RYTHM Foundation, the social impact initiative of the QI Group in Malaysia, is committed to contributing towards SDG 4 and the desire to provide inclusive opportunities to young girls from B40 communities led to the creation of the Maharani Programme. The Maharani programme has been officially endorsed by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to be adopted by schools throughout Malaysia since 2010. It was incorporated into the PINTAR School Adoption Programme.
Through the programme, the girls learn about gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, ethnicity and culture, and the importance of physical and spiritual wellness. Through a combination of self-discovery camps, after-school programmes and continuous mentoring, the Maharani programme has given hope and opportunity to thousands of young girls from the B40 segment in Malaysia to look beyond their circumstances and pursue a better life. It focuses on equipping them with the necessary skills to effectively compete in the labour market as well as teaching socio-emotional and life skills to help them navigate and adapt to a changing world, so that they can make informed decisions about their own lives. The programme also encourages girls to contribute to their communities.
The programme envisions
“A world where every young woman achieves her full potential”.
The impact of the Maharani programme has been measured through annual reviews by the Ministry of Education, feedback surveys, and an impact assessment report by an independent consultant. Maharani in Numbers:
- The Maharani programme started in 2010 has benefitted over 7500 participants for the past 10 years.
- 86 Maharani camps have been conducted in 12 locations around Malaysia.
- 1200 cumulative hours of Maharani Learning Lab (MLL) classes and activities conducted from 2015 to 2019 have benefitted over 500 participants in Sungai Siput, Perak.
- A total of five Training of Trainers (ToT) programmes have been held since the launch of the MTK in 2018.
- The Footprint Pilot was rolled out in 2018-19 for a 6-month period and with the participation of 14 mentors who were undergraduates of QIU and 14 mentees.
- Five public schools (453 students) in Sungai Siput, Perak were adopted under the PINTAR Schools
- Adoption Programme to implement the Maharani module.
- 100 girls of the YWCA KL Vocational Training Opportunity Centre (VTOC) programme were trained under the Maharani YWCA KL collaboration.
As a result of the awareness created through Maharani, many girls have managed to break away from the vicious cycle of poverty, domestic abuse, and instability in their communities to build a better life. Maharani has taught the girls to set life goals and inspired them to pursue their dreams.
The Maharani programme helped to improve the girl’s academic performance and morale to boost their confidence. After going through the Maharani programme, the girl will have positive behavioural changes, becomes responsible actions and more disciplines students.
WHAT IMPACT HAS THIS PROJECT CREATED IN THE COMMUNITY/ NATION?
1. Contribution to building strong families
The Maharani programme has directly helped over 7500 girls in Malaysia between the ages of 13 to 16 from poor and marginalised communities. Girls who benefit from the programme have been seen to influence their family members, especially younger siblings. Additionally, due to the long term emotional and behavioural changes, the girls also help with maintaining healthier relationships with their families.
2. Developing productive members of society
The programme incorporating skills classes such as traditional dance forms, jewellery making, and baking has contributed to education and personal development. These skills have opened their eyes to the wide range of opportunities available to them in deciding and creating a livelihood for themselves. Such type of skill acquisition is also in line with the aspirations of the government to create a skill-based workforce to meet the requirements of the nation.
3. Reduction in school dropout rate
As an immediate outcome, the number of dropouts among girls in the communities where the Maharani programme was run has decreased and the number of girls who continue their education after Form 5 has increased. Maharani programme had motivated the girl stay on to complete their courses in YWCA KL and provides them with a sense of belonging.
4. Achieving sustainable Malaysia
With the knowledge and skills and the emphasis on the importance of education and gender equality, the Maharani girls are empowered to be agents of change in their respective communities. We believe this will help to create a more inclusive community that cares and uplifts the lives of every girl child and help them achieve their true potential.
HOW WAS THIS PROJECT HELP TO ADVANCE THE CHOSEN SDG?
The Maharani Programme is primarily aligned to SDG 4, i.e. “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
The Maharani programme has carefully been designed to ensure that participating students are coached and encouraged to pursue either technical, vocational, or tertiary education which has resulted in a big number of enrolment in local Polytechnic Colleges and other Skills Training Institutions.
The Maharani programme also aligned with SDG 5 Gender Equality and SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals. The programme focused on reducing gender disparities in education by focusing on helping marginalized girls to pursue life skills as well as academic future. In order to achieve impact at scale, the programme also runs close partnerships with private and public sectors, including the Ministry of Education, schools, and relevant organisations such as YWCA.
We believed once individuals are equipped with such knowledge and skills, they will have what it takes to establish sustainability for themselves, their families, and communities.
THE TAGLINE FOR UNITED NATIONS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS (UNSDGS) IS “LEAVING NO ONE BEHIND.” PLEASE EXPLAIN HOW YOUR PROJECT HELPS TO REALIZE THE COMMITMENT OF UNSDGS FOR THE FUTURE. HIGHLIGHT ANY OTHER SDG(S) THAT YOUR PROJECT HAS DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY CREATED POSITIVE IMPACT TO PEOPLE AND SOCIETY
Inclusion and ensuring that no one is left behind goal is at the core of the Maharani programme. The Maharani programme was developed in 2010, with the underpinning belief that every girl is born strong and equal and must be raised as such to believe in herself and her potential, to drive change. Our programme is to ensure that efforts are made to lift those girls who do not have access to education and opportunity to a level where they have a chance to thrive, specifically for those living in poor urban areas or within an environment which lacks access to any adequate infrastructures, such as those in estates and remote villages.
Contributions towards other SDGs: SDG 5 Gender Equality and SDG 17 Partnership for the Goals
Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, and sustainable world. The programme promotes and calls for an end to all forms of discrimination against girls and women. Skills classes and exposure to social enterprise provide the girls with alternative employment options.
The Maharani programme work closely with multi-stakeholders from private and public sectors for more strategic and sustainable partnerships.
Ultimately, this programme gives them the confidence to pursue bigger goals for themselves, and subsequently for their families and to make a positive impact in the communities in which they live.