UTAR Students Develop Soft Skills Through New Village Community Project
The tradition of giving back to society is very much ingrained in UTAR as the
University launched the UTAR New Village Community Project Webpage and the UTAR
Student Services Webpage on 30 August 2010 at UTAR Perak Campus.
Started in May 2009, the new village project had attracted great participation from students who volunteer to explore and study the needs, challenges and opportunities of new villages in Malaysia . So far, students had completed 22 projects and another seven projects were in progress. The completed projects covered new villages in Johor, Kuala Lumpur , Negeri Sembilan, Penang , Perak, Perlis and Selangor. With a click of a mouse, the general public could view the completed projects in UTAR New Village Community Project Webpage and various student-related information in UTAR Student Services Webpage.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, UTAR President Ir. Prof. Dato' Dr. Chuah Hean Teik said, "It is our plan to cover all the 450 new villages in Malaysia . We hope to do more than just collecting data on the new villages. It is our aim to encourage students to work with various sectors to initiate creative solutions to the community's issues and identify business opportunities. We would like to train our students to be social entrepreneurs."
Prof. Chuah expressed his appreciation to the partners of UTAR New Village Community Project, namely, Datuk Ir. Hong Lee Pee, the immediate past Chairman of the Science and Technology Innovation Committee of the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM), who started the New Village website, and Goh Peng Ooi from Silverlake, an IT service provider, for their kind contribution in ensuring the success of UTAR New Village Community Project Webpage.
He also thanked the sponsors of UTAR New Village Community Project, namely, Dr. Hou Kok Chung, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Dato' Dr. Ir. Gan Thian Leong, Managing Director of Brunsfield Group of Companies and Mark Chang, CEO of Jobstreet.com., for their enthusiastic support towards the project.
In his speech, Guest of Honour Dato' Wira Chor Chee Heung, Minister of Housing and Local Government said, "The continuous socio-economic transformation of the New Villages requires concerted efforts and smart partnership among various parties especially the government, private sectors, local communities and non-governmental organisations. In this regard, I note with pleasure and interest the aspiration of UTAR in responding positively and constructively to the government's efforts to modernise these New Villages into sustainable social and economic communities with productive rakyat who enjoy good quality of life."
Dato' Wira Chor also proposed some areas of study that UTAR may involve in the New Village Master Plan such as the conservation and special treatment of village heritage, issue of the aging population, development of cottage industry, one village one specialty, agriculture training programmes and ways to enhance the aesthetic aspects of places of interest in the villages. Dato' Wira Chor applauded UTAR for taking the responsibility to produce graduates who are not only intellectually capable but also socially cooperative, caring and responsible.
The two-in-one event also witnessed the presentation of UTAR Soft Skills Development Certificates (USSDC) by Dr. Hou Kok Chung to 24 UTAR students who have achieved distinction in USSDC. Started in January 2009, USSDC system recognises students' achievements and efforts in improving themselves in a wide array of soft skills such as communication and language; ethics and integrity; emotional intelligence, teamwork and leadership; creativity and strategic thinking; and entrepreneurship. With this latest batch of USSDC graduates, a total of 289 students have graduated from USSDC programme with 65 students obtained distinction, 164 merit and 60 pass.
Among those present at the event were Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik, Chairman of UTAR Council; Tan Sri Dato' Hew See Tong, advisor to UTAR Planning and Development Committee; and heads of new villages and heads of schools in Perak. After the launching ceremony, the guests toured an exhibition displaying UTAR community projects done by students.
Later, the heads of new villages and heads of schools attended a workshop cum dialogue session to discuss ideas and inputs. The session was chaired by UTAR Vice President (Internationalisation and Academic Development) Professor Dr. Ewe Hong Tat.
Dato' Wira Chor Chee Heung (second right) launching the UTAR New Village Community Project Webpage and UTAR Student Services Webpage. Looking on are (from left) Dr. Hou Kok Chung, Ir. Prof. Dato' Dr. Chuah Hean Teik and Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik
A group photo with USSDC graduates
Dato' Wira Chor Chee Heung (middle), Dr. Hou Kok Chung and Prof. Chuah looking at the exhibits of new village community projects