KOTA BHARU, KELANTAN, 26 MARCH :The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) today hosted a one-day English Language Camp for 100 Form 3 students from Jeli and Bachok who are participants of its empower ECER programme. Held at the Lincoln Centre in Kota Bharu’s State Library, the camp was conducted by EducationUSA Advisers namely, Doreen John, Barbara Nichols and Lauren Parsons.

ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said the English language camp was tailored to meet the needs of students from four schools in Bachok and Jeli who are preparing for their Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination later this year.

“This is the first time that we are collaborating with the US Embassy to offer an English enhancement programme to our empower ECER students,” said Dato’ Issace. “Our objective is to expose the local students in Kelantan to the educational environment of the Lincoln Centre which is highly conducive for learning English, a compulsory subject in their upcoming PMR examination,” he said.

“We hope the programme will also expose them to the importance of mastering the English language in the increasingly globalised working environment,” he noted.

The first half of the programme saw the participants from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Pak Badol and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Kandis in Bachok, and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Ayer Lanas and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bukit Bunga in Jeli naming English-speaking countries, and discussing the importance of learning and using good English. They were asked to rate themselves on their English abilities. After lunch, the focus shifted to learning about the United States of America, together with a video presentation.

EducationUSA is a network of hundreds of advising centers in 170 countries, where millions of international students each year find accurate, comprehensive, and current information about how to apply to accredited U.S. colleges and universities. It is supported by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which strives to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

Meanwhile, Lincoln Resource Center, or originally known as the U.S. Information Service (USIS) library, opened its doors to the Malaysian public on February 15, 1950 and continues to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information about U.S. policies, education, geography, history, society and culture, among others. The Lincoln Resource Center has partnered with several local public libraries to make available to the Malaysian public special Americana collections called Lincoln Corners/Centre. Today there are six Lincoln Corners in public libraries in Kuala Lumpur, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak, Kedah, Kelantan and Penang.

empower ECER is a twin-pronged human capital development initiative launched in 2010 by ECERDC which is aimed at reducing the economic disparities between rural and urban communities. It focuses on Skills and Entrepreneurship Training for adults and Academic Skills Training for examination-year students in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER). The Academic Skills Training targets academically weak students from disadvantaged backgrounds, enhancing their skill sets and improving their academic results so that they are not left out of the Region’s new prosperity.

empower ECER’s Academic Skills Training programme involves remedial classes and motivational sessions for academically weak students sitting for the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah, Penilaian Menengah Rendah and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations. They are taught learning techniques such as effective note-taking, mind-mapping, speed reading and other methods that strengthen the students’ powers of retention to enhance their academic performance while helping the students develop their soft and social skills.

The empower ECER programme was introduced in Kelantan in 2011, starting with Jeli, and followed by Bachock since January 2012. There are currently 520 Academic Skills Training participants and 900 Skills and Entrepreneurship participants in Jeli, and another 400 Academic Skills Training participants and 500 Skills and Entrepreneurship participants respectively in Bachok.

empower ECER is also currently being implemented in Bentong, Temerloh, Raub, Cameron Highland, Lipis, Kuala Pahang in Pahang; as well as Kemaman in Terengganu.

As at the end of 2012, a total of 11,426 participants, comprising 6,776 students and 4,650 adults have benefitted from empower ECER. Students to date have recorded a 100% pass rate, with several scoring distinctions. For adults, it is estimated that up to 30% of participants will gain employment after completing their courses, while the rest will have sufficient knowledge and practical experience to start their own business, and the ability to generate income of between RM500 and RM1,500 per month, or even more.