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Malaysian poverty databank clinches top spot at UN Public Service Awards in NY

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia -- Malaysia's eKasih project, a national poverty databank to provide aid to the poor, clinched the first prize in the United Nations Public Service Awards in New York.

It won under the category of “Advancing Knowledge Management in Government” for Asia and the Pacific, pushing South Korean's initiative of National Science and Technology Information Service to second place.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak tweeted about it yesterday, saying: “eKasih project won 1st prize in the United Nations Public Service Awards 2012, a prestigious award for public service. Malaysian Pride!”

The awards honor creative achievements and contributions of public service institutions.

The eKasih, launched in November 2007, is used by relevant agencies for fair distribution of assistance and to avoid overlapping aid programs.

In Putrajaya, Najib said education plays a key role in expanding the social mobility of underprivileged Malaysians.

He said the country had seen rapid movement of Malaysians up the social ladder, with many having made a better life for themselves as quickly as within one generation.

“Education is the only way Malaysia can continue to improve on this positive trend if the country intends to sit among the ranks of developed nations,” he said.

“The focus should be on intellectual capital because if we only look at physical development, our (overall) development would sputter or not go smoothly,” he said in an informal dialogue with academics at his official residence in Petaling Jaya.

During the event, Najib also launched the 1Malaysia Tuition for the rakyat (TR1M) program.

He also presented a 2-million-ringgit (US$625,978) grant to cover operational costs.

TR1M launched its pilot program in Selangor on June 18, covering 107 schools in the state and serving over 10,000 students with the help of 350 teachers.

The program, the participants of which include students who received the 1Malaysia netbook, offers online interactive tuition classes for students preparing for the UPSR examination, while students sitting for the PMR (Lower Secondary Assessment) and SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education) examinations will attend conventional tuition classes in their schools.

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