“It’s been a very tough 18 months with the pandemic, but I think we have proven with our work that we can still have the kids effectively learning through virtual learning solutions,” says Lee Hawkins, founder and technical advisor of the ASA Foundation.
Hawkins was stranded in Bulgaria due to COVID-related travel restrictions when he received the news that the organisation he founded, ASA Foundation, had been awarded the gold at the 2021 Indonesian SDGs Awards (ISDA) for its efforts to improve the quality of education for vulnerable youth and adults in Indonesia.
The ASA Foundation began as a ‘hobby’ of Hawkins’ who is a former Southampton Football Club trainee and soft skills education development consultant from the UK. He began working with street youth in Jakarta using the power of football and sports to educate them on health and nutrition. He was later approached by the international non-governmental organisation (NGO), Church World Service, to use sports as a vehicle for health, hygiene, nutrition and sanitation awareness amongst youth, and as they say, the rest is history.
Life skills & education empowerment through sports-based social intervention.
Through Hawkins’ work with international donors, governments and NGOs, particularly during the Aceh tsunami in 2004 and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006, ASA Foundation soon evolved into a full-blown education and empowerment NGO that has run projects across Southeast Asia including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines and more. “It’s been an incredible journey over the last twenty years. I can’t believe how long it’s been because it seems like we started just yesterday,” Hawkins shared.
Today, the foundation is an organisation that uses a combination of education and the power of sports to drive social impact programmes that enhance learning skills together with the health, safety and well-being of vulnerable adults and youth across developing countries. They work with long-term strategic partners globally as a trusted on-the-ground vehicle for social intervention programmes catered to disadvantaged youth in Indonesia.
It was one such programme that clinched the gold at the recent ISDA held virtually in September. The award was conferred for a social intervention project that was launched in 2019 as a joint venture between ASA Foundation and RYTHM Foundation, the social impact arm of the QI Group dedicated to its mission to ‘Raise Yourself to Help Mankind’. It recognised the project’s contribution to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under quality education which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education as well as promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Hawkins expressed, “We’re delighted and honoured to receive this award. This is our first gold medal and it’s fantastic coming up against all these organisations in Indonesia. It’s recognition for our work. This is an incredible achievement for ASA Foundation and we would like to dedicate the award to all our local teams who have worked very hard on our projects.
The award-winning collaborative project with RYTHM commenced with a three-day Training-of-Trainer (ToT) workshop aimed at building the capacity of 36 local teachers and youth from Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia. The training equipped them with the skills to deliver an effective sports-based education development and empowerment programme to vulnerable youth. These skills include communicating effectively, character building, leadership, self-awareness, empathy, critical thinking, creative thinking, decision-making and more.
A Training-of-Trainers workshop conducted by RYTHM Foundation partners, ASA Foundation.
Once equipped with the skills and know-how, the teachers and youth were then placed in junior high schools across the city to impart their learnings to over 9,700 students. The programme conveys knowledge on key topics including health, hygiene, life skills, gender equality and more. It also focuses on inculcating values that promote cohesion and social inclusion while empowering the youth with self-confidence. In short, the goal of the programme is to prepare the youth to enter society as responsible adults.
Equipping local teachers from Tangerang, Banten, Indonesia with the skills to deliver an effective sports-based education development and empowerment programme to vulnerable youth
In addition to training local teachers and adult community members to build their capacity to conduct the education through sports development programmes with the youth in their communities, ASA Foundation also conducts monitoring and evaluations with the teachers and youth. This includes student surveys that gather their feedback and measure their knowledge of the programme.
“The whole idea is that beyond the completion of these programmes, the teachers and community members can continue to run our programmes. Our methodologies are beyond the completion of the project because at the end of the day, we are looking to shape the youth long-term by developing their life skills and preparing them for the workforce to improve their livelihoods,” said Hawkins.
The award-winning project enhances learning skills through sports-based social intervention
A year into the project, the COVID19 pandemic hit which delayed the programme initially. However, ASA Foundation sprung into action to adapt their programmes to virtual learning solutions and monitoring methods. The teachers began running Zoom-based training, while the foundation also developed additional virtual tools to support the programme, such as an empowerment booklet and a COVID19 prevention and hygiene awareness platform.
“Pre-pandemic, all our programmes were grassroots based and everything was face-to-face, so we had to get creative and think about how we could sustain these programmes to continue the education and learning of the students. A massive thanks to our teams for developing the virtual empowerment booklets and the COVID19 prevention learning platforms. We’re very proud of these tools and how they have effectively guaranteed the learning of the students during difficult times,” Hawkins shared.
The virtual COVID19 prevention and hygiene awareness platform created by ASA Foundation’s IT department is a YouTube application using the power of football to deliver important hygiene, sanitation and virus prevention messages in the local language with English subtitles. It was so successfully launched amongst the 9,710 students in the RYTHM Foundation project that ASA Foundation also launched the programme with other partners, growing the student users across Indonesia to a whopping 25,000!
The partnership between ASA Foundation and RYTHM Foundation first began back in 2017 when both organisations collaborated on a 12-month inclusive women empowerment education and community development project based in Subang, West Java in Indonesia. The project impacted over 5,000 youth with and without disabilities in the region through training provided to 30 school teachers.
Head of RYTHM Foundation, Santhi Periasamy said, “Our goal with the previous project was to impart values through sports to encourage a change in attitude and beliefs, especially towards the participation of people with disabilities in education and sports activities. That programme turned out to be as successful as we expected, which gave us the confidence to commit three more years to the latest project with ASA Foundation which kicked off in 2019.”
Hawkins shared, “RYTHM has been a great supporter of our programmes. It’s fantastic to have them fully support us at each stage of the programme, from the planning and design of the project to the implementation, monitoring, evaluation and reporting. So, it’s great to have this end-to-end support from them with full involvement and engagement, and we hope that we can run more projects with them in the future and hopefully, pick up more awards on the way!”
The ASA Foundation went up against 30 other organisations for the ISDA award, which included major industry players as part of an ongoing collaboration between the Corporate Forum for CSR Development (CFCD) and the Indonesian Ministry of National Development and Planning to support Indonesia’s alignment towards the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.
“As partners in the latest project, we at RYTHM Foundation feel that this award is timely and that the ASA Foundation is most deserving of it for what they have accomplished in Indonesia. RYTHM is always looking to widen our horizons in Southeast Asia and we look forward to building a deeper working relationship with ASA Foundation in order to fulfil our aspirations,” said Santhi.