Education is an essential part of a nation’s progress. But not every child has equal access to it.
According to research commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in 2017, 1.77 million (19%) children in Malaysia are estimated to be living in relative poverty, and a far larger proportion are at risk of falling into poverty if their family experiences a socioeconomic shock.
These children are not only deprived, or at risk of being deprived but they will also have lower health, nutrition, and education compared to their more fortunate peers.
In its new Merdeka short film, Taylor’s seeks to spark a conversation about education equity, and the role society plays in coming together as a community to impact changes so that all children can have equal opportunity to education.
The premise of the story begins in an arts class during a ‘show and tell’ session styled in a quirky and playful setting. The teacher had asked her students to draw and share their ideas on creative inventions that could make Malaysia more ‘maju’ (progressed).
One student, Nabilah, showed the class her drawing of three towers, calling it the ‘Triple Towers’ – the tallest building in the world with the potential to put Malaysia on the map. While, another student, Marcus presented his invention called ‘MyVi Terbang’ (flying MyVi), known as the ‘King of the Skies’.
Then, the video continued to showcase other students’ drawings of their innovative inventions – from the world’s biggest shopping mall to a bridge that connects Penang to Sabah. When Haziq came up to the front of the classroom, he shared about his robot invention that could help people do household chores like laundry, cleaning, and babysitting.
Hearing his ambitions, Haziq’s classmates jeered at him for his idea and questioned how such invention will help Malaysia to progress and prosper. The teacher was quick to intervene, and asked Haziq to explain the rationale behind his invention.
He went on to ask his classmates “Have you noticed how Meng has been absent from school?”
Then, the scene cuts away to Meng’s hardship, having to stop schooling and help his mother do household chores daily while taking care of his young siblings ever since his father passed away.
“If we want Malaysia to succeed, shouldn’t it start with ourselves? I am sure there are a lot more children out there like Meng who couldn’t go to school, and do not have the opportunity to learn to positively contribute to Malaysia’s progress,” narrated Haziq in the background.
Taylor’s Education Group Chief Marketing Officer, Ben Foo explained that the direction with the Institution’s new festive video is to bring to light the harsh reality that many Malaysian children are unable to go to school. “Society owes it to children to provide them with equal and quality education. Each child has the skills that can be developed with formal education, and by not pursuing these skills, society misses out on potential for advancement and enlightenment.”
Taylor’s short film aims to highlight the need for us as a society to help children like Meng by providing ‘help’ beyond just superficial assistance. More than that, we need to start creating opportunities for the young generation – to nurture them to become great leaders, thinkers, and innovators,” said Ben.
Towards the end of the film, the teacher and some of Meng’s classmates can be seen visiting Meng at his home and helping him with his chores while Meng can focus on his studies.
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