WHAT Norazlina Farid, 16, wants to do is simple but not cheap.
“It’s a dangerous world out there. The school (in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur) is fairly safe but female students are at risk when they come and go. What I have in mind requires money,” she says.
Parents and teachers have always warned the students on the dangers of walking alone in lonely places and accepting lifts from strangers, she says, but some girls don't take these safety concerns seriously.
Things became worrying a few months ago when the school gardener caught a Peeping Tom and flasher at the Lower Form toilets; ever since then the anxiety has grown. It got Norazlina thinking: “What we need is a programme that will raise awareness of the need for safety among students, provide self-defence classes and start a School Watch initiative to ensure security in school.”
How can one young girl manage all this? “Not easy!” she laughs.
Convincing the teachers and principal was the most difficult task, Norazlina recalls. Money was the next hurdle.
Along with a “trusted” committee, Norazlina drew up a budget that was deemed manageable. “We brainstormed and listed all the expenses.”
First, they divided the project according to objective and activity. To raise awareness on safety issues, they listed printing materials such as leaflets, posters and stickers, and the cost of organising events.
“Reading materials are important to disseminate information. We also need to invite speakers and experts to speak on the issue and have demonstrations on safety precautions,” she says.
For self-defence classes, they were lucky to get the help of some martial-art associations.
“We want to provide free classes but we still need to charge minimal fees to cover basic expenses and not burden the trainers, who are so very kind to not charge for the classes,” adds Norazlina.
To get the “best bargains,” Norazlina and friends had to survey the market, which they did by looking up the Yellow Pages and Internet as well as asking around.
The School Watch programme is still in the planning process, particularly for its funding.
“We have to budget for miscellaneous costs. Unfortunately, not many people are willing to do things for free; so to guarantee continuity, we need to provide some benefits. This costs money,” she laments.
The school and PTA have agreed to sponsor part of the programme, while fund-raising activities and donations help pay for all other expenses.
Mohd Shahabudin Ahmad, a counsellor at Victoria Institution (VI) in Kuala Lumpur, advises students interested in conducting a community project to brainstorm together and come up with a working paper.
“This should include the budget proposal, and to plan that, students would need to list out all the costs that would be incurred and get quotations from suppliers,” he says.
Citing the school's peer-counsellor programme, called PRS (Pemimpin Rakan Sebaya), as an example, he says that although it is voluntary, the programme receives a maintenance budget from the school board.
The PRS helps the counsellors in school and if it is a school with a high incidence of social problems, they play an important role. “Most schools have only one counsellor to oversee more than 1,000 students.”
Nevertheless, in a school like VI where there is a good academic record among students and a low number of delinquencies, he says, there is not much to be done within the school, giving them the opportunity to reach out to the neighbourhood and community.
There are various things students can do, he adds, like giving free tuition to poor students in the neighbourhood, saving the environment and holding lang- uage programmes for weak students.
Community service is nothing new to VI, which encourages its students to be independent and caring, and reach out to the less fortunate.
“Most important is for students to ask themselves what the community service programme objective is and if they are capable – personally and financially – of implementing it,” says Mohd Shahabudin.
Look out for tips on writing your proposal and fund-raising in the March 26 issue of StarTwo. For more information, log on to www.hotlink.com.my
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