KOTA MARUDU (MAY 20, 2011) : It was an exciting and happy day for the 173 schoolchildren of SK Sg Magandai when they each received shool uniforms, stationaries and toiletries from Astro.
They faces lit up as they rushed into their new modern dormitories and choose their sleeping beds right after the hostel was officially open by Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
Approached by Datuk Seri Dr Maximus, who is also Kota Marudu MP, Astro had readily agreed to embark on the project to built a new modern hostel for the rural school situated at the far flung village, as its corporate social responsibility.
The RM1million project involves a three-block building complete with dormitories, classrooms, kitchen, lounge and store room, equipped with basic infrastructure such as electricity and drainage system.
For many of the schoolchildren who had to walk hours to get to school daily, the hostel was a dream come true. Previously the wooden and basic hostel divided for the boys and girls could only house 40 students from nearby villages of Sonsogon Paliu, Makatol Darat, Binontungan Suyad, Sonsogon Magandai, Sonsogon Suyad & Mini Sulang.
Originally, the school and hostel were built in 1996 when the Sabah Journalist Association (SJA) collected funds from the private sector to convert the old community hall in Kampung Sg Magandai into a hostel and classrooms.For two years, the SJA also paid a temporary teacher to teach the children whom before this did not know how to write, read and spell, before the school was handed over to the Education Ministry.Many of the schoolchildren, who were accompanied by their equally happy and excited parents, admitted they had never owned shoes before this.
Astro and the Ministry of Education are also planning to provide permanent electric supply through a solar hybrid source to allow them to study through the night. At the moment the school is powered by a generator. Astro’s project also involves improving some of the infrastructure at the area.
Dr Ongkili lauded the effort by the private sector to do its part to make lives better not only for the schoolchildren but the community, especially as the rugged road and rain had forced Astro to transport the building material by helicopters.
”This is a exemplary effort which shoud be emulated by all. We need more in the corporate sector to do what Astro is doing in complementing the government’s efforts to build our human capital. Rural students, especially, need every bit of help,” he said.
Astro chief operations officer Henry Tan said more than 40 Astro employees were involved in Astro’s Hostel Project under Astro Kasih, Astro employees’ volunteer programme to share their time and expertise on weekends to build the hostel.“Astro employees were also given the opportunity to sponsor as individuals, basic schooling essentials such as school uniforms and stationery to all students in SK Sg Magandai,” he said.
To help the school improve its UPSR results, Astro is also enabling the school children to gain access to its Astro Tutor channel as one of the 15 class learning channels it is providing them. These include Disney, National Geographic, Discovery, Discovery Science, Animal Planet, History and local Astro branded channels such as Astro TVIQ, Astro Tutor TV, Astro Xiao Tai Yang, Astro Ceria including Astro Awani, a news channel and Astro Arena, Malaysia’s first local sports channel.Dr Ongkili said the comfortable living environment and learning channels would aid the schoolchildren to improve their UPSR performance.