SIDMA College 2019 Annual Sports Carnival

July 16th, 2019

Team Adidas emerged as the overall champion during the SIDMA College 2019 Annual Sports Carnival held at Penampang Sports Complex on 14 July 2019 The team secured a total of 12 Gold, 8 Silver and 7 Bronze medals. The two days carnival which began on 13 July 2019 was participated by a total of eight teams namely: Adidas, Umbro, Under Armour (team for SIMA staff), Converse, Nike, Line-7, New Balance and Puma; from the staff and students of the college. During the carnival, the following activities were held: Football (Male), Netball (Female), Sepak Takraw (Male), Street Soccer (Female), Volleyball (Male and Female), Badminton (Male and Female) as well as a complete range of track and field events.

Team Line 7 managed to capture a total of 9 Gold and 5 Silver medals, and thus was placed as the first runner up.  Team Umbro managed to capture the second runner up after scoring a total of 6 Gold, 12 Silver and 7 Bronze medals.

During the event, athlete Ewy John, a four gold medallist from team Polo; and athlete Marnesna binti Janes, from Team Puma, who scored two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze, were respectively declared as the Best Sport Man and Woman for the year 2019.

The main focus of the carnival was to enable the close to 2000 staff and students from different programmes and faculties in SIDMA College Sabah to participate and showcase their sporting talents, honouring and awarding the talented athletics, while witnessing, nurturing and enjoying the spirit and championship of sports. It’s also an opportunity for staff and students to build and develop rapport, communication skills, fostering goodwill among staff and students, enhancing leadership quality as well as making more new friends.

The second day of the carnival began with a grand march past whereby contingents from the eight participating teams were given the opportunity to showcase their marching skills, team work and respect to the Guest of Honour of the day, Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Founder and Chairman of SIDMA College Sabah and Sarawak. Accompanying Prof Dr Morni were Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director, Corporate Relations and Business Development), Managers, Heads of Departments, lecturers and staff.

Prof Dr Morni during his officiating address congratulated the Project Director Mr Biffolye Galim, Student Affairs Department (STAD) and Students Representative Council (SRC) for the effective planning, collaboration, teamwork, leadership skills to ensure the successful implementation of the carnival.

He too took the opportunity to remind all athletes, staff and students to preserve and practice the spirit of good sportsmanship, cooperation, collaboration as well as team spirit among all parties. To all SIDMA College community, Dr Morni advised them to continue and upgrade their sporting activities as there is scientific evidence on the positive effects of sports and physical development as part of healthy lifestyles.

To encourage SIDMA College students to continuously improve their sporting skills and career, Dr Morni advised SIDMA College athletes who were active sportsman / sportswomen during their schooling days and had at least being selected to represent their respective district or division level sports tournament to submit their details to STAD for further actions; such as for recommendation to be awarded scholarship by relevant authorities.

To inaugurate the event, Prof Dr Morni, accompanied by Madam Azlina and Madam Azizah were given the honour to lit up the flame (torch) of sportsmanship and to raise the flag of SIDMA College Sabah, symbolising the starting of the carnival.

The overall results of the carnival are:






1st ADIDAS 12 8 7
2nd LINE 7 9 5 Nil
3rd UMBRO 6 12 7
4th UNDER ARMOUR 6 6 9
5th PUMA 5 5 6
6th NIKE 3 5 4
7th CONVERSE 3 4 4
8th NEW BALANCE Nil 2 9

SIDMA’s Prima Dansa Dance Club was given the honour to showcase their special dynamic dance performance to motivate the athletes and the audience.

Toddlers from SIDMA College Didi Childcare Centre were specially invited to perform a special event named “Kids Fun Run”. SIDMA staff’s children aged 12 years and below were invited to participate in a Beyblade competition, a line of spinning of top toys held at Penampang Sports Complex as a supplement event.

The carnival ended with medals, prizes and lucky draws presentation by Madam Azizah Khalid Merican, Puan Azlina Ngatimin and Prof Dr Morni. Prof Dr Morni also personally sponsored lucky draws prizes for some of the lucky winners present during the event in addition to the sponsorship by SIDMA College and its subsidiaries. Everyone went home happily and feeling energised and motivated soon after.

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Dr M: For the first time in history, we have achieved bipartisanship.

