Timely aid for B40 pupils

Helping hand: Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur education department director Zainal Abas (second from left) receiving the items from Nelly.

SOME 21,000 primary school pupils from low-income households will benefit from Yayasan Petronas’ Back to School 2021 (BTS 2021) Programme.

Through the programme, the pupils from schools in 12 states and two Federal Territories will receive personal hygiene kits and school supplies for the 2021 academic year.

From March 8 to 24, the personal hygiene kits and school supplies will be distributed to schools across Johor, Kelantan, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Penang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor and Terengganu.

Students will each receive two three-layer reusable face masks, a small towel, a box of paper soap, a school bag, a tumbler, a student activity notebook, a pencil case and stationery items, as well as two sets of school uniforms and a pair of socks and shoes, Yayasan Petronas said in a press release on March 9.

The student activity notebook includes several simple science experiments on personal hygiene, and health infographics and stickers, designed to spark interest among the pupils and help them understand science and its application in real life.

Yayasan Petronas has also collaborated with the Education Ministry to provide teachers at beneficiary schools with lesson plans to cultivate an interest in the science of personal hygiene among primary pupils this year.

Yayasan Petronas chief executive officer Nelly Francis Shariah said the aim of the BTS programme has been consistent since it was launched 18 years ago.

“We want to reduce one of the barriers that families from low-income households often experience, which is the cost of school supplies, a factor linked to dropout rates.

“However, we are taking additional steps this year by providing personal hygiene kits so that students can stay safe and acclimatise to the ‘new normal’ as they resume school, ” she said.

Nelly added that the foundation is going beyond the basics this year in hopes of imbuing the pivotal role of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, and the enduring role teachers play.

Labuan-based teacher Angela Joseph, who is part of the first cohort of teachers in Yayasan Petronas’ Program Duta Guru, was involved in designing the science lesson plans.

“I’m so glad that I was given the opportunity to share information on the science behind Covid-19 in a fun way with underprivileged pupils who otherwise may not have access to information, ” she said.

Angela also prepared supplementary lesson plans and provided instruction sheets for teachers to record and share online.

In addition, the foundation has released a three-episode video on the science of personal hygiene featuring “STEM Man”.

It serves as a reminder to parents, children and their community of the importance and responsibility of practising safe habits so that schools will not be affected by an outbreak.

The videos are available on the foundation’s online and social media channels.

The BTS programme is part of Yayasan Petronas’ education focus area. This year’s edition will run until the end of the month nationwide.

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