In Balik Pulau, pilot project to transform town into education hub

MBPP Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang (centre) is pictured during a visit to the newly-launched MakerSpace in Balik Pulau March 7, 2019. — Picture by KE Ooi
MBPP Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang (centre) is pictured during a visit to the newly-launched MakerSpace in Balik Pulau March 7, 2019. — Picture by KE Ooi

GEORGE TOWN, March 7 — The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) today launched its pilot MakerSpace in Balik Pulau today as the first step to transform the small town into an education hub.

MBPP Mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said MakerSpace in Balik Pulau made use of an existing MBPP building that was turned into a centre for science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) programmes for local students.

He said the purpose of the project, in collaboration with Politeknik Balik Pulau, is to prepare the youths here for the future and to hone their talents.

”This is the first step for us to turn Balik Pulau into an education hub,” he said in a speech at the opening of the 300sq metre MakerSpace here.

Other than the existing Politeknik here, there were previous plans by the state government to bring in an international university to set up base in this township, located on the south-west side of the island.

It is learnt that plans for the university fell through but talks started anew for the construction of another international university here.

Yew said the city council set up its first MakerSpace in Balik Pulau to train local talent, especially those living in rural areas here.

The city council spent RM20,000 to convert its existing building in Balik Pulau into MakerSpace.

“This was formerly an office space but it was under-utilised so we decided to put it to good use,” he said.

He said this is another of the city council’s move to maximise the usage of all of its under-utilised assets and buildings.

The MakerSpace is a space for school students to take up STEAM programmes conducted by Politeknik Balik Pulau in collaboration with the Penang Science Cluster using 40 computers sponsored by Intel Malaysia.

Yew said there are a total of 52 schools in the south-west district of the island, with 36 schools committing to take coding classes at MakerSpace.

“We don’t only concentrate of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, but we also included arts because there is a community of artists here who could provide art programmes here too,” he said.

There will be art programmes such as wood carving and painting classes at MakerSpace.

After this, Yew said the city council is looking at ways to transform the Balik Pulau market complex into a vibrant gathering spot for residents and the community.

“There are hardly any activities here after the morning market so we are engaging with the local communities to look at bringing more activities to this site in the afternoons and nights,” he said.

He said this will provide the locals with a spot to get together and also for commercial activities to stimulate the local economy here.

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