A TOTAL of 8,060 students from 44 primary and secondary schools are beneficiaries of the Yayasan Pendidikan Titiwangsa (YPT) education fund. And this number continues to grow.
YPT is a charity organisation dedicated to the betterment of children’s education.
If you ask its chairman, Datuk Astaman Abdul Aziz, about his thoughts on study tips and question answering techniques, the father of five and grandfather of eight might skirt the issue altogether.
He would rather talk about parenting instead.
Having helmed the foundation for the last 13 years, Astaman said he found a common factor among the many “bright bulbs” he met at prize-giving ceremonies and student motivational camps – a majority of them come from happy families.
“Teachers, students and parents – these are the important elements in education.
“The relationship between the first two has always been well-defined.
His biggest beef is “the terrible case of the absent father.”
In Astaman’s empirical observations, the highest turnout of fathers are usually at kindergarten graduations but this dwindles as the children progress to secondary school.
“Don’t use work as an excuse,” he said.
He said fathers must spend quality time with their children. This is because children see their parents as role models.
“This is because while daughters can find role models in the mother, sons are unable to find a mentor in the father.
“So they look to their peers. If this group happens to be a hopeless lot, they are headed for trouble,” he warned.
Having started the foundation in 2004 with funding from his own pocket, the son of former Wanita Umno chief Tan Sri Aishah Ghani often broaches the subject of parenting skills when speaking to schoolchildren, such as when he spoke to a group of Fifth Formers at a programme organised by YPT.
“I took the opportunity because I saw them as future parents.
“They should know that parenting skills involve health, time and financial management – not only as a couple, but in handling resources when children come along,” he said, adding that failure in addressing the issue often resulted in children ending up as victims and along with it, the tendency for non-performance in school.
“There are always exceptions but not many,” he said.
This year, YPT selected 333 students to receive its excellence awards.
The awards come with cash prizes – RM100 for UPSR, RM200 for PT3, RM500 for SPM and RM700 for STPM.
All this will largely come from Astaman’s own pocket as it has for the last 12 years since the foundation’s inception.
Astaman’s income comes from his businesses in property development and investments.
An engineer by training, he was formerly with the Electricity Board (LLN) before it was privatised.
Admittedly, the first time he had to come up with the money for 324 students selected for the YPT excellence awards at SK Desa Pandan in 2004, it was challenging.
“But I remembered the advice of my late father, Abdul Aziz Abu Hassan who often quoted Newton’s law to me – for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” recalled Astaman.
Today, he reckons his family and business have been blessed by the spirit of charity.
“We have always had enough to channel to the foundation,” he said.
In addition to excellence awards, the foundation also organises motivational study camps, English programmes and examination workshops.
Another annual programme that Astaman is proud of is an anti-truancy campaign carried out in collaboration with the police, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) and 10 schools in the Titiwangsa constituency.
“The operation dates are always kept a secret. We do not want the schools tipping their students off.
“One time, we raided cybercafes and rounded up 120 students who had skipped school,” he said.
On the foundation’s future, Astaman hopes students who have benefitted will pay it forward.
This year, he has also found another benefactor in Second Finance Minister and Titiwangsa MP Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani, who sits on the board of trustees with Astaman’s son Ahmad Arif, AirAsia chairman Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and Le Tour de Langkawi chief executive officer Emir Abdul Jalal.