July 16th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The amendment of the Federal Constitution was a historic moment for the country, reflecting total bipartisanship from leaders across the political divide, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“For the first time in history, we have achieved bipartisanship, which is total and this is an achievement for the people of Malaysia,” he told reporters during a press conference at the Parliament lobby on Tuesday (July 16).

A total of 211 of 222 MPs voted for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2019, which surpassed the two-thirds Parliament majority of 148 needed to amend the Federal Constitution. 11 MPs were not present for the vote.

Dr Mahathir also thanked all parties, including the Opposition, for supporting the Pakatan Harapan Government’s second bid to amend the Constitution.

Dr Mahathir said that those who are above the age of 18 who have yet to register under the old system, would also be eligible to vote.

“Yes, we will register them automatically,” he added.

Asked if there was a need for a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Negara, Dr Mahathir replied that it was not necessary.

Meanwhile, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, who was present during the press conference, credited the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the successful passing of the amendments.

“If there are more people saying that a 94-year-old cannot fight for the future of the youth, let this be clear evidence that at heart, he (Dr Mahathir) is younger than a lot of us, including myself,” he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Steven Sim described the bipartisan effort to lower the voting age as an “amazing” achievement that all Malaysians should be proud of.

“This is a bipartisan effort, Malaysians will remember today because both sides set aside politics to come together for an important decision for Malaysia.”

Sim also quipped that the amendments to allow 18-year-olds eligible to stand in elections could bring some calm in the House.

“It’s a good sign to bring young people in as this will not only enrich the political scene in terms of discussion with a younger perspective, but also when you have younger people in the House, I think the parents will behave better.

by Tarrence Tan, Martin Carvalho, Hemananthani Sivanandam,  and Rahimy Rahim

Teachers facing more mental pressure

July 15th, 2019
Sulaiman (third left) and Education Ministry Psychology and Counselling Division secretary Normazwin Yahya (second left) posing with teachers during the launch of the programme.

Sulaiman (third left) and Education Ministry Psychology and Counselling Division secretary Normazwin Yahya (second left) posing with teachers during the launch of the programme.

STRESSED out teachers create stressed out students.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said teachers are facing increasing mental pressure from domestic problems, financial issues, job uncertainty and living away from their families, to name a few.

“How is it possible for teachers who have disrupted psychological and emotional well-being to carry out the teaching and learning process in a friendly and effective manner?” he said during the launch of the “Raising Teachers Psychological Wellbeing Awareness #3A (Aware, Alert, Action) Programme” on Wednesday.

His speech text was read by deputy education director-general (Teacher Development Professionalism) Datuk Sulaiman Wak.

“A student’s emotional and psychological development will be less healthy.”

He added that setting aside the psychological aspect in one’s daily work can have a negative impact on an organisation’s harmony.

Dr Maszlee said that there is normally a surge in teachers seeking counselling or mental health treatment from the ministry’s Psychology and Counselling Division during June and December.

This is due to teachers having their transfer requests rejected, he said, without revealing statistics.

He also said that there have been a few unwanted incidents lately due to the jeopardised psychological well-being of teachers and students.

He gave the example of the teacher who caned his student without following ministry guidelines that happened last month.

“Therefore, it is a necessity for the Education Ministry to assist teachers in handling and managing these issues effectively,” he added.

The year-long programme, which will begin in August, aims to encourage ministry staff to be aware, sensitive and act when they detect symptoms of psychological imbalance like mental disorders.

It began with a study on teachers’ psychological well-being that was carried out from January 2019 until May this year with around 100,000 respondents, he said.

Based on the results, teachers categorised with having low to medium psychological well-being will be given special intervention.

Those with medium high to high psychological well-being will undergo prevention programmes such as psychoeducation in their schools, he explained.

There will be 11 topics covered throughout the programme that will be delivered by the school heads to the teachers.

Among the topics are stress management, healthy lifestyle, anger management, depression and work satisfaction.

“We hope that what is learnt will be passed down from teacher to student as well,” he said.

Last month, Malaysian Mental Health Asso­ciation president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said he has treated many teachers from national schools who are presented with features of psychological stress and some with full-fledged clinical depression.

By Rebecca Rajaendram


Live at home or hostel life?

