Students of MySkills Foundation, located at Kampung Baru Sejantung, Kalumpang, Selangor.

MYSKILLS FOUNDATION is Sowing the Seeds for Transformation

(Part 1)

It has become a norm for educational institutions to conduct environmental activities in order to create awareness about the environment among their students. However, in most instances, the intention is to fulfil the requirements of the syllabus of the institution rather than be an effective, long-term activity to improve the environment.

MySkills Foundation, located at Kampung Baru Sejantung, Kalumpang, Selangor, begs to differ. Their institution has been extensively carrying out a host of environmental and agricultural activities for its students on its vast fertile land spanning over 33 acres. It also ensures that the agricultural methods taught to the students are free from agrochemicals and holistic in nature.

Through such genuine agricultural enterprise, the institution has paved the way for each student to unleash their hidden agricultural talent and eventually make agriculture a livelihood for some.

TOXIN-FREE VEGETABLES through Students’ Own Efforts

Devasharma Gangadaran, CEO of MySkills Foundation, said students in the centre started classes in 2018, and ever since, farming has been an integral part of their daily activities.

Devasharma Gangadaran, CEO of MySkills Foundation.

“Even when our agriculture initiatives were still in their fledgling state, the results were astonishing. Currently, a large portion of the vegetables that feed the 170 students of the foundation are sourced from our own vegetable garden, cultivated by the students themselves.

That way they could enjoy toxin-free vegetables and, above all, they valued food and avoided food wastage, all because they had toiled for it,” said Devasharma.

NO CELLPHONE, Less Distraction and MORE OUTPUT

“One advantage with the students here is that they are not allowed to have a cellphone, which means they are least distracted and have more time when performing their tasks. The institution pays an incentive for students that perform the additional tasks, and the amount goes directly into their savings account. This opportunity for learning and earning is a great motivation for the students,” he added.

Devasharma pointed out that 100 students working on the farm for 1½ hours is equivalent to 15 individuals working for 10 hours. Therefore, the more students work together, the more benefits are reaped in a shorter time. A concerted effort by the students produces a better outcome as it involves informal group discussion, debate, clearing of doubts, and constructive input, which would all result in increasing the output.

Sometimes these students come up with innovative ideas that even we adults could not think of. Such ideas greatly help in enhancing our agricultural activities, stressed Devasharma.

HOLISTIC EDUCATION Through Agroecology

Vanita Kalimuthu joined MySkills Foundation in 2018 as a business administrator. Within a few months, she realised she was not cut for the job that in one way or another restricted her movement, upon which she requested to be shifted to Trainer & Student Affairs as an Agriculture Trainer.

Vanita Kalimuthu, Agriculture Trainer at MySkills Foundation.

Endowed with the knowledge and acumen to lead the students at the foundation, Vanita uses farming as a tool to bring about positive changes in their lives. She moved around swiftly to ensure each student was taught basic farming skills. She accomplished this by guiding the students to apply all their agroecological knowledge and skills to the land of this foundation.

“It is compulsory for each student to be on the farm daily from 7.00 a.m. to 8.30 a.m. During this period, students learn about planting, weeding and mowing, landscaping, composting, proper soil mixing, watering plants, collecting seeds, propagating plants, identifying plant diseases and other intricacies of farming.

“The result is encouraging. Not only do students learn the precious art of growing plants and procuring their own food, but I also see some students that exhibit violent tendencies previously mellow down all because of 1½ hours of the daily “ritual” of farming.

“Then it dawned on me that farming is also cathartic in the sense that it gives students a channel to release their pent-up emotions because some of them joined the institution after being stigmatised by society,” shared Vanita.

Vanita said that her input about nature and farming imbued in it a seed of transformation for the students. Therefore, teaching about farming is often accompanied by allegories to capture the attention of the students.

“We always want to get rid of weeds as they stunt the growth of the plant and deny us the fruit we desire. The same goes for our own lives. Until and unless we get rid of negative elements that stunt our growth, there will be no progress in life,” explained Vanita to the students.

She says such references to farming in their own lives bear fruit in the long run.


Kumuthan Raman is a student leader of the farming section of the MySkills Foundation. Kumuthan said that in the initial stages, he had no interest in farming.

Kumuthan Raman, Student Leader in MySkills Foundation’s Farming Section.

“Once, my friend was making fun of a group of students who were working on the farm. I was only accompanying him. It ends up with both of us being roped into farming as a corrective measure to show some respect to our toiling fellow students.

“I was reluctant in the initial stages. But then, as time went by, I became attracted to the diversities that farming offered. The soil, its organisms, the variety of plants and the weather are all very intriguing and interesting.

Farming is also my way of showing respect to my teacher, Vanita, who will go to any extent to ensure all of us learn farming skills. Once, a group of students did not cooperate well, and I noticed the teacher had a tough time handling them. Despite that, she patiently imparted the lesson. That was the moment I was determined to pay full attention to her teaching and cooperate in all her activities.

“After mastering all the farming skills, I was raised to the position of leader. I always motivate my fellow friends to learn all the farming techniques. Most of them don’t like weeding because it’s tedious work. However, since we are being paid an allowance, I motivate and ensure the students do the work assigned to them.

“We also have another temptation, something that most of us find difficult to resist. Once we have accomplished our task on the farm, we are allowed to play and swim in the nearby river. Releasing ourselves in the river is the best moment of our lives,” said Kumuthan.

Kumuthan, who has the ambition of serving in the army, is also preparing himself for that. As he had mastered all the basics of farming, such as preparing the soil, planting, making growth promoters, and many more, he wanted to do farming on a small scale in the future, to put to good use all that he had learned.

Agroecology Fund