About Us

Our Story

Our Community

Funders and Partners

Awards and Grants

Here is a summary of Our Story, and how much we have grown from a simple weekend class on our principals porch

2015 - The Year It All Began

Iskul was first set up, taking advantage of little spaces in the headmistress’ home or the town hall to conduct classes. A trial class was conducted, and Malaysian school-going children on the island were interviewed to take on the role of Mastal Arikik: ‘little teachers’ given an allowance to teach their stateless peers. The Malaysian and stateless children have little chance to mingle so this opportunity helps to bridge the gap. Classes were held for two hours, on Saturdays and Sundays, teaching reading and writing in Malay, mathematics, and art, to students of different ages in a single class.

2016 - Going Strong

The Board of Trustees welcomed a new member becoming five, and conducted their first evaluation trip to Omadal Island. Iskul participated in Young Southeast Asia Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Go NGO Workshop in Cebu, Philippines. We continued our classes as they were in 2015, and learnt a lot in the process. Our second year as a school taught us the importance of our work and assured us of the impact that it would have on our students.

2017 - A Lot Of Growth

A teaching camp was held for our Mastal Arikik, three of whom were new. Our first Financial Summary was shared with donors, and fundraising campaigns were held to raise funds for a Field coordinators allowance, and to provide meals for students. Iskul participated and shared experiences at the UNCHR Roundtable on Methodology for Bajau Laut Consultation in Sandakan. Construction began on our own school building, made possible by a grant from Mah Sing foundation.

2018 - A New Beginning

With a new space for lessons, we split students into classes, increasing the time they spend at school. Iskul serves 10-30 students at any time, so a school building was immensely helpful in creating a conducive environment. Students now learn in several different classes according to age groups. The second Strategic Planning Meeting and Iskul’s first AGM was held in Kuala Lumpur, and the students sat for a year-end examination for the first time.

2019 - Hopeful Tidings

Two students who who had performed well went on to become Mastal Arikik themselves. The Jabatan Pendidikan Semporna visited Iskul after finding out about the initiative and looked forward for possible collaboration. 15 new students joined us, and one of our pioneer MA stepped up to be our field coordinator. More than 50 enthusiastic children in Iskul’s Malaysia Day & Hari Sukan celebration.

2020 - Big Things happened

Iskul highlighted the plight of stateless children to the Deputy Minister of Education, YB Teo Nie Ching. With the addition of our first full time teacher, Cikgu Jefry, weekend classes became to daily lessons, from 8am to 11pm. Our syllabus expanded to include culture and performance arts – an effort to develop the children’s socio-cultural identity. Since 2015, 10 Mastal Arikik have taught over 50 students,and 18 have graduated. An awards ceremony was held for the first time to celebrate the students progress and acknowledge the effort invested by MAs over the years.

2021 - A Shift In Focus

During the MCO, Iskul concentrated our efforts on providing aid to the residents of Omadal. Food baskets were delivered to 150 stateless households, and the community was encouraged to practice isolation in an attempt to keep them safe. Health initiatives included distributing Vitamin C supplements to keep immune systems up, and efforts to get the community tested for the virus. Rural communities were in an extremely dire predicament during this period of time, and external aid was one of the only ways for them to obtain food and resources that were not available on their own island

2022 - A Proud Comeback

Life sciences and marine stewardship modules were added to the curriculum, teaching the science behind students’ cultures. Our pilot waste management project introduced safer options for waste management and conservation. 10 stateless and Malaysian youth were trained to use the media to advocate for themselves through videos on the issues they face. We ended the year on a high note, winning the Star Golden Heart Awards, and the Gamuda Inspiration Award- a grant that would finance the setting up our Iskul Mini Clinic.

2023 - Gearing Up

Pondok Iskul has undergone renovations for the safety and comfort of students. We train 6 youth alongside our 4 staff members to create content through filmmaking projects, allowing them to tell their stories with their own voices. Younger students are on track to becoming Mastal Arikik themselves, and virtual classes allow them to learn English with volunteers. We also began our human rights modules for the students, teaching what statelessness means, a collaboration with the Institute on Statelessness and Inclusion.