ON A sunny Saturday morning, 70 pupils sat cross-legged on mats placed on the floor as they learn English.
Teaching the children are volunteer teachers, clad in green T-shirts with the words, “Young, Sincere, Independent” written on their backs.
This is the weekly scene at PPR Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur where children from six to 12 years old gather to learn English from the EduRangers, a group of volunteers under the programme by social enterprise, The Nasi Lemak Project (TNLP).
The volunteers (mostly in green T-shirt) with the children from the PPR Batu 8, Kuala Lumpur. – Photos: ROHAIZAT MD DARUS/The Star
The volunteer teachers comprise young people, and working and retired adults who only want to give something back to society.
A similar activity is done on Sundays at a Malay village in Kampung Sungai Tua, Kuala Lumpur.
TNLP co-founder Mastura M. Rashid, 26 said the volunteer programme is an extension of the work they do to help the underprivileged community.
In the past, they fed the homeless and now focus more on helping underprivileged mothers to start their own business and educate underprivileged children.
“EduRangers started three years back in Kampung Sungai Tua and in 2015, we began classes at PPR Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur.”
Lunch and snacks are provided for the children who attend the lessons held from 9am to 1pm at PPR Batu 8, Kuala Lumpur.
“The idea was simply to give underprivileged children a boost of confidence to speak in English,” she said.
Mastura said the aim at the end of every teaching term was to have a child speak in English on a topic given, with no guidance.
She and her volunteers would draw out objectives and goals to achieve in the English programme.
For three months, each child will learn to construct sentences and write based on a topic.
They are taught using study materials sourced from libraries and educational magazines.
Some volunteers bring extra study materials or create their own worksheets to help their pupils learn better.
Abdul Rahuman (left) won a T-shirt design contest for The Nasi Lemak Project, that was organised at the end of the term for Pixel Garage
Classes are held from 9am to 1pm, with lunch and snacks provided.
Mastura said before each school term, they would set up posters to invite pupils to sign up for the classes.
From there, they conduct diagnostic tests to determine each child’s level of proficiency in English.
This is also the period where they call for volunteers through their Facebook and website.
“We have the support of parents and the flat’s management in Batu Muda but in Kampung Sungai Tua, it was not as easy.”
“In Kampung Sungai Tua, some children came in with the perception that they do not need to learn English since it was not their mother tongue,” she said.
However, the perception is slowly changing among pupils there.
This volunteer programme does not only enrich the children, but also enables the volunteers to give back to society.
Tan May Lee, 39, said volunteering was close to her heart and she had started a lot of corporate social responsibility work in her former company.
Leone Theong, 20, brings her own study materials in the form of videos to help her students learn better.
For her, the reason to select volunteer programmes is being able to bring her children along.
“There aren’t many volunteer programmes that allow parents to bring children along.
“My four-year-old daughter comes with me when I teach and mingle with my pupils.
“Here, she has big sisters and they look out for her,” she said.
She said programmes like this help to teach her children understand how other people live and open their eyes to the world beyond their home.
Tan’s pupils are between nine and 13 years old.
She prepares her own teaching material which includes puzzles, word search, arts and craft to gain her students’ interest in the topic of study.
Farouk Aizat Mustafa, 23, a sales engineer, began his journey with EduRangers as a volunteer teacher in January this year.
He was formerly a Street Ranger, feeding the homeless and when that ended, he decided to try teaching.
Amirulzaman (third from left) with (from left) Jawadul, Abdul Rahuman and Jesric who were the first batch to pick up graphic design skills through the Pixel Garage programme.
He said he got involved with volunteer work because he wanted to do something worthwhile after he graduated.
Today, Farouk is one of EduRangers’ programme coordinators where he groups pupils with volunteers, and prepares the logistics and snacks.
“We have 70 pupils here in PPR Batu Muda and about 17 teachers but although the number is big, we are coping well,” he said.
He said the problem with volunteer programmes is getting full participation as some who register do not turn up.
Farouk said pupils at PPR Batu Muda were keen to learn.
“One pupil asked us during break-time, when we are going to resume lessons.
“They tell me they do not want play time and want to learn,” he said.
To ensure that things go smoothly, he said feedback from volunteers and discussions are held to improve the programme.
(Back third from left) Zul Imran and Pixel Garage teacher Amirulzaman with students of Pixel Garage.
“It is a lot of trial and error. We still need to improve our modules and could do with help from those with teaching background to guide us,” he said.
TNLP also runs PixelGarage, a graphic design workshop for underprivileged youths.
Mastura said the programme, which started last year, gives youths a skill that will benefit them in the future.
She said there is a market for those with graphic design skills.
With this in mind, she and co-founder Zul Imran Ishak, 26, put up posters around PPRs and flats around Kuala Lumpur to call out to youths.
“We targeted youths 18 and above and interviewed 20 youths. We shortlisted seven students.”
Among the seven are friends from SMK Maxwell – Jawadul Shamir Jamaluthin, Abdul Rahuman Abdul Jalam and Jesric Andrew, all of whom are 19 years old.
Jawadul, who lives in Flat Sri Perak, Bandar Baru Sentul said his mother saw posters about the programme and encouraged him to sign up.
“I told my friends about it and we joined together,” he said.
Jawadul is an arts student and also a school captain in his school.
In school, he along with Abdul Rahuman and Jesric have been actively doing artworks like designing event posters and banners.
Farouk says the problem with volunteer programmes is getting full participation as many who register don’t turn up to help.
He added that the future goal for them is to set up a small design company and to get their school as their first client.
In three months, the students were taught the basics in Photoshop and illustration and were given assignments to practise what they had learned from Amirulzaman Kamarulzaman, 24, who runs his own digital solutions agency.
Classes are conducted from 10am to 4pm on Saturdays at the TNLP headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.
Amirulzaman said the students only have basic skills and have more to learn.
He said his students were quick to pick up on lessons taught and adapted well and will offer two of his students internships with his company when they finish school.
Mastura added that TNLP would support students who want the opportunity to enhance their skills or to get work opportunities with the skills they have.
The first term of the programme was sponsored by Shell Malaysia and TNLP is looking for sponsors for their next term.