Take a holistic approach to bringing up children.

January 21st, 2019

WE were told on Thursday that the government is “seriously considering” imposing a curfew for those under 18 as a way to curb social problems, particularly drug abuse, among young people.

Malaysia wants to emulate Iceland, which changed the law in 2002 to introduce something similar and has since recorded a decrease in the incidence of teenagers drinking, smoking and taking drugs.

The Nordic country actually relied on several other measures as well in making that positive change – and it is our hope always that the government tackles everything holistically – but because Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail mainly spoke about the possibility of a children’s curfew here, that is what people focus on.

The idea that it may one day be illegal for our children to be outside on their own at certain hours of the night, has definitely grabbed our attention.

We can be sure that everybody has an opinion on the matter because it involves our kids and their freedom of movement.

Naturally, there is both support for and opposition to such a move. We can expect a vigorous debate whenever the proposal is discussed.

But another piece of news that came out last week must be regarded as equally important.

On Wednesday, The Star highlighted that an infographic in a Year Three textbook has elements of victim blaming although it is meant to teach students to protect their modesty – the Bahasa Malaysia phrase translates literally to “protect the modesty of her sexual organs”.

The infographic offers guidance on how girls can protect their modesty. Tip No. 1 is on the choice of clothes, which suggests that how a nine-year-old girl looks can invite sexual assault.

The next part is on what happens if a girl does not protect her modesty. According to the Physical Education and Health Education textbook, she will dishonour her family and she will be ostracised.

The Education Ministry acknow­ledged that the infographic can be seen as blaming the victims of sexual misconduct and said following complaints, it had responded immediately to correct the textbook.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said her ministry would study how to prevent mistakes in textbooks.

This is the kind of thing that makes people go, “What are they teaching kids in school these days?”

It was good that the ministry acted quickly and Teo’s statement provides some comfort.

But have we not heard all this before? Over the years, there have been many cases of people pointing out grammatical and factual errors in books used by schoolchildren. And we have often been assured that the textbooks are selected according to procedure.

In May 2017, when responding to an article in the Educate section of Sunday Star, the ministry’s Textbook Division said all school textbooks used by the ministry undergo a stringent checking process before they are distributed.

The division added that the textbooks were “produced professionally” with facts taken from authentic and credible sources.

The phrase “quality textbooks” comes up frequently in the division’s vision, mission and client charter. And that is the way it should be.

But this latest textbook issue goes beyond carelessness and flawed research. Injecting victim blaming and gender bias into schoolbooks is a form of miseducation. We cannot help but worry that there may be more of such bad judgment tucked away in other textbooks.

When we send our children to school, we hope that they will receive lessons and experiences that will expand their minds and feed their souls. We want them to be enlightened on the value of sensitivity, inclusiveness and respect.

If they instead have in their heads ill-conceived notions – for example, that the victims of sexual misconduct are often at fault – our kids may eventually find themselves unable to face the world with empathy and compassion.

The Star Says.
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A tale of three democracies

January 20th, 2019
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir speaking at an Oxford Union event in London yesterday. Pic courtesy of the Malaysian High Commission in London.

Most of the questions put to the prime minister during the Oxford Union event yesterday were anticipated.

Some took the form of recycled perennials pumped with new eloquence.

It is true that conversations on tree cover, anti-Semitism, Internal Security Act arrests and affirmative action might still spark haughty headlines. “Haughty” in the estimation of the delicate mind of a former colony.

The thunder of a question Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was asked, as it turned out, concerned history.

Intriguingly so as it coincided with Malaysia and Singapore navigating fresh issues.

Now that we are into history; when Malaya gained independence in 1957, Singapore, which may or may not have been on some kind of a “loan” arrangement, was not “returned” to the motherland in the manner Hong Kong reunited with China in 1997. Dr Mahathir alluded to this at Oxford.

By 1959, Singapore had endured a fractious election that established the Left as a political force.

The late Tan Sri A. Samad Ismail was one of the founders of Parti Tindakan Rakyat, or the People’s Action Party (PAP), which won the 1959 election that coincidentally installed Lee Kuan Yew as chief minister.

This reporter had let his profession down for failing to do an audio recording of Samad Ismail singing in his later years, on impassioned request, Chinese patriotic songs. Samad Ismail was regarded as an organiser of Singapore’s Chinese-educated in the post-war years.

Singapore-born Samad Ismail ultimately was made Tokoh Wartawan Negara (Malaysia) and for spells, editorial adviser of this newspaper, because the island-state became part of an expanded Malaysia in 1963.

Two years later, Singapore was handed a rare red-card. Tunku Abdul Rahman, then prime minister, told Singapore to leave!

Was this the right decision? In 1965, Dr Mahathir was the member of parliament for Kota Star Selatan.

Some 54 years later, he is asked this question at the Oxford Union, something that would stir the interest of many students of history and politics.

Dr Mahathir described the Tunku’s call as “wise”.

“That happened a long time ago — we cannot do anything about it.

“But the fact is that Singapore was a part of Malaysia before. It was our country. Normally, when a country decides to decolonise, the land goes back to the owner of that land, to the country which owns that land like Hong Kong, Macau.

“With Malaysia and Singapore, we find that we are not compatible. We have different viewpoints and ideas on how the country should be ruled. For that reason, they were asked to leave Malaysia. And I think it was a wise decision at that time.”

