Largest Programme Targeting 21,000 Students from Low-Income Families
Primary school students from low-income households across Malaysia received school supplies for the 2020 academic year under Yayasan PETRONAS' Back To School 2019 (BTS 2019) programme.
The identified students from low-income families, or the Bottom 40% (B40) households, each received a school bag, tumbler, poncho, stationery along with two pairs of school uniform, and a pair of socks and shoes.
Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP) volunteers reached out to a total of 1,200 students from 14 schools across Perak this year through the programme. The volunteers also conducted Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities at the schools.
At the closing ceremony of BTS 2019 on 11 November, UTP Vice Chancellor Professor Ts. Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Abdul Mutalib handed out the items to children of UTP security personnel and general workers as well as students from Sekolah Kebangsaan Suak Padi Bota, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Chung Sun Tronoh and Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil Tronoh.
In his speech, Dr Mohamed Ibrahim said that every student should be given a chance to escape poverty through quality education.
"In helping needy families overcome barriers, we hope more students will finish school because they can succeed in life if given the chance.
"It's a small contribution, but we hope it motivates them to become good students. We are also confident there will be those among them who will enrol at UTP and help contribute to society," he said.
Yayasan PETRONAS Chief Executive Officer Lita Osman said: "This is our largest nationwide outreach since the programme started 17 years ago and we're glad that we can help 21,000 students prepare for their school next year. We hope that by removing one of the barriers that students from low-income families often experience, they will be motivated to stay and finish school.
"Every child should be given a chance to pursue quality education for a better future and to get out of poverty. These children can one day improve their lives and that of their communities," Lita added.
According to recent reports by the Ministry of Education, school dropout rates in Malaysia have declined slightly from 0.34% to 0.29% between 2014 and 2017, and the Ministry aims to further reduce the rates to 0.27% in 2019.
BTS 2019 had run from mid-October to November 2019, supported by more than 800 PETRONAS volunteers who selected school uniforms and shoes for the children, packed and delivered the items to schools.
One of the volunteers, Ahmad Amirun Aqil Ahmad Rohi said it is hard to imagine that children opt out of school because of the lack of proper shoes or uniforms. "It may not seem that much to some, but to those struggling to ensure that their kids stay in school, it is a much-needed aid. I'm so glad to have been part of something that would make a difference," he added.