Sharpening Young Minds

Yayasan PETRONAS’ Sentuhan Ilmu supports underprivileged students to better their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Aligned with the government’s 60:40 target ratio of STEM- ARTS enrolment, Yayasan PETRONAS hopes that Sentuhan Ilmu will provide students with the right exposure needed for the 21st century workforce.

Yayasan PETRONAS also runs All About Youth (AAY) competition which began in 2014. In the past five years, about 3,000 students and 150 schools have benefited from its programmes, empowering the students to create impactful ideas for communities.

Young girl working on a robot design. Okayama, Japan

Muhd Anis Firdausi Hazmi and Phesagan Ravi, both 18, were part of the winning team in AAY 2017 from SMK Tinggi Melaka. They were 16 at that time. With a PETRONAS mentor to guide their group of 20 students for three months, they came up with the HistoMap, a history lesson app in the form of mind maps.

“We tried to build the app from scratch but it was challenging. So, we had to ask the well-known publisher Appy Pie to help provide us with the base on which to build our content. Next, Phesagan had to email Google and Apple to get their permission to publish the app. It was really tough convincing them,” informs Muhd Anis.

In fact, their app application was rejected twice by Apple, which has very strict policies. It took many calls from Phesagan to convince Apple that HistoMap was a real app and not a hacking tool. Through the experience, he learned the importance of good communication skills.

The group then visited selected schools to promote HistoMap by handing out flyers and talking to students about their app. According to Muhd Anis, one of their goals was to help students in rural schools.

“They don’t have libraries to do their research in, but they can use their phones. So, we thought we would let them know there is this app to help them study better,” he said. HistoMap, which is available on Google Play Store and Apple App Store, now has more than 1,500 downloads.

Collaboration and teamwork were key for Muhd Anis. “Distributing the workload was a challenge because everyone had to study for exams at the same time. But we also really wanted to win for our school. That was our motivation – to do our best.

It was mind-blowing to find out that even though PETRONAS is a very large company, it still takes time to give back to society. It taught us that no matter how successful you are, you have to give back to the country,” said Muhd Anis of his experience.