Al-Ikhlas School is a pre-school and primary level UNHCR-registered learning centre for Rohingya children (An application has been submitted in July 2018 to register Al-Ikhlas School with the Ministry of Education Malaysia’s Private Education Division as an “Alternative Learning Centre for Rohingya Children”). The learning centre (referred to as a ‘school’ from here onwards) is located on the first floor of a shop-house in the Taman Wilayah Selayang, Batu Caves. The children are mainly from the Rohingya / Myanmar Muslim families who live in the flats surrounding the school. Al-Ikhlas School is headed by Ustaz Arfat Ganumia who established it in August 2015 with just a handful of children and focusing on just a few subjects. The school's operations were expanded a few months later with the help of an NGO, bringing in more children and offering more subjects. Most of the children come from families that lack formal education because of decades of oppression back in Myanmar. Most of them have parents who work, either at the nearby market (e.g. pushing carts, cutting vegetables), or cleaning drains and sweeping roads. Some of their parents go to the city to beg. There are also children from more deprived families, with no source of income, whose guardians are single mums with young children and the elderly.
The school now runs two sessions: An academic session in the mornings (9.00am-1.00pm) covering mainly English, BM, Maths and Science, which is attended by 120 children aged between 4-14, and a religious session in the evenings from 5.30-7.30pm which is attended by about 150 children (most of whom attend the morning sessions too). For the morning session, apart from Ustaz, there are five permanent teachers, mainly from the Rohingya community, and a few volunteer teachers amongst Malaysians and expats. Recently, the Saudi School of Kuala Lumpur has provided 3 additional teachers to the school in its efforts to help improve the quality of the educational programme at the school.
The school façade
School head, Ustaz Arfat and his wife, Yasmin, also a teacher at Al-Ikhlas
Al-Ikhlas also acts as a centre for the 300+ Rohingya families living in the area, providing a location for the community to gather and for charity groups / individuals to distribute donations and run activities for the children and community. Like any other refugee school, however, funding is a challenge, and without regular sponsorship and support, the school would be at risk of floundering and the Rohingya families there could lose this centre which helps them connect with each other and with the Malaysian public.
Distribution of clothes and groceries/food to deprived families
Al-Ikhlas School are running this donation drive via the 100percentproject to fundraise for laptops and internet access for Al-Ikhlas School. Our objectives for this appeal, among others, are as follows:
- To provide the school head and teachers the tools to develop essential skills on the use of computers in order that they can, at the very least, efficiently collect data and maintain databases of the students as well as produce lesson plans and exam papers. These are basic tasks that they are expected to carry out regularly for the smooth-running of the school (e.g. using Word, Excel).
- As the community leader, the school head also has to write letters and e-mails in order to communicate and request aid from various agencies (e.g. authorities and NGOs) for his community members.
- The availability of the equipment will allow the opportunity for these skills to also be passed on to the children and adults in the community to enhance the education received.
- An internet connection allows the school teachers and children as well as the community access to educational resources, employment opportunities and social programmes that are only available online.
This appeal is being run in collaboration with GEMA (Global Entrepreneurship Movement Association) through their Tech For Good programme, whose aim is to uplift under-served communities by matching them with suitable technology tools. They believe that technology is a means to alleviate poverty and allows an adequate standard of living for all, and are optimistic about the difference the right technology can make.