The topic of education is a pet subject for debate – educators, parents and even politicians have their own opinions about nurturing their youth. But how often are the tables turned, to instead, get to know their habits and interests before striking the heart of the matter?
A youth himself at 32, Dato’ Lawrence Low, the founding president of youth-building platform MyPerintis, sheds new light on the matter with his understanding and perception of the young.
Two years ago, Dato’ Lawrence identified a gap – GST, for one, had been introduced but awareness campaigns were very segmented and mostly aimed at companies. Youths pay GST too, so what about them?
“There’s only so much textbooks and extra-curricular activities can do. Lots of times I realised youths aren’t informed when being an informed citizen is primary.”
Dato’ Lawrence threw himself into the youth works organisation, and launched his first leadership program ‘What Malaysian Youths Should Know’ at MaGic in April 2015. It then fireballed into more programs like Youth Trailblazers Challenge, the Unconventional Financial Literacy, WMYSK Road Safety Training for Youth, and so on.
Since then, MyPerintis has engaged more than 12,000 youths across the country. We got to know the spirited plans brewing within Dato’ Lawrence’s on his progressive ways to reach out and educate young people.
The school of hard knocks
Dato' Lawrence was 26 when I took up a master franchise for Taiwanese dessert brand ZenQ. He and his team opened 12 outlets in a year but due to a dispute and a potentially long legal battle, they let it go and opened their own dessert brand, Sweet Day.
"At the end of the day, I learned that the F&B line is a passion but not my forte. I didn’t have much advisory or investment support from my parents, so it was a lot about me finding my passion and ‘banging walls’ while finding my way."
On bringing out leaders in youths
"There’s a huge gap in knowledge acquiring. They are generally vocal, but the issue is whether they see something that’s useful to lend their voice to. We need to have more awareness types programs but in unconventional ways."
MyPerintis is selective of topics and speakers – relevance and interest are important. The organisation is one of the youth NGOs to organise a 1MDB a talk. "While it’s a corporate governance topic, it’s also a real life problem and relevant for business students."
Engage and build confidence
Dato' Lawrence realised that student council leaders will turn away from ‘motivational talks’ or educational’ branded initiatives. They’ve had enough of it, yet they know they need it in some capacity. When Dr Soo Wincci collaborated to share her real life experiences through Inwinccible-X, a motivational tour with entertainment elements, they were sold.
"The students had never seen such a concept combining nationwide concert and celebrity talk. I learned the two most important lessons that appeal to youths – the topic of interest, and an unconventional way of going about it."
Leaders: born or made?
"I think they’re made and moulded by experience. I still don’t think of myself as a leader. My style is to meet student leaders from Nottingham and Universiti Malaya at a personal capacity. We’ll go out for teh tarik, I’ll share my upcoming plans for MyPerintis and they’ll feedback their ideas."
It’s all about engagement. Dato' Lawrence realised that when you create something the youths like, they will automatically jive with you.
Working with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
"I learned a lot from Tun Dr Mahathir, who joined as advisor and patron and launched MyPerintis in November 2015. He also sharpened the direction of MyPerintis, suggesting we explore a ‘trailblazing’ angle rather than leadership."
It was a dream come true for Dato' Lawrence, who always saw Tun Dr Mahathir as an inspiration since his school days. It was enlightening to have an open dialogue about youth and education.
"Young people are quick to react. You need only get them excited and you’ll have their attention and participation."
There's so much hope and strength that youths possess. Dato' Lawrence recognises that in their self-expression, to move and respond swiftly, that’s strength.
Here's a Bright Young Thing with a different set of weights to shoulder: Murad Zaidi of Xclusive Fitnesz.