Channelling to the community

UNIVERSITI Teknologi Malaysia's Program Limpahan Intelektual 1997 (1997 Intellectual Overflow Programme) is an extension of its annual community projects held at various villages throughout Malaysia.

The typical project involves groups of student spending a week in selected villages to carry out community work.

However, for project manager Nurazariah Abidin, 20, community service and gotong royong activities were not enough. She decided to include the element of technology in the project, and ensured that there were proper follow up programmes for continuity.

Which was how Program Limpahan Intelektual came about.

"We called it limpahan because it means overflow, which just about sums up the impact of technology. And information technology is increasingly pervasive in our society today," says Nurazariah, also known as Azah.

Besides technology, the other two components of the project are "education" and "community."

Once her proposed project was approved by the university, Azah put out notices at UTM's Tun Razak hostel for volunteers to join her programme.

Candidates were interviewed to evaluate their strength and weaknesses. Of the 40 students selected to go to the Batu Kurau constituency, six were chosen to participate in the technology programme. They are Mohd Masdi Musa (22), Faizul Izham Aminuddin (22), Mohd Norizal Yahya (20), Alizah Rabu (20), Zunaidah Slamat (20) and Norolizah Abu Hassan (20).

The other students were put to work on education and community programmes at other villages located in Batu Kurau. They were responsible for setting up a mini library, giving extra tuition classes for subjects like English, Mathematics and Science; and even erected signboards at the village entrances.

They also cleaned up the Telaga Tujuh waterfall, Repoh's main tourist attraction.

"My fellow students and I were placed in 20 foster homes during the week-long programme," Azah says.

The team looked at various kampungs before choosing Repoh. "We looked at the infrastructure, basic amenities and promixity. For instance, the schools here are next to the mosque and are within a walking distance to the community centre. Moreover, there are some tourist attractions around," she says.

Azah is from Kampung Redang Panjang, which is located next to Kampung Repoh.

"But we felt that Redang did not fit the bill of a kampung we wanted to highlight," she confesses.

Batu Kurau state assemblyman Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin says he hopes that the homepage activities at Kampung Repoh will help villagers embrace technology, and that it will be an impetus for future change.

Kampung Repoh is one of the 40 villages in the Batu Kurau constituency. A total of 19 penghulus (headmans) are responsible for manning the villages. Raja Ahmad commended the students' efforts as being in line with the government's vision to create a multimedia society.

"Many schools already have a PC in place, which is used mainly for administrative purposes. This is too few for the needs of a proper classroom. We hope someone or a company will come forward and donate PCs for students," he says.

Raja Ahmad also says the villagers received queries from other kampungs after Kampung Repoh launched its homepage last July.

"We look forward to helping them," he says. - ANITA MATTHEWS


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