Malaysia and Singapore feature at a high-profile event in Oxford at a time when Britain is grappling with the protracted question of Brexit.

It is a tale of three countries, of three democracies that for centuries were one. Policy thinking during British Malaya was directed from Whitehall. How have the three democracies fared since? Dr Mahathir is accustomed to being grilled whenever he appears on BBC’s Hard Talk or any other interviews.

The same questions get asked repeatedly. On ISA arrests, Tun Hanif Omar, who was a high-profile inspector-general of police, had argued that the high-profile arrests in his time were made on the recommendations of the police. A major documentary or paper on those spate of arrests may prove useful for posterity. A nation need not apologise for its actions, especially when the ISA is a legacy of the British. Still, when the same issue is tossed in our direction endlessly, we may have to deliver a clincher content.

As for Singapore, we will do well to sell treated water to it. Details of the water deal should also be made known to families and children in order to build the collective self-esteem.

As for the democratic process, Malaysia has opened a new chapter with the victory in the May 9, 2018 general election of a new coalition. Singapore has remained loyal to the PAP.

Britain on its part has been ambivalent about Europe for decades, forcing the previous prime minister David Cameron to promise a referendum that eventually took place in June 2016. The Leave campaign won 52 per cent to 48 per cent partly due to the clarity of the strategies conceived by key campaigners such as Boris Johnson.

Theresa May succeeded Cameron who campaigned for Remain. Ahead of the March 29 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union, the House of Commons has yet to agree on a deal. The one presented to MPs on Tuesday was defeated by a majority of 230, the most devastating loss since the setback suffered by the minority Labour government in 1924. May subsequently survived a motion of no-confidence against her government. Various scenarios have been put forth, including a one-year extension. A no-deal Brexit is likened to a disaster. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, has pointedly demanded that May rule out a no-deal Brexit before he agrees to enter into a discussion with her and leaders of other parties.

In the absence of the usual 3.40am (Malaysian time) European football kick-off or Monday night of English Premier League matches, some of us Malaysians have been watching, at times, with admiration, trepidation and undeniably doses of glee the scenes in the House of Commons. The British MPs, many of whom being the products of Oxford and Cambridge, argue with such poise and polish.

The issue at hand has not gone away. This newspaper is not about to offer any suggestions. If we are pressed to come up with an idea, maybe we shall say this — go for a second referendum. A majority of MPs are Remainers. Instead of trying to convert fellow MPs who have held the same views for a generation, convince the British voters that Remain is the better option. Businesses and jobs are at stake.

Meanwhile, do visit us more often. We are big admirers. London is virtually a must-visit destination. The well-heeled seek to send their children to be bestowed with a world-class education in Britain. Some despatch their young kids to attend schooling in Britain.

By Rashid Yusof

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/01/452398/tale-three-democracies

NUTP: The issue is to reduce irrelevant work.

January 20th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) thanked Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik for listening to teachers and taking heed of their unnecessary documentation workload.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan said the issue is not to reduce the workload but to reduce irrelevant work.

“This will enable teachers to have more time to teach, have face time with students, to learn about the students’ ability through continuous assessment and also for the teachers to have more interaction time with the parents.

“The idea is to always make sure that teachers are doing what they are supposed to do and not get distracted,” he told The Star.

He added that there may still be problems faced in the future with the abolition of the excessive paperwork but “the keyword is to constantly engage and check if we are going in the right direction”.

Senior English teacher A. Leela said she can foresee that teachers will be less stressed with the new initiatives in place.

She said teachers can now concentrate on teaching students rather than all the “unnecessary paperwork” they have to do.

“A happy teacher can definitely perform better in teaching and will concentrate better on their students,” she said.

This will lead to more enjoyable classes and a higher rate of school attendance, she said.

“If students and teachers are happy then successful learning and teaching will take place,” she said.

Fellow English teacher L. Shamala said she was glad the ministry was addressing the teachers’ workload issue.

Describing the initiatives as a “real relief”, Shamala said teachers would be able to concentrate on their “core business” – teaching – and be freed from the hassle of preparing reports and documents.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said teachers’ paperwork issue was being addressed as it was the main complaint she had heard from teachers.

“Parents have also complained that teachers aren’t able to teach properly because of all this paperwork.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/01/15/nutp-the-issue-is-to-reduce-irrelevant-work/#Vpomj1WEmYzhIpMc.99

Ensuring graduates have soft skills

January 20th, 2019
The EmPOWER programme is aimed at creating holistic graduates who are capable of enhancing their human capital, social capital, economic capital and emotional capital. — 123rf.comThe EmPOWER programme is aimed at creating holistic graduates who are capable of enhancing their human capital, social capital, economic capital and emotional capital. — 123rf.com

The challenge facing academic institutions is that “soft skills” are “hard” to develop and difficult to measure

HOW ready for work are our young people? A recently published Khazanah Research Institute report titled “School-to-Work Transition of Young Malaysians,” identified a number of mismatches between educational outcomes and employment market requirements.

“Employers rate soft skills and work experience above the academic and professional qualifications that are emphasised by Malaysian education and training institutions.”

The survey also found that “young people themselves recognise that academic qualifications are inadequate and acknowledge that they lack the soft skills and work experience that are necessary for getting a good job.”

