Education Services
Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI): Initiate Environmental Sustainability and Digital Connectivity.


East Malaysia is confronting a multi-faceted crisis that underscores the critical need for digital empowerment and enhanced civic engagement among its youth. Despite the growing ubiquity of social media and digital platforms, a stark divide remains, notably highlighted by reports from UNDP and ASEAN in 2014 and 2017, revealing a worrying trend of apathy among Malaysian youths towards social and political issues—a sentiment echoed by 89% of young Malaysians on social media as per a 2015 study. This digital disengagement is particularly pronounced in East Malaysia, where opportunities for civic participation are disproportionately limited, often overshadowed by the more digitally vocal issues of Peninsular Malaysia.

The challenges are further compounded by a significant digital divide, laid bare during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, which accentuated the crucial role of internet connectivity in accessing education, resources, and broader opportunities. This divide not only hinders educational and economic prospects but also stifles the potential for networking, mentorship, and funding—key pillars for fostering a vibrant, engaged youth populace ready to contribute meaningfully to societal and political discourses.

Moreover, the lack of digital literacy and advocacy skills among East Malaysian youth stands as a formidable barrier to harnessing the full potential of digital platforms for social and political advocacy. The deficiency in essential digital competencies underscores the pressing need for targeted interventions aimed at equipping the youth with the skills necessary for effective digital engagement and advocacy.


Leveraging an innovative six-month program, the initiative seeks to empower East Malaysian youths through a meticulously designed approach aimed at nurturing digital literacy and civic participation. This visionary program is strategically crafted to bridge the digital divide, offering comprehensive training and resources that ensure the widest possible engagement among youths, regardless of their geographical location or background.

Program Approach:

  • Inclusive Engagement: By focusing on inclusivity, the program aims to engage a broad spectrum of East Malaysian youths, particularly those from underserved communities, ensuring equal opportunities for all to participate and thrive in a digital society.
  • Skill Development: Through a holistic curriculum, participants will embark on a journey of learning that covers essential digital competencies, from basic internet literacy to advanced digital tools for social and political advocacy. This comprehensive skill set is crucial for effective and meaningful civic participation in today's digital age.
  • Real-World Application: The program emphasizes practical experience, offering project placements and simulations that mirror real-world scenarios. This hands-on approach ensures that participants not only acquire knowledge but also apply it effectively, enhancing their ability to contribute to civic discussions and initiatives with confidence.
  • Continuous Support and Mentorship: Recognizing the importance of ongoing development, the program includes a robust support system featuring mentorship from industry and civic leaders. This network of guidance and support fosters a nurturing environment for participants to grow, network, and seek advice, further enriching their learning experience and readiness for civic engagement.
  • Resource Accessibility: By addressing the critical challenge of resource access, the program prioritizes the provision of necessary tools and platforms to all participants. This commitment ensures that every youth has the opportunity to engage, learn, and participate fully, regardless of their starting point.

Key Highlights:

  • Dynamic Learning Modules: The curriculum is designed to be dynamic and responsive, adapting to the evolving needs of the digital landscape and the specific interests of participants. This flexibility ensures that learning is always relevant, engaging, and aligned with current and future opportunities for civic participation.
  • Collaborative Platform: A cornerstone of the program is its collaborative platform, which encourages interaction among participants, facilitators, and mentors. This community-centric approach fosters a sense of belonging and collective growth, amplifying the impact of the program on individual participants and the broader community.

Goals & Results

Strategic Goals Achieved

  • Youth Engagement and Advocacy: Successfully inspired 400 - 500 East Malaysian youths through 5 civic engagement webinars to elevate their role as change agents.
  • Development of Civic Leaders: Equipped 40 youths with skills in advocacy, campaign management, and leadership through targeted training and a pitch day for presenting campaign ideas.
  • Civic Campaign Implementation: Launched 4 scalable civic engagement campaigns by East Malaysian youth, addressing key community issues.
  • Partnership and Community Involvement: Benefited from partnerships with the City of Middleton and local organizations like PACOS and HAUS, enhancing program reach and impact.

Success Metrics:

  • Increased Civic Awareness: The webinars significantly raised civic awareness among 400 - 500 youths.
  • Strengthened Networks for Change: Created a collaborative network of 40 young changemakers.
  • Skill Development and Leadership: Trained 40 youths in essential skills, preparing them for effective community leadership.
  • Youth-Led Civic Campaigns: Empowered youths to lead 4 civic engagement campaigns, showcasing their ability to drive change.

Dec 2019 - Mar 2021

Hear from Our Participants!

I really enjoyed this program and gained a lot of experience. The part I found most helpful was learning on my own through videos, assignments, and tutorials. It let me learn at my own speed and really understand the topics. Also, using a tool called Airtable to pick up new skills was great. It made organizing my learning easier and showed me new ways to handle information. This program helped me grow and learn a lot in a fun way.

Nur Daniela ariesha binti ajab khan

This program is truly wonderful for young people to learn about the basics of digital technology, especially since many of us lack knowledge in this area. I firmly believe this program is a fantastic opportunity for the youth. Given the pandemic and the restrictions we faced, it's a great chance to pick up something new. Moreover, these skills are not just limited to one area but can be applied broadly. For me personally, the self-learning aspect, through videos, assignments, and tutorials, was incredibly beneficial for my progress. It allowed me to learn at my own pace and truly absorb the material. Highly recommend it to anyone looking to expand their digital skills!

Anis Kamalia Binti Kamarulzaman

Joining this program was motivated by my desire to enhance my skills, deepen my understanding of digital capabilities, and receive mentorship and guidance from experts in the field. The best part for me has been the Webinar Sessions. They gave me real-time tips and let me talk to experts. I've also used something called the Canvas Learning Platform a lot. It's helped me get better and more comfortable with this tool. This whole experience has been really valuable for growing my skills and learning things that mix ideas with real-world use. It's been amazing for my growth and learning!

Nur Nabilah Fitri Binti Norazad

Hear from Our Participants!

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