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Bringing impact to rural education in Malaysia

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The Education Ministry in Malaysia being aware of the education divide between the schools in the rural areas and towns is now embarking on high impact projects to bridge the divide. The ministry is giving priority to improve education outside towns under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) in a comprehensive manner from pre-school to higher education.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein revealed that up to September 2006, there were 767 primary and 28 secondary schools without 24 hours electricity supply and 1,517 primary and 68 secondary schools without connected water supply. Under the 9MP, the ministry is hoping to supply higher voltage generator capable of supplying 30-35KVa and also the solar power equipment and set up mini dams to ensure the implementation of ICT initiatives.

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These high impact projects would be implemented in the first three years of the 9MP. They are also an addition to the projects earmarked under the plan covering infrastructure, equipment, teachers, curriculum and support and assistance services. Through the high impact projects NITF would assist in ensuring the basic necessities like electricity made available 24 hours to 900 schools and clean water for 300 schools. About 2,600 primary and secondary schools also to be upgraded with enough classrooms, additional buildings and old buildings replaced.

NITF is also to assist in implementing the pre-school education in rural areas by setting up 2,400 pre-school classes complete with computer facilities that could benefit 61,000 children in the 5-6 years age group. Apart from that, the ministry would also enhance the rehabilitation classes in rural areas with the setting up of 5,000 classes to enhance the 3M capabilities, namely read, write and count. The ministry is also widening the vocational subjects in 480 schools in the rural areas to help the students who are not keen in the academic subjects. To ensure the welfare of the poor children are taken care, NITF will set side additional allocation for the Additional Food Plan (RMT) for the 550,000 poor students in rural areas.

Through the high impact projects, the number of students who fail to master the 3M in rural areas can be reduced and the percentage of those in the first year who have mastered the 3M can rise from 92.3 percent now to more than 95 percent. So is the number of students who need rehabilitation that can be reduced from 7.7 percent to less than 5 percent and the need for the Tuition Voucher Scheme (SBT) can be reduced from 100 percent to 80 percent after the 9MP. The dropout rates in rural schools could be reduced from 1.2 percent to less than 1.0 percent at the primary level and from 16.7 percent to less than 1.0 percent at the secondary level.

It is even hoped that the health of the rural students will further improve and the absent rates can be reduced further and the number of good teachers serving the rural areas will increase.

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