July 14th, 2019
Vishantinii Mogana Sundram (second from left) during the mangrove tree planting activity of the Sri Aman Environmental and English Youth Leadership Summit 2019.

THERE have been a lot of discussion on whether boarding schools are better than day schools.

School Times spoke to teachers and students from both types of schools who shared their experiences and viewpoints of these schools.

In terms of schedule, residential schools are said to be structured in a fixed environment while day school students have more flexibility in their daily routine.

SMK (P) Sri Aman, Petaling Jaya student Vishantinii Mogana Sundram, 17, said that attending a day school does not restrict her to a set schedule.

“My daily schedule varies according to the school tasks given. I always plan out my studies by setting a target for the day and making sure I achieve it before going to bed.”

Vishantinii, who recently placed the top of her form, added: “When it comes to education, it is my highest priority and I can get very competitive about it.”

Mayratdaa Eh Sing, 17, from SMK Tumpat, Kelantan said that her school lends her the freedom to revise lessons at her own time.

“I prefer to study at night. Being in a day school enables me to do that without bothering my classmates. For subjects that involve a lot of memorisation, I usually read the whole chapter first before making notes,” said the student who reviews two subjects daily.

Her English teacher Wong Lieat Hiong said: “Day school students can study well on their own but they have to be diligent enough.

“If the students know what they want in the future, no matter where they are, they will study hard for their goal.”

For boarding school student Muhammad Nazrie Hasan, 17, he allocates time for self study aside from the compulsory extra classes.

“Before morning prayers, I normally read history and biology books. In the evening, I go jogging or play futsal with my friends. There are days that I choose to study instead of play sports.

“At night, I attend extra classes before doing my own revision,” said the Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah, Putrajaya head student.

Muhammad Imran Rosli, 17, from SM Sains Hulu Terengganu, said that despite the fixed daily agenda, he has the option to change his personal study schedule each month.

“I always do that so I can review all of the nine subjects in time. Every afternoon, my school has additional classes for Form Five students.

“Being a boarding school student, it is easier for me to review lessons with my friends,” said Muhammad Imran, who has represented the Terengganu state in softball tournaments.

Boarding schools are also said to offer more opportunities in the sciences, arts and sports, enabling their students to flourish in their interests.

Maktab Rendah Sains MARA (MRSM) Langkawi students Muhammad Irfan Mohd Nazri and Nornabilah Mohamad Rosdi said that their school provide many avenues to spread their wings.

Muhammad Irfan, who is the Student Representative Council president, flew to the United States for Genius Olympiad, an international high school project competition, last month.

“My group and I made a physiotherapy device enabling patients with hand injury to play games while in rehabilitation. Out of more than 500 projects from 79 countries, we won the silver medal.

“I believe a lot of Malaysian students would love to enter such competitions but they may not have sufficient funds. Aside from external sponsorship, MARA has also supported us financially,” said Muhammad Irfan, who aspires to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.

Muhammad Irfan Mohd Nazri participating in Genius Olympiad in New York, the US.

Nornabilah, who has a passion for mathematics, has been joining the national MRSM Mathematics Carnival yearly.

“My group made it to the Top 3 last year. I also had the chance to go on an educational trip to Japan where we learned a lot about its culture,” she said.

Muhammad Nazrie had the chance to join Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah’s reputable Alam Shah Wind Orchestra.

The flute section principal said: “Throughout my five years here, I’ve joined 13 competitions and have claimed the top prize many times.”

One of the competitions was the Hong Kong Winter Band Festival 2018, where his team won the Gold Award.

“In February 2018, our band had a collaboration with the Hwa Chong Military Band from Singapore. It was my first time travelling outside of Malaysia,” he added.

The aspiring engineer was also selected to represent the country at the Japan-Asia Youth Exchange Programme in Science (Sakura Science Programme) last year.

Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah English teacher and Alam Shah Wind Orchestra adviser Nik Anita Che Hamid said that their programmes are tailored to produce excellent students.

“In a boarding school, teachers play an important role in moulding students. Being their second parents, we have a mentor mentee system where we keep track of their well-being,” said Nik Anita.

Meanwhile, Vishantinii noted that there is a misconception about day school students lacking opportunities.

“SMK (P) Sri Aman provides a multitude of opportunities where students can showcase their talent and capabilities. In fact, my schoolmates’ achievements have brought pride to the country.

