As parents, all we want our kids to make it big in this world. Doctors, lawyers, engineers and other conventional jobs that will bring in the big bucks. But what happens to students who fail conventional education? Do we cast them aside and label them, "useless"? In a startling report recently, statistics from the Welfare, Women and Family Development mentioned nearly 1,000 students dropout of school every year before reaching SPM. They often become involved in street crime or violence. Once they get on this path, there’s little chance of turning back. Remember Maxis's Deepavalli advertisement last year? The service provider brilliantly shed light to this long overshadowed problem in a short video presentation. The video showed us two separate paths of a young Indian boy.In one story, the boy is poor, he leaves home in frustration and hangs out with neigbourhood gangsters and in another, the boy is well off, excels in schools and enjoys football.
Image via: Malay Mail Online Also according to the Welfare, Women and Family Development, 85% of school dropouts from less developed states in the country come from poor families.Poverty, (alongside low academic achievement, low interest and disciplinary problems) puts youth at greater risk of quitting studies and joining the workforce very early. But because they don’t finish SPM, they don’t have the qualifications to upgrade to better jobs, so the poverty cycle continues to the next generation, so on and so on. Which brings us to Maxis’ video – the stark contrast in the boy’s two different lives is shocking.
In the Maxis video, the boy narrates, " I cannot change where I came from. I can only change where I'm going." This is true in most cases of our youngsters. How can we help them be better people and change the disastrous path some of them are on?
MySkills Foundation is an NGO that reaches out to at-risk youth from poor families, broken homes, and those who didn’t receive adequate attention or care in schools.All their activities are geared towards equipping at-risk youth with vocational skills and placing them in proper jobs so they can be gainfully employed. Starting out with only 10 students in KL, they raised enough funds to move to a new building in Klang, costing them almost RM600,000. Today they have more than 500 students!MySkills teach their students English, BM and even Mandarin. Students also learn basic arithmetic. Next, they have a programme called Work Ready Now (WRN) where they prepare students to enter the working world, touching on stuff like personal development, communication skills, teamwork, working ethics, writing resumes, grooming and more. Another foundation, GoodKids was founded in 2014 by Kogge, her cousin Naaraayini Balasubramaniam and her uncle Balasubramaniam Somasundaram. GoodKids is a social enterprise that teaches performing arts for free to build self confidence in secondary school students at risk of falling into social vices. During their first year, they organised a play called , 'MyStory' where they trained 30 students to act out the story of their life – from the time they were kids, to dropping out of school, to getting into drugs and gangsterism. The play was a huge success and it was even featured in The Star and on the news on national TV, which gave the founders the affirmation that they should continue with their programme. For their second performance in 2015, Kogge, Naaraa and Bala came up with the idea for the kids to make music using recycled items, clapping and stomping (aka body percussion).According to Kogge, the used buckets and tongs that they could find and started drumming. It was easy for the kids to pick up a stick and start hitting it.Other than that, as part of the GoodKids programme, volunteers offer counselling as most of their students come from broken families or underprivileged backgrounds. They will talk about social vices together too, for example, act out scenarios like if they are approached by gangsters, how should they respond.
Illani, 46, and Masliza, 43, are the brains behind CreaTee (www.createekit.com), a homegrown social enterprise that aims to tackle social issues through fashion. It does this by producing DIY T-shirt activity kits for children to encourage them to create wearable art. The idea of using art and fashion for a good cause is not new. But in this case, the founders’ emphasis is on creating awareness on bullying and helping to fight the issue from its roots. The CreaTee DIY T-shirt kit comprises of one good quality T-shirt, one specially designed stencil of an animal motif such as a cat or giraffe, two non-toxic fabric markers and a tube of 3D fabric paint. There are also a pair of googly eyes as well as handmade batik and felt pieces.The DIY T-shirt kits are available to children from across the globe. Thanks to CreaTee’s DIY T-shirt kit, Illani and Masliza have gone places for their bullying awareness cause, including conducting art workshops for the urban poor and underprivileged children in the Klang Valley. They also write on the importance of self-esteem and other related topics on their website.