Employers are seeking “soft” skills including “strong work ethics, good communication skills, creative and analytical thinking, challenge solving skills, acting as a team player, positive attitude, learning from criticism and working under pressure.”

The study went on to recommend the development of policies to encourage academic institutions to teach such skills.

The last two decades have seen increasing importance being placed on the development of soft skills. This has accelerated recently as an increasing number of cognitive-based technical tasks are being performed by computers and smart systems. This has left humans with what they can, supposedly, perform better than machines; soft skills.

The challenge facing academic institutions is that “soft skills” are “hard” to develop and difficult to measure.

The current education system was born after the first industrial revolution and is based on the factory and standardisation techniques where students are taught, in relatively large groups, standard materials and are tested using the same exam papers.

Addressing this challenge requires new and innovative thinking that examines how we define education and measure students’ educational success. This will start by recognising each student as a unique individual with a unique potential and different talents, needs and capabilities.

The other aspect of the challenge of developing soft skills is that they exist within the realm of “tacit knowledge”, ie knowledge that can only be acquired experientially, requiring a high level of motivation and self-awareness on the side of the students, and demanding a very different style of teaching and delivery by universities.

At Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, we have developed a structured programme to build soft, employability and life skills in all our students. The programme, which we have named EmPOWER takes the students into a four-stage developmental journey of knowing and leading self, leading teams, leading communities and leading enterprise.

The programme has six domains, namely

1. Global Citizenship, Leadership and Impact;

2. Emotional Intelligence, Resilience and Happiness;

3. People Skills;

4. Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity;

5. Critical Thinking and Decision Making; and

6. Employability and Industrial Relevance.

The programme is aimed at creating holistic graduates who are capable of enhancing their human capital, social capital, economic capital and emotional capital. Students work with their personal tutors and the EmPOWER programme instructors on personalised projects and learning experiences to develop their soft skills alongside other necessary technical and academic skills.

The acquisition of the soft and life skills is documented and certified using the “EmPOWER Transcript” that every student will receive together with their academic transcript.

This both cultivates self-awareness among the students and provides employers with an evidence-based record of the attainment of these skills.

The “School-to-Work Transition of Young Malaysians” study also found that “while employers use online advertisements and informal networks to recruit the workers they need, young people look for jobs through public employment services, job fairs or open interviews.

Informal recruitment channels can have cost-saving advantages but penalise poor, disadvantaged job seekers who have limited social networks and also restrict the selection pool of employers.

The mismatch of job search and recruitment methods clearly affects the smooth functioning of the labour market.”

The EmPOWER programme addresses this through encouraging and supporting students to build strong networks and enhance their social capital throughout their years at the university, given the strong links between networks and employment.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution with its continuous disruption of the job market is here to stay. More jobs and tasks that are cognitive and technical by nature will be automated.

It makes sense that our policies, our institutions and our business organisations shift their human development goals towards growing the “human skills” that machines are unable to perform. This is the only sure way to future proof humanity.

The economist Thomas Sowell said: “Life does not ask what we want. It presents us with options.”

Read more @

TVET, a stepchild no more

January 20th, 2019
Students of Politeknik Ungku Omar get hands on training on automotive engineering at the workshop at their campus in Ipoh.

Students of Politeknik Ungku Omar get hands on training on automotive engineering at the workshop at their campus in Ipoh.

A framework has been proposed to address the long-standing problems of our TVET system

A NEW framework for technical and vocational training is in the pipelines.

If approved, the proposal will see a more streamlined, effective, and industry-relevant, Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) system.

Proposed by the National TVET Movement to the Economic Planning Unit last month, the framework aims to address the country’s ailing TVET system.

National TVET Movement vice-chairman Datuk Ahmad Tajudin Jab said if implemented, the framework would simplify our fragmented system, and prevent the overlapping of responsibilities between different government bodies.

“Our focus is on upper secondary school students. We want to create a TVET champion.

TVET students being trained to be industry-ready. — File photo

TVET students being trained to be industry-ready. — File photo

“We want students to have better access to choices between academics and something more hands-on like TVET. This is what’s happening in other countries,” said Ahmad Tajudin, who recently retired as the Education Ministry deputy director-general.

Among those part of the Movement are the Federation of Human Resources Ministry’s Department of Skills Development (JPK) Accredited Centres (FeMac), National Council of Professors, and the National Parent-Teacher Associations’ Vocational and Technical Consultative Council.

For too long, TVET has been the “troubled stepchild” of the education system, he said.

This framework tackles long-standing problems like the:

> Overlapping of programmes and certifications;

> Misguided focus on post-secondary TVET students instead of upper secondary students;

> Existence of multiple accreditation bodies and agencies implementing TVET;

> High operations cost resulting from the many ministries involved;

> Weak policies; and

> Private TVET providers being treated as competitors.

“All TVET institutions should be streamlined, rationalised, and consolidated, under the Education Ministry.

“This ensures that teachers and trainers are better taken care of under one scheme of service. And, there won’t be a need to close down any institutions if all facilities and resources are under one roof,” he said, adding that it would also be more cost effective for the Government while ensuring smoother communication between the industry and institutions.

Other reforms proposed by the Movement include:

> Reducing existing certifications to an important few;

> Having a single accreditation body for TVET;

> Establishing two educational pathways for students to choose from;

> Allowing industries to take the lead;

> Enhancing TVET apprenticeship programmes based on models from other developed countries; and

> Formulating policies and legislations to enhance careers in TVET.

