In Malaysia, there is a grave concern from various quarters (educators, parents, the public and the ministry of education) on the inability of children not acquiring the basic skills (reading writing and arithmetic). Evidence (Samsilah, Abd Rahman, Sharifah, 2005) showed that there were grade seven students who still could not read nor write and it was also found that 30 students in the same grade were illiterate (STAR, 1997). In 2007, after a year of undergoing an intervention programme, 43.5% of the pupils still failed to acquire the basic skills. So what went wrong? In this study, one of the factors cited was teaching effectiveness. The teaching scope was too wide and the teachers did not give specific attention to pupils’ weaknesses in particular areas. Related to this factor is the lack of teachers. In some schools, teachers are asked to take on the task of teaching in the intervention programme although they are not trained. There are a number of individuals who would like to be teachers and had no opportunity to so because of economic reasons or not meeting the requirements for entrance to higher institutions. Therefore, Open Distance Learning (ODL) may be the hope for these individuals. This may perhaps also solve the woe of lack of teaching staffs. The basic philosophy of ODL promotes ‘inclusion’ and ‘openness’. These two concepts ensure a place and space for all those who have been left out from the education mainstream. This also means a shift in pedagogical paradigm. It entails notably multimedia products and services. Therefore would-be ODL teachers and trainers will be trained in the use of innovative methods and techniques using multi media. With instructional innovations perhaps Early Intervention Programme (EIP) may have better prospect for success. Other factors in influencing the implementation of the EIP and implications for ODL are also discussed.
Paper presented at the 24th ICDE World Conference on Open and Distance Learning (2-5 October 2011; Bali, Indonesia)