Yang Berhormat Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang, Minister of National Unity and Chairperson of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation, recently officiated the 57th Anniversary of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation. During the celebration, scholarships and programme sponsorships targeting students from underrepresented backgrounds worth RM 7.6 million were formalised with eight organisations through a Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) exchange.
Established in 1966 by an Act of Parliament in honour of Malaysia's first Prime Minister, Y.T.M. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the Foundation aims to develop young Malaysians to shape better futures for themselves and their communities through higher education access and empowerment. The Foundation operates through independently raised funds and is tax-exempt.
For 57 years, the Foundation has supported over 9,000 youths. Now, the Foundation has renewed its focus to empower young people, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, by bringing in "Closing The Gap," a higher education access mentoring programme for secondary school students; revamping its "Tunku Abdul Rahman Scholarship" into a comprehensive undergraduate scholarship-cum-leadership development programme; and introducing "FutureReady," an employability and upskilling programme in partnership with Accenture Malaysia.
In his address, the Minister of National Unity remarked, "To achieve Tunku's vision for a united Malaysia, we must tackle the obstacles that come in the way of this vision, namely the socio-economic class and urban-rural divide. Through the Foundation’s new strategy, it holds immense potential to address these challenges by prioritising higher education access and nurturing leadership development as catalysts for social mobility and transformation."
Ida Thien, CEO of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation, echoed these sentiments and emphasised the Foundation’s new philosophy towards its scholarship selection and programme delivery. She shared, "Recognizing that individuals have different starting points in life and require tailored support to succeed underpins our new scholarship selection and training approach. We have shifted away from rigid academic and co-curricular criteria to a more holistic assessment that accounts for candidates' unique needs, personal ambitions, and experiences in overcoming life challenges, coupled with supportive capacity-building programmes to develop them across different life stages."
Since 2019, the Foundation began to fundraise in order to increase its impact. The MOU exchange commemorates partnerships with key sponsors, namely OSK Foundation for the Closing The Gap Programme, Asia Philanthropy Circle, AHAM Asset Management Berhad, Yayasan Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS, Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, University of Nottingham Malaysia and Yayasan Universiti Multimedia for the Tunku Abdul Rahman Scholarship and Accenture Malaysia for the FutureReady programme.
As the Foundation commemorates its anniversary, it holds ambitious plans for the future. In the next five years, it will impact 1,000 more students to pursue higher education and transform into young leaders. The Foundation warmly invites corporations and individuals to make this aspiration a reality by sponsoring a 2024 Tunku Abdul Rahman Scholarship or funding the 2024 Closing The Gap programme. For further information or to explore other partnership opportunities, please visit www.yayasantar.org.my.
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