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Social development is the process of social changes that are designed to improve the living standard of a society, by improving the economic development. It also refers to the changes in the social order within a society. It may also refer to the notion of sociocultural evolution, or ‘social progress’.
Social development should reflect the society’s desire to live in prosperity and equality. Each member of the community must have achieved freedom from colonial rule and be actively involved in the process of development leading to a dignified and high-quality lifestyle. Social development is an important aspect in a country. When a society is strong, indirectly a country will always be strong and stable whether economically, socially, or politically. Therefore, in the building of a strong country or civilization, the aspect of social development has to be emphasized.
The concept of ‘social development’ is the result of phrase ‘welfare’ born earlier. In 1969, the United Nations Conference of Social Welfare Ministers emphasized the social welfare activities to control the development of society by promoting and planning implementation and administration section. Social welfare is functioning in broader aspects in the social development of countries. In other words, social development can be considered to strive to meet some functions, such as providing quality service to ensure that the objectives meet the social well-being, identified the effect on changes in life and adapt to the social condition; identify the impact of policies and programs to minimize its impact on society and to identify and eliminate social factors that have impact on social problems. (Social Institute of Malaysia, 2004).
In Malaysia the government’s objective is to ensure social development axis to the people; community and economic resources which are used to meet the needs of human effectively. Thus, social development is the key to building a life of quality. Since independence, the main objective of development was to preserve unity and allow populations to modernize economic integration. Therefore, the process of social development plays an important role to avoid any negative impact due to economic growth. Social development covered many sector and is different in certain countries. These differences are influenced by the country’s culture. In Malaysia, social development covers education, empowerment of women, employment and poverty.
An essential component of social development is a revolution in the education system in countries affecting changes on the style and quality of lives. Due to its importance, the education becomes a core policy in social economic agenda. The education objective is linked to the New Economic Policy (NEP), National Development Policy (NDP) and other national agenda, especially which provide education to all citizens of Malaysia; produce quality human resources; produce knowledgeable and skilled individuals. In 2000, the literacy rate was 93.8% (Utusan, 11 September 2004). In the 2008 national budget which was announced in September 2007, the government abolished school fees, exam fees and textbook loan scheme to all segments of the student as an incentive to ensure that education become first and priority among the parents and children themselves. Free education is a visible change in social development after 56 years of independence.
In addition to government role, the private sector was also given a role in social development. It has existed for a long time since 1957; more particularly provided by Christian missionaries and Chinese educators who work with Chinese business and community leaders India. After 1957, it was reduced and integrated into national education system. Education Act 1996 and Private Institution of Ministry of Education guidance; allows private education to continue to grow in the name of social development of the country today.
Since independence, emancipation and empowerment of women’s position has changed with the introduction of policies that enable their participation more comprehensively in economical, social and political activities. National Policy for Women was launched in 1989 to improve the role of women and ensure they have responsibilities in national development. Today, women are not only policymakers but many of them are well established in a sector dominated by men before. Intake of female students has also improved in higher education institutions and in entrepreneurship. Their development in entrepreneurship clearly shows that they are capable of handling big scale business.
Action plan have been executed and projects have been planned to meet the objectives of policy, so that woman can grow as other community group. This includes the education opportunities for further education and training at all levels which are not discriminated against woman. Financial assistance is also provided to those in need. Similarly, vocational training and financial assistance was given to women in business. To improve women’s health, some of the plans executed, including strengthening family health, maternal and child, family planning, nutrition and infectious disease control. Indeed, awareness of women’s health is also improved through awareness campaigns and programs across rural areas. Awareness and dissemination of information especially with regard to HIV / AIDS; balanced lifestyle and the needs for ongoing health checkup improved the health status of today is far better than before.
Malaysia government also ensures single-parent families or families headed by women are not neglected. In 1999, nearly 18.6% of the households are headed by women (Utusan, March 21, 2000). So, they are encouraged to engage in micro-businesses and a number of laws have been amended to improve the status of women in this country. These include amending the Employment Act 1955, which allows women to work in a more flexible time. Establishment of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community on year 2001 shows the government’s commitment to strategize and the implementation of a more structured basis for bringing a new shift in women development.
