empower ECER: CATALYST FOR RURAL TRANSFORMATION Human Capital Development Programme Benefits Over 34,000 Locals in ECER

BESUT, 19 OCTOBER: The East Coast Economic Region Development Council’s (ECERDC) empower ECER human capital development programme has benefitted more than 34,000 locals in the East Coast Economic Region (ECER), who are now enjoying better academic achievement and higher income through training programmes provided under this initiative, said Minister of  Education II, YB Dato’ Seri Haji Idris Jusoh.
Consisting of Academic Training programme which targets academically weak students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme which focuses on single parents, jobless youths and disadvantaged individuals, empower ECER has so far  transformed the lives of nearly 23,000 students and over 11,000 adult participants since the launch of its pilot project in Bentong, Pahang in 2010.
The programme is currently implemented in 17 locations across ECER, namely Bentong, Temerloh, Lipis, Raub, Cameron Highlands, Maran, Jerantut, Kuala Pahang and Rompin in Pahang; Bachok, Jeli and Ketereh in Kelantan; Kemaman, Dungun, Besut and Hulu Terengganu in Terengganu, as well as Mersing in Johor.
“I am pleased with the positive impact of empower ECER in transforming the lives of its participants, particularly in improving the academic achievement of the students,  as well as in creating new entrepreneurs among the adult participants,” said Dato’ Seri Haji Idris at the official launch of empower ECER Besut here today.
Dato’ Seri Haji Idris, who is also the Member of Parliament for Besut, said empower ECER is in line with the Government’s development agenda which is based on an inclusive approach for all Malaysians. “We are committed to ensure that nobody is left behind in enjoying the new prosperity created by the ongoing transformation of ECER in particular, and Malaysia in general. empower ECER is one of the Government’s platform to ensure that this objective is achieved,” he noted.
From the total number of empower ECER participants, 5,300 of them are from Terengganu. They include 800 participants from Besut, comprising 400 students enrolled in Academic Training Programme, and 400 adult participants of Skills and Entrepreneurship programme.
Giving an example, Dato’ Seri Haji Idris said the pecentage of Year 6 student participants who passed all their subjects with a minimum of grade B in the trial exam of Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) has increased to 60%, compared with 50% recorded during the test held earlier this year.
For Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme, 23 participants from Besut have already started their own business while still undergoing their training. One of them, Puan Rosnani bt Yusoff, who is a participant of the Cake Baking & Pastry course, has since opened her own bakery and frozen food shop, and is now earning about RM4,000 a month from her business, from only RM1,500 previously.
Dato’ Seri Haji Idris said he is confident that empower ECER Besut will repeat the success of the other empower ECER locations in ECER, based on the programme’s excellent track record.
ECERDC Chief Executive Officer, YBhg. Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John said empower ECER is aimed at narrowing the regional imbalances between the West Coast and East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia by uplifting the socioeconomic status of the locals in ECER though academic and skills training.
“Our human capital development programmes, such as empower ECER, entrepreneur ECER and TERAJU@ECER, among others, are also in line with the Government’s Bumiputera empowerment agenda, while at the same time, embracing the concept of inclusiveness which involves the participation of all communities in the Region,” Dato’ Issace said.
At  today’s event, Dato’ Seri Haji Idris also presented achievement certificates to nine most promising students enrolled in empower ECER Besut Academic Training programme. He also handed over appliances such as sewing machines, ovens and mixers provided by ECERDC to 10 of the most promising empower ECER Besut participants to help them start their own businesses.
empower ECER Besut Academic Training programme was implemented starting in February 2014 with the participation of nine schools, namely, SK Kuala Besut, SK Keluang , SK Pusat Jerteh, SK LKTP Tenang, SJK Chung Hwa, SMK Kuala Besut, SMK Tembila, SMK Pelagat and SMK Putra, while courses offered under its Skills and Entrepreneurship Programme have been implemented since June this year.
Besut is one of the two new sites apart from Hulu Terengganu to be introduced in 2014 for Terengganu which was selected by ECERDC for the implementation of empower ECER programm, after Kemaman and Dungun.
The students selected for the Academic Training programme consist of weak and average students who will be taking their UPSR, PT3 and SPM examinations. In addition to tuition classes, ECERDC has also introduced self-improvement courses such as ”Conceive, Believe & Achieve, the Dale Carnegie Way”, “Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Creative Note Taking”, “Mind Science” for memory enhancement and “Number Sense” to improve their mathematical skills.
The Skills & Entrepreneurship Programme in Besut offers courses in hair dressing, cosmetics and make-up, reflexology, pastry & desserts, mobile telephone repair, handicraft, plumbing and wiring, dressmaking and business management, among others.