SUBANG JAYA: Twelve underprivileged communities from the Program Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) Lembah Subang 2 were recently given a helping hand by Taylor’s University students.
The students came together to create in-house learning spaces for the communities, providing the children from these B40 families a comfortable and conducive place to learn, collaborate and study.
Called “The Nest”, these learning spaces inside public, low-cost housing units create a haven within the house for children to have an uplifted learning experience.
For underprivileged children, learning at home is often challenging as they do not have adequate space to learn.
“We wanted to address this issue by creating a space that can increase their interest and motivation to study,” said Camelia May Li Kusumo, a senior lecturer at Taylor University’s School of Architecture, Building and Design (SABD)
“Based on this, we challenged not only ourselves but also our undergraduate Taylor’s University students. Would we be able to create a learning space inside each of these low-cost flats for the children to study comfortably, with a limited budget of RM500 per house?”
With the SABD and the School of Education (SOEd) joining forces, ideas were quickly generated to create learning spaces to encourage learning at home.
Block leaders at PPR Lembah Subang 2 were approached to identify families with school-going children who were interested in participating in this programme.
Hema Letchamanan, Senior Lecturer at the SOEd, said, “We focused on learning spaces because it is our responsibility to create a conducive and safe environment for children to study – this was how The Nest was born.”
“We chose the word ‘nest’ because it has a beautiful meaning to it – the nest is a place to nurture and shelter nestlings, and is a comfortable and safe space where learning takes place.”
Kusumo said that The Nest acts as a means for Taylor’s University to learn to interact with different communities, be more connected and use their skills to help the public.
After the participating families were identified, the lecturers and students visited these families’ homes to assess their current living spaces.
Subsequently, in early August, 130 students and three lecturers from the SABD and SOEd, broke into 12 smaller groups to roll out their plans.
Leading up to the renovation, students proposed ideas to their designated families to improve the space; sourcing the materials from relevant associates.
Students assigned to their respective families worked end-to-end – analysing and extending work on minor renovations around the space.
Wong Zhao Xian, a second-year student in the Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Architecture at SABD said, “We are happy to be a part of this project as it introduces us to a new community and atmosphere where there is a vast difference in lifestyle.”
“When we first got the assignment to help the families to build a learning space, we figured that it would be a straightforward process – go in, get the job done and leave.”
However, Wong said that challenges arose as the students were unaware of how their assigned family lived and the state of the space they had to work with.
In response, the students decided to spend time to get to know their assigned family, researched on working within a small space and did what was necessary to fully utilise the given space.
To spread awareness of The Nest, Taylor’s University students from its School of Media and Communications (ProPassion) organised an exhibition in the neighbourhood to showcase the students’ work and to raise awareness on the importance of having a dedicated learning space inside every house.
At the exhibition, a consultation booth was set up for residents who were not part of this project to provide them with advice on how to create learning spaces themselves.