Greater emphasis, and an overview, of TVET implementation is needed, Ahmad Tajudin said.

There should be training provisions to facilitate contributions from private TVET providers, and there must be closer collaboration between the industry and these providers.

“Our TVET system needs stronger institutional coordination, and greater transparency among the multiple public agencies.

“TVET restructuring is a small part of a holistic solution, but it’s a start to the reform,” he said, adding that strong political will from the Government was crucial to ensure the country’s TVET success.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the Government would continue enhancing the capabilities of TVET institutions and systems to remain competitive and meet industry demands.

Speaking during his annual new year address in Serdang on Monday, he said the ministry would implement a harmonised accreditation and quality assurance system to enable student mobility in TVET institutions, which includes the Malaysian Technical University Network (MTUN).

The launch of Limkokwing TVET International, a TVET Malaysia Training Centre at Limkokwing University.MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star

The launch of Limkokwing TVET International, a TVET Malaysia Training Centre at Limkokwing University.MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star

MTUN, he said, should move in the direction of Fachhochschule – Germany’s tertiary education institution specialising in topical areas.

MTUN, he added, shouldn’t be evaluated solely based on publications, but also on the ability of the graduates produced to solve technical issues.

He said the ministry plans to increase the quality and delivery of TVET by enabling the industry to lead the curriculum development, avoid overlapping of programmes and resources, improve cost effectiveness, and widen the funding to increase enrolment.

He said the ministry was also in the midst of addressing recognition issues involving controversial vocational colleges.

He assured polytechnics and community colleges that they wouldn’t be sidelined in the reform process.

“To ensure the employability of our graduates, closer collaboration between these institutions and the industry – especially with the big players – will be prioritised,” he said, adding that these were part of the ministry’s efforts in making sure that TVET, polytechnics, vocational colleges, and community colleges, are no longer seen as second choice options.

In June last year, Dr Maszlee appointed Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar to chair a special TVET task force.

The duties of the task force, said Dr Maszlee, was to conduct research across all ministries that provide TVET education and training, and recommend how the country’s TVET system can be improved. This includes a review of TVET education and training laws, and the possibility of a TVET commission.

However, the TVET industry was left reeling following Nurul Izzah’s resignation as PKR vice president on Dec 17, and her decision to no longer serve the federal government in any capacity.

By Sandhya Menon and Christina Chin
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/01/20/tvet-a-stepchild-no-more/#Xv1smS3XJdZKMcwV.99

Education panel plan a good idea

January 17th, 2019
Pupils celebrating their UPSR results. Public consultation on the setting up of a National Education Policy Committee is a win-win situation for the Education Ministry and the people. – NSTP/File Pic
By TAN CHEE YONG - January 16, 2019 @ 11:26pm

I welcome the Education Ministry’s proposal to establish a National Education Policy Committee to consult the public on improving public education (“Public invites to submit proposals to improve education system” — NST, Jan 12).

Since the introduction of the National Education Blueprint 2015-2025 in 2013 under the previous administration, the implementation of its policies has received mixed results.

Its results on reducing the urban and rural gap on education performance is, nonetheless, remarkable.

The ministry said the gap was reduced by 31.6 per cent based on pupils’ 2016 Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah results compared with that of previous years.

It has allowed more pupils who are socially disadvantaged to perform as good as their urban peers.

However, there was a reverse trend in certain areas, which the Blueprint intends to address. Among them was the effort to improve English language proficiency.

In 2017, the ministry acknowledged the fact that more than 10,000 schools, and even teachers’ command of the language, was not at a standard expected in the Blueprint.

A more comprehensive approach must be adopted to bridge this gap.

Public consultation is a win-win situation for the ministry and the people.

It allows us to voice our concerns about problems and provide suggestions on ways to improve them.

Equally, the ministry can benefit from the expertise and suggestions to boost the education system.


Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/01/451388/education-panel-plan-good-idea

Innovative teaching at universities

January 17th, 2019

ONE of the key purpose of tertiary education today is to generate holistic graduates who can compete globally and be ready take on challenges being brought about by the technological development of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) – which is affecting the jobsphere by creating new knowledge and skills requirement.

Hence, student experience at higher education insitutions must facilitate the opportunity for every student to learn in innovative ways that is engaging, enabling them to reach their full potential and develop skills that will help them thrive in the future.

Education Minister Dr Mazlee Malik at the Education Minister’s Special Award Ceremony: Innovative Curriculum Design and Delivery 2018 (AKRI 2018) last month said lecturers should be dynamic and adapt to various changes and yet hold on to the basic concepts of higher education.

And that there must be a culture of innovation in the profession of lecturers to diversify teaching and learning methods.

Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad, a lecturer who has been teaching at the biotechnology and molecular science at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) for the past 11 years and is currently seconded to the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education as the Director of Academic Development Management Division, believes in empowering learners, learning by doing and experiential learning.

“Students nowadays who are from Generation Z (people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) are different from those in other generations. They want to be involved, and have freedom to speak their own mind in their learning experience.

“As an educator, we need to create that opportunity for them to unleash their creative potential, skills and innovation. We need to design the learning activities so that students able to identify their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and those will not happen if only learning through lectures in a conventional classroom setting.