Malaysia has maintained employment rate since the 1970s up to 2007. Even there is lack of employment in certain sectors; Malaysia government has a compiled program to increase employment opportunities. This is in line with the New Economic Policy (NEP), National Development Policy (NDP) and other policies implemented under the government’s agenda. Besides seeking to improve labor productivity and wages, it also seeks to establish zero unemployment which is the objective of national employment policy.
During the 1997 economic crisis, government ensures workers are not affected and can continue their work. For example, new graduates are placed in government agencies to ensure that they remain employed in the current economic climate movement. From that period, up to year 2000, government has spent nearly RM 2.2 billion to arrange development of skillful worker (Government of Malaysia, 2001, the Ministry of Finance, 2007). Strategies and programs implemented by the government during the economic crisis are instrumental to ensure that the employee is not affected even when there are retrenchment in a number of organizations.
There are certain categories of workers who are not getting the full social protection in Malaysia. This includes maid, member of the armed forces, wife of the workers, policemen and those who are in police custody. However, employees who retired at age requirement will receive pension. Similarly, the expenditure for injury occuring at work or medical benefits paid by employers. Employee Provident Fund (EPF) was introduced in the year 1951 to ensure the funds of financial security, especially after retirement reserved.
As a part of social development in Malaysia, government also helps to provide social welfare assistance. This scheme gives priority for those who need it, especially the disabled, senior citizens, families and children in need. It is in line with the program to eradicate poverty, social welfare of NGOs, private companies, activists and the charity. In addition, there are also private insurance. Health care schemes, under the Ministry of Health, also subsidized by the government, given especially for the poor. This suggest, social development continues to grow in line with employment rate and government’s continued support.
In the social development, investment on health sector is a major attention given by the government. This is in line with the economic development that allows health status to improve. Since 1957, national development program has been developing the health sector which include services focusing on comprehensive health care at both the beginning, middle, and upper stages. Health sector is one of the needs in country’s social development. The objective of the health sector today is to improve the health care delivery system, especially under the national health development plan.
Since 1970, government is committed to eradicate poverty which is one of the main objectives of the National Economic Policy NEP. With the backdrop of the government’s policy, various non-governmental organizations and the private sector are working together to eradicate poverty in the country. This planning is successful within the range of 5% when compared to 1970, almost half of the family household were living below the poverty line.
This policy aimed to eliminate poverty in the long run and reduce it in the short term. In 1989, the main strategies to reduce poverty are considered extreme. In fact, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (RMK9), FELCRA Limited plans to open 50,000 hectares of new plantation land which aims to tackle the issue of poverty among the population. (Utusan, 22 September 2007).
Other programs to reduce poverty have been planned and implemented over 56 years of independence. These include the Severe Poor Development Programme which aims to investigate the root cause emergence of poverty. Most programs consist of focused projects that will lead to generates revenues for small and medium industry. Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia, is one of program implemented which aimed to providing microcredit as an aid for those interested in a particular field or sector. These efforts continued despite the 1998 economic crisis. In fact, some of the additional funds were made available to the rural areas so that the quality of public services and facilities can be improved, including in the sectors of education, medicine, water and electricity.
After 56 years of independence, Malaysia was beyond time. Starting with the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), now it will have a number of plans, including the development of the Regional Development Plan East Coast Economic (ECER) which will focus on Agropolitan Agricultural Development Authority (KADA) in Kelantan to alleviate poverty and the introduction of agricultural systems using biotechnology. Northern Economic Region Development Plan (NCER), which integrates Perak, Penang, Kedah and Perlis also, will generate growth much better than now.
There are several factors that contribute to the success of national social development policies. Among them is the position of a conducive political environment; ability of administrators who have the expertise and technical capability, and willingness to compete globally without compromising the domestic position of people(Omar and Pandian, 2005). Quality of life has changed. The effectiveness of social services is because of the availability of financial resources that enable investment made â€‹â€‹in education, health, improve the status of women, poverty eradication and increase in employment. After 56 years of independence, the community is able to enjoy a prosperous life and more balanced than 56 years ago. Policy formulation and social development depends on the politic, economy, culture and ecology. Half of the next century is expected to bring greater changes if the government continued efforts done through the integration of social values â€‹â€‹in a comprehensive development policy as well as the reciprocal interaction of domestic and external factors that will ensure the continued success of the policy process and social development in future (Roziah Omar, et.al; 2006).
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