THE youngest of four siblings, Nor Nadhirah Mohd Nor, 18, had always been shy and reserved.
Born and bred in Setiu, the fisherman’s daughter never dreamed that she would score a place in the prestigious scholarship programme by Petronas.
“It was during the Trenglish programme that I first spoke in front of a crowd,” Nor Nadhirah recalled.
Trenglish, which is short for Transforming English in Terengganu, aims to increase English language proficiency among students. Currently involving 50 schools in the state, the programme is sponsored by oil and gas giant Petronas in collaboration with the Terengganu state education department and Yayasan Terengganu.
“I’m thankful that Trenglish was held at my school because it helped me build confidence, and I’m sure it helped other students as well,” Nor Nadhirah said during the Petronas Education Sponsorship Programme (PESP) award 2019 ceremony.
The event, held at the Institut Teknologi Petroleum Petronas (INSTEP), celebrated 40 scholarship recipients from Terengganu. They are a part of the 400 recipients nationwide selected from 7,355 applicants this year.
This year, a total of RM156mil was allocated for the sponsorship.
The awards were presented to the recipients by Terengganu state executive council member in charge of education Satiful Bahri Mamat.
On behalf of the state government, he thanked Petronas for its long standing and continuous support, especially in education.
Also present was Petronas senior vice-president (group human resource management) Datuk Raiha Azni Abd Rahman. An ex-Petronas scholar from Terengganu herself, she said that the PESP was introduced in 1975, a year after Petronas was formed.
“Until today, more than 36,800 scholars have received sponsorships involving a total amount of more than RM3.3bil.”
“In 2018, 40 secondary schools and 10 primary schools have benefitted from the Trenglish programme. Thirteen students receiving the PESP sponsorship were ex-participants of the Trenglish programme.”
Petronas also sponsored RM150,000 worth of The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout to supplement the Trenglish programme for the third year.
Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng received the mock cheque at the event.
The pullout, which comes with a copy of the newspaper, is written by a team of experienced English language specialists. It is packed with engaging hands-on newspaper activities for the classroom.
This sponsorship also comes with four NiE workshops to help guide teachers when it comes to teaching with the newspapers.
Nor Nadhirah, who will be pursuing her degree in Petroleum Geoscience at Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP), said that Petronas’ sponsorship of the newspaper helped with learning.
“We don’t have our phones in class so the newspaper is the only window to the outside world.”
“I wasn’t interested in English when I entered secondary school. English was not my favourite subject. In Form Two, around the time that the Petronas’ sponsorship started, teachers started to teach in a very informal way. We played games, did projects and made crafts, so it made me look forward to the subject,” she said.
“I didn’t have the confidence to speak in front of a crowd. But then the Trenglish programme was held at my school. We were split into groups, given a topic and then we had to present.
“Every Wednesday, we have English day so we have to speak in English that day. That helped me master the English language,” she added.
Another scholarship recipient Muhammad Adib Rusydi Mohd Zawawi, 18, from SM Imtiaz Kuala Berang, scored a scholarship to study chemical engineering in Britain.
“My parents cried when I shared the good news with them. I am very excited to go to the UK because it has always been my dream to further my studies there,” he said.
“I am very grateful to Petronas. If not for Petronas, I would not be able to further my studies due to financial constraints.
“I want to thank Petronas for making the Mega Trenglish Camp (MTC) and NiE possible because the programmes have been very helpful to me.
He said that he is now able to do things that he previously could not. One of them is speaking in English.
“I was not fluent in the language, but after joining the programme, I became better at it.
“I think, because we are not English native speakers, we are afraid of being criticised. This programme helped us to speak more in English. All participants have to speak in English so there is no reason to be embarrassed.”
Muhammad Adib Rusydi also added that the group activities during Trenglish and NiE honed his leadership skills.
“Before being introduced to NiE, I did not know that there were a lot of possibilities for learning with the newspaper. We learned and we improved a lot because we had to present our ideas.
“And because we had to speak only in English during English period, it forced us to practise our speaking skills.”
T-HELP (Terengganu Hired English Language Personnel) Yasmeen Sazleen Yaman Nasir, 25, from SMK Seri Budiman noted that there was an increase in student participation in English activities with the introduction of NiE.
“The Star-NiE contest last year motivated many students to participate and they were very happy when they got the Merit Awards.
“The contest was very interesting and the students were excited to carry out their projects.
“We are grateful for the newspaper sponsorship by Petronas. With this contribution, students are exposed to an English daily. Otherwise, they would only read newspapers in Bahasa Malaysia.”
Another T-HELP Nur Afiqah Syahirah Zuber, 26, from SMK Chung Hwa Wei Sin said that NiE helps students learn new words.
“NiE utilises a non-traditional way of learning. Students find it different and exciting.
“Even classes with low proficiency levels manage to complete the activities. It is a good resource – we teachers also learn from the newspaper.
“Apart from that, the MTC provides students with the environment to speak English and learn from each other. Talents are also unleashed during this event.”
Petronas is also adopting 10 trust schools in Terengganu – five each in Kijal and Marang – from 2017 to 2021.
The trust school programme by Petronas is a tie-up between Yayasan Amir and the Education Ministry.