Yayasan Hasanah: Malaysia’s change agent

Shahira Ahmed Bazari, Managing Director of Yayasan Hasanah. (Photo courtesy of Yayasan Hasanah)

Developing human capital continues to be Yayasan Hasanah's overarching goal as it looks to drive more positive changes in Malaysian society.

A non-government organisation (NGO) under Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah), Yayasan Hasanah collaborates with multiple stakeholders to infuse a spirit of advocacy and capacity building in five key focus areas; education, community development, environment, arts and public spaces and knowledge.

Born as an independent grant-making foundation on 1 July 2015, with the aim of creating greater impact that complements Khazanah’s efforts of developing Malaysia into a globally competitive nation, Yayasan Hasanah contributes to 14 of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through solutions that empower communities, encourage social inclusivity, and improve the environment. 

To date, the foundation has enabled 51 civil society partner organisations across the country to deliver programs that have impacted the lives of approximately 360,000 people.

“Human capital development is the common thread that ties all our programs together,” noted Yayasan Hasanah's Managing Director Shahira Ahmed Bazari during a media briefing today to announce The Hasanah Report 2018, its progress report for last year. 

“Besides providing grants, we also support the capacity development of our partners to enable them to operate more efficiently and address some of the nation’s most pressing social issues – with the aim of achieving positive and sustainable improvements in society,” she added.

Emphasis on education

Yayasan Hasanah’s annual funding is derived from the returns of its US$719 million endowment fund. Spending US$30.6 million on programs in its five focus areas last year, nearly 72 percent of that sum was channelled to education. 

Since its inception, Yayasan Hasanah has supported programs to provide better access to quality education and training, and these projects have benefited almost 300,000 students and teachers across 1,084 schools nationwide. In addition, 427 university scholarships in various disciplines were also awarded during this period. 

Source: Yayasan Hasanah

Among Yayasan Hasanah’s most notable education projects is the Trust School Programme (TSP). Currently in its eighth year, the programme brings the Ministry of Education and other stakeholders together to work towards a common goal of producing students who are clear thinkers, articulate, academically strong, and empowered with a strong civic and moral consciousness. There are currently 65,000 students in 83 schools in the programme, 10 of which completed the Ministry of Education’s accreditation process last year. There are plans for another 20 Trust Schools to be accredited this year.

In addition, Yayasan Hasanah is working with partners to pilot a state-wide education transformation programme in the northern Malaysian state of Kedah – where it is enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Mathematics (STEAM) education and providing capacity building in mental health to 285 school counsellors and teachers across 127 secondary schools. The development of a new assessment framework for 56,000 secondary school students with learning difficulties is also in the pipeline.

Resilient communities

Focusing on empowering households from low income communities by providing them with the skills, tools and opportunities to improve their livelihood and wellbeing, Yayasan Hasanah has expanded its multi-dimensional Community Based Approach (CBA) from two to seven communities and now reaches 8,000 beneficiaries. 

Providing microloans for women ranging from farmers in Malaysia’s eastern state of Sabah to single mothers in Kuala Lumpur’s low-cost housing projects, Yayasan Hasanah now empowers these women to improve their everyday lives and to achieve financial stability, ensuring a better future for them and their children.

Environment, culture and knowledge

Over the course of its work on conserving the Central Forest Spine landscape which cuts through eight Malaysian states, Yayasan Hasanah has emphasised engaging and building capacities of local communities to be stewards of their surrounding environment. This includes fostering an appreciation of its values, developing actionable plans for local communities and getting civil society to work with local and state governments for its conservation and protection. 

To spark new ideas and innovation in arts, a design thinking module was expanded in 50 schools to solve day-to-day challenges using arts, heritage and culture inspired solutions, impacting 5,000 students, 100 arts educators and 42 volunteers. In addition, funds for arts and talent development have culminated in various exhibitions, festivals, theatre and musicals that have reached an audience of more than 33,000.

With its strong commitment to nurture and develop Malaysia’s human capital and talent pool across all sectors and communities, Yayasan Hasanah stands out as one of the country’s most potent catalysts of change.

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