Life Skills Facilitators at Taylor’s University pose with Dr Maszlee Malik and Janaronson Nagarajah (left) after being named the winner for the Face-to-Face Immersive Learning Experience category at AKRI 2018.

“We should take the advantages of the great things technology can bring that may not have been possible before,” said the recipient for Teaching award under the Pure Science Cluster category at the 12th National Academic Awards (AAN) last year.

Spurring active learning

SO, what is innovative teaching at university and what shape does it come in?

Associate Professor Dr Fauziah Abdul Rahim – dean of Universiti Utara Malaysia’s (UUM) School of Education and Modern Languages – said essentially

teaching at any level would need to have the same basic ingredient – it has to be learner and learning centered, it needs to be meaningful.

It would also require designing tasks or activities that engages learners to become involved in the thinking and learning process as well as learn in a collaborative way and above all learners can have lots of fun when learning. In her view, this would be the essence of designing for learning to take place at the university level and the innovation would really depend on the creativity of the teacher, considering the needs and learner diversity, in order to achieve their goals.

“So using flipped classroom where learners can do tasks inside and outside of classroom via technology and the use of various learning tools can assist teachers to provide engaging learning experiences among the learners,” she said.

The Anugerah Akademik Negara award winner for Teaching (Applied Arts and Social Science Category), highlighted the current and future generation of university students cannot be separated from technology and have a shorter attention span perhaps due to that though they love to share their experiences, working in a flexible way and they thrive on challenges.

“Thus, in order to get them on board in the classroom, teachers in the university level need to be equipped with the know-how of integrating technology and interactive learning in their classroom,” she said.

She highlighted that the challenges for faculty members at tertiary level occurs when they are required to become involved in research and publication and the emphases that have been given to these activities can sometimes be overwhelming for academicians when designing innovative and meaningful teaching at the university level that sometimes result in traditional lecture becoming inevitable.

“Hopefully make universities understand and place greater emphasis on the importance of ensuring that academicians become motivated to place innovative teaching as central in their teaching and learning processes,” she said.

The UKM Faculty of Medicine E-MERS team discussing the finer details of Immersive Hybrid Simulation session targeted at final-year medical students.

On inovative teaching in the fields of applied literature and social science for example, Fauziah useslearner-centered strategies that require students to take ownership of their learning when solving problems in various ways.

This is especially critical as her students are from the education programmes whom ultimately, she hopes will become innovative teachers in their respective contexts when they graduate from their studies.

“While ensuring that the learning outcomes of the courses are achieved, there is also an effort made to prepare them with the obstacles and challenges that they may face in the real world contexts of teaching.

“This is done through activities like solving cases provided which enable students to relate theory into practice in a meaningful way. That way it helps students to prepare themselves before they set foot into the real world,” she said.

“I am humbled and pleased when getting feedback from past students on how tasks that they did and knowledge as well as skills they have acquired when attending the class as students were relevant and helpful when they became teachers. The received feedbacks motivate me to do more even if it is not easy. After all mediating learning is never easy,” said Fauziah.

Asked about her teaching strategies in teaching pure sciences subject, UPM’s microbiology lecturer Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad said it’s all about curiosity, exploration, and relationship.

“We need to deliver content in a manner that will spike students curiosity, instil their interest and allow them to see things differently. I practice BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Students will come in with their own gadgets, smartphones, laptops, iPads. hey will come in prepared because they know they need to participate in activities prepared for them by me or their classmates. I don’t have to worry about attendance because they won’t miss my classes. It is an active learning environment,” she said.

She believes active learning promotes innovation and creativity.

“I will have activities for each lecture, lots of formative assessment, interaction, participation, engagement and group work. Students have the freedom to throw out ideas and suggestions, interactive and engaged. In the words of Einstein, I don’t teach my students, I just attempt to create the environment in which they can learn,” she said.

Wan Zuhainis practices blended learning using flipped classroom with Web 2.0 tools. The learning materials are prepared earlier with interactive video quizzes using EdPuzzle. The tasks are distributed among the group of students that will prepare the learning materials for a particular topic for the whole class.

“You’ll be amazed on what they can do. I use Project Oriented Based Learning (POBL). A project is designed for the students encompass the content for the whole semester. We will discuss progress, problems, sharing ideas on the project. Usually they are big events such as Mini Showcase of Microbial Ecology where students were the organising Committee. and Virtual Microbes, a virtual peer-learning project to learn microbes with students from eight ifferent universities, including Lafayett College, USA. It not only teaches others, students learn best by doing and experiential learning,” she said.

“As a 21stCentury educator, a learning designer, we have to be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn. Learning takes place in many different circumstances and contexts and learning is process that never ends. Our enthusiasms, passion and excitement for learning should be contagious and infectious, and everyone must be infected,” Wan Zuhainis said.


Taylor’s University Face-to-Face Immersive Learning Experience project, which won an award in the category at the Education Minister’s Special Award Ceremony: Innovative Curriculum Design and Delivery 2018 (AKRI 2018) last December, goes back to 2014 when Taylor’s University launched the Shine Award programme to enable its students to develop their life skills aptitude, which would see them improve on their lifelong life skills and emotional wellbeing capabilities.

It is actually the implementation of two subjects – Life Skills for Success and Well-Being and Millennials in Malaysia: Team Dynamics and Relationship Management – which is targeted to help students to focus on developing themselves to be emotionally intelligent and be able to interact with others.

