Student Leadership

Empowering all students to be leaders of their own learning, their future and the future of Malaysia.

What Would Student Leadership Look Like In The Malaysian Context?

According to our Student Vision, student leadership is evidenced by children demonstrating willingness to take action to solve issues in the community and to restore its harmony.

From a participation standpoint, our student vision aligns with Rung 8 on Roger Hart’s Ladder of Participation, whereby students initiate and exercise shared decisions with adults. The lower end of the ladder highlights what is ‘not’ participation. The emphasis higher up the ladder is on relationships/partnerships between adults and children.

However, it is not necessary that students always operate on the highest possible rungs of the ladder.

The important principle is one of choice: a framework should be designed to maximise the opportunity for any child to choose to participate at the highest level of his/her ability.

As such, we envision our students to have the skills, mindset and opportunities to pursue participation on Rung 8, which necessitates shared decision making and constant student-adult dialogue.

Teach For Malaysia’s Leadership
Development Framework

What set of conditions do students need to develop leadership?

Based on a review of youth-adult partnership research, we posit that these four conditions are interconnected and critically important. When they are all in place, and not watered down nor bounded by adult guardrails, students build and practice strong levels of leadership efficacy resulting in powerful outcomes that deepen with time.

Shared Decision-Making

Students exercise shared decision-making with adults. Instead of letting go of control completely, adults serve as listeners, observers and sounding boards (i.e. they don’t jump in with their own designs on a project, or to organise a project).

A Champion

An adult expresses interest in the students and their interests, belief in their potential for success, and asks questions for self-reflection, but critically without giving advice or direction.

Shared Goals

In order for meaningful partnership between students and adults, there needs to be a common vision or goal toward which all are working.


As students and adults navigate this new territory of meaningful partnership, it is important to have their views heard and taken seriously through ongoing dialogue.


This describes personal attitudes, behaviours and motivations. This sphere explores questions like ‘Who am I? What do I believe?’


This describes leadership work on an inter-personal level. This sphere explores questions like ‘Do I know people? Can I work with them?’


Leadership at the community level. This describes the leader’s abilities to understand context and decision-making to realise visions. This sphere explores questions like ‘What do I want to be true for my community? What role do I play in getting there?’

Teach For Malaysia’s Student Leadership Development Framework

The Leadership Spheres identifies three layers within which students will develop and practice their four leadership competencies. There is no beginning or end point of leadership development, but rather it is a lifelong iterative process of change. The Student Leadership Framework illustrates this idea visually by positioning the concepts as a concentric circle. Within each layer, there are four competencies that support the overall development of a student’s conceptualization of leadership.

We should expect that multiple layers may be addressed at any particular time and that students will wish to focus on and excel in different layers. This framework assumes that every student has leadership potential, and that opportunities to develop leadership in each layer will be provided for each student.

Leadership Sphere

How Does Teach For Malaysia Develop Student Leadership?

We measure the effectiveness of our programme, with the aim to continuously increase student outcomes through the SCoRE Framework.

In line with Malaysia’s National Education Blueprint (page 69-70), the survey functions as a self-assessment tool for students to measure the four student leadership competencies - social and emotional learning (SEL), communication skills, resilience and social entrepreneurship. The purpose of the survey is not to define students, but rather to get them to think about what they have been doing well and how they can improve as a leader.

Additional Materials

Student Leadership Strategy Playbook​

Student Leadership Strategy Journal

Student Leadership Strategy Adult Guide

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