KEMAMAN, March 29 : The East Coast Economic Region (ECER)’s empower Kemaman programme has successfully created high performing students and successful entrepreneurs since its official launch in the district last November, who were feted today in a special ceremony known as “Program Juara Empower Kemaman.”.

Terengganu Menteri Besar Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri Ahmad bin Said graced the event and presented certificates of excellence to the top 90 achievers of empower Kemaman.

They include 30 empower Kemaman participants who scored 7A’s and above in last year’s Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), 34 students who scored 5A’s and above in Sijil Penilaian Malaysia (SPM) and 26 participants of empower Skills & Entrepreneurship Training Programme who are now earning an additional monthly income of more than RM1,500.

The students were from SMK Chukai, SMK Kijal, SMK Ayer Puteh and SMK Badrul Alam Shah. Today’s recipients include three students from the district who managed to score 9A’s in 2011 SPM..

“Within less than a year since its launch,empower Kemaman has already shown impressive results in terms of academic achievement of the participants and the creation of entrepreneurship opportunities,” said Y.A.B. Dato’ Seri Ahmad in his speech.

“This is in line with the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) which aspires to create a high-income society among all Malaysians in the country,” he noted.

empower Kemaman consists of the Academic Training Programme for students who are taking Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), PMR and SPM exams, as well as Skills & Entrepreneurship Training Programme for youths and adults who are looking for a job or planning to set up their own business in order to increase their income.

All the 422 students from Kemaman who participated in empower’s Academic Training Programme last year successfully achieved 100% passes rate in their respective UPSR, PMR and SPM exams, Dato’ Seri Ahmad said.

“Of this figure, 103 students or 24% of the total participants have recorded excellent results, thus exceeding ECERDC’s original target of 20%,” he said.

For empower Kemaman’s Skills & Entrepreneurship Training Programme, some 500 participants have signed up for various courses such as Make-up & Grooming, Bakery, Sewing & Fashion Design, Hairstyling, Wiring and Piping Installation.

Dato’ Seri Ahmad said 278 participants or 56% of the total participants have already secured jobs or started their own business, even as they were still undergoing their training which began last November.

These participants are now earning additional income of up to RM1,500 a month, with some of them earning even more.

Seventeen of the empower participants who are earning more than RM1,500 a month are currently working or conducting business from home, another eight have opened their own shops, while one participant has set up his own night market stall.

ECERDC CEO YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said since the launch of its pilot project two years ago, ECERDC’s empower programme has benefitted over 2,000 Academic Training participants and 2,500 Skills & Entrepreneurship Training Programme in ECER.

empower was first introduced by ECERDC in Bentong in March 2010. Since then, it has been expanded to Temerloh, Lipis, Raub and Cameron Highlands in Pahang; and Jeli and Bachok in Kelantan. Kemaman was chosen as the pilot location for empower in Terengganu.

Issace said empower aims to enhance the human resource capability in ECER through academic empowerment and character-building, starting from primary school-level up until secondary level.

“The programme also aims to elevate the socio-economic levels of the local residents from all community group, through skills training programme which is specifically tailored to the needs of the locals and the job market,” he said.