“I was one out of five Malaysian representatives at the Asian Youth Forum 2018 in South Korea. I was also involved in the Sri Aman Environmental and English Youth Leadership Summit,” said the school deputy prefect.

SMK (P) Sri Aman History teacher Nadia Fitriyana Ahmad Narzaray said that day schools are suitable for parents who wish to have close supervision over their children.

“Our students also get a lot of opportunities such as student exchange programmes with other countries,” said Nadia Fitriyana.

Another day school pupil Madeshwaran Nathan, 14, is both academically inclined and a sportsperson.

“I have represented my school in chess tournaments such as those held by the District School Sports Council,” said the SMK (L) Bukit Bintang school prefect.

However, unlike their boarding school counterparts, it is not mandatory for day school students to be active in cocurriculum aside from the compulsory weekly activities.

SMK Tumpat student Mayratdaa, who scored straight As in her recent examination, said: “I can be considered as a high-achiever only in academics. I don’t lack incentives from my school but it is more due to my own disinterest in co-curricular activities.”

It is also normal for residential school students to form a close-knit community but day school students may also keep a bond beyond the classroom.

Muhammad Nazrie said: “All of my batchmates are my close friends. Living together for five years, the brotherhood spirit flows through our veins. Without them, I would not be who I am today.”

Muhammad Irfan said that his friends and seniors are always there in times of need.

“When I was in Form One, the seniors provided guidance and showed us the ropes. My friends are everything to me. We spend all the time together — sleeping, eating, studying,” he added.

By Rayyan Rafidi

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Children of parents who push too hard get demotivated

July 10th, 2019
Too much attention on school work and too much pressure have produced young adults who just cannot cope with the real world. — NSTP Archive

I REFER to NST Leader “High on marks, low on life” (NST, July 5).

It makes interesting reading. It’s sad but true, that’s the way school life is for most students these days.

It is not an Asian phenomenon, it’s also prevalent in the Western world. I’ve worked as a teacher in Asia and New Zealand, and it appears that in today’s competitive world, students are pushed to the limits to succeed.

Parents have the best interests of their children and they understandably want the very best in their education and careers.

The problem is the way these parents go about giving the best for their children so that they can achieve whatever they potentially can.

However, for some parents, their children have become an extension of themselves. These parents want their children to achieve what they did not achieve or did not have the opportunity to do so.

Hence, they push their children to be high achievers in studies and careers.

I’ve had parents come to school on Careers Day and say things like “this is my son and I want him to be a lawyer”.

There doesn’t appear to be any consideration as to what the son really wants to do. If parents push their children into doing what they don’t want to do, they get demotivated.

Some feel they are failures because they are not able to live up to their parents’ expectations. This can have far-reaching repercussions on the children’s self-esteem and self-confidence.

Each child is different; as parents we should encourage
and support each child to achieve what he is capable of and, more importantly, what he’s interested in.

Real success is having a fulfilling job based on personal interest and talent. We should not force upon our children our ambitions or to fulfil our dreams.

I have seen so much of talent in art and music going to waste as today’s children are forced to spend their time and effort on academic subjects. The current education system is not helping either.

There’s too much emphasis on examinations and competition — they have taken the fun out of learning.

In some countries like New Zealand, they have stopped having ceremonies to award children who are successful in their studies. The rationale is that they have a negative impact on the less academically inclined students. Schools in New Zealand have introduced life skills
subjects such as gardening, cooking and budgeting so that students get a well-rounded education.

Education for every child is important, but real education is beyond the classroom and exams. Both parents and schools must teach and encourage students to be motivated, self-confident and succeed in whatever areas they are interested in so they have meaningful careers.


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Alternative entry points for doctoral degrees

July 10th, 2019
Datuk Dr Rahmah Mohamed. Pix by NSTP/Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor

WORKING adults and undergraduates can soon look forward to alternative pathways to a PhD qualification.

The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) is in the midst of carrying out an implementation study of the next phase of the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL) programme where work experience could be translated into a masters or doctoral degree, or speed up the process of getting a PhD.

Defined as a systematic process involving identification, documentation and assessment of prior experiential learning, the programme thus far has created access to certificate, diploma, bachelor’s degree and masters degree study programmes to individuals with working experience but lack or are without proper academic qualifications.

