Chairperson’s Foreword

2020 will be remembered as the pivotal year for LeapEd.

In this year, LeapEd celebrated its 10th year anniversary. This in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic that made the whole world come to an abrupt stop and forcing everyone – individuals and businesses to re-assess themselves. Alongside that, the change of ownership from Khazanah Nasional to the four social entrepreneurs was also completed and celebrated just as the Movement Control Order 1.0 kicked-off in March 2020.

These key events pushed LeapEd to critically re-evaluate and transform itself to be ready for the next phase of its journey. InsyaaAllah it will be for another decade and more.

Zul, Nina, Conrad and myself are grateful and excited to continue LeapEd’s mission. That is the primary reason for taking over the ownership. We thank Khazanah for their commitment and investments in the last 10 years and look forward to their continuous support of the mission in future. Our intended focus is to deepen and scale the mission of improving the quality and relevance of education because every child deserves a great future. Ah well, that is what we wanted to do - until the pandemic threw us all through the wringer!

We saw how our steady-state programmes had to be innovated on the fly to address the situation of flux. Schools were opening and closing like department stores. We can only be thankful that the communities who have been working with us are equipped with skills and competencies to respond to the unprecedented events.

Nevertheless, we are conscious that equity gaps are widening due to increasing learning deficits of vulnerable groups such as low socio-economic, indigenous, and special needs. According to the 2020 World Bank Report: "Malaysia's human capital is in line with what per capita income predicts, but it lags in quality of education and child stunting".

This is the landscape that we work in. This is our reality. With the effects of the pandemic, this will be even worse. The recommendations put forth in the report are not new to us – and in fact, for the last 10 years, we have been working closely with schools in Malaysia to ensure that students are in the centre of all that we do. And that teachers are upskilled and supported to do this. We have rallied the school support system to be involved and up-skilled as well. For those folks, we can count our lucky stars.

But their numbers are still too small against the whole system. It is our prayer that more students and schools can benefit. In fact, it is urgent that they do. As a social enterprise, we are highly dependent on the ability to cover our costs of delivery and these are generally funded by various entities, largely using their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. In the current economic climate, these funds may indeed have been "right-sized" but the impact per Ringgit still needs to be optimised. In that context, we continue to advocate that funds be used to deliver tried and tested solutions, such as the Trust Schools Programme, so that social returns on investment can be maximised.

In this year, we started working from home, savvied up on our technical skills and worked seamlessly across digital and virtual environments company-wide. In tandem with the general economic climate, we also had to say goodbye to quite a few talents. Tough situation! But we are proud of all LeapEdians - current and Alumni, who took the challenge in their stride.

This report captures our journey and opportunities. We learned, cried, laughed, and kept going. The world changed overnight, and we did too.