Digitising Malaysia: Need for broader partnerships

  • More connections needed between industries
  • Not much an access problem as it is about utilisation
Digitising Malaysia: Need for broader partnerships

ACHIEVING the vision of a more connected Malaysia would require broader partnerships across more industries and ecosystems, with education also playing a key role, a panel of experts said.
“Far more can be done to enrich how people live, work and prosper if public agencies, the private sector, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) recognise the transformative opportunities and collaborate to leverage on technology,” said Cisco Malaysia country manager Albert Chai.
“What we would observe from this combined effort is the cultivation of creative and substantial ideas and entrepreneurial efforts across every level of society,” he added.
The panel discussion organised by Cisco On Nov 30, had the theme Driving Digitisation for Malaysians.
It was moderated by deputy managing consultant and senior account director Lee Tiam Siang of public relations agency Text100. The panellists included Teach For Malaysia regions manager Abel Cheah and CatchThatBus cofounder and chief executive officer Viren Doshi.
Everyone can contribute to education, said Cheah.
“There is a saying that goes ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ Thus, it’s a responsibility not only of parents and teachers, but also startups, the Government and more.
“Together, we can raise the standards [of education],” he said.
Teach For Malaysia (TFM), a non-profit organisation focused on addressing education inequity in Malaysia, is trying to do its part.
The TFM Fellowship enlists talents below the age 35 in a highly selective two-year, full-time and fully-paid leadership programme to address education shortcomings in the country.
Cheah pointed out the partnership model has worked well for TFM, which partners with business and industry leaders from various backgrounds.
“For example, we partnered with CIMB Group for a fusion programme where TFM Fellows can continue to receive training from CIMB upon finishing their training with us.
“We also have partners which support our schools by providing projects for students – one of them is Accenture, which has funded and organised camps to teach students pitching and leadership skills,” he said.
“There is so much potential for collaboration. It is one of our core values – we look for ways to partner with different industry leaders and companies with different value propositions, to work towards a common goal as we all agree that education is the business of nation-building,” he added.
Digitisation barriers
Meanwhile, CatchThatBus’ Viren said that Malaysia already has the infrastructure needed to build a ‘digital economy,’ but argued that industry players are not leveraging enough on this infrastructure for their business.
“There is still a gap that needs to be addressed,” he said.
The problem, however, is not access but lack of utilisation, said Cheah.
“The question now is how [businesses] can capitalise these tools to help them alleviate their economic situation,” he said.
Chai said Cisco itself has partnered with Malaysia’s Ministry of Education to roll out the Cisco Networking Academy in public education institutions over the last 20 years, to provide students with more access to technology.
“It is crucial to bridge the divide between the rural and urban so that underprivileged students will not be left out of the whole digitisation plan,” he added.
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The reality of Malaysian schools at odds with nation’s aspirations
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