We need new socio economic model

June 1st, 2020
The aspirations will raise our hopes and expectations for better economic growth, fairer income distribution and higher human welfare, for all Malaysians, regardless of race! -Pic for illustrations purposes only The aspirations will raise our hopes and expectations for better economic growth, fairer income distribution and higher human welfare, for all Malaysians, regardless of race! -Pic for illustrations purposes only

LETTER: The clear announcement yesterday by the Minister of Finance Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz of his 6R economic Recovery Plan is most welcome, especially at this time of concern and anxiety.

The first 4Rs – covering Resolve, Resilience, Restart, and Recovery – are presently on track and could be achieved with a stronger political will to move faster.

These aspirations will raise our hopes and expectations for better economic growth, fairer income distribution and higher human welfare, for all Malaysians, regardless of race!

But, to fully achieve all these six goals and especially the last 2Rs, Revitalise and Reform, our present Economic Model must be transformed significantly.

We cannot do more of the same. We cannot carry on with business as usual. Some old norms must be radically reformed and new thinking adopted to be more successful.

The world economic recession, our own impending recession and the Covid-19 crisis, have all caused a great deal of uncertainty regarding our future well being. The political turmoil currently experienced in our country has further eroded our confidence and reduced our hopes for our brighter futures.

Hence the Finance Minister’s 6R Recovery Plan is very welcome, as a light in the dark tunnel.

The world economies, including Malaysia, are facing socio economic crisis. Some of these weak policies and mistakes have been as follows -

1. The wide and worsening unsustainable income gaps between the rich and the poor.

The new norm economic model should aim to narrow this unfair income and large wealth disparities. This would mean taxing the very rich much more in order to raise the standards of living of the poor who are struggling to make ends meet!

2. The basic needs of the rakyat have to be more adequately met in the Recovery Plan and especially in the New 12th Plan. The Covid-19 crisis has revealed more starkly , the large numbers of poor, the hungry and the homeless amongst us, who are embarrassingly better off. In fact the cramped and dirty housing provided by wealthy contractors , has largely caused Covid 19, to spread amongst us all. Surely we could do better to build more low cost but healthy houses for the poor!

3. Budgets and Five Year Plans are not exclusively concerned only about economic growth and raising incomes . More importantly , Budgets and Five Year Plans are meant to improve the quality of life of all Malaysians. This includes the UNs17 Sustainable Goals that we should implement with a stronger political will!

4. The 6Rs are great aspirations, but the question in most of our thinking minds is – will the new government be really be able to implement the last two most important Two Rs – to Revitalise and Reform?

Revitalisation and Reforming the economy would or should mean interalia –

a) Restructuring our Education system to make it more internationally competitive,

b) Reforming our labour policies especially in regard to employing such large numbers of Foreign Labour.

c) Reorganising the Public Services to make them much more multiracial and multi-religious to better reflect our national population composition

d) Redefine the role and scope of the private sector. Should we depend so much on Government Linked Companies (GLCs) that squeeze out the business sector.

e) Ensure our national Institutions are more professional and honest and fair in upholding a more efficient administration that is free from politisation and corruption.

The Governments 6Rs Strategy is encouraging, promising and welcome and needs our full support.

But, unless the Governments new 6R socio economic strategy fully takes into account, the above and many other public policy issues that can be discussed more openly and widely with the NGOs, Universities and Business and Community Leaders, we will not progress much.

by TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/06/596958/we-need-new-socio-economic-model

Husaini Omar appointed new CEO of MQA

June 1st, 2020
Professor Datuk Dr Husaini Omar is the new chief executive officer of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). Professor Datuk Dr Husaini Omar is the new chief executive officer of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) has appointed Professor Datuk Dr Husaini Omar as its new chief executive officer effective today, according to a statement from the agency.

Husaini replaced Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Rahmah Mohamed who has completed her contract of services.

