Everyday Heroes: Tech Teacher

By Anita Devasahayam

Tiong Ting Ming was waiting to catch a bus in Kuala Lumpur in February 2000 when a young man sat next to him and asked for money. When Tiong said he had none to offer, the man produced a knife. Even though the would-be thief looked desperate for cash, Tiong never felt in serious danger, so he decided to reason with him.

He explained that he was a school principal who had just travelled to Singapore to buy parts for the computers at his school. For 20 minutes, he talked about why it was important for young people to get an education. When it was clear that the young man wasn’t going to get any money, he shook his head and left.

Tiong Ting Ming
High-tech dreams - Tiong Ting Ming transformed his school. Photo: © Julian Matthews.

Tiong wasn’t going to let a thief stand in the way of his dream of turning SMJK Dindings, a secondary school in the village of Pundut, 100 kilometers west of lpoh, into a high-tech learning centre. He had come too far and achieved too much. When he became principal in 1992, the school was a ramshackle set of wooden buildings. There were 320 students, and the number was falling. “They were dropping out to help with their families’ businesses,” he recalls. “School was not a priority.”
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A fully-networked school rises in rural Malaysia

By Julian Matthews

LUMUT, Perak–If a school can be described as four walls with the future in it, then the Dindings National-Type Secondary School in rural Perak has confirmed its place in the new millennium.

Situated 95km from the nearest city Ipoh, the school is mostly made up of wooden buildings and wedged between a palm oil estate and a coconut plantation.

But running under the floors and in conduit piping along the corridors are Cat-5 networking cables inter-linking 70 PCs in the classrooms, the library, the staff room, the administration office, the science labs and computer labs. Every room has RJ-45 connectors that gives it instant access to the Internet on a 64Kbps leased line.

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Malaysia’s smart school project draws flak

By Julian Matthews and Amar Hakim

KUALA LUMPUR–Malaysia’s troubled Smart Schools Project continues to draw flak despite the awarding of the contract Wednesday to a consortium to provide the necessary courseware and wiring to 90 schools in the pilot program.

Education Minister Najib Tun Razak vowed that all 9,000 primary and secondary schools in the country will be made “smart” by 2002, making yet another promised target date that critics say is unlikely to be met.

At issue is the fact that over 1,000 schools still do not even have power, while the proposed official CD-ROM courseware is only due in April next year, four months into the school year.

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