BuilDING on the foundations of nurturing future generations, some 450 members of the Bukit Bintang Girls’ School (BBGS) Alumni gathered in support of the Elena Cooke Educational Fund (ECEF) at a charity dinner to commemorate the school’s 121st anniversary.
ECEF was named after BBGS’ well-loved principal Elena Maud Cooke, who dedicated 50 years of her life to the school, first as a student, teacher and, eventually, headmistress from 1958 to 1977.
In 2000, Cooke bid farewell to the school during its closure, saying “The BBGS spirit will live on in the lives of its students.”
Her prophetic statement came to fruit with the founding of BBGS Alumni Bhd that set up the ECEF in 2009 to honour the memory of the esteemed woman by providing a stepping stone for less privileged students with potential and a thirst to learn.
With the support of friends and corporate guests, the BBGSians successfully raised RM500,000 in undergraduate scholarship funds at the dinner themed ‘Night of a Thousand Stars’ and held in The Royale Chulan Hotel.
BBGS Alumni chairman and founding director Moey Yoke Lai passionately spoke of lending a hand to bridge the gap for students without the means of progressing their education further.
“There are two million families in Malaysia with an income of RM3,000 or less per month and they are in dire need of financial assistance for their children to pursue higher education.
“It is only apt that ECEF be kept sustainable to provide for this long-term shortfall so that many more young people will be lifted out of the cycle of poverty thus enabling Malaysia to become a higher income nation in the near future,” she said.
Guest-of-honour and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala then reminisced on meeting the late Cooke, and her determined yet gentle persona.
“Since we are celebrating a ‘Night of a Thousand Stars’, four constellations must be aligned to make a difference in education as it is not just about facilities.
“It also takes great principals, dedicated teachers, involved parents and motivated students. Should every school have a principal like her, Malaysia would achieve the success it desires in a few years,” he said.
He then presented the ECEF scholarship award to Chan Li Xuan and Muhammad Azfar Zukarnain, who were two of 11 undergraduates to benefit from the fund. In the spirit of charity, Idris then performed a spontaneous acoustic rendition of Red River Valley to the delight of the audience.
Also in attendance was Idris’ wife Datin Seri Pang Ngan Yue, who is a former BBGSian.
Other performances included songs by singer-songwriter Juwita Suwito, also an alumnus, as well as the BBGSian choir, and ended with a skit by renowned Malaysian comedian Harith Iskandar.
The alumni worked in collaboration with Sunway University, KBU International and Methodist College Kuala Lumpur to waive the tuition fees as ECEF funds the students’ accommodation, living allowance, books and other expenses.