“MQA is confident that Husaini can inject the aspirations needed by the agency and drive the agency’s transformation towards its vision of becoming a global authority in qualifications and quality assurance of higher education,” it said

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Born on March 10, 1963 in Kelantan, Husaini is an engineering geologist. He obtained his Bachelor of Science with Honours (Geology) from Universiti Malaya (UM) in 1988, Masters Degree in Geology Engineering from University of Leeds, United Kingdom (1994), and Doctor of Engineering (System Engineering) from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in 2002.

WIth eight years of industrial experience as geology engineer, Husaini started his career as a university lecturer at Engineering Faculty in UPM in 1996 before being promoted to Associate Professor in 2002 and later a Professor in 2011.

He was previously UPM deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation) before being appointed as Universiti Malaysia Kelantan vice-chancellor until January last year.

Husaini has published more than 200 publications including journals, books and technical reports from his research.

He and his team have also supervised more than 20 post-graduate students. His research findings were patented in the United States and Malaysia.

Husaini was also the recipient of the National Young Scientist Award in 2000, the National Youth Award and International Technology Expo gold medal winner.

Internationally, Husaini received the World Intellectual Property Organisation, Geneva gold medal award in 2000 and the gold award in the Invention and New Product Exposition (INPEX) in the United States in 2001.

He is in the international jury panel for Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel-ISEF) in the US from 2002, fellow of the Geological Society of London, members of International Association of Engineering Geology (IAEG), Paris, and member of Malaysian Society for Engineering & Technology.

MQA is a statutory body in Malaysia responsible for quality assurance of higher education for both the public and the private sectors.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2020/06/597011/husaini-omar-appointed-new-ceo-mqa

38 new Covid-19 cases today

June 1st, 2020
The Health Ministry recorded 38 new Covid-19 cases. --BERNAMA picThe Health Ministry recorded 38 new Covid-19 cases. –BERNAMA pic

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry recorded 38 new Covid-19 cases as of noon today, bringing the cumulative total to 7,857 cases since the pandemic struck Malaysia.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said of the 38 new cases, 26 patients were infected abroad.

“Of the 12 local transmission cases, 6 are Malaysians and the rest are foreigners.

“No new deaths were reported today and the death toll remains at 115 cases, which is 1.46 per cent of overall cases ,” he said during a daily press briefing at the ministry.

He added that eight patients are currently being treated at the Intensive Care Unit with two requiring breathing assistance.

The total number of active cases stood at 1,338.

By Dawn Chan.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/06/597046/38-new-covid-19-cases-today

Renewed push for STEM

June 1st, 2020

THE Education Ministry is working to address the decline of interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects among students.

Youths, said its minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin, would otherwise lose out on the global stage, which is heavily based on scientific and technological advancement.

The ministry, he said, is aware of the rapid decline of interest year-on-year and is trying to address the issue.

“Education is a timeline, starting from primary, secondary to tertiary education.

“If the interest in STEM is not inculcated at an early age, starting from Year One or earlier, students’ choices will be affected when they choose their major, ” he said during a live television interview on May 11.In 2018,44% of students opted for the Science stream at secondary level, compared with 48% in 2012. At tertiary level, 570,858 (63%) of students majored in Arts and Humanities, Education, Social Sciences, Business and Law in 2017, compared with 334,742 (37%) who enrolled in Science, Math, Computers, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction courses, StarEdu reported in February.

To promote STEM and instil a culture of innovation among students, RM11mil was allocated in Budget 2020 to implement joint initiatives by the Education and Science, Technology and Innovation (formerly the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry) Ministries, as outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

Red more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/05/31/renewed-push-for-stem#cxrecs_s

A treat for teachers

June 1st, 2020

Special delivery: Quek (left) and Chang receiving the Teachers Day pizzas.

ARE my students coping with their studies? How are they doing cooped up at home? I miss my students!

These are among the thoughts that fill the minds of Quek Cham Seng and Chang Chu San from SMK Subang Utama and SMK SS 17 Subang Jaya since the implementation of the movement control order (MCO) on Mar 18 that resulted in nationwide school closures.