MQA chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rahmah Mohamed said the agency is targeting to introduce APEL T-8 and APEL Q next year that would give access to PhD level qualifications.

“MQA is currently conducting further study on the plan to implement APEL T-8 for the purpose of entry to Doctoral Degree level in Malaysia. This study involves observation on policies, methodologies, and assessment instruments used by foreign Higher Education Institutions (HEIs),” she said. She added APEL T-8 is an extension of APEL A, which provides higher education opportunities based on a person’s working experience.

At the moment, the general policy on APEL T-8 is that candidates must be Malaysian citizen; aged at least 35 years old; possess a Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent in the related field; have five years working experience in the related field; and pass APEL T-8 assessment.

“The study on APEL T-8 is expected to complete in the year 2020 and the implementation will be due after the development of the assessment instruments,” said Rahmah.

She said MQA has also begun to develop policies on the implementation of APEL Q and the assessment instruments this year. APEL Q awards masters and doctoral level academic qualifications without requiring class attendance.

“The policy development process is expected to complete this year, while the development of the assessment instruments in 2020. The implementation of APEL Q will be due after both tasks have been completed,” she said.

Already in place is improvement of current policy that enables direct entry from bachelor’s degree to doctoral degree following compliance to a set of requirements.

These include students must have a first class bachelor’s degree or equivalent; or obtain CGPA of at least 3.67 or equivalent from TVET or academic programmes. They will have to undergo rigorous internal assessment by the respective higher education institution; and obtain senate’s approval and accepted for doctoral candidacy.

“For this to happen, there should be a mentor-mentee relationship between the student and his lecturer/ supervisor/ tutor at the bachelor’s degree level that would be able to identify and guide the student to the next level onwards,” said Rahmah.

She said the purpose of the various initiatives is to ensure there is a growth in the number of postgraduate degree holders, in line with the country’s aspiration of becoming a high income nation.

“The rise in number of postgraduate degree holders would be reflective of this aspiration. Malaysia need the human resources of this level to push the agenda. While this would push them in their careers, it would also add value to employers,” she added.

She was speaking at the sidelines of the inaugural Flexible Education Seminar (FlexEd) 2019, which was co-organised by the Malaysia Higher Education Department and MQA.

Themed “Imagineering the 21st Century Learning”, the seminar is aimed to provide exposure to all stakeholders on delivery methods available in flexible education, and to provide opportunity for higher learning institutions (HLIs) to share experiences in implementing flexible education.

The two-day event was divided into three sub-themes: Recognition of Prior Learning; Industry Revolution 4.0-Infused Academic Programmes; and Industry Infused Academic Programmes.

Rahmah said APEL is seen as a key avenue in providing flexible education.

At the seminar she also shared that MQA this year has introduced a new client charter where the accreditation process for new programmes proposed by education institutions be shortened so that they can be introduced in a speedy manner.

By Rozana Sani.

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Strategies to prevent dropouts

July 10th, 2019
SOME of the wealthiest and most influential entrepreneurs in the world such as Apple founder Steve Jobs, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams and Whatsapp founder Jan Koum dropped out of college.

They called it quits and decided higher education was not for them.

Common reasons given include financial burden for the family and struggles with their courses. Some of them actually worked their way through university, only to quit before graduating.

Back on our shores at the Going Global 2018 Conference, the then Higher Education Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur said that accessibility to tertiary education in Malaysia has improved significantly from 14 per cent in the 1980s to more than 44 per cent in 2016.

However, she added that completing a qualification remains a challenge.

In the Quick Facts 2018: Malaysia Educational Statistics booklet published by the Education Ministry’s Educational Planning and Research Division, 538,555 students were enrolled in 20 public universities.

The data also shows that engineering, manufacturing and construction programmes contributed to the highest number of those who did not graduate.


It never crossed Sakinah Atiqah Haznol’s mind that she would drop out of university and later enrol in another tertiary institution due to unfortunate circumstances.

An undergraduate from Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten), Bangi from 2016 till 2017, Sakinah Atiqah studied what she thought was her passion — mechanical engineering.

“After I sat Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, I was confident that I could pursue engineering even though my results were just adequate.

“I decided to follow my interest in physics and maths. But when I enrolled in the foundation in engineering course, I questioned myself, wondering if I had made the wrong choice.

