PETALING JAYA: In 2009, Fugee School, an academic learning centre and transitional school for refugees, opened its doors in Kuala Lumpur.
Its co-founder, Deborah Priya Henry, envisioned it as a place where students could equip themselves with the technical, creative, and life skills required for their careers and future.
Fourteen years on, the school has grown from strength to strength. Many of its students have gone on to quality jobs and careers, with some even having enrolled in university despite the lack of a formal educational background.
Today, Fugee School hosts about 170 students from over eight nationalities. A staff of 10 helps conduct classes ranging from kindergarten up to Year 9, as well as a diploma programme for school leavers.
“As an organisation, we’re looking at the end-to-end of education services for vulnerable communities, with a focus on the refugee community in Malaysia,” Henry told FMT Lifestyle recently. This includes a scholarship programme launched several years ago to support refugee youths who are accepted into universities.
The pandemic saw the school run into some financial difficulties but, thankfully, the institution has since bounced back.
“We’ve been really lucky and blessed to be able to work with partners and donors who understand the work we do and see the value in it,” Henry continued.
“We managed to rise from that tough situation but, of course, there’s always more that needs to be done; ways to raise more funds, to support more children.”
She said having to navigate those dire straits inspired her to think about the organisation’s way forward.
“When we first started, our focus was on basic education. Our focus has now moved to excellent-quality education, to help these communities get ahead in the best ways we can provide.”
Fugee School wants to see its students develop entrepreneurial mindsets and move on to the best educational institutions. It is, therefore, not enough to provide them with “just enough” to get by, Henry said – it is important to ensure learners thrive in life, not just survive.
“You can’t work on a scarcity mindset, giving your students the minimum until they turn 18 and fend for themselves,” she pointed out. “They have the potential for so much more. You have to let them reach for the stars, and help them get there.”
‘Write for Refugees’
In a reflection of their drive towards excellence, Fugee School is partnering with education technology solutions provider BeED for their latest project, the “Write for Refugees” competition.
Commencing Sept 4 and culminating on Dec 29, this contest is open to active as well as veteran teachers, or anyone with at least two years of teaching experience, living locally or abroad.
According to Henry, the goal is to seek out passionate and qualified educators from around over, who wish to share their expertise by crafting quality lessons for the school’s new curriculum.
Participants stand a chance to win up to RM18,000 by devising creative and captivating lessons for Year 7, 8 and 9 students in English, mathematics, or science.
“A good lesson plan is creative, dynamic and entertaining. It understands the needs of its students, and should encourage them to develop critical thinking and problem solving,” Henry said in reflection.
“Entrants should be passionate about science, maths, and English, and be curious about teaching these subjects in a more engaging way.”
Participants can either enter as an individual or group, with a maximum of six members per cohort.
Henry added that participants would be in the wonderful position of empowering refugee students and creating a lasting impact in terms of their education. Their lesson plans, she said, could be utilised to create a stronger learning curriculum, not just for Fugee School but also for other schools in need of support.
“An education is the best gift you can give someone – it’s an investment today that creates an almost immeasurable effect on someone’s life,” she concluded. “As we often say at Fugee School, educate a child, impact generations.”
Deadline for applications is Aug 1.