While the pandemic presented opportunities to explore new teaching methods, Quek, who is married to Chang, said the recent months have tested teachers’ creativity and patience.

“Despite the pandemic, our students are always on our minds.

“We continuously explore new and exciting ways to reach out and continue teaching our students and we are happy to have grown and learnt from this experience.

“The most important thing is that our students continue their journey for knowledge despite these circumstances, ” said Quek.

The couple were among 100 teachers nationwide who were treated by Domino’s Pizza to mark the recent Teachers Day celebration on May 16.

Noting that teachers play a crucial role in moulding the next generation, Domino’s Pizza Malaysia and Singapore Group chief marketing officer Linda Hassan said teachers have gone out of their way to conduct lessons despite school closures.

“Despite the MCO, teachers are still actively carrying out e-learning through various platforms. Even a pandemic can’t break their spirit and passion and for this we salute all teachers.

“Thank you for stepping up to the plate and for shouldering this very important responsibility of teaching our future generation. Your creativity, adaptive strategies and care for our children are truly admirable, ” she said, adding that teachers still impact their students’ lives long after they have left school.

Besides Quek and Chang, teachers Ainul Mardiah from SK Dr Sulaiman, Tampin, and Jaqulene Francis from SMK Convent Sitiawan were also treated to pizzas.

Calling on students to keep their spirits high, Ainul said while some could cope with learning from home, there were also those who struggled with limitations.

Jaqulene said she misses her class but will continue supporting the students with their learning while they are keeping safe at home.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/05/31/a-treat-for-teachers#cxrecs_s

A task force for higher education needed

June 1st, 2020

COVID-19 continues to disrupt the world and there is much uncertainty within the higher education sector as to what this means for Malaysia’s higher education and skills training future.

A wide range of stakeholders, including students and parents, are anxiously seeking answers on this front.

Along with health devastation, the impact of Covid-19 forced institutions and classes to close, leaving students stranded and lecturers without employment.

The risk of more closures of institutions is obvious.

It wasn’t that long ago when academic groups and sectoral stakeholders welcomed the decision by the Prime Minister to reintroduce the Higher Education Ministry.

This will ensure more attention is given to the overall development of the policy framework and higher education as a standalone sector.

No doubt, this is a challenging moment for everyone.

At times like this, the ministry must ensure that more work and support are being given to our educational institutions and students.

In response to this crisis and its impact on the higher education sector, the Higher Education Minister’s role as a crisis manager is needed now more than ever.

As such, I would like to recommend the setting up of a special task force consisting of experts from government, higher education institutions (both public and private), think-tanks and student groups to plan, implement and coordinate actions in addressing the concerns and foreseeable risks posed to the higher education sector.

The immediate priorities and roles of the task force should include:

> setting up a centralised information centre to ensure coordinated and accurate information is being communicated to education institutions and students throughout the pandemic.

> setting up a national emergency fund to support the universities, education institutions and students if the situation requires.

> proposing salary cut for senior executives in the ministry, vice-chancellors and universities to contribute to the welfare support for staff and students.

> coordinating relevant federal and state government agencies to ensure proper mobilisation of resources and effective execution to support the students at a local level.

> addressing the challenges of shifting to online learning due to issues such as accessibility to the Internet and the feasibility of online teaching for courses that require practical or face-to-face learning environments.

As a host to more than 150,000 international students studying in our campuses, it is also important for the ministry to ensure that they are well supported.

This can be done through involving and mobilising the Foreign Embassies, the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) and the Home Affairs Ministry on matters related to visa and off-campus accommodation.

Otherwise, it may pose a reputational risk to Malaysia as a welcoming country for international students.

The ministry must immediately step up its effort in ensuring all measures are being taken to support this important sector of the country.

