Coming down from the stars

3/5/2013 — The Star

RAUB: Some 400 students were provided with an opportunity to meet Malaysia’s first astronaut Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor during a special programme organised by the East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC).
The students, from 12 local schools in the district here, were all participants of the Empower academic skills training programme and would be sitting for the public examinations later this year.
The schools were SK Raub Jaya, SK Sega, SK Ulu Dong, SK Batu Talam, SK Satak, SJK(C) Chung Ching, SJK(T) Raub, SJK(C) Sg Klau, SM Mahmud, SM Dato Shahbandar Hussain, SM LKPT Tersang and SM Dong.
Also present during the motivation programme themed “The Sky is the Limit” held at SM Dong was Dong assemblyman Datuk Shahiruddin Abdul Moin.
The students were delighted to be able to meet Dr Sheikh Muszaphar in person and hear first-hand accounts of his experiences and the difficult choices he had to make to achieve his ambition.
Later, they also participated in interactive activities and games conducted by a team of motivators and and got the chance to see the astronaut’s special space suit, gloves, parachute and other personal items which were part of the historic space mission.
The council’s chief executive officer Datuk Jebasingam Issace John said Dr Sheikh Muszaphar was a good role model for the students to boost their self-confidence and determination.
”We firmly believe that students should be provided with an opportunity to interact with personalities who are successful.
”As such, we decided to rope in Dr Sheikh Muszaphar as part of our motivation programme to inspire the students with his life experiences,” he said, adding that all participants had the potential to shine with the right motivation and encouragement.
Jebasingam expressed hope that the programme would serve as an inspiration for the students to excel not only in their respective UPSR, PMR and SPM examinations but beyond.
Empower is a twin-pronged human capital development initiative introduced by ECERDC which focuses on academic skills training for students and skills and entrepreneurship training for adults and youths.
Human capital development is vital for the rapid transformation of the ECER economy, providing assistance to academically weak students from disadvantaged backgrounds to improve their grades.
Its skills and entrepreneurship training aims to help those in low-paying jobs, aspiring entrepreneurs and single parents to secure better employment and business prospects.
First launched in Bentong in 2010, Empower is being implemented in nine ECER districts namely Bentong, Temerloh, Raub, Cameron Highlands, Lipis and Pekan in Pahang; Bachok and Jeli in Kelantan and Kemaman in Terengganu.
As of last year, a total of 11,426 participants, comprising 6,776 students and 4,650 youths and adults have benefitted from the Empower programmes.