Within a few weeks of teaching underprivileged students in Malaysia's lowest performing schools, it didn't take us long to find students who were old enough to almost graduate from school yet were still unable to read or write simple sentences, students who did not find what they were learning relevant to their lives, even students who were resigned to the fact that others referred to their school as SMK Tong Sampah.
On the other side of the spectrum are students who long to go to school yet are unable to because they don't have the right documentations, students who long to put on a school uniform to look just like the rest yet are unable to because their parents can't afford to.
Instead of accepting that that's just the way things are, we decided to ask ourselves radical questions which became the seeds of Arus Academy's foundation 7 years ago.
If a teacher is teaching but no one is learning, is the teacher teaching? It's time we figure out what works and what doesn't anymore. Figure out why our kids leave school after years and years of education and yet still fail to demonstrate what they've learned. What if we do away with standardized tests and test our kids on how much they can contribute to society. Instead of having kids regurgitate facts. Can we have them tell us about everyday solutions? What if we could develop independent learners who are hungry to equip themselves with knowledge? How do we ensure that ALL children, despite their backgrounds, deserve an education that would change their perspectives in life? That would hopefully, one day, change their lives.
One of the things we think about when we think about the school of our dreams is to make sure teachers and students will never have to feel restricted due to a lack of resources - in terms of tools or physical space.
We want teachers to feel like they're able to carry out the exciting lessons they have planned and that their worry and their effort are focused on the kids whom they teach, not on limitations such as lack of tools or stationeries for the lessons.
We want our kids to be able to go all out and explore as part of their learning without thinking they can't go there because they can't put ideas on paper because they literally dont have the tools for it.
We want them to not be afraid to make mistakes because they don't own an eraser and to have confidence that they are able to make and re-make because they still have enough ink in their pens and papers in their books.
We want students to be able to learn and absorb new information in a comfortable space that truly feels like a school, and not a run-down old and cramped make-do learning space that would be yet another reminder of how they always seem to be the last group to receive the last remnants of education opportunities available in the country.
Pens and papers, tools, and furniture might sound like something small to be worrying about and to wish for when it comes to our kids. But I've been in classrooms long enough to know that these little things could turn out to be the long-term unnecessary hurdles for effective education.
Arus is working towards building the school of our dreams for every kid and every teacher.
Will you help us, please?
With the money raised, we will be able to purchase furniture, equipment, and stationeries that would encourage students from all backgrounds to develop themselves as problem-solvers, computational thinkers, programmers, and inventors.
It will allow Arus Academy to continue and amplify the work we have been doing in creating exciting and engaging learning adventures that will inspire even more students to create a brighter future for all.
Raised of MYR 200,000.00 target.
Arus is a social enterprise working towards making learning relevant again through multidisciplinary approaches. Our goal is to inspire students to become lifelong learners and continuously explore and pursue their passion, creativity, and innovation. Our students build both physical and digital solutions to real life problems by applying interdisciplinary concepts. We encourage students to engage in an exciting learning adventure that will inspire them to create a brighter future for all of us.