The Maharani School Programme (MSP) in Malaysia is a self-discovery and personal development initiative for adolescent girls that has garnered significant positive feedback from its stakeholders. Now, the participants are eagerly sharing their inspiring stories from the programme’s first phase, providing powerful testimony to its transformative impact.
This phase, known as the ‘Self Discovery’ stage, was held in five national schools in Selangor between July and December last year, with 200 girls aged between 14 and 16 joining the after-school programme.
The MSP guides participants to achieve their full potential and contribute to their communities as future change agents. Endorsed by the Education Ministry, the programme prioritises teens from the bottom 40% of income earners (B40 households).
The programme’s holistic training modules provide a safe, supportive, and enriching environment for students to develop confidence, connect with peers, and improve academically. It also caters to the participants’ emotional and social well-being, ensuring they have the tools to thrive inside and outside the classroom.
RYTHM relaunched the MSP in the five schools in early 2022 in collaboration with its long-standing partner, PINTAR Foundation. The schools are SMK Gombak Setia in Gombak, SMK Bandar Rinching in Hulu Langat and SMK Batu Unjur, SMK Tengku Idris Shah, and SMK Tengku Ampuan Jemaah in Klang.
Also read: RYTHM, PINTAR Seal Deal to Implement Maharani School Programme in 5 Schools
Developing Essential Skills
The MSP has been a life-changing experience for many of its participants. It has helped them overcome their fears and insecurities and develop essential skills such as communication and respect for others.
Fifteen-year-old Guhaneshwary Saravanan spoke about how the trainers helped her communicate better and make new friends.
“I challenged myself to get to know at least two other participants daily,” the SMK Tengku Ampuan Jemaah student said. “That made communicating with them easier because we often worked in groups.
“I didn’t know I could overcome my fears and learn to speak better English and Malay. But, as the programme progressed, I experienced less social anxiety.”
With her newfound confidence, Guhaneshwary advised other girls facing similar challenges to express themselves. “Don’t be afraid to voice your concerns or worries. If you don’t tell them how you feel, they won’t know. Being shy does not help.”
Another SMK Tengku Ampuan Jemaah participant, Khadijah Muhammad, was deeply impressed by the programme and aspires to volunteer for the MSP in the future.
“If I have the opportunity, I would like to be part of Maharani in the future to help girls overcome the challenges I have experienced,” she said. “This programme has helped me defeat some of my insecurities. As a result, I have learned to love myself and develop greater confidence.”
The Academic Impact
The MSP is also making a tremendous academic impact on its participants, empowering them to achieve their study goals.
Nur Syakinah Nikpatwalliatul Abdullah, a student at SMK Batu Unjur, shared how the programme helped her become more confident in her academic abilities.
“Before joining the programme, I struggled with group study sessions. However, the Maharani group sessions helped me improve in this area,” Nur Syakinah emphasised.
Another valuable lesson Nur Syakinah learned from the MSP was understanding the role of girls and women in society. “Girls can be engineers or anything they want to be and do not belong in the kitchen, so to speak. This has inspired me to pursue my dreams and break gender barriers.”
Nur Syakinah’s schoolmate, Noor Zhakila Herman, appreciated the academic coaching aspect of the programme.
“The additional lessons helped me improve my studies. I scored well in History because of Maharani and have greater confidence in my abilities!
“I have a better understanding of health and hygiene, and I am a more sociable person,” Noor Zhakila said in response to how the MSP helped her growth and development. “This programme should include more girls, as it does not discriminate against anyone,” she added.
RYTHM recently released a report on the first phase, shedding light on the initiative’s impact based on the Foundation’s first-hand observations and feedback from the trainers and participants.
“The girls discovered their inner strength and enhanced their self-esteem through regular sessions and academic coaching classes,” the report outlines. “The programme allowed the participants to form their personalities, encouraged them to work hard, and develop a sense of responsibility.”
Also read: The First Phase of Maharani Schools Programme in Malaysia Equips Participants to Overcome Challenges
The students’ feedback builds on the MSP’s success with another crucial component of the programme: the trainers.
In January, RYTHM paid tribute to five coaches who persevered with the programme and went out of their way to guide the students. They racked up an impressive 1,600 hours with the students over eight sessions – spending an equivalent of 60 days or one-third of Malaysia’s required minimum of 190 school days per year with the students.
Also read: RYTHM’s Maharani Schools Programme Achieves Overwhelmingly Positive Results in Early Phase