The Radicals: (L-R) Timothy Chan, Mark Ergus Nicholl and Low Zhe Ning

Youth of Malaysia share winning idea for an inclusive future
UNDP Malaysia NHDR Challenge provides platform for young people to be part of the solution

SUBANG JAYA, 31 May 2014 – Four teams came head-to-head at the final showdown of the UNDP Malaysia NHDR Challenge during the AIESEC YEA Summit (Youth Empowering Action Summit) held at Taylor’s University Lakeside Campus. “The Radicals” – a team of three young people who hail from Kuching, Sarawak – emerged as the challenge champions, thanks to their surprising but simple idea.

The teams were tasked to come up with an idea that will help elevate those below the middle class to the middle class – with only RM100.

Low Zhe Ning, Mark Ergus Nicholl and Timothy Chan came up with a solution to help the non-Malay Bumiputeras in semi-rural Sarawak break out of the cycle of poverty: the abacus.

“Why an abacus? A study in Chennai, India showed that it not only helps students with their numeracy and science skills, it also helps them to gain better visual and auditory memory in school, which helps learning as a whole. When you use an abacus, you use two hands. That increases the connectivity between both hemispheres (of the brain), and this is the full process of brain lateralisation. This two-hand process will help students significantly with concentrating, visualising, memorising, observing, and processing information. These are huge skills to help students with the curriculum itself, to boost their productivity in school and to help them achieve better results,” said Nicholl.

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It is essential that Malaysia continues to prioritise inclusive growth and social cohesion, and moves forward with the second generation policies that are needed to support this.
-Frances Stewart