A bit of non-automotive news to start the week. Well, there is a slight connection to the automotive sector still but regardless, we think this is important enough to highlight for everyone to see. There is no doubt that the pandemic has affected us all. In particular, the B40 group is vulnerable to the economic impact of the pandemic. And Montfort Boys Town (MBT), an institution which helps to empower underprivileged youth by offering them technical training, is feeling the pinch. MBT is renowned as a technical institute working to help these youth for the past 61 years.
Due to the economic slowdown, MBT is seeing worrying times as donors retract contributions. “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.
Furthermore, MBT’s fundraising efforts through its annual Montfort Boys Town Open House Charity Carnival has been impacted by the pandemic. Other major events that were also postponed include this year’s graduation ceremony, final exams for the graduating batch of 2020 and student intakes for the year 2020.
Annually, MBT requires about RM8 million to sustain its overall operational expenses. This includes providing housing for approximately 350 students including meals, teaching and administration staff salaries, maintenance for its faculties and facilities, as well as upgrades for machinery which are central to the educational development of its students.
From the beginning of the MCO in March 2020, MBT had 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. This shift in training also presented a challenge as not every MBT student is equipped with the facilities for online learning. The institution’s efforts are hindered as many of its students do not own a smart phone, and rely on devices shared with family members. Internet access is also limited.
“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.
As the students require different teaching approaches, MBT’s modules are crafted to help its students to thrive with the ‘teach and show’ method. For example, Bakery and Pastry students are given recipes to try at home and are 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.
In April 2020, Malaysia’s unemployment rate had increased to 5%, according to the Department of Statistics Malaysia. The department also stated that the most affected employed persons were in the manufacturing and services sectors, mainly in 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.
Since its inception, MBT has impacted the lives of over 7,000 underprivileged youth in Malaysia. These youth have gone on to lead thriving careers as a result of their foundational years at the institute. MBT is also one of Malaysia’s pioneering NGOs that provides skills training and character formation for marginalised youth in Malaysia. In 2002, MBT opened its doors to female students which birthed the Montfort Girls Centre.
Those who wish to make donations to help with the continuation of the Montfort Boys Town and Montfort Girls Centre can visit the official website for details. You can also call 03 5519 1735 / 6, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Facebook page.
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.