Holistic Programme Provides Opportunities for Every Household Member to Uplift their Living Standard and Chart Their Own Success

KUALA TERENGGANU, TERENGGANU, 22 MARCH 2018: The high-impact public projects and inclusive human capital development programmes implemented by the Federal Government through the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) in Terengganu, namely the Akuapolitan Kuala Nerus (AKN) project, has created tremendous socio-economic benefits not only for the AKN participants, but also their entire families, through better academic achievements, jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities.

The AKN programme is an ongoing, integrated and holistic effort aimed at eradicating poverty, improving the household income, enhancing the quality of life, and inculcating sustainability for the local fishing community. This project involves a total development of fisheries’ value chain, from upstream to downstream fisheries activities and is expected to benefit 452 heads of households, or nearly 2,000 locals, including their family members.

In addition to fisheries development, ECERDC has kick-started its human capital development programmes such as empower ECER Academic Training since 2017 and empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training from 2016 at the project site, benefitting 94 participants, including students, to date. This is to equip the participants and their families with the necessary skills and exposure to ensure that they are ready to participate in new economic activities once the AKN project is rolled out and in tandem with the rapid growth of AKN’s surrounding areas as a key tourism destination.

“The empower ECER programme in AKN is holistically and specially designed to address some of the challenges faced by the fishing communities as part of our continuous efforts to uplift their livelihood. We want to ensure every household member is on the right path to achieve their ambitions. For instance, we also work very closely with our stakeholders to guide promising students on developing their potentials through further education or skills training, while providing placements for students who may not have performed well academically, in vocational courses or institutions. This is a key element to support the overall development of AKN and ensure that the young talents in Kuala Nerus will benefit and be an active contributor to the region’s socio-economic growth and do not fall into the future poor trap,” said Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, YBhg. Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John, at the event today which follows the ECER Implementation and Coordination Committee (ICC) meeting for Terengganu chaired by Terengganu Menteri Besar YAB Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad Razif bin Abdul Rahman.

“Spouses and other adult participants also benefit from the empower ECER initiative through the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme which trains and upskills them for better jobs or even start their own businesses, which will eventually help increase their household income,” added Datuk Seri Issace.

In fact, the implementation of these inclusive programmes has already yielded positive impact at the grassroots, as evidenced through the improved academic results among the AKN participants’ children and increased number of new entrepreneurs among the household members. These successes were recognised today by Dato’ Seri Haji Ahmad Razif when he presented certificates of excellence to 12 empower ECER Akuapolitan Kuala Nerus students who have achieved exemplary results in the recent Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination.

 One of the recipients, Nor Azira binti A. Rahman, who achieved 5As, said, “My success today is dedicated to both of my parents, who have struggled and went through a lot of hardship to raise all of my 14 siblings. This award is a motivation for me to achieve more and realise my dream to be a doctor, and thereby changing my family’s destiny for the better.” Most of the students who were celebrated at the event, including Nor Azira, are children of AKN participants who were underperforming in their studies and have benefitted from the free tuition and motivational classes implemented through the empower ECER Academic Training programme.

ECERDC also offers Culinary as well as Tailoring courses under its empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme, benefitting 43 AKN spouses and adult participants in total. To date, 97% of them have opened their own businesses while others opted for secure jobs. One of the adult participants whose life has changed for the better is Ahmad Khaironizam bin Mohamad, 32. Prior to participating in the course, Ahmad Khaironizam was working from home as a tailor, with an average monthly income of RM1,000. Inspired by the success of other empower ECER entrepreneurs, together with the moral support and guidance he received from the trainers, he has since launched his own boutique. He is now actively participating in fashion shows to promote his work and is earning more than RM5,000 a month.

In tandem with Terengganu’s growth in the tourism sector, ECERDC will also be launching Scuba Diving and Spa and Wellness courses under the empower ECER programme in Kuala Nerus soon, to further encourage locals in Kuala Nerus to participate and diversify their income.

Throughout Terengganu, the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme has benefitted 3,833 adult participants who are now earning between RM1,000 and RM10,000 monthly while the empower ECER Academic Training programme has played a key role in improving the academic achievements of 12,682 students to date.

In addition to the empower ECER programme, ECERDC has also initiated other inclusive human capital development programmes such as entrepreneur ECER, TERAJU@ECER, Agropolitan and ECER Talent Enhancement Programme (ETEP), which have improved the livelihood of more than 25,842 Rakyat directly, while creating an additional 9,090 new jobs and 4,161 entrepreneurs in Terengganu. In fact, 90 per cent of the beneficiaries are from the bottom 40% (B40) income group, reflecting the inclusiveness of the programmes that have been implemented by ECERDC in collaboration with the Terengganu State Government since the inception of the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) 10 years ago.

“Terengganu’s socio-economic transformation over the past decade has been remarkable. The equal focus on both the Capital Economy and People Economy have helped create more jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for the locals, which in turn has created spillover benefits to improve the Rakyat’s living standards. The strong foundation built over the last 10 years has put Terengganu in a solid position to take its next leap of growth as outlined under the ECER Master Plan 2.0, which will be unveiled soon in conjunction with our 10th Anniversary Celebration,” said Datuk Seri Issace John.

On the investment front, Terengganu has successfully attracted private investments totalling RM33.7 billion. This in return has benefitted the Rakyat through the creation of more than 32,530 job opportunities and 3,514 entrepreneurial opportunities. The Manufacturing sector has been a key driver, contributing 45.1% of the total private investments in the state. This is followed by the Bio-economy as well as Oil, Gas and Petrochemicals clusters at 24.1% and 12.5% respectively.

“We will certainly not rest on our laurels. In fact, the Federal Government through ECERDC will continue to invest in various high-impact InfraRakyat projects and strategic human capital development programmes to create an additional 39,000 job opportunities and 15,000 new entrepreneurs in Terengganu by year 2025. It will be mainly driven by the State’s existing key economic clusters, particularly manufacturing, tourism, agribusiness, and human capital development,” Datuk Seri Issace concluded.