Fostering Collaborations Post Pandemic for A Better Education in Sabah

Alia Wahidin, Project Director of MCII (left) with YBrs. Tuan Abidin Marjan, Deputy Director of the School Management Sector of the Sabah State Education Department (middle) and Amidah Abidin, Head of CSR at Hap Seng Group

KOTA KINABALU:  The Sabah Education Roundtable (SERT), an initiative by Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative (MCII) and Hap Seng Group, brought together more than 70 diverse stakeholders from 50 organizations that are passionate in elevating Sabah
education to share experiences and ideas for advancing education in the state.

The hybrid event was attended by Sabah state and district education offices, NGOs,
non-governmental institutions (NGIs), social enterprises (SEs), corporations, and foundations around Malaysia. Aimed to identify and map out the program providers, initiatives, as well as practical solutions to some of the most critical challenges in Sabah’s education, SERT was the second education roundtable organized by Hap Seng Group, who first introduced it back in 2017.

According to Amidah Abidin, Head of CSR at Hap Seng Group, the organization believes in the power of collaboration and collective impact to create a brighter future for Sabah children.

“Having a strong foothold and presence in Sabah, Hap Seng Group is committed to help the children in Sabah receive equitable education that would elevate them into innovative thinkers and doers of the future. Together with various implementation partners, we have been running STEM-related initiatives for schools all over the state since 2015. This time, we would like other partners to come in and support these children as well, minimising gaps wherever possible.”

“Hap Seng Group has been one of MCII Steering Committee members since 2015 because we believe in the strength of collective impact and data-driven initiatives. Continuing from the success of the previous edition, this roundtable will contribute to the local education landscape by identifying critical issues and practical solutions that will benefit Sabah’s students and schools, especially post pandemic. By fostering collaborations and initiating partnerships, we can work together to address these challenges effectively and drive sustainable change in education,” she added.

Based on a study published in 2021 by UNICEF titled ‘WHAT’S NEXT? Lessons on Education Recovery: Findings from a Survey of Ministries of Education amid the COVID-19 Pandemic’, students, particularly the disadvantaged, need tailored and sustained support to help them readjust and catch up on lost learning. They may also require support to address mental health, gender-based violence, and other issues that may arise or escalate during school closures.

Due to the loss of instructional time, many children returning to school would not be ready for curricula that were appropriate prior to the pandemic, necessitating remedial instruction to get back on track.

MCII, who recently published the first impact report of its long-term interventions in B40 schools in Klang, Selangor, is now exploring ways to support the education ecosystem in Sabah. Alia Wahidin, Project Director of MCII shared, “Through SERT, we aspire to uncover and bridge the gaps on ground. From our survey respondents of 48 program providers, 92% are running educational programs in Sabah and almost 50% are based in the state. We found that there are huge gaps in the availability of programs to address perceived critical issues in schools including student motivation, literacy, STEM, inclusivity, parental support and involvement as well as exposure to new technologies.”

“The findings from SERT and the surveys we are currently conducting with Sabah schools will provide a comprehensive understanding of the state’s education situation as well as appetite. The overall report will be published in August and distributed to all stakeholders.

This initiative is only the first step in MCII’s plan to expand into Sabah and guide our collaborative efforts moving forward, as we believe in providing interventions based on the communities’ needs, instead of what we feel is best for them,” Alia added.

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