Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Source: The Star Online~More smart schools by 2011

By Fadzilah Hj. Muhamad Published 30 January 2009

The Multimedia Development Corp (MDeC) is helping the Education Ministry to upgrade 50 rural and underserved schools into smart schools.
MDeC, which is custodian of the MSC Malaysia initiative, said upgrading work will be done in three phases beginning with 15 schools this year, 15 more next year and 20 in 2011. Its senior manager of smart schools, Dr Norrizan Razali, said the 50 schools located nationwide will be modelled after the country’s pioneer 88 smart schools.

MDeC will use a different approach to upgrade the rural schools to smart schools, Norrizan said.

“It will be a whole different challenge upgrading these 50 schools,” Norrizan told In.Tech in an interview recently. Unlike the first batch of smart schools, most of the rural schools are not high performing schools but she believes that ICT (information and communications technology) can help broaden the minds and improve the grades of students there.

“These schools don’t have the same kind of access to information like the first batch,” Norrizan said.

The task in the rural schools is to uplift the human capital in those schools and conduct leadership programmes to help teachers provide the benefits of ICT to their students.

“The main challenge here is in change management so we plan to sit down with the teachers and principals of the schools to enlighten them on smart schools, as well as how these will help improve the teaching and learning process,” said Norrizan.

She said MDeC and the Education Ministry will also take an inventory of the components that will need to be installed in the would-be smart schools.

MDeC and the ministry will also help the teaching faculty in each of the rural schools to optimise the ICT facilities given to them and will ensure that proper technical support is in place. “By the end of this project, MDeC also hopes to have a model to transform more rural schools into smart schools,” Norrizan said.

The upgrading of these schools, she said, gives MDeC a chance to get a hands-on approach to developing smart schools in Malaysia. Norrizan said that since the first 88 schools were transformed into smart schools between 2006 and 2008, there are now about 1,737 new smart schools in the country. “Most of them are not ranked as five-star smart schools because to get to that level, a school must use the IT facilities provided to innovate their teaching methods and I’m not talking about (just having) Powerpoint presentations,” she said.

She said the Education Ministry will help the lower-ranked smart schools improve on their IT usage so that they will eventually become five-star smart schools.

MDeC and the ministry continue to supervise the first 88 smart schools so that they can further improve themselves, Norizzan said.

Smart schools is one of the main thrusts of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, which was announced in 2005.

According to the plan, the Government is promoting the utilisation of ICT in schools to enhance the quality of education in the country.

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