Have you wondered how students from the deep interiors of Sabah and Sarawak attend school daily? Unlike school going children in city centres who have many forms of transportation to get to classes, many children in remote areas of these states have to walk to school.

Encik Timbang, headmaster of SK Sg Paku in Kapit, Sarawak shared, “It is common for students to wake up at dawn and get ready to walk to school in the dark. The journey usually takes them an average of two-and-a-half hours across rivers and muddy paths before they reach school at 7.30am. After a day at school, they will pass through the same terrains to go home. When it rains, it is harder as they have to carry their bags and try not to get their shoes wet and muddy. Sometimes they might be too lazy to walk to school but their parents would advise them that education is important and the first step to a brighter future.”

This is what students in Kapit, Kota Marudu and other small remote villages in Sabah and Sarawak go through daily to attend classes.

To ensure equal access to education for all, Astro Kasih ESG, the sustainability arm of Astro Malaysia, champions education via its Kampus Astro in School programme where five million students in all government schools have Astro decoders, TVs and access to 14 learning channels.

Astro has been championing education for over a decade and has invested over RM120 million in creating learning programmes such as Tutor TV SK, Tutor TV SMK, SPM Pro+ and more for all students in Malaysia. To make it easier for students to attend school, Astro Kasih also built Astro Hostels for SK Magandai, SK Sg Paku and SK Malinsau, located in the deep interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.

These facilities helped 220 students saved over 190,000 hours of daily commuting time in a year. In addition, Astro Kasih is also giving these students access to education by equipping their hostels with learning content.

Henry Tan, Astro’s Group CEO said, “As a leading content and consumer company in Malaysia, Astro is committed to conduct and grow its business in a sustainable and responsible manner through its Environment, Social and Governance (“ESG”) initiatives. This encompasses environmental responsibility, positive social impact and good governance.

"At Astro, we believe that every child has the right to education and we are committed to use our platform, reach, content and resources to give all Malaysian children equal access to quality learning in order to open minds for a brighter future. These hostels helped 220 students save over 190,000 hours of daily commuting time in annually. The students’ UPSR pass rates have improved by an average of 39.4% from 2010 to 2019. SK Magandai saw the passing rate for Science grow from 17% (2010) to 100% (2015 to 2019). BM and English passing rates also grew from 58% in 2010 to 94.7% in 2019.

"To raise awareness of the hardships faced by the students in the interiors just to attend school, we are organising the Walk for Education event. All proceeds will go to SK Magandai, Kota Marudu and SK Malinsau, Ranau (Sabah); SK Sg Paku, Kapit (Sarawak); and Starfish Malaysia Foundation hostels in East Malaysia.”

Astro Kasih hopes to enable more students in the interior of East Malaysia to receive school supplies, uniforms, shoes and books. Corporations are encouraged to participate by sponsoring their employees to take part in the 5km walk. Participants will carry a bag through a trail specially customised in Taman Wetland Putrajaya to simulate a student’s daily hike to school.

The WALK for EDUCATION event promises a fun-filled day for the whole family. There will be games and activity stalls, mini concerts featuring local artistes Timah, Wani Kayrie, Masya Masyitah, Abigail, Irfan Haris, Lil J, Ara Johari and Dem Lepak Boyz, photography sessions with lovable mascots - BoBoiBoy, Mechamato, Ben 10, Adventures of Gumball as well as Chowder. It is definitely a great way to spend a weekend morning with the family and friends.

Astro talent and social media influencer, Wafiy said “I am delighted to be part of the event as I want to highlight the challenges students in remote areas go through to get to school. I was one of them back in the days where I walked to school when I was younger and living in Beaufort, Sabah. Of course, if the weather was hot, we would run to get there quicker. I feel it’s important to highlight this cause to keep students motivated to go to school.”

Asha Gill, Lite FM’s radio host who supports the Walk for Education initiative said, “We have the power to influence minds, highlight social issues and spark possibilities by providing access to a world of knowledge.”

Let’s support the children’s journey for education together by joining our Walk for Education at Taman Wetland Putrajaya on 28 May 2022. Registration at RM60 per person is now open at http://t2u.asia/e/27113.