Light years

Hello from the other side of the probationary line!

Since I last wrote, I sat for my Transfer of Status (ToS) examination–exactly one week ago–and have ‘transferred’ from Probationary Research Student to DPhil Student. It was a very positive experience that felt more like a dynamic supervisory conversation rather than an examination. I am grateful for the careful and thoughtful input from my examiners to improve the design of my study as I prepare to begin fieldwork in October–marking the start of the 2nd year of my DPhil.

Before I sat for the ToS examination, I had the opportunity to talk about my ongoing work at the Global Perspectives: Re-imagining Education conference held at the University of Worcester on 20-21 June 2019. I received useful feedback and met a fellow Malaysian PhD student, Rosmalily from the University of Southampton who has since passed her viva (hooray!)

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Afterwards, I  headed to Portugal to attend the Epistemologies of the South summer school organised by the Centre of Social Science (CES), University of Coimbra on 24 June-2 July 2019. The thread summarising my experience is below:

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This summer school was a very transformative experience for me. It was a very relational and emotional learning experience among such wonderful people. I left feeling energised by the collective solidarity and zeal to see through a more just world, committed to engaging with the struggles on the ground by way of the body, emotions and intellect of our multiple selves: activists, academics, artists and students.

In the context of my DPhil study, a commitment to the epistemologies of the South entails valorising the knowledge co-constructed with rural young people in Malaysia on development alternatives in interaction with–and perhaps even through the appropriation of–science education. In the course of this research, it will be crucial to foreground both local knowledge and conventional scholarship on Malay cosmology and culture produced in the Malay language.

On the public engagement front, I was recently invited by the folks at Dialog Pendidikan to contribute an opinion about pre-university education. Taking a historical framing of the matriculation programme in relation to higher education’s role in social mobility, I argue for a big-picture dialogue on who the government should prioritise in terms of support for social mobility. In addition, together with Charis, a fellow Malaysian in my department, I wrote a public letter in Malay to YB Dr. Maszlee Malik, the Minister of Education.  We included the letter together with the book ‘Letters to a New Minister of Education’ which we sent to him in June, recognising his 1-year tenure in office.

Hopefully once I am back in Malaysia from October onwards for fieldwork, I will be able to participate in more public engagement opportunities tied to education. Exciting dialogues and developments are taking place at home. Between now and then, I will be preparing for fieldwork, presenting at another conference in August and incorporating some much needed fallow time with family and friends. It has been quite a year of learning and growth!

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