Two years ago, Muskymi was a struggling preschooler who had difficulty speaking clearly in school. The indigenous child from the Orang Asli community in Kampung Sungai Poh in rural Malaysia was not even able to hold a pencil steadily to write. His school, with its rudimentary infrastructure in a remote location was simply not equipped to provide kids with the tools and materials needed to help them with the basics. All that changed in the last two years since the Empowered 2 Teach project reached his school. The project is an initiative of the Persatuan Kebajikan Suara Kanak-Kanak Malaysia (SUKA Society) developed in response to the educational challenges faced by the indigenous community. RYTHM Foundation provides funding for the Empowered 2 Teach programme. Through this programme, Muskymi and his classmates received a number of materials including workbooks and activity books that helps them develop the foundation for reading and writing. The workbooks are introduced in three levels – level 1 for 4-year-olds, level 2 for 5-year-olds and level 3 for six-year-olds. The children start from the basics using workbooks for pre-writing exercises such as learning to joint dots together, learning to colour within a shape, and holding a pencil properly to control their movement. All this helps the kids build their motor skills and develop hand-eye coordination. Next, they learn how to write small letters and the numbers 1 to 10. In this manner, the workbooks help the children keep making progress until they master each skill and eventually complete the level 3 syllabus. With consistent practice, this helps the kids like Muskymi write with a steady hand. This project plays an important role in providing the tools needed for Orang Asli teachers to serve as a catalyst for education and development in their respective villages. The project prepares indigenous children with their primary education by teaching them how to read, write, speak, and count. Muskymi is among the 200 preschoolers who received the workbooks under the Foundation’s Gift of Life initiative which supports underfunded government schools, orphanages, and welfare institutions for the disabled and disadvantaged. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the government ordered a lockdown, Muskymi’s preschool was closed for three months. Without internet access in the area, the children were not able to participate in online classes. But Muskymi’s teacher Dinah did not give up and distributed worksheets which she prepared herself as well as the workbooks to all her students and followed up with their parents every week. She said the workbooks and exercise books sponsored by RYTHM Foundation were important in helping the children in her class build their vocabulary, writing, reading, and counting skills. “The syllabus we use here is the same that kids in urban pre-schools are taught. This gives the kids from the Orang Asli community in remote locations of the country access to the same type of information and knowledge, hence allowing them to think and learn things beyond their imagination,” she said. READ: RYTHM Foundation sponsors schools furniture to improve learning environment for underprivileged children As he progressed, learning how to read, write and count, Muskymi’s confidence grew. He became interested to learn more. RYTHM Foundation supports this project because it believes that quality preschool education is critical to enable a smooth transition into national schools for primary education. Each month, the Foundation identifies a worthy cause, conducts due diligence on it and recommends it to be a beneficiary of the Gift of Life Programme. The Foundation then further helps with disbursement of funds and monitors progress. If you are aware of a cause or run an organisation that may be benefit from the Gift of Life Programme, please email us your proposals.