Public confidence must be restored and uplifted in this time of uncertainty.

by THOMSON CH’NG.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2020/05/31/a-task-force-for-higher-education-needed#cxrecs_s

Turned off by online classes

June 1st, 2020

SEREMBAN: Slightly less than half the number of secondary school students interviewed in a nationwide survey by a group of researchers from a public university have said “no” to online classes.

The main reasons they did not enjoy studying online were not being able to have direct interaction with their teachers and friends and taking a longer time to complete assignments.

Poor Internet connectivity, having to put in long hours on the computer and needing to share digital devices with other family members were the other reasons for this.

A total of 3,584 students were surveyed by a group of researchers from the University Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Seremban campus led by Assoc Prof Dr Angeline Ranjethamoney Vijayarajoo.

Other members of the group were Assoc Prof Dr Nur Azlina Abd Aziz, Dr Jamilah Mohd Muhyideen, Dr Rossidah Wan Abdul Aziz and Nur Hidayah Mohd Razali.

The findings, conducted over a 10-day period from May 15 and almost two months after schools were closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, were made available to Sunday Star.

“Our findings showed that 49.3% of the students did not enjoy online classes.

“Of the respondents, 50.2% were from the low income earners category or B40,33.4% from the medium income earners or M40 and 16.4% from the high income earners group or T20, ” they said.

They said the respondents, 67.7% were from the urban area, 27.02% (rural) and 5.28% (remote), were a fair representation of the population.

A total of 92.8% of the respondents stated that their schools conducted online learning while 7.2% said theirs did not.

The group said the slim majority who enjoyed online classes did so as they could experience a new learning environment and there was a flexible learning time and space.

“Other reasons included being able to repeat or go back to the lesson if necessary to get a better understanding, easy access to information, and the conducive learning environment.

“There was also no requirement for school presence and it was easier to ask their teacher questions without any embarrassment or fear, as they were not visible to the teacher or their peers, ” they said.

As for Internet accessibility, 63.6% reported they had moderate Internet speed, strong speed (27.2%) and slow connections (9.2%).

“The survey also showed that 12.1% of the respondents did not have access to the Internet, ” they said, adding that 85.3% of these students came from B40 families followed by 13.1% (M40) and 1.6% (T20).

The lecturers said another critical finding of the survey was that 44.5% of the correspondents said they were stressed when studying online.

“The main factor attributed to this was difficulties in understanding lessons, ” they said, adding that other factors included being overburdened with work, poor Internet connectivity and a non-conducive learning environment.

However, the survey also found that 71.6% of the students were ready to learn online as a new norm in the current times.

“Though 28.4% were not ready for online learning, this figure is still a significant number to be considered in order to have a successful and comprehensive learning and teaching online platform, ” they said.

By SARBAN SINGH.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/05/31/turned-off-by-online-classes#cxrecs_s

King, Queen convey Gawai greetings

June 1st, 2020

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah conveyed Gawai greetings on Monday (June 1) to all celebrating the festival.

The greeting posted on Istana Negara’s Instagram account Monday read,”Gayu Guru Gerai Nyamai. Happy Gawai to all our friends in Sarawak, we wish you a wonderful celebration, filled with happiness, prosperity and peace.”

Gawai is celebrated on June 1 each year by the people of Sarawak, including the Iban, Bidayuh, Orang Ulu and other communities to mark the end of the padi harvesting season.

However, this year, Gawai is different as the nation is still under the conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) that was imposed to break the chain of Covid-19 infections.

Only small gatherings comprising family members are allowed without the tradition of “Ngabang” or visits, practised in previous years where people in the village or longhouses would gather to celebrate Gawai.

by Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2020/06/01/king-queen-convey-gawai-greetings

Challenges of online teaching

June 1st, 2020
The Higher Education Ministry has announced that all university lectures must be conducted  online, but not all courses are fit  to be taught that way. -NSTP/YAZIT RAZALIThe Higher Education Ministry has announced that all university lectures must be conducted online, but not all courses are fit to be taught that way. -NSTP/YAZIT RAZALI

COVID-19 could be the mega maleficent of the 21st century with almost all countries shutting schools and universities to break the chain of transmission. However, the education of our children and youth has to continue because staying idle is contrary to the constitutional foundation of civil societies.

