Carving a path into an uncertain year presents unique circumstances. 2020 posed unimaginable challenges to the world-at-large, where the way society previously functioned had to change itself. Given seismic shifts witnessed in the way education would work, the Foundation now finds itself spearheading the Learn from Home initiative alongside YES and Frogasia, which will continue to aid students, teachers and parents across the nation amidst the precarity ahead. Apart from which, Acumen Academy Malaysia welcomed the first cohort of 20 Acumen Malaysia Fellows. We are heartened that the year-long leadership programme went smoothly, with Fellows rising to the challenge of taking on additional work amidst the pandemic. As we foray into 2021, the Foundation will build on the groundwork laid out in the previous year.
YTL Foundation’s Learn from Home (LFH) initiative was launched during the early stages of the first Movement Control Order (MCO), as a cross-collaborative effort alongside Yes and FrogAsia to alleviate any disadvantage students would face as a result of the MCO and provide learning opportunities at their doorstep, at no extra cost. Through the initiative, the Foundation has, to date, distributed over 400,000 SIM cards and 100,000 Yes mobile phones nationwide.
Another key offering from the initiative is a repository of lessons developed by FrogAsia in partnership with content providers UKM, Pelangi, Teach For Malaysia, Kindity and MYReaders, for Standard 1 to Form 5, made to fit the current school syllabus and mapped out for the entire academic year. All Frog School lessons were made available for free on the Foundation website, focusing on English, Science and Mathematics. Bahasa Melayu lessons for Standard 1 through to Form 5, jointly created by a team of subject experts from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) alongside FrogAsia’s content development team, are now available as well.
The early stages of the pandemic saw a seismic shift in learning, moving from physical learning to online learning. To allay concerns and carve a space for further discussion, YTL Foundation invited three professors from the University of Birmingham and two Malaysian educators to share their insights on tackling education in an age of uncertainty. This was the Foundation’s first-ever online dialogue, broadcasted live on Facebook. The forum addressed the ways in which online education could broaden horizons, where adapting, learning and unlearning are key aspects to moving forward. To watch the forum, click here.
Kampung Sion is a village in Sarawak, located 45 minutes away from Kuching with a total population of 42 households. Faced with prior difficulties in accessing education, those who attend school do so at a school located 30 minutes away, and are more than likely to drop out of school at some point, due to a lack of financial resources. As the MCO rolled in, then, education became inaccessible. YTL Foundation stepped in, providing technological devices as well as setting up a virtual classroom for the children, in the comfort of their village. From this, the children have attended many hours of online lessons in different subjects. To learn more about Kampung Sion’s story, read this.
Building on the foundation set by the CLiC Centre, the Foundation has been engaged in the Kempen KITA initiative — alongside Sentul Raya Sdn Bhd, the Federal Territories Ministry, DBKL and PDRM — geared towards fortifying sustainable community-building through the means of providing a safe space where the community can gather. Recently, the space was used to facilitate various activities related to a campaign for safeguarding the health and welfare of mothers and their children, following the first 1000 days of life after a child’s birth. In July 2020 a developmental assessment programme was carried out by TLM, with 10 children below the age of 3. Shortly after, in October 2020, a talk titled ‘Perkongsian Kepentingan Bermain Dalam Perkembangan Kanak-kanak’ was conducted as part of the aforementioned wider collaboration with Toys Library Malaysia (TLM), for which committee meetings with International Medical University and TLM were held.
Over the course of the pandemic, the Foundation’s Creative Learning Information Centre (CLiC) lessons with the Sentul community and 54C made a transition to virtual learning, renamed as Leaps Academy. In speaking with Eza Tham, a YTL scholar who currently volunteers as a teacher, she expresses how the students in her sessions have begun opening up more over the course of the lessons. Apart from these lessons, the Foundation took on the active organisation of after-school educational programmes online, aiding in the uninterrupted education of more than 120 students during the MCO period. This move benefitted students from places as far away as Kedah, Perak and Sarawak, finding themselves enriched in subjects ranging broadly from music to mathematics, five days a week.
Adapting to a mainly virtual year, staff at 54C – with the dutiful assistance of 16 students from the University of Nottingham (Icheme Student Chapter) – organised not one, but two, Christmas parties. The first one was held on 12th December for a period of 2 hours, where over a hundred children from the local community in Sentul as well as three refugee schools – Advancing Children Education Centre (ACE), Malaysian Karen Organisation Learning Centre (MKO) and Myanmar Education Centre (MEC) – gathered on Zoom for an evening to remember. Activities such as games, performances by teachers, comedy skits and a 15-minute performance by the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC) made for a nice evening in. The second party, held for the children of YTL employees, was held on 19th December. This time, however, they were able to enjoy the art of balloon sculpting virtually. In lieu of physical holiday programmes, it is the hope of those involved to spread cheer in spite of the difficult circumstances that have shifted the dynamics of 54C’s usual in-person programmes.