On 7 October 2022, YTL Foundation celebrated their 25th Anniversary in full regalia with a dinner at The Majestic Hotel. Commemorating 25 years of building better education in Malaysia, the gala night was graced by the presence of the DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.
Providing accessible education to the most deserving children of this country has always been close to the heart of the late Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Yeoh Tiong Lay and wife, Puan Sri Datin Sri Kai Yong Yeoh. Growing up, the Yeoh children were constantly reminded by their mother about strength in unity through the anecdote whereby a single chopstick would break easily but a bunch of them held together would be almost impossible to break.
In this 25th Anniversary celebration, pencils (in lieu of chopsticks) were chosen to represent the different programmes of the Foundation over the years that have impacted the community and brought the Foundation to its current strength thus far.
Throughout the years, each programme grew to help overcome education challenges which has created opportunities for many.
The milestones and journey of each programme along with the representatives and volunteers behind them were given due recognition on stage:
• YTL Foundation Scholarship – Dr Narasimman Sathiamurthy, 1st Scholar
• 54C Learning Space – Dorvenesh Raj A/L Vinod Raj, student
• Malaysia Acumen Academy – Daniel Lee, a national aspiring Paralympian and Acumen Fellow
• PEMIMPIN GSL – Cheryl Ann Fernando, CEO and Founder of PEMIMPIN GSL
• Teach for Malaysia (Learn From Home) – Chan Soon Seng, CEO of Teach For Malaysia
• FrogAsia & Leaps of Knowledge – Lou Yeoh, Executive Director of FrogAsia
• Ruang KITA – Puan Mastura and Puan Sherry, community leaders at Ruang KITA
Apart from this, the Foundation took the opportunity of its 25th year to introduce the first-ever Malaysia Teacher Prize, to honour teachers for their outstanding contribution in their profession and to highlight the important role teachers play in society. Organised by PEMIMPIN GSL in collaboration with the Foundation, the Malaysia Teacher Prize is the localized version of the internationally renowned Varkey Foundation, Global Teacher Prize Award, which is often known as the Nobel Prize of the teaching profession. It recognises teachers who not only empower the lives of their students but the community around them.
The top 5 finalists and winner were announced in a separate ceremony held on the same day and later awarded their respective prizes during the Gala Night. DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir, later presented the awards to the Top 5 teachers.
One notable highlight of the evening was the throwback to the Foundation’s scholarship programme which started in 1997. Throughout the years many successful scholars have gone through the Foundation’s doors, but none more memorable than its first scholar Dr Narasimman Sathiamurthy who was present for the dinner. His story, "The Boy from Teluk Intan”, told and immortalised in a touching video left many eyes wet. The bright, unassuming young boy who was raised in a rubber estate in Teluk Intan and helped by his teacher to apply for the scholarship is now a highly successful surgeon and holds a big role at the Ministry of Health as the Head of Thoracic Surgery Services.
The night ended with the beautiful sounds of the Ruth Milal Choir, composed of refugee youths from the Ruth Refugee Education Center formed in 2016. Guests were serenaded with a harmonic rendition of The Heart Song, the theme song for the annual Leaps of Knowledge, yet another educational annual programme held jointly with FrogAsia to keep Educators creative, inspired and updated.
It was truly a memorable night to celebrate the 25-year milestone of YTL Foundation. Here’s to more years of successful programmes and collaborations. May the journey continue to redefine the teaching and learning process as we build better societies through better education together.