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Malaysia: ICDL - A Competitive Advantage for Underprivileged Youth

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Introduction

The Montfort Boys Town was founded in 1959 by the Brothers of St Gabriel for the care and development of underprivileged youth. Montfort Boys Town was started to help youth who are orphaned and those who come from poor and underprivileged families in need of training for a better future in life.

Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd (F&NHB) believes that all children deserve equal educational opportunities. They established the F&N IT Corner program in 2010 to help young people at Montfort Boys Town to develop essential computer skills as a stepping stone to a brighter future.

The head of F&NHB communications and corporate affairs, Karen Tan, noted that computers had become essential in almost any job, hence the need for graduates to be computer literate in order to meet their career aspirations.

“Though many of the students come from underprivileged backgrounds, we believe education can give them a chance at a brighter future.
“Through the F&N IT Corner, we hope to empower youth with essential computer skills to equip them for both academic and professional success,”, she said at the school’s fifth ICDL graduation ceremony for 48 new graduates.

Since 2011, F&N IT Corner has given students the opportunity to undergo a six to eight-month International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) certification course, fully funded by F&N.

Project Description

In 2010, F&N sponsored a computer lab at Montfort Boys Town with 25 computers and internet facilities. The following year, F&N requested that Montfort Boys Town run a program that will utilise this new internet computer lab, and will benefit the students.

ICDL was then introduced through the Youth & Sports Ministry IT Base program. Montfort Boys Town did not participate in this program, but underwent the accreditation process and became an ATC in 2011.

To-date, ICDL has benefited more than 200 students. The program is offered mainly to final-year students. The course gives participants the necessary skills to use a computer and to understand common computer applications.

F&N has agreed to sponsor the program with an initial sponsorship of RM10,000.00 per year. This allows Montfort Boys Town to offer ICDL free of charge for its students. They recently agreed to increase the funding from RM10,000 to RM15,000 due to the current low currency exchange.

IT Training is part of the syllabus and there was no problem in integrating ICDL with the current skills training required by the National Occupational Skill Standard (NOSS).

The current sponsorship of RM15,000 allows Montfort to sign up about 50 candidates per year. IT students from the Computer Maintenance & Graphic Design departments are offered the ICDL program. All students from these two departments are required to undergo the trainings and certification tests. These IT students have a computer assigned to them, which allows them to have more computer time than the non IT students.

Montfort Boys Town recently upgraded to Windows 7/Windows 8 and the Office 2010 suite. The students are trained in Word Processing, Spreadsheets, Presentation, Computer Essentials, Online Essentials and Using Databases. They then choose three modules and undergo the ICDL Certification tests. Most of them choose Computer Essentials, Presentation and Word Processing.

English proficiency remains a big challenge. When taking the exams, the students have difficulties understanding the questions. They are able to carry out the practical steps, but sometimes they are unsure what the questions require them to perform. Despite this challenge, Montfort Boys Town understands the importance of pushing the students to learn the program in English.

Impact

The certification has helped Montfort Boys Town’s students secure jobs that require basic computer literacy. Indeed, with ICDL certification they can show the employer that they possess formal IT training. Furthermore, the fact that they are completing the exam in English is also a plus in recruiters’ eyes. It shows that the student has a sufficient English proficiency level.

So far, about 186 candidates including teachers have been certified.

Computer maintenance student Ng Qiu Teng is one such student who is confident of finding a good job abroad after graduating from the ICDL course.

“I decided to pursue ICDL as it was recommended by my sister who studied at Montfort. With the internationally-recognised qualifications, she has found a well-paid job in Singapore. I hope to follow in her footsteps once I graduate,” said the 20-year-old from Tangkak, Johor.

“The ICDL course equips us with fundamental skills that will be essential, not only in our future employment, but when furthering our studies,” said the 20-year-old graphic design student who plans to further her studies in illustration.

Graphic design teacher and Montfort alumnus Lee Wai Kok said the course was a good foundation program as it gave students an added advantage when seeking employment.

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