“But I excelled in the course, proving to myself that I had what it takes to be an engineer,” she said.

Then it was time for Sakinah Atiqah to choose her major and she was offered a study loan by MARA and a placement at Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL)-Malaysian France Institute in Bangi to pursue mechanical engineering.

After a semester, her study loan was revoked due to the financial crisis MARA was facing at the time. She left UniKL-Malaysian France Institute and started over at Uniten.

“I enjoyed learning physics and calculus during the first semester but the subjects got more difficult with each semester and I lacked understanding in chemistry, a requirement of the material engineering course.

“My grades dropped but I refused to give up at first. However, I finally accepted the fact that engineering was not meant for me.

“My father decided that it was best for me to leave the discipline entirely and start elsewhere.

“It was hard because I had spent four years of my life in engineering and I did not think I was good in anything else,” she added.

After a four-month break, Sakinah Atiqah enrolled in a bachelor’s programme majoring in Business Administration (International Business) at International University of Malaya-Wales. She is now in her second year of studies.

Every student must aim to graduate within the normal time frame required by a course. Pix by NSTP/Rohanis Shukri


Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Professor Dr M. Iqbal Saripan said the inability to manage time effectively may result in students dropping out of university.

At day school, a student’s schedule may be arranged by his parents, while at boarding school, by teachers.

“Some students cannot manage time on their own at university. For example, they may be addicted to online games and do not get enough sleep. They miss classes and, in many cases, fail to sit the examinations.

“As a result, they do not achieve the targeted outcomes for the semester, and eventually they will be terminated from their studies,” added Iqbal.

There is a perception that many students decide not to continue their studies due to financial constraints, but Iqbal thinks this may not be true for local students and applies mainly to international students.

“The fees for international students are much higher whereas local students enjoy a subsidy,” he said, adding that a small percentage of students drop out due to reasons such as medical and personal issues as well.

Monash University’s Department of Economics head Associate Professor Grace Lee said the lack of English proficiency usually takes a toll on academic performance as university courses are challenging even for those whose first language is English.

Many students struggle with coursework due to poor command of English.

“It is hard to learn a second language but it is not unattainable, especially when all Malaysians learn English from Primary One. One simply has to work a lot harder to catch up.

“Even when language is not a barrier, the learning curve is steep at university.

“So the problem boils down to lack of perseverance as some students don’t work hard enough and give up easily,” said Lee.

Some do not perform well as they chose the wrong course or had accepted willy-nilly any course offered to them.

“You should not be afraid to change your major or programme if it is not your strength. Sometimes students choose a certain major to please their parents.

“You cannot excel in something that you are not interested in and are not good at.”

Meanwhile, her colleague in the Department of Management, senior lecturer Dr Patricia Lau, said that interactive and innovative academic experiences at university engage students in the learning process.

Personal traits and the learner’s prior learning experiences connect to the next educational setting such as from secondary school to university.

“If they refrain from asking questions at school and rote learn, they develop to become dependent learners who carry the prior learning experiences to the university. Such learning experiences do not help them to learn at university, which requires them to think critically and independently.

“For example, in my 15 years of teaching in higher education institutions, I have come across students who say they can’t find the answers for an assignment from a textbook or reference book, or they can’t work with someone for a group assignment.

“The situation is aggravated when the formal primary and secondary education system emphasises academic achievement, thus leaving students little time to build on generic skills such as interpersonal skills which are not stressed in the classroom,” added Lau.

Iqbal said that at UPM, it is more common for students to drop out of foundation and postgraduate programmes.

“The foundation course is the entry level to university and if the students can’t adapt to the environment and demands, they will fail in their studies.

“At the bachelor’s level, there is no conclusive trend to indicate that there are more dropouts in certain programmes than others. Most of the time, it is due to the individual’s problems rather than academic rigour.”

But for disciplines such as medicine and engineering, the standard of passing is set higher compared to others.

“However, we monitor this very closely, and the academic advisers work closely with the management to notify the members if there are any cases that require further action.

“As for postgraduate students, the problem lies in thinking that the master’s or doctoral programme is similar to an undergraduate course. Challenged with higher order research questions, postgraduate students fail to critically analyse and provide answers.”

