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Earlier this year in March, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) alongside the team members of I-DIVERS, have once again leaped at the opportunity to breathe underwater and this time at Coral Farm, Yayasan Coral Malaysia, Pulau Bidong, Terengganu for the first-of-a-kind model in the world focusing on ergotherapy, occupational diving, underwater farming, and tourism. This project contributes to the academic building of MJIIT students (and staff), especially relating to managing technology and R&D of underwater,
marine, and coastal-based businesses and engineering.

This project is the first in the entire world to introduce a special blue-economics hub for the training of special needs youth, particularly Malaysian deaf youths aged between 18 to 30 years old via ergotherapy in scuba diving activities. Within the next five (5) years, this project targets to train and nurture at least 400 deaf youths plus another 100 non-deaf youths from all around Malaysia in Occupational Diving and to become successful international start-up entrepreneurs in marine-related business models such as coral farming and exporting, ornamental fish breeding and exporting, premium marine aquarist service providers, as well as underwater cultural heritage tourism service operators. 

Pulau Bidong, Terengganu is identified as the most suitable location with readily available resources which includes a 6-acre commercial coral farm, a conducive marine ecosystem with shallow, clear waters and healthy reefs, plus an underwater museum, apart from other historical footprints on land and underwater (relating to the United Nation’s Vietnamese Refugee Camp). Apart from becoming the world’s first special needs’ youth training hub for marine-related entrepreneurism, this project is set to rejuvenate and rebrand Pulau Bidong from the once popularly known “Hell Isle” to a Youth Blue-Economics Project. 

On an individual level, this project aims to improve the well-being and socio-economics of the youths themselves by aiming to provide them with a monthly income of RM2,000 – RM5,000 in the next few years of their start-up. Each youth will be trained between 3 – 8 months on the island in occupational diving, hands-on underwater operations of the related businesses, and other related international entrepreneurship modules to cater the international marine-related markets.  The mentoring and training are run by a team of diving experts, industry players, and other related stakeholders, which includes selected authorities from the Terengganu state (heritage and tourism, fisheries, etc).  MJIIT UTM has led the project by contributing to the innovation and setting up of the hub itself, coordinating between all stakeholders, project management, and ensuring the project aims are achieved efficiently.

This MJIIT site assessment and academic exploration trip also accommodated another singular community project by MJIIT, MaskOn UTM that brings along six (6) participants to complete their open water diving evaluations. The four days and three nights tour to Pulau Bidong, Terengganu has given so much knowledge and experience considering the COVID-19 epidemic has not entirely recovered. Even our tracks were left in Pulau Bidong, we will preserve them in our hearts and benefiting from the experience and lessons that we had gained. Thank you to all of the secretariats and parties who helped to make this project a success.

Watch sneak peek of our trip in Pulau Bidong at https://www.facebook.com/1283632475/posts/10226619959586866/?d=n

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