It’s safe to say that the past two years have been undoubtedly the most stressful for students who have to adjust to studying from home without prior experience. While some students were able to adapt to online learning quickly, students from low-income families struggled severely, especially when it came down to being able to provide their children with access to online education. Many had to risk their lives and come up with out-of-the-box solutions just to ensure their children could learn.
Malaysian students in low-income families are suffering from learning loss and inequality
But just how badly were these low-income families affected?
Findings from a UNICEF report from October 2020 show that the education system and educators were not prepared and properly guided for conducting online classes.1 in 5 parents of low-income families in Kuala Lumpur said that their child lost interest in school after the MCO. On top of that, 50 – 60% of B40 households faced difficulties in paying tuition fees. As many of us know, a stable internet connection is essential to be able to attend online classes. However, in low-income families, access to these devices remains a major obstacle, with 37% of all students not having personal devices and being unable to access regular and supplementary online classes and material.
Learning loss will continue to accumulate for the years to come
What’s worrying is that it’s not just Malaysians who are experiencing this. Globally, there’s a loss of 0.9 years of schooling adjusted for quality after seven months of school closures due to Covid-19, according to a report by the World Bank. The full extent of learning loss repercussions due to Covid-19 is not yet known.
What can I do to help?
While these statistics may seem worrying at best, we can all play a part in preventing learning loss from further affecting students from low-income families by supporting organisations like Dignity for Children and Rakan Tutor. WORLD OF BUZZ reached out to these organisations to find out more about how they pave the way for underprivileged children to receive the education that they need to break the cycle that keeps them in poverty.
Dignity for Children
Dignity for Children is an NGO that seeks to provide holistic care and education for urban poor children in Kuala Lumpur. They currently serve over 1,700 children aged between 1-18 years old. Aside from running education programmes for children ranging from toddlers, all the way up to Secondary school, they also give these children access to real-life training via their transformational enterprises so that they can develop life skills, employability skills and character.
Cut X Dignity and Sew X Dignity are some of the transformational enterprises offered by Dignity For Children.
“We want to encourage learning beyond classrooms, and to equip them with skills so that they can use the skills and earn an income for themselves and support their families – eventually breaking out of the cycle of poverty.”
The organisation doesn’t just make efforts to educate underprivileged children, they are also active in community outreach. “We work closely with learning centres and community leaders to provide food aid and educational workshops.” Once a year, they hold grassroots teachers training that is open to teachers from South East Asia and East Malaysia to learn Montessori education for the poor and marginalised.
If you are passionate about making a difference in the life of an underprivileged child, you can consider donating to Dignity’s Empower-A-Child programme, where you can opt to either fully sponsor or partially sponsor a child’s education. “All donations are channelled back to the organisation to support the children and youth’s education programmes-including daily meals, welfare support, transportation and more.”
Rakan Tutor is a registered non-profit organization that offers free one-to-one tutoring.
“We aim to empower the underserved students with the skills and confidence to perform better academically and gain the motivation to achieve their fullest potential.”
In their pilot programme for SPM Mathematics, they received a total of 749 tutor volunteer applications and in just four weeks’ time, they managed to recruit and pair 250 tutors with the students. As of now, this is the distribution of the pairings within the nation.
As the NGO is helping those who are underprivileged, they are running a fundraising campaign of RM30k to purchase data packages for students and cover programme costs such as learning materials and criminal background checks on tutors. You can learn more about how to help the organisation by checking them out on their website and their social media platforms.
If you’re in a financial position that allows you to contribute to these causes, please consider doing so! Every child deserves equal access to education, regardless of their wealth or social status.
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