Marwah began her changemaking journey volunteering at an event serving children with disabilities. She recalls finding joy being among children and feeling inspired by their tenacity and their commitment to work towards their dreams despite belonging to a vulnerable group. Her volunteer experience sparked a passion for working with young children - a passion that guided her career choices moving forward. At her position as a manager in her university’s Future Leaders chapter, in Malang, Indonesia, she grew to love project management and design thinking and focused those skills to designing projects to respond to the pressing need to provide quality education to children in rural areas.
According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), Indonesia ranks 62nd out of 72 countries. Schools in the rural areas of Malang in particular ranked among the bottom five for the past decade. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has only made a poor situation worse, with students who were already unable to access quality education, now unable to access any education since they do not have access to the internet and the technology required to receive their lessons virtually. The schools have instead relied on services like Whatsapp to deliver books and learning materials in PDF format. But with weak mobile coverage and sometimes lack of access to smartphones, many students were left behind. It’s no surprise that students have lost their motivation to learn.
After doing a community needs assessment, Marwah and her team at Future Leaders were determined to do something about it and launched the Aku Pintar 2021 project to support quality education in Donowarih, Malang. The team set up a fundraising campaign to gather donations that will go towards purchasing the technology, tools and resources needed to enable students to learn virtually. Additionally, they reviewed the existing curriculum to identify gaps in learning that they can address through customized learning materials. Working with teachers they designed fun learning activities to cover topics such as sustainability and the environment, sex education and a plethora of soft and personal development skills such as character building. Instead of the plain white paper and pencils the students are usually provided with, Marwah and her team created colorful worksheets and incentivized learning by offering rewards and recognition to students who complete their assignments on time.
The project ran from March to April, 2021 and engaged 50 students and 15 teachers leaving them with the tools and an updated curriculum to ensure sustainable quality education. The team hopes to replicate the experience on an annual basis and reach even more students in the future.
Watch Marwah speak about Aku Pintar 2021 in the April episode of the Asia and Oceania monthly IG live here.