Currently 10 schools in rural communities in North East Malaysia are part of a project to improve their students English proficiency. Yes, it is a very ambitious project and the local Rotary Club of Kora Kinabalu Pearl has sought aid to expand the project to all 300 schools in the area. David Anderson, a past District Governor from the Rotary Club of Yea, took up the challenge and has coordinated the response from the Rotary Clubs of Southern Mitchel, Seymour, Kinglake Ranges, Yea, Alexandra and Mansfield to make the project a Sub-District 9790 effort. When David addressed the Rotary Club of Alexandra last Wednesday night, he explained that $835AU from each club will support two new schools to enter the program. It is aimed at years 4, 5 and 6. The first step is to give each student an English – Malay dictionary, then establish ‘English Corners’ in each school, providing 700 books in English and TVs and videos in English to improve these critical English language skills. Teachers have specialised English language skills training and the tools to present the program.

The project has developed to the point that a matching grant from Rotary International’s Foundation has been applied for. David said the 300 - school target is achievable and the trial work that began in 3 schools is now working very effectively in 10. The key issue for any aid program is to have a local champion and the Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu Pearl have stepped up and committed to this very ambitious goal. It is a collaborative project between Rotary, Sabah State Education Department and School Parent Teachers Associations. Knowing your dollar will make a difference and that the school is getting the full 100 cents in the dollar builds the confidence that will ensure success.

David is very enthusiastic about the potential of international understanding this project will create. The central highlands of Victoria now have some new friends in Malaysia. Kota Kinabalu is five days travel from Singapore so it is quite remote even in Australian terms yet with today’s modern communication systems English is essential for future success for these students. Being on a similar time zone David is sure that the relationships with this part of Malaysia will grow significantly.

In receiving the cheque from Rotary Club of Alexandra’s International Director Lynda Robinson, David congratulated the Club on its commitment to International Service which is added to now with support for this English language learning program.

He thanked the Rotary Club of Alexandra and the Alexandra district community who support the Rotary fundraising events like the Easter Art Show that enable these programs to be supported. The matching grant program means that the local contribution will double and the impact on the ground brings the 300 school target so much closer. Thank you.