Published on September 24th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
TOYOTA ECO YOUTH CHALLENGE EMPHASISES COLLABORATION
Collaboration for change is the key theme in this year’s Toyota Eco Youth (TEY) challenge, an environmental competition among secondary schools. Initiated in 2001, the nationwide competition involving sixteen schools required participating teams to seek environmental problems in their community and find solutions for them.
In their 12th year this year, the TEY programme is one of the key CSR pillars of UMW Toyota Motor. One of the key elements of the eco-challenge is the Toyota’s 8-step Problem Solving Methodology, which provides clear guidelines on how to identify a problem, find possible solutions and monitor the situation to ensure it works.
Initially targeting the environmental problems in school, TEY was extended to include environmental problems in the local community in 2011.
According to Datuk Ismet Suki, President of UMW Toyota Motor, the bottom line is to motivate school children to be proactive in tackling problems in their surroundings, especially those involving the environment.
“With rapid urbanisation all over the world, the environment is slowly but surely being contaminated by human activity. While development is not something that we can stop, we can all play a part for Nature, starting with simple concepts such as the 3Rs of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” says Datuk Ismet.
Environmental awareness remains low among most Malaysians, mainly because most people feel problems such as littering, erosion, clogged drains, polluted riverways and others are the responsibilities of the municipal councils. Instead of waiting and complaining, the TEY drives students to take proactive steps in seeking out solutions for their community.
During the onsite judging, the TEY committee were pleasantly surprised to find participating schools taking on relatively big projects such as transforming a contaminated back street in Machang, Kelantan into an Art Street. Previously a filthy, rat-infested zone, Lorong Che Mek Molek is now a tourist attraction after the students from SMK Hamzah 2 gave the drainage system and pathway a complete overhaul and painted it with colourful murals.
“What impressed us most is the students’ negotiation skills. By strategically collaborating with the local store keepers for funding, and getting artistic direction from the Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Machang’s Faculty of Art and Design, they pulled off something even working adults would find challenging!” adds Datuk Ismet.
Another school who banked on the power of collaboration is SMK Paya Kemunting, Kedah, who convinced companies such as Nichias Sdn. Bhd, (Playright) Team Constead Sdn Bhd, Kubang Pasu Municipal Council and Universiti Utara Malaysia to sponsor stone slabs, garden chairs and plants for their garden transformation project.
“We are proud to see how the Problem Solving Methodology has been put to good use by the students especially in building networks,” says Datuk Ismet. “The experience would teach them that nothing is impossible as long as they are willing to put their hearts and souls into it.”
The onsite judging carries 40% of the total marks for the competition, with the rest going to the website/blog development, exhibition displays and presentation at the TEY Convention and Closing Ceremony in October where students have to present their projects and set up exhibition project booths to captivate judges.
“This distribution of points provides a structure for the students, so that they place equal importance in the planning, implementation, marketing and communication. These skills will stand them in good stead when they leave school and move on to higher education or the job market. The TEY process is a holistic journey that we trust will form the foundation for a lifetime,” says Datuk Ismet Suki, President of UMW Toyota Motor.
“Environmental issues need the cooperation and partnership of all stakeholders in order to be successfully resolved. We’re glad to witness it during the implementation of TEY and hope that the students will continue to be eco conscious consumers even after the programme ends,” concludes Ismet.