Penang State and Supplemental Education

According to this article in ALIRAN Malaysia, the Penang state government have been initating a number of projects over the past few years to supplement formal education there.

… the State can focus on areas that somehow have received scant or no attention within the formal system of education.

– Datuk Dr Toh Kin Woon, State Executive Councillor for Economic Planning, Education, and Human Resources Development Committee, Penang, Malaysia

Among their projects include:

  • Bureau on Learning Difficulties (BOLD), aimed at helping children with learning difficulties (or underpriviledged children) learn literacy and numeracy skills through talks and workshops
  • PACE, aimed at providing opportunities for continuous learning through regular talks on varied issues such as astronomy, healthcare, and self-development
  • Arts-Ed, which provides art education through short courses in music, drama, visual art, literature, and video production
  • The Penang Public Library, with resources on Penang’s culture and heritage
  • The Penang Library Network, which connects the catalogues of participating libraries

It’s highly interesting to see such efforts being done in Malaysia, especially at a state level – it shows that the state government has alternative and supplementary education in mind and realizes that there are still many limitations to the current educational system that require outside help.

Many of these ideas – especially BOLD, PACE, and Arts-Ed – are reminiscent of plans for Brick In The Wall, a project I founded last year to support and promote alternative education. We too had plans for talks and art education, as well as including those with learning difficulties, though our focus was mainly on being a no-governmental open network and resource for alternative educational programs.

Our biggest problem was that not many important people (who could really make a difference for us) really took us as seriously as we wished (and we need to work on organizing), but these efforts by the Penang State government are really inspiring and helpful, and help provide a framework and support for our project.

It would be good to see efforts like this implemented in other states, and hopefully nation-wide. Are there any plans like this elsewhere?

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