PETALING JAYA: The ambitious #StandTogether Kindness Tour kicked off its second leg with a series of workshops in Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan in the past week.
The workshops, organised by Digi with support from International Medical University (IMU), are part of an effort to foster kindness in the Malaysian school system, and has so far reached over 450 schools in 12 states.
Both teachers and students from across each state are invited to the workshops, and are split into separate sessions where they are equipped to become “Kindness Ambassadors”.
They are given practical lessons from IMU, Digi, and Study Hub Asia experts on topics like counselling, bullying prevention, and student engagement, along with free downloadable resources.
Student participant Mimi Hafiza Dzureena Md Dom now hopes to change the perception of her peers towards lesser-known aspects of bullying, such as social bullying.
"I don't just want to be known as a Kindness Ambassador, I want to be an effective one, so I will go back to my school and propose our own bullying prevention program," said the 16-year-old from SMK Sungai Soi.
Murni Irsaliza Mohamad Zain from SM Sains Sultan Mahmud was equally excited about being a Kindness Ambassador, as she believes bullying is becoming normalised among her peers today.
"The information I learned today is new and very necessary for my school, and I want to see more of these workshops in Malaysia," said Murni.
Another student’s story showed just how important having a kindness-centred education system is.
“It was a teacher who convinced me not to kill myself. So now, when my juniors come and tell me they were bullied, I try to help them through the negative feelings and self-hatred that comes with it,” said the 16-year-old student during an interview.
"It is important to spread kindness because when you are kind to someone, they will in turn be kind to others, your kindness will always pay forward."
Teachers across the country have also been effusive in their praise of the programme, with many calling for it to be expanded and opened to even more schools.
"My favourite part is the brain storming session where we could discuss the problems we were facing with other teachers and finding the best solution together,” said Kolej Vokational Kuantan teacher Sharuddin A. Latif, who added that he enjoyed the “dynamic style” of the workshop.
"I believe the kindness ambassadors will be good role models for their peers. Judging by their reactions, they will definitely go back to school and also share their knowledge with their friends who will be affected," said Kelantan State Education Department Counselling supervisor Mohd Shamsul Nazari Isa.
Rozniza added that the Kindness Tour is an important addition to the Education Ministry’s work in fostering kindness and safety in schools.
"We need to share and exchange ideas instead of keeping it to ourselves, because we need to diversify our approaches and cater them to specific issues," she said.
The #StandTogether campaign was founded by R.AGE and SP Setia in 2017 in response to a series of violent bullying cases in schools, as well as the rise of hate speech online.
Together with partners like Digi, IMU, and Unicef Malaysia, the campaign quickly became endorsed by the Education Ministry, and was supported by over 8,000 students, teachers and members of the public this year.
The Kindness Tour will now complete its final leg with stops in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah, and Sarawak in throughout this month.
Students and teachers interested in signing up for the free #StandTogether Kindness Tour workshops can contact Rozniza at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the #StandTogether campaign, go to www.standtogether.my.