A helping hand for Segamat school

Clean-up: Volunteers using a power jet to spray down the canteen tables.

Severe flooding affected various parts of Johor, Melaka, Pahang and Sarawak during the beginning of March, displacing tens of thousands of Malaysians and leaving many schools in a state of dire need.

SK Canossian Convent in Segamat, one of the worst hit areas in Johor, subsequently reached out to the Financial Industry Collective Outreach (Finco) to request assistance with clean-up efforts. The school, which largely draws enrolment from B40 schoolchildren, had suffered damage to its canteen, school fences and classroom furniture.

Roping in its financial industry members to coordinate its first volunteer effort, Finco sent a team of 20 volunteers from AmBank, Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad, Kenanga Investment Bank Berhad and OCBC Bank (Malaysia) Berhad to the school on March 12.

Although some volunteers were also affected by the floods, they worked tirelessly with the teachers to sweep and mop the classrooms, wipe down furniture, clear rubbish, and wrap canteen tables and chairs with rubber mats so the students could return to a safe and comfortable learning environment.

“I’m very grateful that Finco was able to step in and arrange for volunteers to help out with the cleaning,” said SK Canossian Convent assistant principal (Student Affairs Unit) Noor Julaiha Mohd Johan.

Finco had also assessed the supplementary needs of the school and its students, and provided further assistance in the form of funds for additional repairs and for students who required school essentials, it said in a recent press release.“Finco bridges the gap between schools in need and financial institutions that wish to offer help without duplicating existing efforts,” said Finco chairman Tan Sri Azman Hashim.

In the first quarter of this year, Finco had worked with the financial industry to extend RM125,423 worth of disaster relief resources to 12 schools and over 3,000 students.

Last year, over RM500,000 worth of disaster relief aid was channelled to nine schools, benefiting 8,770 students.

A collaborative initiative pioneered by the financial industry in Malaysia with the guidance of Bank Negara Malaysia, Finco aims to minimise the disruption to learning faced by students in the wake of natural disasters, among others.

Finco was previously involved in channelling funds and donations in kind to schools affected by other disasters.Learning loss and loss of motivation are the commonly cited effects of flooding, said Finco chief executive officer Clare Walker.

When access to education is impacted, students from vulnerable communities may end up facing long-term detrimental consequences to their academic performance, she added.

“It is especially concerning when students lack access not just to safe classrooms, but also basic needs like healthcare.

“We are committed to ensuring that underprivileged children and youth do not get left behind in their education when disasters occur, and we hope to expand these efforts to more schools in need in the future,” she said.

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