Before DidikTV, there was ETV

LONG before the birth of DidikTV, the country had a similar programme that ran for over three decades.

Education Television, or better known as ETV and TV Pendidikan in Bahasa Malaysia, pioneered educational television programmes in the country upon its launch on June 19,1972.

ETV former head V.V. George recounted the strenuous days and efforts his team put into ensuring all students in the country had equal access to quality education.

The primary aim of ETV, he told StarEdu, was to reach out to students in rural schools.

This was mainly because the schools lacked qualified English, Maths and Science teachers.

The team gave their all, he said, and even provided solar-generated cells for rural schools without electricity to power their television to enable them to watch the programmes.

“We also wanted to show what good quality teaching was like to raise the quality and standard of teaching for the benefit of the schoolchildren.

“The teachers who anchored ETV programmes in the 70s were trained by international organisations and educational television production crews from the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and France, to understand better how to produce, talk and present their lessons on air.

“These training programmes ranged anywhere between one and two months.

“They learnt how to do things like graphic illustrations, script writing and producing, ” he explained.

Talks of implementing ETV programmes began in the mid 1960s.

Then Education Ministry director-general Tun Hamdan Sheikh Tahir, had observed how other countries had their own educational television programmes and suggested that Malaysia should establish its own, George said.

The ministry began their work and got the help of several parties, such as the British Council and BBC, to study the feasibility of this idea. An officer was sent to do a survey, he added.

After studying the local scenario, the officer found that an educational television programme would improve the country’s standard of education, and that it would be beneficial for teachers and students.

The officer then wrote a report suggesting to first run a pilot programme, he said.

“So in 1965 and 1966, we had two educational television pilot project that ran Maths, Science and English programmes for a few selected schools.

“The officer prepared another report after the completion of the pilot project where he recommended that we can start with our programme, which we named ETV.

“He also suggested we collaborate with the educational radio (radio pendidikan) and audio visual aids units which were under the ministry.

“The three units were to form a new division in the ministry called ‘Perkhidmatan Sebaran Pendidikan’, which is now known as the Educational Resources and Technology Division.”

George was the former deputy director of the division.

It was 1968 by the time the report was ready and the division was established.

But the Government, he said, did not have sufficient financial resources to launch the project immediately, causing it to be shelved for two years before it was revived in 1970.

Once a sum of money was put aside for it, planning for the programme began.

George, then an enthusiastic 30-something former secondary school teacher who was working with the ministry’s school division, was roped in to head the ambitious project.

“I was sent by the ministry to train for educational television production in Australia with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“Upon my return, I was told that my team and I would have six months to produce a certain number of videos for ETV.

“During the process, I realised that at least 30 people, most of whom were teachers, were needed to produce a short 20-minute video.

“Our teachers took on diverse roles, from producers and subject specialists who wrote the scripts, to illustrating the graphics, ” the octogenarian said.

After the teachers returned from their overseas training, they began recording lessons for Science, Maths, English and Bahasa Melayu subjects for primary and lower secondary students. An internal panel, and teachers from nearby schools, would evaluate the videos.

Their peers from other schools, George said, would give them insights and feedback on what needed to be improved on and if there were mistakes in the delivery of the lessons.

“If there indeed were mistakes, we would re-record the videos.

“Our teachers were extremely dedicated to their tasks and consistently gave their best in what they did.

“Once everything was done, we would hand out notes to teachers in schools throughout the country, before the programme is broadcasted, on what kind of questions, activities and quizzes they can ask their students based on the lessons aired on that day.

“We had a specific unit in charge of this; they were stationed in every state education department throughout the country and were the link between schools and our division in the ministry, ” he said.

But broadcasting the programmes were not without its challenges, he said.

One of the biggest challenges they faced was the clash in timing between the subjects aired and school timetable.

“It was cumbersome for teachers to complete their subject syllabus in between the time ETV programmes are aired.

“To overcome this problem, we provided schools with copies of the programmes for students to watch according to the teachers’ preferred time.”

Introducing initiatives like ETV or DidikTV requires planning, training and preparation, George who left his position as ETV head in the early 1990s, said.

He believes that such ideas cannot be done hastily as producing programmes for television requires plenty of manpower.

“Bring qualified people onboard as well and have teachers in charge at all levels as the programme is based on the national education curriculum, ” he said.