“This innovative approach to education was the brainchild of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Professor Dr Pradeep Nair who saw the merit in introducing this after talking to industry leaders who shared about how they also assess emotional intelligence when hiring graduates,” said Janaronson, who is the Associate Director of Integrated Teaching and Life-long Learning Center at Taylor’s (INTELLECT).

A specialised team, called the Life Skills Coaches/Facilitators who come from various backgrounds, was appointed to look into this aspect of the learning. The Life Skills Facilitators, which include certified coaches, clinical psychologist, humanitarian and corporate trainers among others, deliver these life skills modules to all first-year students, providing them the opportunity to enter into a journey of self-discovery, catching foundational life skills, emotional intelligence and tools that will help with emotional well-being.

“While this was first introduced on a voluntary basis, the programme was met with positive response by the students which led to the establishment of a more comprehensive framework that was introduced as part of the Taylor’s Curriculum Framework which was launched last year,” said Janaronson.

“It’s a new approach to learning and all our students in the diploma and degree programmes are enrolled for these two modules in their first year, regardless of their course of study,” he said.

He elaborated by going through the two subjects, at the end of the semester, the students will have the opportunity to go through a self-discovery process and know how to thrive in a team setting and how to give neutral responses and behave with people in teams.

Dichotomie Le Toys

“This is important because research has indicated that the one reality is that those in the workforce in the future will work across different teams, in different sectors and also spanning cultures,” he said.

he highlighted the initiative has been met with positive response, with close to 90 per cent of students involved sharing that they found the two modules helpful and provided them the platform to safely develop their emotional wellbeing in a positive manner. “Our team have also been approached by an industry partner who recognises the impact of this approach and wanted a custom-made 10 week module for their scholars,” shared Janaroson.

As educators, he commented it is necessary to be innovative as it will allow instructors/ lecturers to remain relevant to the needs of students.

“The Life Skills modules provide a platform to the Life Skills Facilitators to constantly enhance the way they engage their students and allow the students to be future ready,” Janaronosn said.


Transformative Teaching Without Lectures effort by UMT biodiversity lecturer Associate Professor

DrFaridah Mohamad a new approach to the teaching of ‘building and using a dichotomous key’ for first year biodiversity students. These skills, she said, are crucial for biodiversity graduates who will end up working in the biodiversity field later where they will be the ones holding the responsibility of exploring and safeguarding the mega-biodiversity. Therefore, she highlighted, skills in classification of organisms which involves building and using dichotomous key is crucial.

The things that triggers me to do this was when we noticed that majority of our final year students failed to demonstrate good knowledge and skill in identification and description of species when they presented their final year project, despite have been taught these lesson and skills during their first year.

“And so I thought of changing the way it is taught, but retaining all the learning outcomes. The only change I tried was the delivery of the course, from lecture based to activity based, where students took charge of their own learning by applying active learning in class,” said Faridah.

The original course involved lecture and practical sessions. What Faridah did was to select the original most basic practical module, where students were taught and required to classify lab apparatus and stationaries into their own classes.

“This is the basic of making organism classification. I expanded this module to become the center of my teaching of the course. But instead of using those materials, I changed them to lovely coloured, cute toys of all sorts. The whole process of remodelling the module and crafting the activities took me quite sometime but it’s all worth it when comments from students were extremely encouraging,” she explained.

Under Dichotomie Le Toys, a 2-3 hour activity was carried out in a group of five without given any prior lecture on the topic. The students further applied their understanding of the practical sessions using real plant and animal specimens and using various published taxonomic keys available.

The whole process of the activity was done on a basis of active learning where students took charge of their own learning through learning-by-doing, peer, collaborative and self-determined learning.

Each group was given a task to classify a set of 12-13 plastic toys of all sorts according to their creativity. While trying to complete the task, they listed the problems they faced, compared and discussed with the whole class facilitated by the lecturer. The importance of having a system to simplify the classification process is highlighted, followed by the introduction of “Dichotomous Key” terminology.

Each member of the group was then instructed to read an article of their choice from the internet, share with others and finally managed to build a correct dichotomous key of their toys.

“We started this new approach in 2017, and the students are now in their final year. Spontaneous interview carried by my other colleague on some of them add more proves that they are retaining the knowledge and skills they gained from Dichotomie le Toys, and started applying them to various projects that they are working now for their final year projects including birds, bats, fish and plants.

“This is precisely what we want from them, able to apply these basic skills taught previously during their study into “real job” situation, and was not happening at the rate we want before this,” said Faridah.

Test done on students gave evidence of correct understanding of the concept and indicate their competence in using dichotomous key to identify organisms and building the key to classify them.

“We are working towards better teaching deliveries, especially on topics or subjects that we identify needs to be refreshed. How do we know this? We have their grades as indicators, and we have students’ comments to reflect upon each batch. That will tell us whether the students attain the intended outcomes or not,” she shared.


HAVING introduced Disaster Response Medicine as a submodule under Emergency Medicine to the medical undergraduate curriculum at UKM, lecturers of the Department of Emergency soon found the student contact allocation for final year students for a one hour lecture inadequate to impart the principles of disaster response medicine and information for accompanying field experience.

