My Children’s Journey to School

Both my children started going to school at 3 years old, some might think this is too early but I believe education is a privilege for them. Anyways, at 3, they only learn via playing in school. Being a full time working mum, I have to leave them somewhere, it’s either school or babysitter, so it might as well be the neighbourhood kindergarten. We are also blessed in that the kindergarten is so nearby our home. Our house is pretty much in Kajang town so surrounding us there are probably more than 10 schools and numerous kindergartens. We can be considered spoilt for choice. Even my workplace is a walking distance from home.

Our journey to school starts the night before. We usually get ready their bags, uniforms, socks, lunch boxes so that we don’t have to rush the next day. Yes, even though we live so near to their school, we still rush sometimes because we have the luxury of sleeping in more. Their normal waking hours are 8am, but on weekdays they need to awake earlier like 7.30am in order to wash up, change and eat their breakfast.

Breakfast

Breakfast
Breakfast time is no doubt the most important for me. I have picky eaters and they won’t eat everything and anything, so I have to plan what to feed them for breakfast that is not only easy and fast, but also nutritious. I try to make breakfast different each day so it’s not too boring. We even have to make two meals because they would eat a simple meal at home before leaving the house and another meal will be in their lunch boxes for the tea breaks at 10am in school. This morning, Josiah opted for Whole wheat cereal in Full cream milk with a cup of Horlicks Chocolate which they love.

Choc muffin
Jordan had Horlicks Chocolate drink first and then a piece of home made chocolate blueberry muffin I baked yesterday. You can see that they love chocolate by now. Thankfully, Horlicks come in chocolate flavour. Other times, if they awake earlier, I’d cook some pasta or mac and cheese which they can pack and bring to school too. They also love Butterscotch bread with scrambled eggs on top, or at times we add a cheese spread with blueberries. Josiah had started to ask about Oatmeal with Raisins so I might start giving him that soon. At the moment, I also give them Kid’s Organic Oatmeal bars masked to look like Chocolate bars but they are actually power packed with a nutritious blend of carbohydrates, fiber, protein, and fat to maintain kids’ energy.

After breakfast, we would get them changed and washed up, teeth brushed and all, for boys, we really don’t need to comb their hair! Then it’s zip out the door, Josiah and Jordan both into their child carseats, even though it’s only 5 min away. I always remind them that most car accidents happen in your own neighbourhood when you let your guards down, in this case, when you unbuckle from the seatbelts or child car restraints. We get to school and hand in hand the boys will walk into their respective classes. In their school, there are always 2 teachers to every class and different teachers for extra classes like English, Chinese and Art. How privileged are the boys, if only they realised it.

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At 10am, the boys will have their 2nd breakfast or light snack. They can either eat what the school provide or bring their own lunch boxes. This would sometimes be the main breakfast for most of the kids. Lunch is also provided for the kids that stay back for Daycare. Classes end at 12.30pm and then it’s lunch, play and nap time until we pick them up again at 5.30pm.

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I’m glad that my kids love going to school, of course, when younger there were days they would complain about going to school as they wish to stay home to play. However, I can see how school had helped them along not just in knowledge, but also in discipline and social life as they gained many friends and learned how to interact with other people.

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Sometime they even have out of classroom trips like that time they visited the pizza place and learned how to make pizza. There are at least a couple of trips a year and they learned some things they probably can’t learn just sitting at home.

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My eldest boy loves arts and we also signed him up for addtional arts classes in school once a week. He aspires to be an architect when he grows up, whatever he wants to be, we will be there to support him. I did remind him that being an architect is not just about drawing, he would have to be good in Maths and Physics as well. Nowadays, they even have Science classes in school, so that’s a plus.

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Jordan on the other hand loves anything musical, especially percussion instruments. I’m even planning to get him a kids cajon coz I notice his beats are not just made up but they are pretty in tempo, I gave up on buying him toy drums as they break too easily. We could start a collection of percussion instruments and see where it goes.

All these is impossible if my boys do not have access to good education. I once wanted to homeschool them but it proves too hard to do, plus I can’t teach them everything that I do not know myself. The only things I teach them at home is how to play the piano and some arts, and English of course but not Chinese as I am Banana. Yes, Josiah knows more Chinese words than me now and that’s all thanks to his Chinese class in school. I know they are going to grow up to do great things and achieve many things in their life, both with education from school and education at home. I am happy to work really close to the school, so sometimes I just walk to the school to pay the kids a visit and get to know their friends and teachers. They had become my friends as well. The children love it when I go and they would tell me lots of stories about themselves and their families too. We would wait for the father to come with the car and there we go, home again after a long day at school and at work, back to our family time and play time at our cosy own home. I’m just grateful that we live in a place that good education is readily available. However, not everyone has that privilege. What if their village is deep in the interiors with no school available? What if they had grown up for generations without attending school?

Education definitely plays a major role in how a person’s life will turn out. Unfortunately, many children in the world do not have access to proper education.
For some, the distance to get to a nearest school is just too great. There are sometimes no physical access to the school. For children in the video above from Kampung Chuweh, they need to travel 45 min daily by boat to get to the nearest school. Due to that most of them end up never going to school at all.

It is estimated that 1 in 25 Malaysian children are out of school and do not have access to primary education. We who live in the urban areas might think that most children are actually in schools because our children are. However, children living in remote rural areas are not. The Malaysian Government has committed to improving access to education to those children that are still out of school, with a specific focus on assisting children in the bottom 40 per cent of households.

