IF you are a school-leaver waiting for your Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results, do you already have plans on what to do next? Have you found out about education and career pathways that you would like to take after that?
While those in the “achiever” category and those who studied in government residential schools or boarding schools like Maktab Rendah Sains Mara may have an idea and a plan on where they would like to head to next through advice from school counsellors or members of the school alumni, it is most likely that many students have yet to plan their future with regards to pursuing a higher education due to lack of exposure and guidance.
No matter what constraints an SPM school-leaver may have, social enterprise Schoollah Malaysia aims to assist them in identifying their interest and passion and finding their way to the next level of studies.
“Every student, no matter what race you are or what your family status is, should be given an equal chance to continue their studies at the tertiary level,” said Lukman Khiruddin, 24, the founder and chief executive officer of Schoollah Malaysia.
Formed in 2014, Schoollah Malaysia evolved from Lukman’s own blog www.lukmankhiruddin.co, which he established to educate and create awareness about education opportunities available to students either at public or private institutions local or abroad, and the various funding aids that students can apply for.
“I attended SMK Syed Mohamed Al-Bukhary in Alor Setar, Kedah. After SPM, I did Cambridge A-Levels at Mara College Seremban. Because I was a private student without sponsorship at that point, I took the initiative the find out what was required if I were to pursue my studies abroad; how to apply for courses in Australia and the United Kingdom, and the various scholarships available.
“However, after getting a place to do ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) at universities in both UK and Australia, I did not have the funds to go. My family couldn’t finance my studies and I was disappointed. Then, my elder sister, who is a banker in Kuala Lumpur, advised me to look for local options,” he said.
Lukman has since graduated from Sunway University with an ACCA qualification and is a senior operations executive at a property company. Even when he was studying, he shared his knowledge and provided assistance to school-leavers who found themselves at a loss — just like him before.
“When I created my blog, I received a lot of traffic and feedback from students through my Twitter account. I decided to expand it into an organisation and, hence, the inception of Schoollah Malaysia.
“I think among the reasons we have good response is because our medium for communication is Bahasa Malaysia — there are very few education guide resources in Bahasa Malaysia — and that we use social media in a manner where many young people can relate to,” he said.
Schoollah Malaysia also actively collaborates with a few student societies in Malaysia and abroad.
Up to last year, Lukman said the entity had offered guidance to more than 3,000 students with their studies. This year, Schoollah Malaysia expects the figure to increase by 40 per cent.
He has elected three executive committee members, four local committee members and 12 overseas committee members to expand its services.
Amanda Zambri, 20, who is Schoollah Malaysia’s corporate strategy and finance executive director, also consulted Lukman prior to enrolling in the ACCA programme at Sunway University, where she is studying. The lass from Kulim, Kedah, started following Schoollah Malaysia when she was 16.
“I applied to do ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) at Sunway College, but was offered partial scholarship. Having to move from Kedah and taking into account food and accommodation costs, it was not something my family could afford. Through Lukman and his friends, I got to know about the Peneraju scholarship. They gave me tips and pointers on how to apply. And they shared in detail the pathway to an accounting career. That gave me confidence to pursue my studies,” she said.
To create awareness about the pathways and education opportunities, Schoollah Malaysia has been involved in projects, despite the fact that its members are all part-timers.
“In 2016, I was invited to give a one-hour talk at Sekolah Seri Puteri, Cyberjaya. The event was conducted by Projek Inspirasi, which was founded in the United States by Malaysian students. In the same year, Schoollah Malaysia also collaborated with Berembe Kabar Indonesia, an organisation founded by Multimedia University Melaka for an event called “Life After School”, which was held in MRSM Serting, Negri Sembilan. Our target audience for this event were for Form 4 and Form 5 students.
“Later that year, I was involved in Sembang Santai: Jom Ke Universiti, a pillow-talk-like session, for underprivileged kids under Projek Ihsan in Shah Alam. The kids could ask facilitators anything about universities in a relaxed environment,” said Lukman.
In June last year, Schoollah Malaysia organised its first charity event, Schoollah Ramadhan Project.
“It was held at one of the orphanages in Kajang. It was a two-day event. We spent time with the kids and taught them new things. We also learnt to contribute back to the society. We raised almost RM10,000, and had some extra for duit raya for the kids,” said Amanda.
Schoollah Malaysia’s next event will be held on Feb 10 in Bandar Utama, Kuala lumpur.
“We will host a talk, which will be a platform for students in Malaysia to obtain the latest information available on university and scholarship application. Our aim is to expose students to different types of education pathways available in Malaysia and abroad. Furthermore, we expect students to boost their networking skills among each other,” said Amanda.
Lukman has high ambitions for Schoollah Malaysia, with hopes that it will be the go-to place for school-leavers and those seeking sponsorship — providing the much-needed assistance to discover and realise ambitions.