“We had one hour of lecture followed by a simulation exercise where we put students through role play on the field. The whole affair is labour intensive with 50 students undergoing the simulation physically either in the ward or an open space each time. And there are 280 students in total for the whole batch, meaning we hat to carry out this simulations five to six times each year. While this disrupts our daily operations in the faculty, there is also no guarantee students will come away with complete knowledge on the overall principles of disaster response medicine as they are stuck with only one role on only one aspect of disaster response medicine during the simulation session,” said UKM Medical Centre senior consultant emergency physican Professor Dr Ismail Mohd Saiboon, who is also a healthcare simulationist educator, and deputy dean of Graduate Studies at UKM’s Faculty of Medicine.

So together with six other lecturers, he formed a 7-strong Emergency-Medical Education Research in Simulation (E-MERS) Team to see how can the teaching of the submodule be more effective.

The team came up with a blended immersive learning experience teaching and learning approach using blended learning With multi-modal web-application and immersive hybrid simulation

Before the actual face-to-face interaction, students had to access a lecture video through a screencast application where they can rewind and repeat as they see fit. An online discusssion ensues for students to put forth questions and request from clarifcation from the lecturer via Padlet which is an interactive platform which allows everyone to join in.

Only after that students will have the face-to-face interaction with the lecturer to delve in-depth into the topic after which a post-classroom task is given in preparation for a hands-on experience done through an immersive hybrid simulation (IHS).

For the IHS, students are exposed to a pre-recorded audio-visual trigger of an emergency – a vehicle accident or natural disaster – couple with actual role play by students taken on roles such as victims or medical personnel on stage in a lecture theatre hall. There are also students in the audience observing the whole scene.

“The victims are done up in woulage which is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel. Those taking on the roles of medical officers will then make decision as to what action or treatment is to be taken; they apply treatment principle, apply critical thinking and decision making.

Dr Ismail Mohd Saiboon engaging with finalyear students before a lecture on Disaster Response Medicine.

“When the session is over, we perform formative assessment onsite by having students give their responses to questions on what they have seen through an audience response system. Straight away we can see their answers and interact on why they derived on the answers. Students enjoy the experience and the whole process is a good way to ensure understanding on the topic and clear the doubts straightaway,” said Ismail, adding that the whole approach has proven to be highly effective in terms of teaching the topic.

The E-MERS team is now looking at putting the initiative into the virtual reality (VR) platform and is in discussion with one local vendor to make it happen.

“VR is a good platform to learn procedural medical techniques such as intubation, putting in IV line as the experience will be objective and standard for all medical students. As it is not all medical students get to do the hands-on experience in the wards or surgery, some only get to observe. With VR and simulation this will no longer be an issue,” he said.

Ismail also hopes that the mediccal faculty would one day come up massive open online course for learning medicine that would allow anyone anywhere to do so.


Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/01/451170/innovative-teaching-universities

Have mobile clinics for diabetes education

January 14th, 2019
(Stock image for illustration purposes) Only a blood test will establish whether people are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

A RECENT study indicates that there are three million diabetics in Malaysia and 16 per cent of the national budget for healthcare goes to treat diabetes and related complications, like kidney failures, limb amputations and blindness due to nerve damage.

Diabetes has no outward symptoms and will silently damage the nerves, which leads to organ failure.

Only a blood test will establish whether people are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

When people are found to be diabetic, medication and counselling on diet and a healthy lifestyle prevent serious complications.

When people are found to be pre-diabetic, counselling on diet and a healthy lifestyle can prevent the onset of the disease.

Singapore has taken measures like having mobile clinics to screen people for diabetes and lessons on diabetes prevention for schoolchildren.

Similarly, we hope that the Health Ministry will have mobile clinics to screen and educate people on diabetes.

Those in rural areas and the poor have poor knowledge of diabetes and its complications.


Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/01/450210/have-mobile-clinics-diabetes-education

Our constitution and human rights

January 14th, 2019
People reciting the Rukun Negara at a National Day celebration. There must be greater openness to dialogue with mutual respect for views and ideas. NSTP/ SAIRIEN NAFIS

THIS is the second part of my reflective response to Azril Mohd Amin’s article on “The rights are not universal” (NST Dec 14, 2018). In the first article, I had focused more on the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In this Part Two article, I will address Azril’s reference to the Federal Constitution and the social contract agreed by the different ethnic communities as well as his application to two matters, namely national language and on sexuality.

I have taken the position that the UDHR is not a colonial document.

However, in this part two ,I would like to discuss a matter that Azril has not raised, namely that the Federal Constitution is a colonial document. That does not mean we discard it as a pro-colonialist document but we need to note that the Alliance political party with the endorsement of the Malay sultans made the necessary changes which became acceptable to the Malay sultans and three major communities as a common building document.

At the end of the second world war with the shift in global positions on colonial societies, the British government after the failed Malayan Union plans, the Reid Commission of five persons (all foreigners) was established after the 1956 London conference.

The commission received 131 memoranda and hosted 118 meetings and eventually completed the drafted documents which were accepted by the Malay rulers, British Parliament and the Federal Legislative Council in Malayasia

The Malaysian Federal Constitution’s fundamental liberties section is similar to the UDHR. Article 5 on liberty of person is similar to UDHR Article 3; our Article 6 and UDHR’s article 4 on slavery or servitude are similar too. A significant clause is the one on equality. Our constitution’s Article 8 and UDHR article 7 are also similar: “All are equal before the law.”

