By Robin Augustin and Alif Firdaus Ahmad Mokhtar
SELAYANG: A mentorship programme by Generasi Gemilang, a not-for-profit foundation has become more than just an avenue for learning for students from poor and broken homes.
The programme, named Pusat Bimbingan Pelajar (PBP) which began in 2012 with 15 students and just three volunteers, has grown to serve 182 children with 105 volunteers from all walks of life.
Its mentorship programme, which caters to primary and secondary students is made up of three education programmes that focus on coaching students who are weak in English, Mathematics and Bahasa Malaysia.
The PBP is carried out four times a week – two classes per week for Primary and Secondary students – throughout the entire school year by Generasi Gemilang staff, who are supported by volunteers who coach and mentor the kids.
It is currently run at two locations, at low-cost residencies in Selayang and PPR Taman Putra Damai.
“Thanks to the number of people who have volunteered, we are able to have a low student to mentor ratio, with two or three students to each mentor,” said Generasi Gemilang Communications Section Head, Cheri Lim.
Lim said the catalyst for the programme was Generasi Gemilang’s concern over the lack of attention these students received at home and at school, which affected their academic performance in school.
According to Lim, some of the students who attended the programme were not able to even form sentences, much less speak English, or do basic Mathematics.
“They fall through the cracks of our education system and year-by-year they get left further behind and lose hope of ever catching up.
“It is a vicious cycle in the community where they are trapped in poverty,” she said, adding that many of the students did not have the chance to be exposed to the countless opportunities and possibilities outside their dwellings.
By going to the ground and building relationships with the students and communities, Generasi Gemilang has gained a better understanding of the students’ needs and this goes beyond just education.
The group, with the support of kind and generous Malaysians also help provide the underprivileged with simple things like proper uniforms, shoes, bags, books and stationery.
“We also try to provide out-of-classroom learning and enrichment opportunities that these students would otherwise not have, such as career counselling and trips to universities to help them explore opportunities to further their tertiary education.”
The students have also been taken on trips to interactive learning venues such as KidZania and Dialogue in the Dark, as well as excursions to Lego Land and Farm in the City. Not restricted to academic fields alone, the students have also attempted rock-climbing and been on visits to batik painting factories.
“We also run yearly leadership and character-building camps to equip the students with life skills, instil self-worth and help them discover their purpose and potential.”
Lim said Generasi Gemilang was happy with their work thus far as several students who did well in their SPM examinations, have furthered their studies at institutions of higher learning.
In the future, Generasi Gemilang plans to increase the number of locations where its mentorship programmes are held in the hope they can reach out to more communities.
Lim said there is a monthly RM1 commitment fee for the mentorship programme, but only so students commit to the classes and learn to take ownership of the programme.
Members of the public who wish to support Generasi Gemilang’s mentorship programme, can do so by volunteering as mentors, sponsoring the education needs of students and spreading awareness about the need for every child to have access to quality education.