20 Oct Dika College Alumni Series : Nelvianna Masandul
Turning Hope into Reality
Nelvianna Masandul’s journey in bringing equitable
early childhood education to the rural areas of Sabah
Hopes and dreams
Five years ago, Nelvianna dreamt big. This 31-year-old Dika College alumnus hoped to bring equitable early childhood education to the children in the rural areas of Sabah. Today, she is well on her way to realising that dream.
“Children in the city had proper amenities, good books and a conducive learning environment whereas children back home would be so lucky to even be able to turn up at their less than perfect school.”
Seeing such a big gap in learning between the urban and rural kids, Nelvianna realised that it was her calling to change things for the better. In 2017, she left the comforts of the city to go back to her hometown in Pitas, Sabah to lead early childhood education reforms.
COLLABORATION: Parents at the Merdeka Day celebrations at Tadika Tabung Harapan.
Tadika Tabung Harapan in Kampung Ungkup was her pilot project – she helped create proper learning spaces; arranged transportation to help pick up children to get to school; carried out seminars and open days for parents, which instilled awareness on the importance of early childhood education; and at times, she even helped to get sponsors to finance the education of some of the students.
Realising dreams – Half a decade later
Today, Nelvianna works in Kota Kinabalu with Pendidikan Prasekolah Swasta SIB (Sidang Injil Borneo) Sabah. Working here since May 2019, she oversees over 100 SIB kindergartens to ensure all early learners have access to equitable early childhood education as much as possible.
“Seeing a need to improve the preschool syllabus which was not standardised among SIB kindergartens, I took the initiative to streamline the preschool curriculum taught at our schools according to the KSPK (Kurikulum Standard Pra-sekolah Kebangsaan) as stipulated by the Ministry of Education.
The response with the new curriculum has been good and I am glad to see that all teachers have now adapted to this better-streamlined curriculum,” she said.
COLLABORATION:Seminars and Open Days for parents instil awareness on the importance of early childhood education.
Nelvianna’s reform works are far from done. Efforts to replicate kindergartens similar to the successful Tadika Tabung Harapan had to be put on hold when the pandemic hit in 2020. But that did not deter her from continuing her efforts in carrying out teacher training.
She carried out her training online. “The response so far has been good and most teachers still contact me post-training to seek advice to improve themselves,” she added. Nelvianna also hopes to start carrying out seminars and open days for parents around the rural areas of Sabah to instil awareness on the importance of early childhood education once the pandemic situation improves.
Lead the change
“It has been quite the journey since I started this five years ago. I used to think that I could do everything on my own without depending on anyone, but it is the contrary – I truly need the support of all stakeholders, parents and teachers especially. So, to those on a mission to be game changers in education, get the right support. People are ever willing to help, all you need to do is lead the change,” Nelvianna added.