Online pedagogy is starting to flourish. In becoming a new normal, online or digital teaching is a viable alternative to conventional face-to-face teaching and learning.

The truth is, teaching online isn’t easy, but it can be done and can be rewarding. Increasing numbers of people are using their time during the Movement Control Order (MCO) to build new skillsets, with an upsurge in enrolments in online learning on platforms such as FutureLearn, edX and Coursera.

Admittedly, it comes with many challenges. First, the teachers need to identify the needs, audience, resources and digital infrastructure in order to support their delivery. On the other side, the recipients must be well-equipped to receive the teaching.

For instance, the indigenous and poor children. Not everyone can afford to have a computer or a smartphone. Some Orang Asli settlements are without Internet connections, so online teaching is the improbable solution.

The digital divide must be addressed. The assumption that everybody is digitally literate because they have a computer or mobile phone is counterproductive. And not all courses are fit to be taught online.

No doubt , students majoring in academic fields, such as languages, mathematics, history and philosophy gain sufficient theoretical knowledge via online teaching and learning.

However, it is not the case with science, engineering and vocational subjects, which require labs and practical work.

For example, how do you teach welding online and to what extent are you sure the students will get the hands-on competence to do it after the online instruction? What about automotive, chemistry, electrical wiring, or even fashion design classes?

For these courses, if we pass the students without real competence, we sacrifice the quality of education.

For hands-on courses, a blended approach should be taken.

That’s why the recent announcement by a senior minister that postgraduate students will be allowed to return to universities to conduct research and lab work is lauded. This is what university’s facilities are for — to equip students with the skills to advance knowledge, especially in the Fourth Industrial Revolution era.

I hope it is extended to other skills-based undergraduate and diploma programmes in universities, polytechnics, and colleges.

A neighbouring country has just announced that it would allow polytechnic and undergraduate students to continue attending lectures and tutorials online. Students from a skills institution will rotate weekly between online and on-campus lessons. They will return primarily for practical and lab sessions.

Of course, the MCO regulations must be observed strictly even if students return to schools and universities. It is suggested that only Year 6, Form 3, Form 5 and Form 6 students be allowed to return.

Whether university or polytechnic, only students registering for hands-on lab courses should be allowed in. Even at a laboratory or a workshop, no more than 10 students would be allowed at any given time. Temperature monitoring, wearing of face masks, hand-sanitising and social distancing must be strictly observed.

Even with Covid-19, the quality of education cannot be compromised.

A pandemic is short-term, but our children’s education is a long-term endeavour. Therefore, the steps taken by our government must be supported to break the chain of transmission quickly while maintaining the competence of our students.

By Dr Ramlee Mustapha.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/06/596794/challenges-online-teaching

More economic sectors to open, if good Covid-19 SOP adherence continues

June 1st, 2020
More economic sectors involving locals can be reopened. --BERNAMA picMore economic sectors involving locals can be reopened. –BERNAMA pic

PUTRAJAYA: More economic sectors involving locals can be reopened, should Malaysia continue to record low Covid-19 cases.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Malaysians had shown good adherence to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) enforced under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

“Into the eighth day of our Aidilfitri celebration with no surge in Covid-19 cases among locals, it clearly shows that Malaysians have been adhering to the SOPs.

“We are expecting no surge in cases as well next week, and should this continue, maybe some sectors involving the locals can be reopened,” he said.

Meanwhile, on driving schools being allowed to prepare its students while the Road Transport Department (RTD) was given the permission to conduct driving tests for students beginning tomorrow, Dr Noor Hisham said members of the public were nevertheless reminded to comply with the SOPs.

“This include ensuring social distancing, using face masks and practising good personal hygiene.”

By Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi .

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/05/596776/more-economic-sectors-open-if-good-covid-19-sop-adherence-continues