BACHOK, November 1 : About 100 Year 5 pupils from Bachok who will be sitting for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) in 2013 will have a head start in improving their command of English and ace the subject in the exam next year, thanks to a language camp organised by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) under its empower programme.

Aptly named “Quest for Excellence”, the half-day English language camp was held in collaboration with the New Straits Times newspaper to help the future UPSR pupils learn English in a friendly and fun environment through the latter’s NiEXUS online teaching programme.

NiEXUS is an online English learning site for students in primary and secondary schools which was designed to encourage creativity, improve Information Technology (IT) skills and enhance the language learning experience for students between the ages of six and 17.

Today’s English camp also encourages students to use NiEXUS as a platform to improve their English language during the school holidays and leisure time. Some 100 primary school teachers from the district were also briefed on the need for more teaching aids in their classrooms in order to add more fun and effectiveness to the learning process.

Deputy Finance Minister, YB Senator Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin officiated the English camp at Sekolah Kebangsaan Perupok here today.

ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said the “Quest for Excellence” English camp is an extension of ECERDC’s empower Bachok programme which was tailored to meet the needs of the local students, particularly in enhancing their confidence and assisting them to obtain good grades in the English language subject in UPSR.

“Mastering an international language such as English will provide the students with better academic opportunities and pave the way for them to be more marketable in the future,” he noted.

Dato’ Issace added that the initiative was also in line with the government’s commitment to help young Malaysians improve their command of English, beginning with equipping the teachers with the necessary tools and skills.

“We are proactively working to have more English camps in the near term to spark greater interest in learning English among the students. We are also considering to organise similar programmes to cater for students taking the PMR and SPM examinations under our empower initiative,” he said.

ECERDC’s empower programme for the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) locals consists of Academic Skills Training which aims to help students achieve academic excellence, as well as Entrepreneurship & Skills Training which provides technical skills to participants in order to help them generate additional income.

Under empower Bachok, some 400 average and under-performing students from six schools in Bachok have been selected for the Academic Skills Training programme since January 2012, where they were given tuition classes and motivational guidance to help them improve their academic performance.

In addition, 500 Bachok residents are currently undergoing the Entrepreneurship & Skills Training programme since February 2012, whose broad range of courses include physiotherapy, bridal make-up, baking, tailoring and sewing, hair dressing, 1Malaysia cooking, as well as wiring and plumbing.

First launched by ECERDC in 2010, the empower programme is currently being implemented in Bentong, Temerloh, Lipis, Raub and Cameron Highlands in Pahang; Jeli and Bachok in Kelantan; and Kemaman in Terengganu. The programme has so far benefitted 10,300 ECER locals, comprising 6,000 students and 4,300 adults.