Lee said every major or course has its own challenges and it all boils down to the students’ strengths and weaknesses.

Lau added that the student attrition rate continues to remain a concern of higher education institutions in the country.


UPM assists students by offering counselling and setting up peer support groups to alert the management to intervene and solve the problem before students drop out.

“Furthermore, all students are assigned academic advisers,” said Iqbal, adding that students must learn to live in the real world and not be too dependent on assistance and gadgets.

“The level of resilience is low and it translates into lack of confidence in their own decisions. They must own their decisions and be responsible for them. They must face all the consequences of the decision because at university, we treat them as adults, not children.

“In the case of international students, the university has offered financial assistance to excellent scholars but we are not in a position to provide support to all of them.

“We also provide part-time working opportunities for them. The problem persists if students are too shy to ask for help.”

The university also gives financial assistance that includes zakat and endowment for local students.

Lee said higher education institutions should monitor students’ progress to better help those who are at risk, provide academic support and create an inviting learning environment to prevent dropouts.

Monash University has an Academic Progression Committee which identifies students at risk.

Lee added: “We look into their problems individually and provide personalised solutions. For instance, some students are advised to change their major and most of them are assigned a mentor (an academic staff) while some of them are required to see their subject lecturers every week.

“In addition, full-time counsellors work around the clock on campus to help students with mental health issues such as stress and anxiety.

“Students can choose their career path and employer. But they cannot choose their team or departmental members in the workplace.

“Hence, they need to learn to work together at university which provides the suitable place to practise the skills.

“The challenges will persist unless certain interventions are taken to assist first-year students to overcome them before they embark on higher levels of academic experiences.”

Lau added: “In one of my research interests, I found that two three-day field trips for first-year business management students to explore rainforests in the country were effective to expand their thinking beyond classroom learning, and work together as a team to provide viable solutions for deforestation.

“During the field trips, students participated in learning activities such as jungle trekking and case studies related to deforestation. They were encouraged to reflect on their learning by keeping learning logs on both field trips.

“They acquired cognitive, emotional and social competencies after the field trips.

“In other words, university students engage in learning when the academic experience is relevant and meaningful to them. This leads to better university student retention, employability and value-added learning.”

Students should be open to learning, be more proactive to participate in learning activities in class and beyond it, as well as try to boost their interpersonal skills.

“An independent learner has the ability to take charge of his learning including what to learn and how to learn while a critical learner has the ability to evaluate information in different contexts and time.

By Zulita Mustafa

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Dealing with academic integrity

July 10th, 2019
The research supervisor should inculcate a culture of academic honesty in students, which is paramount to success and credibility as a postgraduate student.

AT a recent education forum in Kuala Lumpur, former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz was quoted as saying that it would be better for university academics to miss key performance indicators than to ride on their postgraduate students’ work.

This has given rise to heated discussions about academic integrity in local universities, particularly on unethical practices like exploitation, plagiarism and stealing of students’ work by academics.

If left unchecked, many opined that the integrity and reputation of the country’s universities and education institutions might end up at stake.

Public universities had come forward by reiterating their commitment to uphold academic integrity by ensuring that their research publications were free of plagiarism and not exploited by free-loaders.

Malaysia Public Universities Vice-Chancellor/Rector Committee chairman Professor Datuk Dr Nor Aieni Mokhtar said all public universities took unethical practices seriously, in which all academicians were responsible for upholding the highest standard of honesty at all times.

“Any reports made to the management of the universities shall be thoroughly investigated according to the rules and procedures of the universities,” she said, adding that public universities would not compromise on misconduct.

If academics were proven to be involved, stern action would be taken based on the Statutory Bodies (Discipline and Surcharge) Act 2000 (Act 605).

“These rules and regulations serve as guiding principles for academicians on the ethics of research and publication, including those concerning supervisor-student publications,” said Nor Aeni, who is Universiti Malaysia Terengganu vice-chancellor.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) viewed such unethical practices seriously and it would not hesitate to take firm action against its staff and students involved.

Its vice-chancellor, Professor Datuk Dr Aini Ideris said UPM had a complaints channel ― the U-Response System that could be accessed by everybody.

“The system is monitored on a daily basis, and every complaint is reviewed carefully and attended to promptly,” she said.

