RYTHM and PINTAR Foundation Partner to Implement Maharani Programme in 5 Selangor Schools

Petaling Jaya, 14 March 2022 RYTHM Foundation, the social impact initiative of the QI Group of Companies, has inked a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with PINTAR Foundation to empower young girls by implementing the Foundation’s flagship Maharani Programme in national secondary schools.  

The Maharani programme, launched by the RYTHM Foundation in 2010 as one of its flagship initiatives in Malaysia, and aims to provide at-risk adolescent girls with access to education opportunities, skills development, personal growth and more, to help them realise their potential and rise above their circumstances by breaking the cycle of poverty and taking charge of their lives.

The Maharani Schools Programme (MSP) is an extension of the decade long successful Maharani programme designed to be integrated into the national school curriculum in the hopes of supporting underserved adolescent girls from B40 communities towards becoming holistic individuals. The programme will include courses on a wide range topics including self-awareness, human rights, gender equality, and interpersonal relationships to help the girls develop self-confidence.

RYTHM and PINTAR Foundation Partner Maharani Programme

The MSP saw RYTHM coaching 20 trainers from PINTAR to implement the programme amongst 40 students from the participating schools over a period of four years. The MSP included other forms of educational resources for the teenage girls including academic support, counselling, career guidance and more.

The recent MoU signing formalised the collaboration between the two foundations to integrate the MSP in five selected schools across Selangor which include SMK Gombak Setia in Gombak, SMK Bandar Rinching in Hulu Langat, and Klang’s SMK Batu Unjur, SMK Tengku Idris Shah and SMK Tengku Ampuan Jemaah.

For RYTHM Foundation, the MSP embodies two of the foundation’s principal focus areas – education for all and gender equality. Empowering women and girls also indirectly contribute to RYTHM’s third focus area, which is sustainable community development. These focus areas are aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG 4 (quality education for all), SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 11 (sustainable communities), as well as its partner’s aspirations.

In the same vein, PINTAR Foundation aims to make a meaningful difference in the lives of Malaysian students from underserved communities through various initiatives including the PINTAR School Adoption Programme, which encourages government-linked companies to support selected schools.

The MoU event took place via a virtual signing ceremony between RYTHM Chairperson Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran and Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching, JP, Member of the Board of Trustees for PINTAR Foundation.

Datin Sri Umayal noted the significance of the collaboration which took place just weeks before International Women’s Day. She said, “It is unthinkable that in 2022, there is still not a single country across the world that has managed to achieve economic equality between genders, and these inequality gaps continue to increase as we move down the list from developed to developing and underdeveloped nations.”

With RYTHM’s experience and expertise in the Maharani Programme and PINTAR’s active engagement with the Education Ministry, the partnership marks the debut of the Maharani philosophy within the national schools’ curriculum. Datin Sri Umayal said: “This is what our Maharani programme was designed to do. We look at girls and young women from marginalised communities and enhance their education experience by giving them the tools to develop into confident, responsible women.”

Expecting the programme to bring meaningful success, Datuk Dr Mary Yap highlighted that women’s empowerment is essential to achieve gender equality.  

“The Maharani programme focuses on this area of need to inspire and empower poor, marginalised and socially excluded girls and young women. The programme directly tackles women’s issues by providing the life skills and knowledge to embolden them to become holistic women. My message to all the girls and women in Malaysia — You are capable, valuable and powerful, and you deserve every opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your dreams,” stressed Datuk Dr Mary Yap.

She added that PINTAR’s aim had always been to provide school children in Malaysia with the opportunities and access to holistic education that could affect meaningful changes that benefit them.  The MSP incorporates modules that focus on gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, ethnicity and culture, and physical and spiritual wellness. The programme’s vision is to create “a world where girls and young women can achieve their full potential and contribute to their community’s wellbeing.”

Santhi Periasamy, Head of RYTHM Foundation, also noted that it was only natural for RYTHM to collaborate with PINTAR on expanding the project.  “We’ve been tracking the impact of the Maharani programme over the years, and we’ve seen how beneficial it has proven to be for so many young girls. Having seen the impact, we’ve been keen to take this programme national through a structured school curriculum. PINTAR was already a ground partner helping us reach out to schools, and we knew it would be best to work with a partner who shared our goals and aspirations, and here we are today,” said Santhi as she also thanked PINTAR, the Selangor Education Department and the participating schools for their confidence in working with RYTHM in implementing the MSP.

Since 2010, the Maharani programme has touched the lives of nearly 8,000 adolescent girls and young women from various schools across Malaysia. In 2018, RYTHM also launched the Maharani Trainer Kit (MTK), a module for qualified trainers to use as a point of reference to run the programme independently, in the hopes of creating bigger impact in the lives of others.