ph.D. Candidate Clinical Psych (Malaysia, Fulbright 2011/12, currently in US)

Patricia Sloane-White, DPhil Social Anthropology (USA, Fulbright 2008/09

Brendan Gomez, Ph.D. Development and Counseling Psych (Malaysia, Fulbright 2000/02, currently in New Zealand)



Indrani Thiruselvam, MA Clinical Psych (Malaysia, Fulbright 2009/11, currently in US)


Lee Chien Sing, Ph.D. IT (Malaysia, Fulbright 2008/09, currently Hon. Secretary of Fulbright Alumni Association of Malaysia)


Ong Kian Ming, Ph.D. Political Science (Malaysia, Fulbright 2004/06)


Julie Olson, B.A. Chemistry (USA, Fulbright 2011/12, currently a UNHCR-Malaysia refugee education intern)


Charis Geevarughese, Ph.D. Candidate Clinical Psych (Malaysia, Fulbright 2008/09, currently in US)


Tilmann Vogt, Diploma in Media-Design (Computer Animation) (Germany, Fulbright 2001/02)


James Coffman, Ph.D. International Development Education (USA, Fulbright 1989/90, currently Executive Director of Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE)



Santoshi Halder, Ph.D. Applied Psych (India, Fulbright 2011/12)