CAMERON HIGHLANDS, PAHANG, 4 MARCH :More than 350 Form 4 and Form 5 students of SMK Sultan Ahmad Shah in Cameron Highlands who are participants of the East Coast Economic Region’s (ECER) empower programme were introduced to the mind mapping techniques pioneered by renowned motivational speaker, Tony Buzan, during a special one-day programme here today.

Organised by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC), the programme was officiated by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, YB Senator Dato’ G Palanivel.

“Mind mapping skills training is among the many programmes conducted under our empower Academic Skills Training initiative which goes beyond rote learning,” said Chief Executive Officer of ECERDC, Dato’ Jebasingam Issace John.

“Our empower Academic Skills Training module aims to educate the students on how to acquire and apply information and knowledge more effectively. It also motivates them to become confident young people who recognise their true potential and self-worth. This is important because they represent the region’s future human capital, who will play a key role in accelerating the transformation of ECER,” he said.

Originated in the late 1960s, Tony Buzan’s Mind Maps are used by millions of people around the world – from the very young to the very old –and has proven to be effective in improving one’s learning and thinking skills.

The brainchild of ECERDC, empower is a twin-pronged human capital development initiative that focuses on Academic Skills Training for examination-year students and Skills and Entrepreneurship Training for adults in ECER. It targets academically weak students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and adults who are unemployed or underemployed, single mothers, those in low-paying jobs and aspiring entrepreneurs.

First launched in Bentong in 2010, empower is currently being implemented in nine districts in ECER namely, Bentong, Temerloh, Raub, Cameron Highlands, Lipis, Kuala Pahang in Pahang; Bachok and Jeli in Kelantan; and 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 training sessions.

empower has resulted in marked improvements in the participants’ academic performance, with 100% passes recorded for the previous UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations, and a 30% improvement in grades among its participants. Meanwhile, the Skills and Entrepreneurship Training programme has contributed to marked improvement in the participants’ monthly income, with some of them earning as much as RM6,000 per month.