They come to school everyday, the number of absenteeism and truancy dropped. “But most importantly, we see the changes in the students. Shy, introvert and quiet girls are now the first ones to raise their hands whenever the class teacher asks for something, they participate in class, they ask questions.Some even volunteer to become the master of ceremonies and go up on stage to recite poems or speak. The changes are tremendous,” he said. He said the girls have also displayed their creative sides during the programme through traditional dance, baking and jewellery making activities.
“I was surprised to see how good they are. The girls are happier at school and home and they display leadership qualities which we never saw before,” he added.The Maharani programme, initiated in Malaysia by RYTHM Foundation in 2010, has helped over 7,500 girls from poor and marginalised communities. It provides the girls, aged 13 to 16, with the skills and knowledge to enable them to achieve their full potential. Through the Maharani programme, girls learn about gender, sexual and reproductive health; ethnicity; culture, and the importance of physical and spiritual wellness. This gives them the tools to develop into confident, responsible and civic-minded women and members of society. The programme involves a camp conducted over three phases and a Learning Lab where a strong foundation is built for the girls to embrace their future in more positive ways. RYTHM Foundation hopes to introduce the Maharani Programme in Government schools as part of the curriculum and encourage more partnerships from the corporate sector.