61-Year Old Technical Institute Requires RM8 Million a Year to Sustain Student Housing, Training Equipment and Materials, and Staff
Shah Alam, 3 July 2020 – The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are far reaching, especially among society’s most vulnerable, like the B40 youth. Montfort Boys Town (MBT), the nation’s renowned technical institute working to empower these youth for the past 61 years, is seeing worrying times as donors retract contributions amid the current subdued economic environment.
“We understand many companies are facing difficulties sustaining their businesses, as a result of the current economic situation. At the same time, sustaining MBT and its work relies on the support of the public and corporate partners through funding. The institution’s donations have reached its lowest level since the Movement Control Order started and we are concerned about the future of our students who rely on us for a chance to build a livelihood and a better future,” explained Montfort Boys Town Deputy Director, S. Arul.
Since the start of the MCO, MBT stepped up efforts to ensure the continuity of teaching and learning through online platforms such as video calls, zoom sessions, Google Classroom, Whatsapp groups and emails. The shift also comes with its set of challenges as not all MBT students are equipped with the facilities for online learning. The institution’s efforts are hindered as many of its students do not own a smart phone, rely on devices shared with family members or have limited internet access.
“Teaching academically challenged students is an art. Our teachers have been working tirelessly to support their online lessons by simplifying notes, preparing assignments, and simple quizzes. However, these are still inadequate for an effective and productive learning process, given the limited access our students have to proper facilities,” Arul explained.
MBT’s modules are crafted to help its students, who require different learning approaches, to thrive with the ‘teach and show’ method. For example, Bakery and Pastry students were given recipes to try at home and were tasked to post the pictures of their final products in the classroom’s WhatsApp group. The ‘teach and show’ method places greater emphasis on the practical approach to enhance a student’s theoretical understanding. However, it remains a challenge during the remote learning period as this was not possible for all subjects, especially those with heavy machinery involved such as the automotive courses.
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the nation’s unemployment rate increased to 5% in Apr 2020. The department also stated that the most affected employed persons were in the manufacturing and services sectors namely accommodation and food and beverage; arts, entertainment and recreation and other services such as beauty centres and salons.
“Employment is another area that we foresee becoming a challenge for our students as employers may be more conservative about hiring amid operational cost tightening measures. We hope with the reactivation of business for more sectors and the resumption of inter-state travels during this recovery phase will help improve the outlook for employment among our graduates. We hope to be able to continue sowing the seeds of education among our young people with the help of our generous donors. We also pray that God will bring healing and rejuvenate everyone as we weather the challenging times together,” concluded Arul.
Technical and vocational training and education (TVET) continues to be an important source of highly skilled and future-ready workforce in Malaysia. According to the National Policy on Industry 4.0, the country requires more independent and highly skilled workers, who will increase the nation’s productivity.
MBT’s fund raising efforts through its annual Montfort Boys Town Open House Charity Carnival was impacted by the pandemic. Other major events that were postponed include this year’s graduation ceremony, final exams for the graduating batch of 2020 and student intakes for the year 2020.
MBT requires about RM8 million a year to sustain its overall operational expenses. These include housing for approximately 350 students including meals, teaching and administration staff salaries, maintenance for its faculties and facilities, as well as upgrades for machineries, central to the educational development of its students.
Since its inception, MBT has impacted the lives of over 7,000 underprivileged youth in Malaysia, who have gone on to lead thriving careers as a result of their foundational years at the institute. MBT is one of Malaysia’s pioneering NGOs that provides skills training and character formation to marginalised youth in Malaysia. In 2002, MBT opened its doors to female students which birthed the Montfort Girls Centre.
Cash donations to MBT are entitled for tax exemption as defined under sub-section 44(6) of Income Tax Act 1967, Ruj: LHDN.01/35/51/179-6-0679, No. Warta Kerajaan: LN 106-1 October 1959.