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24 May 2022

Swinburne students cater to learning needs of children as part of social enterprise

KUCHING – Ninety Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus students were involved in the university’s collaboration with non-profit organisation Breakthrough Network Centre Berhad, which focused on installing online learning facilities at Breakthrough Stutong Learning Centre to cater to the learning needs of children in the community.

The need for online learning facilities arose from the Covid-19 pandemic, where school closures adversely impacted many children who faced a lack of facilities and guidance at home in attending online classes. Breakthrough Stutong Learning Centre is a lifeline in this education crisis faced, serving as an important venue where computers and internet access can be made available for the children’s use.

Through Swinburne Sarawak’s Social Innovation Project unit during Winter Term 2021, the students were involved in producing short educational videos as learning materials for children and youth; assessing the learning needs of children and youth living in conditions of poverty; and providing consultancy to Breakthrough in establishing and sustaining an online learning hub at its Learning Centre located at Kampung Stutong Baru. This endeavour was apt and in line with Swinburne’s Horizon 2025 vision, ‘people and technology working together to build a better world’. The unit convenor was Dr George Ngui Kwang Sing and the teaching staff member was Dr Voon Mung Ling.

Along with the students’ involvement, Swinburne Sarawak contributed RM10,000 and 10 PCs to Breakthrough. This donation was used mainly to equip the Learning Centre with online learning facilities and materials based on the recommendations and joint-planning by Breakthrough as well as Swinburne Sarawak students and staff.

Breakthrough Network Director Lau Yeo Koo (second left) and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho (fourth right) together with students from Kampung Stutong Baru at Breakthrough Stutong Learning Centre. Also seen are Swinburne Sarawak’s Acting Manager for Campus Services Heyward Maxwell Pengabang (left), (from third right) Associate Dean (Research & Development) Dr George Ngui Kwang Sing and senior lecturer Dr Voon Mung Ling as well as Ratina anak Ekol, a teacher at Breakthrough Stutong Learning Centre.

Breakthrough Network Director Lau Yeo Koo (second left) and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer Ir Professor Lau Hieng Ho (fourth right) together with students from Kampung Stutong Baru at Breakthrough Stutong Learning Centre. Also seen are Swinburne Sarawak’s Acting Manager for Campus Services Heyward Maxwell Pengabang (left), (from third right) Associate Dean (Research & Development) Dr George Ngui Kwang Sing and senior lecturer Dr Voon Mung Ling as well as Ratina anak Ekol, a teacher at Breakthrough Stutong Learning Centre.

The donation was vital in ensuring that the centre is adequately equipped so that the educational videos produced by the students could reach the children and thus fulfil their core purpose of helping to close the education gap, especially among children who lack digital resources and accessibility. These videos were also a stepping stone to long-term sustainable societal contributions, and they not only benefitted the children there; they can also be used to reach out to more children who have yet to join the centre.

With online learning expected to be the mainstay in the current and future education arena, Breakthrough anticipates that its Learning Centre will be highly utilised by children and youth in the community to access online tutorials and skills training workshops.

To further enhance the students’ experience and achievement of the unit learning outcomes in engaging with the stakeholders, the students conducted presentations covering recommendations on how Breakthrough could address the learning needs of children and youth living in conditions of poverty as well as establish and sustain an online learning hub at its Stutong Learning Centre.

The faculty also organised a live virtual session between the students and the children, allowing the students to learn how to manage a range of stakeholders in a social enterprise setting by receiving first-hand feedback from Breakthrough and the children on the effectiveness of the videos and also room for improvement.

Established in 2008, Breakthrough provides welfare support to persons with limited means. Its key areas of service are home building for the needy, youth centre, family care and education. Its Stutong Learning Centre aims to assist the learning of poor and needy students from the immediate area of Stutong Resettlement Scheme, providing a conducive environment equipped with classrooms, library, internet access and teachers to facilitate the children’s learning. The centre can accommodate up to approximately 60 students from various age groups and study subjects coming in on different days of the week.

Since 2014, students of Swinburne Sarawak’s Social Innovation Project unit have engaged in social projects with Habitat for Humanity Malaysia (2014-2015), Wishesland (2016) as well as Sarawak Cheshire Home and Breakthrough (2017-2019).

Previously, Swinburne Sarawak collaborated with Breakthrough in 2017 to construct a storehouse for Sarawak Cheshire Home and then again from 2018 to 2019 to construct two single-storey houses at Stutong Baru Resettlement Scheme. In these projects, Breakthrough contributed technical expertise in structural construction and design, on-site student supervision, sourcing of additional funding to cover construction costs and delivery of seminars on social enterprise.

Media Enquiries

Tania Lam
Officer (Communication and Events)


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