BRIDGING DIGITAL DIVIDE TO ENHANCE TEACHING AND LEARNING FOR HUMAN CAPITAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE EAST COAST ECONOMIC REGION (ECER) OF MALAYSIA

A.M. Abdulai1, C. Siwar2, A.G. Bin Ismail3, N.A. Mohd. Noor4, P.R. Makol-Abdul4

1International Islamic University & Institute for Evironment and Development, UKM (MALAYSIA)
2Institute for Environment and Development, Universiti Kebangsaan (MALAYSIA)
3School of Economics and Islamic Finance, Universiti Kebangsaan (MALAYSIA)
4International Islamic University (MALAYSIA)
This paper has examined the extent to which addressing the issue of digital divide can enhance teaching and learning in order to produce the human capital required to support the development agenda of the east coast economic region (ECER). This region consists of three relatively less-developed states and a district in Malaysia (i.e., Kelantan, Pahang, Terengganu, and Mersing District). Inadequate human capital, especially skilled labour, has been identified as one of the major factors underpinning ECER’s underdevelopment. Although Malaysia happens to be one of the few Southeast Asian countries with high internet penetration, the fact that the regions and states differ in terms of the available resources, social and public infrastructure underscores the likelihood of unequal access to digital technology among them. Making digital technology readily available and accessible in the ECER may facilitate the training of the right calibre of manpower. It is argued that developing human capital is possible only through strong and efficient educational system (Chamhuri, 2005; Abdulai & Chamhuri, 2008, p.7). And the use of digital technology that includes, of course, information and communications technology in teaching and learning process has tremendously enhanced educational system in the majority of countries, particularly in research and development endeavours. It is the belief of the authors that the Malaysian Government will not be oblivious of the crucial benefits associated with tackling the digital divide issue in the ECER. In that light, what measures does the Government put in place to achieve this goal? And what results have such measures produced? Addressing these questions constitutes the main objective of the paper.