Education Society

Golden Tickets to Success

  • A group photo of Sunway spokesperson and students

    Sunway Group executive director of chairman's office Mr. Ong Pang Yen spent a day co-teaching a class at SMK Sultan Idris Shah II alongside Teach for Malaysia Fellow and JCF scholar Gan Jia Huey

Education Society

Life can be challenging for many of us, but more so for those who have been dealt a bad hand very early on in life – poverty, a learning disability, the lack of positive role models, and a lack of educational opportunities – the journey can be demanding.

Sometimes, the pivotal factor that can enable someone to break through these challenging circumstances and reach their potential is a helping hand – a gesture of support that offers them a shot at success.

Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2024, Sunway has always believed that corporations exist not merely for profits but for the good of society. Driven by the aspiration of sustainable development, Sunway remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that no one is left behind in the race of life.

Be it in education, healthcare or community enrichment, Sunway’s CSR initiatives under the #SunwayforGood banner helps alleviate the hardships faced by Malaysian youths, by providing them golden tickets to success – valuable opportunities through education and entrepreneurship.

Easing the Pathway to Higher Education

Over the past decade, the Sunway-Oxbridge Essay Competition – Malaysia’s longest running and most coveted national-level English essay competition – has challenged national secondary school students across Malaysia to write essays detailing their ideas and aspirations for a better Malaysia.

Organised by Sunway Group, the Oxford & Cambridge Society Malaysia, the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF), and Sunway University, with support from Sunway Super App, the annual competition provides a platform for youths to showcase their critical thinking and proficiency of the English language to critically dissect current affairs.

Besides addressing the challenges of learning English in the national school curriculum and to improve English-speaking proficiency, the competition also provides a financial boost for students to further their education at Sunway.

Students and their prizes at a prize giving ceremony

In 2023, a total of RM200,000 worth of bursaries and RM28,000 in cash prizes were awarded to the top 26 winners.

JCF also offers scholarships such as JCF Community Scholarship specifically for youths from children welfare homes, NGOs or underprivileged communities, so that they could pursue their tertiary education at Sunway College or Sunway University.

Other JCF scholarships and grants such as the Jeffrey Cheah Travel Grants for Southeast Asia Studies at Harvard, sponsor scholars and practitioners on Southeast Asia studies from Sunway Education Group to travel to Harvard University to present lectures and conduct research.

This offers Malaysians the opportunity to learn from the brightest minds at one of the world’s pre-eminent universities, as well as strengthens Malaysia as a centre for educational and research excellence in the study of Southeast Asia.

Fostering Entrepreneurship and Financial Independence

When it comes to pursuing education and eventual employment, individuals with learning disabilities often face many closed doors as they find it difficult to read, write, memorise or stay focused in class.

Being learning disabled also means being unable to understand social cues, and thus face difficulty maintaining friendships, relationships and employment.

Recognising the challenges of the learning disabled, since 2006, Sunway has been collaborating with the Association of Learning Disabilities District of Petaling, Selangor (GOLD) and SMK Bandar Sunway to organise the Sunway Job Training Programme annually.

SMK Bandar Sunway is one of the seven schools adopted by JCF.

Endorsed by the Malaysian Education Ministry’s Education and Performance Delivery Unit (PADU), the programme provides hands-on prevocational and life skills training, simulating working habits with mentoring from the job coaches within Sunway business divisions.

Under the programme, GOLD trainees work in areas such as baking and pastry, office and general housekeeping, culinary kitchen, and ticketing at Sunway Medical Centre, Sunway Pyramid, Sunway University, Sunway Lagoon Theme Park and Sunway Resort Hotel.

Students with special needs at GOLD

As of 2023, 286 young adults have graduated from the Sunway Job Training Programme into open employment.

One such graduate is Angie Lim, who is currently the trade kitchen supervisor and head baker of GOLD.

Once timid and lacking in self-confidence when she first joined GOLD in 2011, Lim now oversees the production of cookies sold by GOLD – the social enterprise’s primary source of income.

“With the skills I learnt, I am now able to work independently with minimal supervision at GOLD. I enjoy being able to go to work like my siblings, baking cookies that are needed by others and spending time with my friends who work with me,” said Lim.

Nurturing Leadership Potential

Beyond the greens in the backyard vegetable garden of SMK Bandar Sunway, the Sunway SILK (Seeding Inspiration and Leadership via Knowledge) programme also hopes to nurture self-confidence, leadership and entrepreneurship skills among the students.

The Sunway SILK urban farming initiative was introduced in 2019 in partnership with strategic NGO partner Selangor Youth Community (SAY), to equip academically low-performing students with necessary skills to explore agriculture as a sustainable career option.

In 2022, Sunway SILK set up hydroponic farming at four welfare homes around Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, yielding 84 kilogrammes of vegetables for 210 beneficiaries.

Ten more welfare homes participated in Sunway SILK in 2023.

Sunway volunteer with students at SILK Programme

Mentorship is a key aspect of the Sunway SILK programme, which sees Sunway volunteers making a difference by actively spending time together with the students and youths, and being positive role models to them.

Sunway SILK volunteer and Sunway XFarms chief operating officer Eleanor Choong said that the mentorship aspect of the programme was as important as learning technical farming skills.

“It was also important for us to instil values and characteristics such as perseverance, kindness, humility, courage, and curiosity in the students. Through the programme, these students from B40 communities who did not do so well in class were taught that they can create their own non-stereotyped future with the right attitude, discipline, and commitment,” said Choong.

As group leader of the Sunway SILK 2019 cohort, SMK Bandar Sunway alumnus Muhammad Azhar bin Sazali oversaw the management of vegetable garden beds and students under his care, as well as ensuring the garden’s cleanliness and safety.

“I’m now more confident in myself. The programme involved us interacting with others and doing presentations. Our mentors have inspired us to develop ourselves in whatever fields we are interested in,” said Azhar.


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