YOUTH and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman knows only too well the need to produce a larger pool of youngsters who would become future leaders of the country.
During the official launch in May, Syed Saddiq says: “When we invest in our youth, we will inevitably ensure that Malaysia succeeds in the future.”
He explains that the programme - which was launched to replace the scrapped National Service Training Programme (PLKN) and National Civics Bureau (BTN) - consists of three tiers, all of which encapsulate the five key elements MFLS focuses on.
They are volunteerism, leadership, entrepreneurship, development of character and identity and patriotism.
“All programmes and modules of MFLS were thought out by Khazanah Nasional and Ernst and Young,” he notes.
Tier 1 is the process of choosing 35,000 students aged between 15 to 17 to join MFLS.
Tier 2 is the phase where the 35,000 selected students attend a 10-day intensive programme at 16 camp sites found across Malaysia.
Syed Saddiq stresses that “no youth will be left behind” from the programme.
“Students who go onto Tier 2 will include high achievers, students of all backgrounds to ensure diversity. B40 students get an equal chance to participate as well.
“They would be taught how to be a leader. In the 10-day programme, there would be activities on thinking out of the box, survival skills, critical thinking, and more,” he says.
For Tier 3, only 200 shortlisted candidates from the 35,000 pool - who are regarded as “cream of the crop” would be selected to undergo a training programme.
“They will be given placements in parliamentary offices, with state assemblymen, ministers, chief executive officers and chairmen of leading companies.
“These 200 candidates will be given recognition from Tun (Dr) Mahathir himself when they complete the programme,” says Syed Saddiq.
Despite being launched as an empowering programme, the Youth and Sports Ministry’s Institute of Leadership Excellence and Development (i-LEAD) director-general Abdullah Hasan says one of the biggest challenges the ministry faces in conducting MFLS was having to explain to parents and schools about it in order to gain the trust and approval for their children to participate.
“Students aged 15 to 17 years-old from a variety of schools are the targeted group. Their schools and parents are concerned about their safety at the camp,” he says, adding that many are still unsure about the programme and its positive intentions.
To overcome that issue, Abdullah says a series of briefings about MFLS have been held for all school heads, parent-teacher associations (PTA) and teachers in each state.
“To ensure the safety of the students, the Education Ministry, Health Ministry and agencies such as Majlis Amanah Rakyat, the Department of Islamic Development, the Civil Defence Force, Fire and Rescue Department and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health are involved and supportive of MFLS,” says Abdullah, adding that participants are also insured.
The MFLS module, says Abdullah, is crafted based on studies conducted by Institute for Youth Research Malaysia, which produced “Indeks Belia Malaysia dan Kajian Aset Belia Malaysia”.
“The programme emphasises on positive youth development, volunteerism, fitness, unity, self-development, social interaction, self-potential and patriotism.
“MFLS is a holistic programme that is in line with “Dasar Belia Malaysia” and is also guided by the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara.
Abdullah shares that MFLS will be starting its sixth cohort shortly after students from the fifth cohort - which started the programme from July 6 to 15 - “graduate”.
He says a total of 8,029 students (Cohort 1 to 5) to date from across Malaysia have taken part in the programme.
Did you find this article insightful?