The Horlicks School Journey Initiative aims to champion the cause of addressing children’s lack of access to education.
 Horlicks believes that every child, no matter where they are in the world, is born with unique talents and abilities. By nourishing their potential, they will have a better chance of living a self-reliant and fulfilling life.
 By partnering with NGO partners, we aim to improve children’s journeys to school through practical interventions and solutions that are not only sustainable, but are also scaleable to enable children in other communities to attend school.
 The initiative was launched in Malaysia with longer term plans to introduce the Horlicks School Journey Initiative in other countries where children face difficult journeys to school.

Horlicks has partnered with the Malaysia Association of Social Workers as part of the Horlicks School Journey Initiative, working to ease the journey to school for Malaysian children who are currently not receiving a formal education.
 The Malaysian Association of Social Workers is a local organisation dedicated to helping the most disadvantaged group in Malaysia, and on this initiative will work with co-partners on-the-ground to implement the programme.

The partnership will focus on a kick-off pilot programme to help children in Kampung Chuweh, Malaysia to attend school.
 Currently, almost none of the children in Kampung Chuweh are in formal education.
 The challenging geographical location of the community poses a major obstacle for these children to attend the nearest school, which can only be reached by a 35 minute boat ride followed by a 15 minute car journey.
 The Horlicks School Journey Initiative will assist the community in a two-phased approach:
o Phase one will see teaching staff travelling to the Orang Asli community to provide children with lessons to address their basic education needs through initiatives such as the Play Group and Learning Centre. Askee, a teacher of Orang Asli origins has been appointed to teach and equip the children of Kampung Chuweh. Additionally, the programme is funding a boat dedicated to ferry Askee and children from the neighbouring kampungs to these classes in Kampung Chuweh B.
o Phase two of the programme will see the school boat take the children from their community to the SK RPS Banun school in Gerik on a daily basis.
 There is no quick fix solution, but the Horlicks School Journey Initiative will work with the community to understand and address their specific needs, and drive sustainable change.

Through the Horlicks School Journey Initiative we want to inspire and motivate communities across Malaysia to do their best to support education for all Malaysian children.
 Horlicks is committed to nourishing the potential of children around the world and to help them achieve their aspirations.
 We do this by providing science-based nutrition supporting growth. On a daily basis many Malaysian mums choose Horlicks at breakfast time to get their children power-packed for school. Through the Horlicks School Journey Initiative we also hope to support other Malaysian children, who may not have access to education today, to get to school.

Some Key Facts

Kid and his Mom.

Kampung Chuweh
 Kampung Chuweh is situated in Lake Temenggor, more commonly referred to as Lake Banding (Tasik Banding in local language).
 It is around six hours drive from Kuala Lumpur and located about 80km from Gerik.
 Gerik is a town in the upper Perak District in the state of Perak.
 Kampung Chuweh is made up of three small islands next to each other; Kampung Chuweh A, B, C.
 There are 32 children in total on all three islands, broken up as follows:
o From village Chuweh A – 17 children
o From village Chuweh B – 10 children
o From village Chuweh C – four children
o One child from RPS Banun (nearby town)
 The nearest school to Kampung Chuweh is around 30 to 45 minutes by boat and 15 to 25 minutes by car or bus.
 The school is called Sekolah Kebangsaan RPS Banun (RPS means Resettlement Plan for Aborigines Community).
 Though it is a primary school, the school also provides secondary education.

Orang Asli of Kampung Chuweh, Temenggor

Horlicks School Journey Initiative
 The Horlicks School Journey Initiative aims to champion the cause of addressing children’s lack of access to education.
 The Horlicks School Journey Initiative has launched in the Kampung Chuweh community in Malaysia, home to 90 Orang Asli inhabitants which includes 32 children.
 The Horlicks School Journey Initiative pilot programme has been developed in close collaboration with established, well-regarded local partners to ensure compliance with the policies and regulations of the local government, the Department of the Orang Asli.
 A two-phased programme is being rolled out to the Chuweh community as part of the pilot:
o Phase one, which launched on 13 October 2014, has focused on establishing a programme to train a teacher to support the local community and establishing a Play Group and Learning Centre.
 The Play Group is a platform for early learning activities that aims to help equip children with pre-requisites for The Learning Centre. The Play Group helps enhance interpersonal skills of the children through engaging activities with the teacher such as communication, language, writing, drawing and problem solving. The Play Group also teaches health and safety as well as personal hygiene such as washing of hands before meals, etc.
o The Learning Centre is a play group with semi structured lessons on alphabet, early mathematics, literacy, etc. with a goal to equip the children ready for primary one. Once the children have attended the Play Group for a certain amount of time, they will be assessed and progress to the Learning Centre.

o Phase two of the programme will see the children attend formal lessons at the Sekolah Kebangsaan RPS Banun government school when the children are ready.
 Askee has been hired to head into Kampung Chuweh to teach and equip the children. He is a 22-year old Orang Asli native who has completed his A-Levels education and previously held employment with the local fisheries department.
 Jameyah is an early childhood educator who works with the children in the Play Group and assists Askee as needed
 Phase one also sees the funding of a boat, name Kaloi, dedicated to ferry Askee and children from the neighbouring kampungs to the classes in Kampung Chuweh B. In Phase two, the boat will be used to overcome the major obstacle of the school journey, which until now has denied the children of an education.
 Through the Horlicks School Journey Initiative pilot programme, Horlicks aspires to inspire and motivate communities across Malaysia to do their best to support education for all Malaysian children.

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