Mendaki to focus on lifelong learning

It plans to introduce concept early in life, says Yaacob at 35th anniversary book launch

Madam Nafisah Md Ma'mun, 47, learnt to look at not just the academic results of her children - Mahirah, 18, and Mirza, 15 - but also whether they give their best at what they do.

She and her husband, Mr Abdul Latiff Omar, 46, support the duo, who are in Raffles Institution's drama club, by picking them up from late-night rehearsals and attending their shows.

Asked how she feels watching them on stage, Madam Nafisah beamed and said: "Proud, lah! I tell my husband, that's our child."

The close-knit family is one of 20 featured in a new book in Malay titled Rahsia Keluarga Bestari (Secrets Of Successful Families). Written by Berita Harian deputy editor Nazry Mokhtar, it was launched at a carnival in Eunos yesterday, attended by 1,500 people, to mark Mendaki's 35th anniversary.

The book costs $30 and is available at major bookstores. Proceeds go to the Education Trust Fund, which subsidises pre-school for children from low-income Malay/Muslim families, and helps them buy books and stationery.

Minister for Communications and Information Yaacob Ibrahim, who is Mendaki's chairman, told reporters he was very proud of the self-help group's achievements. It has "seeded the idea in the community that education is important", said Dr Yaacob, who is also Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs.

Noting that many Malay/Muslim children are doing very well in major examinations, he said: "The idea of education as a stepping stone towards success is really embedded within our community."

Going forward, Mendaki's focus for the next 35 years is to broaden the definition of education to include lifelong learning. The minister said: "As we shift towards skills-based learning, it's important that we don't stop learning."

Dr Yaacob said that while it is important for a strong foundation to be built in schools and institutes of higher learning, as people graduate and start working, they have to pick up new knowledge.

"We want to introduce the concept of lifelong learning early in life," he said, adding that Mendaki will do so through its reading and tuition programmes. For instance, it will introduce technology-based classes for those at an early age.

There will also be programmes for Institute of Technical Education students to understand the national SkillsFuture drive, help them consider what they want to do in five or 10 years' time and the courses they can take to get there.

Mendaki is also looking at reviewing its awards, largely given to students who have done well. Said Dr Yaacob: "Can we now widen that definition to ensure it's not just about getting a certification but (also) about gaining deep skills? If you can do so, Mendaki wants to partner you to attain that skill set."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 12, 2017, with the headline 'Mendaki to focus on lifelong learning'. Print Edition | Subscribe