On religious freedom, the UDHR provides for clear rights to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. In the FC, too, there is freedom, namely as in Article 11: “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion…” The restriction is only on FC Article 11 clause 4 on control or restrictions to propagation. All these are universal principles and values arising not just from Western culture but from our common humanity where we can draw references from other Asian cultures and world religions.

It is also important to note that the Malaysian Parliament formally accepted the UDHR when the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 was passed. The act calls for regard to be had to the UDHR to the extent that it is not inconsistent with the Federal Constitution. This is the strongest formal endorsement on the UDHR by Parliament

We all recognise that there are some specific features of the Federal Constitution which is uniquely Malaysian. One major example is the balancing feature. On religion in Article 3, “Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practised”; on languages, Article 152, where the national language will be the Malay language but other community languages are not prohibited or prevented. In the case of the special position of the Malays and natives as found in Article 153, it is also the duty of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to protect the legitimate interests of other communities.

Azril draws reference to the Malay language as the sole language of the nation with reference to Article 152 of the Federal Constitution. In his arguments, he goes further by stating that vernacular schools are “the root of segregation” and also indicate that they “have no basis for their existence in Malaysia”. On this matter, Azril has got it totally wrong.

Article 152 (1) states that “the national language shall be the Malay language”. No one in Malaysia disputes this is a principle accepted in the founding of Malaya and Malaysia. However, in Article 152 part (a) and (b), it notes that there is no prohibition or prevention from the teaching or learning of any other language, including the provision of federal and state funds for this.

The Constitution makes it clear that while the Malay language is the national and official language, there is no objections to community languages. While it does not state what the other languages are, one can make a clear reference to Mandarin, Tamil, sub-ethnic languages and other languages of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

Azril also does not write that part of the historical educational development is the position not just of vernacular schools but also religious Islamic schools and schools run by Christian churches. Both the Razak Education Committee’s Report (1956) and the Rahman Talib Report (1960) sought to strengthen the national character of the education institutions with the Malay language as the medium of instruction. They also recognised the place of vernacular schools. It is therefore wrong to conclude that the vernacular language schools “have no basis for existence in Malaysia”. These vernacular schools are also our national heritage and reflective of multicultural Malaysia.

There is a need for more public discussions on these human rights themes in Malaysian society. Often we all seem to be in polarised sides holding on to our convictions. However, as Malay-sia is a multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual and multireligious society, there must be greater openness to dialogue with mutual respect for views and ideas. We can agree to disagree but in so doing we cannot dismiss or throw out human rights altogether.

By Prof Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/01/450208/our-constitution-and-human-rights

Put down phones and start talking

January 14th, 2019
(Stock image for illustration purposes) Entire businesses can be run on a smartphone.

TRAVELLING on the train to and from work every day, I notice that at least nine out of 10 people are glued to their smartphone screens.

Families are not talking to each other but are looking at their phones when dining at home or restaurants.

If you asked, “What would you do if you didn’t have your phone for a day?” a reply would be, “I’ll probably die without my phone.”

Age is no barrier to becoming hooked to the handphone. People want to communicate virtually rather than physically.

Smartphones have many advantages. They are one of the greatest innovations of the 21st century. Almost anything can be done with it. Entire businesses could be run on a smartphone.

If you are stranded in an unknown place, all you need to do is use the Grab app and a driver will pick you up.

You can get food delivered through the handphone, book cinema tickets, make online payments, manage your fitness and health, and learn a new language.

And not forgetting video calls, which are a lifesaver for those living abroad and far from family and loved ones.

This is unlike 10 years ago where a five-minute call from abroad would cost you a bomb.

Apps such as WhatsApp have made communication and the spread of information limitless.

However, with every technological innovation, there is a downside.

People are so hooked to their phones that they become anti-social.

Some families spend their “family time” by looking at their smartphones.

Smartphones have also led to health problems.

Over-exposure, especially in dark places, leads to eyestrain and other ophthalmological problems.

Recent studies published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology have shown a correlation between the time spent on social media and the level of depression, loneliness and anxiety among youth.

This is because social media gives a false impression of people’s lives.

One tends to look at the lives of others and think that theirs is cooler or happier than their own.

Smartphones pose a parenting challenge to those with young children. Most children are exposed to smartphones at an early age.

Parents resort to smartphones to pacify their children and keep them quiet.

Board games, such as Mono-poly, snakes and ladders and chess, have become boring, old-fashioned activities given that virtual games can be played on smartphones.

If not monitored, kids may be exposed to pornography and get used to violence.

There is a fine line between children’s over-exposure and under-exposure to technology.

By not exposing them to technology, kids may run the risk of being left out.

Expose them too much and they may be at risk of health problems, addiction and the influence of the “dark side” of the Internet.

Therefore, parents need to strike a balance between the amount of time they allow their children to spend on technology and the time spent on other activities.

Smartphones should not be used as an easy way out when it comes to distracting children.

Parents should find outdoor activities such as sports to keep their kids occupied instead of cooping them up indoors.

We have to acknowledge the fact that we cannot live without smartphones.

However, we need to be mature in the way we use smartphones and it remains in our own hands not to allow them to take over our lives.

By Rueben Ananthan Santhana Dass.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/01/450212/put-down-phones-and-start-talking