KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Aug. 31, 2001 — As part of ongoing initiatives to bridge the “digital divide” in Malaysia, the Microsoft Foundation Campaign of Malaysia and Lions Club of CyberCare Kuala Lumpur recently announced that the Microsoft Foundation Campaign Nationwide Donation Program, which equips orphanages with technology tools to regions of Malaysia, would be extended.
Microsoft Foundation Campaign, a corporate philanthropy and community affairs organization, , and CyberCare, an eCommunity program under the Malaysian National IT Council, will target more than 80 orphanages over the next eight months to receive PCs, software and basic skills training, worth approximately RM1 million (roughly US$260,000).
Microsoft believes that the single most important use of information technology is to improve education, said Wai Choon Butt, managing director of Microsoft Malaysia Sdn Bhd. He explained that the Microsoft Foundation Campaign provided the channel through which the company’s community affairs programs are implemented.
“Microsoft Foundation Campaign is our outreach community affairs arm that enables us to provide the tools and means with which to bridge the digital divide,” Butt said. “As a founding corporate sponsor of CyberCare, we have been actively channeling resources to the CyberCare network of homes, most of which are in the Klang Valley “We want to extend our initiatives to include orphanages in other regions of Malaysia, so that marginalized communities outside the Klang Valley will also benefit from the digital revolution.”
Administrators of the orphanage programs receive a half-day training workshop on basic IT skills from qualified Microsoft Certified Technical Education Centers (CTEC), which have credentials and qualifications to provide training on Microsoft products and services.
“We aim to provide these homes with a complete IT infrastructure that will not only aid in their day-to-day administration but also provide children with the opportunity to discover and use computers to give them a window to the world,” Butt says. “It’s not simply about handing over the computers or money. Microsoft will ensure that the administrators and children will also know how to use them.”
“We all know there is no substitute for a good education,” said Dato’ Dr. Siti Zaharah, Minister of National Unity and Social Development. “It is the government’s firm belief that every child, regardless of creed, color or race, should have equal opportunity to live, learn and play. The Microsoft Foundation Campaign Nationwide Donation Program will provide underprivileged children with the tools and technology that will enable them to have a firm footing in the community,” Siti Zaharah said.
Cheong Yuk Wai, President of the Lions Club of CyberCare Kuala Lumpur, agreed. “One of the key objectives of CyberCare is to level the playing field so that the children of CyberCare can participate in today’s fast-paced business environment.”
Since its inception in December 1998, the Cybercare eCommunity System program has benefited more than 1,500 children from the Cybercare network of 33 homes in Malaysia in terms of PC and software donations, hardware upgrades and training for orphanage administrators. The objective is to cultivate and nurture disadvantaged children’s interests, experience and skills through the use of information technology that will help them in the knowledge-based economy.
Butt explained that the Microsoft Foundation Campaign is continuously striving to provide underprivileged children with the tools and resources they need in order to excel. In May, the Microsoft Foundation Campaign Education Excellence Program launched — providing financial support and assistance to children from the Lions Club of CyberCare Kuala Lumpur network of homes. CyberCare children will be awarded either: cash for students who excel in government exams, or financial scholarships for students who qualify for entry into local tertiary educational institutions.
“It is our hope that with the scholarship program in place and the Microsoft Foundation Campaign Nationwide Donation Program reaching out across Malaysia, underprivileged children will have a fighting chance to excel and acquire the technology skills to join and contribute to Malaysia’s growth,” Butt said.
Butt added that another key objective of Microsoft Foundation Campaign was to show that software piracy deprives the local community of growth and development opportunities. He explained that a portion of settlements with companies found infringing Microsoft’s copyright were channelled through Microsoft Foundation Campaign into program such as this one. To date, Microsoft Foundation Campaign has donated RM1.5 million worth of software, new hardware and upgrades, cash and training.”