Civil servants and new normal

The deadly virus that prompted the concept of a ‘new normal’ and altered our daily life did not exempt the public sector. - NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIMThe deadly virus that prompted the concept of a ‘new normal’ and altered our daily life did not exempt the public sector. – NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

THE National Institute of Public Administration, commonly known as Intan, is the principal training arm in providing various management, administration and finance courses for civil servants.

Intan began as a modest training centre in Port Dickson in September 1959, and has gone through several phases of development in crafting and delivering relevant courses.

It adopts a holistic approach by constantly striving to cater for the future needs of the public sector. It does this by expanding its strategic collaboration network with various organisations in the public and private sectors, including premier local and foreign institutions of higher learning.

In the international sphere, Intan, through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, conducts courses for developing countries under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme. Intan also provides customised courses based on requests from international agencies, which focus on Malaysia’s perspective.

The Covid-19 virus that has choked the whole world since its emergence at the end of 2019 has changed our lifestyle and interaction in a variety of ways. This includes in teaching and learning, conduct of administration, business transactions and application of technologies.

For the nearly three and a half months of the Movement Control Order, the public sector ensured the continuity of the delivery of services to safeguard the public interest.

Intan prepared for this well in advance. It catered for the needs of civil servants even prior to the pandemic. Many courses for lower grade staff and premier grade officers have been well designed and offered for immediate application and knowledge enhancement through the EPSA (Public Sector E-Learning) platform, which was developed since 2007.

It is an online training programme for civil servants that encourages training and continuous self-learning anytime and anywhere. Even the newly recruited Diplomatic and Administrative cadets, who have been studying for a Diploma in Public Administration since January, are continuing their programme seamlessly on the online platform.

The deadly virus that prompted the concept of a ‘new normal’ and altered our daily life did not exempt the public sector.

It propelled us into a new era of digital-enabled environment and accelerated the extensive application of digitalisation and a host of new technologies. The web-based platforms allow us to avoid physical contact with anyone, yet deliver our services effectively and cost-efficiently.

Intan, through the Cluster of Innovative Management Technology Centre, has prepared numerous contemporary courses and management tools in digital and e-learning context for civil servants.

Even meetings, discussions, workshops and other forms of interactions are conducted using different types of multimedia for their ease. To bolster the effectiveness of technology-based applications, the government is establishing an advanced digital learning centre.

Under the new normal, the public sector was induced to adopt the concept of working from home and apply multimedia tools.

Apart from practising new measures such as social distancing, enhanced personal hygiene and stricter standard operating procedures, Intan is helping civil servants move away from the ‘traditional’ and ‘comfort zone’ to a hybrid approach; a combination of remote and face-to-face learning. It is also preparing the public sector for a new era of other eventualities.

The changing environment means that it can no longer be business as usual in the public sector. For that matter, Intan is persistently looking at numerous angles in grooming civil servants to think out of the box in delivering services more effectively in anticipation of other new norms in the coming time.

The virtual dimension is currently dominating the whole world and the Malaysian public sector has no choice but to embrace the reality. In essence, “digital-based learning is no longer an option but a necessity at all times”.

By Dr Kamarudin Min.

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