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USM PULAU PINANG, 24 January 2024 – The Puteri Belantara programme, a brainchild of a group of lecturers and students from the School of Educational Studies (PPIP) at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has bagged the Project Of The Year under the Malaysia GPM Sustainability Awards 2023 organised by the Sustainable Business Network Association Malaysia.

The ceremony which took place at the Malaysia Tourism Centre (MaTiC), Kuala Lumpur earlier this month, saw the participation of individuals, educational institutions, and industry in Malaysia in an effort to recognise outstanding sustainability projects that adopt innovative approaches to the environment, society and economy.

This project covered the P5 Framework and all 17 aspects of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This project which started in January 2023 involved the commitment of various synergistic partners such as the Perak and Kedah State Department of Orang Asli Development (JKOA); Global Citizenship Education Cooperation Centre, Universiti Sains Malaysia (GCC-USM); Perak Menteri Besar Corporation (MB Inc.); Perak State Women and Community Development Secretariat (Wanita Perak); Perak State Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN); Free Tree Society (FTS); Yakult Malaysia; and Marry Brown Sungkai, Perak.

The Deputy Dean of Research, Innovation and Industry & Community Engagement, School of Educational Studies, USM and Head of the Puteri Belantara Project, Associate Professor Dr. Aziah Ismail said, the complementary strengths of the synergistic partners involved are very important in making this project a success.

She explained that all parties concerned play their own roles and this is one of the strengths of the project.

"I would like to thank all our partners of the Puteri Belantara project. We will continue to promote this project as we aim to emulate and implement it at the Asia Pacific level this year (2024)," she said.

The Puteri Belantara programme is a combination of the ideas of PPIP USM lecturers Aziah, Associate Professor Dr. Nor Shafrin Ahmad, Dr. Ummu Sakinah Mohamad Subri and student Aini Saadah Mohd Saod.

“The team has toured three locations in Perak in an effort to explore the potential for basic leadership development of students and their mothers such as in Orang Asli villages, rural areas and Felda.

“The uniqueness of this module is highlighted by the involvement of the participant's mother and also the teacher,” said Aziah.

In addition, another project 'Wisdom of Leadership in Sustainability and Development’ (WORLD) also won the Project Of The Year at the Malaysia GPM Sustainability Awards 2023.

The project carried out by Aini Saadah with the guidance of Aziah has resulted in the success implementation of 22 sustainability projects covering 17 elements of the SDGs from various educational institutions.

Meanwhile, the Secretary General of the Sustainable Business Network Association Malaysia, Ts. Dr. Norsaidatul Akmar Mazlean is very proud of the hard work put in for both projects which have yielded significant positive impact on the society concerned and hence both projects duly deserved this recognition.

"These two PPIP USM projects have their own uniqueness and we hope that the persistence shown by the researchers and creative ideas of the projects will be further developed to a higher level.

"This is in line with USM's stature as a sustainability-led university, ranked fourth in the global sustainability ranking by Times Higher Education (THE-GIR) 2022 and first in Asia," she explained.

Text: Tan Ewe Hoe

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