CSR project by UKM master’s students aims to overcome the many challenges faced by students from the Semelai tribe in Pos Iskandar.
KUALA LUMPUR: A team of second-year UKM master’s students from the Graduate School of Business are knee-deep in work on their EduReach initiative in the hopes of making a positive change in the lives of Orang Asli students from the Semelai tribe.
The students of Sekolah Kebangsaan Iskandar in the interior of Pos Iskandar in Bera, Pahang have a library consisting of only 50 books to serve 200 of them. The library has no tables or chairs which means those who drop by to read, sit on the floor.
And that’s not all. Although the students here are well known for their sporting achievements, all their sports equipment has seen better days. Even the school’s storage room is in a state of disrepair.
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The team behind EduReach is hoping to change this sorry state of affairs by cultivating a more supportive and enriching environment for the students here.
“We believe that every student deserves a chance to do well in school. So we are using this platform to make learning fun for the Orang Asli students.
“Our vision is to uplift the Orang Asli community in Pos Iskandar by developing the younger generation. Our mission is to improve the quality of education for the Orang Asli community,” Sangkarii Mahadevan, a member of EduReach, shared with FMT Lifestyle.
The team has outlined three key pillars for their initiative: library enhancement, digital and creative learning, and sports equipment.
To achieve this, EduReach plans to curate 1,000 non-academic books for students aged seven to 12 as well as raise RM100,000 to transform the library into a vibrant learning space. The funds will be used to install an interactive smartboard, provide comfortable seating with bean bags, as well as tables and chairs.
“Also, there are holes in the library’s roof where birds are building nests. We want to close that up too,” Sangkarii, 31, explained.
The team is also addressing the sporting needs of the students here. Apart from approaching sports retailers for new sports equipment, they are sourcing preloved sports equipment that is still in good condition.
“When we told the students about our project, they were very excited. They have the hunger to learn and to excel, and it was so encouraging to see that kind of spirit,” Sangkarii shared.
In addition to the physical improvements, the EduReach team aims to invite motivational speakers from within the Orang Asli community to talk to the students.
Also being planned is a trip for Standard Six students to the KidZania theme park in Mutiara Damansara later this month. It is hoped that the trip will help the students better appreciate the various vocations they can pursue in the job market.
February marks a pivotal month for the EduReach team as they will be collaborating with teachers and students on work to refurbish the library.
Sangkarii said the school’s headmaster Ahmad Shauqi was instrumental to the initiative as he highlighted the exact needs of the school, particularly in regard to the library. He also helped facilitate connections between the EduReach team, students, and teachers.
While the official conclusion of the CSR project is set for February, Sangkarii and her team have expressed a desire to engage with the Pos Iskandar community at large to identify and address any remaining gaps.
It is clear that this initiative has helped shed some light on the educational disparities and resource challenges faced by the Orang Asli communities in Malaysia.
“I hope this project will not stop just with us. It would be wonderful if it is an ongoing initiative, not just for SK Iskandar but for other Orang Asli kids as well. No one should be left behind,” concluded Sangkarii with optimism.