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Media: The Star Online


Section: Education

PUSHING for its scholars to bring positive change to their home countries, the Chevening Awards Programme advocates that there is no age ceiling when it comes to education.


Dr Yoong Sao Chin, 60, who recently completed his Masters in Risk and Disaster Sciences at University College London, is back in Malaysia and determined to help the community with his newly-acquired knowledge.


A medical doctor by profession, Dr Yoong, who has been involved in helping disaster victims for 20 years, realised his medical background alone was not sufficient for him to bring about the change he wanted.


The executive director of Crisis Relief Services and Training Bhd (Crest) Malaysia, a non-profit faith-based humanitarian organisation, Dr Yoong decided to apply for the Chevening scholarship.


His fellow scholar Tay Chia Yi, 32, who graduated with a Masters in Dementia Studies in Bangor University, Wales, spent her time there volunteering in centres that offered facilities and services to people with dementia.


Recalling an important lesson – that fostering social care is just as important as providing healthcare for people with dementia – the speech and language therapist is keen to implement what she’s learnt here.


“Chevening introduced me to people from all over, and it is how I realised that to achieve your goals, you need to collaborate and learn from individuals from other industries.


“To portray dementia in a better light, we can’t only work on healthcare alone – and that is where the connections I’ve made come in handy in creating a better space for dementia in Malaysia,” she said.


Masters in Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship graduate Viviantie Sarjuni, 43, said it took courage for her to apply for Chevening as “I thought my career had come to an end”.


Realising that there are still many unique challenges in Sabah, she decided to try her luck and apply for the prestigious scholarship.


“The economy is growing yearly yet Sabah is still one of the poorest states in Malaysia – why is that?


“Chevening gave me the opportunity to reignite the hope and drive I had to change Sabah for the better, and to solve these issues at their core,” she said, adding that while the investments in Sabah are great, the funds are not being distributed evenly.


During her time in the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, she realised the landscape differences between Scotland and England, and that of Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia.


“Glasgow was once one of the poorest cities in the UK, but is currently the fourth most innovative. I wanted to learn how they did it, and how we could implement these tactics and emulate them in Sabah,” she said.


Viviantie aims to challenge the status quo from the bottom up, to solve Sabah’s challenges and create a sustainable and holistic ecosystem to overcome poverty.


The trio were among 38 Malaysians who have successfully completed their Masters degree in the United Kingdom under the Chevening Awards Programme and are now back to help realise Malaysia’s vision and potential.


The 2022/2023 cohort of students, who are now part of Malaysia’s 2,000 Chevening Alumni, were handed their certificates at a reception in Kuala Lumpur hosted by British High Commissioner Ailsa Terry on Feb 2.


Malaysia is now the second largest recipient of the Chevening awards in Asean.


The continuous commitment to provide Malaysia’s future leaders with world-class education allows both the UK and Malaysia to strengthen our people-to-people connection, she said.


“This year’s students brought home knowledge from a diverse pool of subjects and courses, ranging from digital journalism to risk and disaster science, and I’m ever proud of all they have achieved.


“The scholars had the chance to attend some of the UK’s most prestigious institutes during their one year of study, such as University of Edinburgh, King’s College London and London School of Economics,” she added.


The Chevening Award is the UK Government’s global scholarship programme, funded and administered by the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.


The scholarships are complemented by sponsorships from Malaysian corporate partners such as Yayasan Khazanah, CIMB Foundation and the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.