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Classes for all

IPOH: The Perak Kwongsai Association, one of the smaller Chinese groupings in Malaysia, has introduced computer courses for the benefit of its members.

According to association president Chon Choong Yin, the courses were introduced purely to expose its members to technology. "Our membership has increased tremendously in the last four to five years, and we realised we needed to introduce new activities. Technology was a fitting choice," he told In.Tech recently.

Association members can learn popular graphics and wordprocessing applications, surf the Internet for information, and design homepages.

Chon said that the classes, which began last November, are small because of the limited number of computers.

The association bought 10 units of Pentium 166MHz MMX PCs with 32MB RAM and 2.1GB hard disk each; three units of HP 690C laser printers and an HP 9100 SCSI printer. Each class can only hold a maximum of 10 students per session.

"We raised RM50,000, including contributions from some of our committee members, to buy the PCs and related peripherals," said Chon.

The classes are divided into three categories: children under 12 years, teenagers and adults. Computer class instructor Tan Kim Theng has designed a syllabus suitable for each category.

Tan, who is also a lecturer at the Kinta Teachers College, said that classes for kids were more graphics-based, while those for teenagers are skewed towards wordprocessing, business applications and homepage creation.

"Adults spent a lot of time familarising themselves with PCs. Once they overcome the fear, they are fine," he said.

Although many of the teenagers come from schools equipped with PCs, they did not hesitate to pay and join the classes offered by the association, Tan said, attributing this to the easy accessibility to computers plus guaranteed guidance.

"Not all the students have access to the PCs in their schools. Even if they did, the time is limited, or the software they are using is limited as well," he claimed.

Students pay RM20 each, as the rest of the cost is subsidised by the association. Tan said that since the class began last November, a total of 34 students have graduated from the six-month course.

Students are also taught to use the Chinese Star wordprocessing application as a side subject.

The Perak Kwongsai Association was set up 58 years ago with the aim of strengthening rapport within the Kwongsai community which originates from China.

"The first wave of the Kwongsai people arrived in the late 1800s, and were involved mainly in agricultural and rubber tapping activities," Chon said.

With 650 members on its roster, the association list recreational activities, tours and scholarships awards as its major activities.

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