Rural Internet Centre (RIC) as Catalysts for Building Knowledge-Based Society - The Case of Northern States of Malaysia
The creation of Rural Internet Centre (RIC) by the Malaysian government was to provide opportunity and to empower the rural communities in Malaysia. The RIC provides IT skills training and knowledge acquisition programs to the rural community in Malaysia, including women, the elderly, and children. RIC was launched in March 2000 with two centers: Sungai Ayer Tawar in Selangor and Kanowit in Sarawak. By 2006, 42 RICs have been implemented in thirteen states in the country (KTAK, 2006). The Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications (MEWC), Malaysia Post Berhad and Maju Sedunia Digital (MSD) are responsible for the project. The Malaysian government aim to set up 240 centres by the year 2010 which will eventually reaching an estimated 2.8 million members of the rural communities. The management of the centre’s operations and activities are given to the local communities. This creates opportunities to the locals to be employed and also provide the chance for acquisition of IT related skills and qualifications. This paper aims at providing an overview over the current RICs implementation with respect to supporting Malaysia government’s aspiration towards building the knowledge-based society by the year 2020. RICs could function as the catalyst to achieve this objective. The initial findings on RICs current situations in Northern of Malaysia show that the centres can be further enhanced in order to function as desired.