Complaints could be mailed or emailed directly to the vice-chancellor or the appropriate university officer. Aini said cases received through these channels would be investigated, and action would be taken.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Wahid Omar said UTM had a reliable and proven system to ensure that its academic integrity was protected.

“Any complaints regarding integrity, including academic integrity, will be handled by a special committee called Jawatankuasa Integriti dan Tadbir Urus (JITU), which is now known as the Jawatankuasa Anti-Rasuah (JAR).

“JAR is given the power by the university to investigate independently and fairly based on international standards in integrity cases, including plagiarism and copyright infringement in magazines, journals or thesis,” he said.

Through its Research Management Centre, UTM has provided a platform for academic staff and researchers to record their publication information, whether they are the main writer, co-writer or others, and this information may be referenced by staff and students.

Since 2012, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has established a plagiarism policy under the purview of its Academic Affairs Division, which it defines as the forgery of individual contributions among members who collaborated in a group project.

It also made it compulsory for academics and students to use the Turnitin app to measure the plagiarism level in their writings to ensure that no reinterpretation activity/writing of students by other parties was done without consent.

“At the same time, students can come forward and report any academic offence committed at the faculty, university or top management,” said UiTM vice-chancellor Professor Emeritus Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim.

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) has its own process of regulating every research and publication activity on campus.

“From grant application to the final stage of research, the process is regulated. It includes respecting research subjects, using research funds prudently and recognising all parties involved,” said its vice-chancellor Professor Dr Wahid Razzaly.

“In order to qualify in the author’s list, researchers are required to give credit and recognition to individuals who contributed significantly in the project,” he added.

Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) would be setting up a Special Committee on Academic Integrity to identify and investigate academic cases, whether they were related to plagiarism or document counterfeiting.

UniMAP vice-chancellor Professor Dr R. Badlishah Ahmad said the universities would not compromise on academicians who committed academic offences.

He said scholars and intellectuals must have a high level of integrity and, therefore, should not violate ethics and the trust placed upon them.

“I will not hesitate to take decisive action if such an event occurs in the UniMAP environment as they (academicians) are community leaders, and should set a good example for students,” he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Integrity Unit had been fully empowered to take action if there were reports of misconduct.

UKM vice-chancellor Professor Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor said every report submitted would be forwarded directly to the university senate to avoid unfairness or staff intervention.

“UKM has recently approved the Whistleblower Policy to protect those who provide information. It has a formal complaints channel (UKM Feedback and Complaint System ― eFACT) for students and staff to report wrongdoings,” he said.

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Kadim Suaidi said the publication of papers in indexed or high-impact journals by postgraduates was fundamental as they represented a special population within the research and intellectual community.

“In universities, postgraduate students are required to publish papers with their supervisors as co-authors. Determining authorship credit can be difficult and it can complicate the supervisor-student relationship. Therefore, this issue deserves to be explored and students, indeed, should not be forced to co-author their papers with supervisors.

“The postgraduate study supervision process involves a thorough and systematic process, which signifies the contributions of the supervisor in the student’s work. Thus, it is quite a misleading statement to claim that supervisors should not be considered in the authorship of the postgraduate students’ research if all requirements have been substantially fulfilled.

By Rozana Sani

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Careers in industrial psychology

July 9th, 2019

Psychology seems to be a popular course among many Malaysian students. There are many fields within Psychology which are not known to many. One such field is Industrial Psychology.

Industrial psychology, or organisational psychology is a branch of psychology that studies and applies psychological theories to workplace environments, organisations and employees.

Professionals in the field focus on increasing workplace productivity by improving the physical and mental health of employees.

Workplace settings of every size and industry can benefit from the assistance of an industrial psychologist.

By studying employee’s attitudes and behaviours in the context of their companies, these professionals are able to identify areas for improvement and make necessary changes through new products, procedures and leadership training.

In addition to a wide variety of entry-level and advanced positions in consulting firms, government agencies and academic institutions, human resource departments in public and private sectors also offer many opportunities. Job titles and levels of responsibility vary depending on levels of education and experience.

What Industrial Psychologists Do

Industrial psychologists apply theories and principles honed through research to improve workplace dynamics.

They identify training and development needs in areas such as productivity, management and employee working styles, and help companies address problems by coaching employees, developing performance evaluation criteria and assessing market strategies.

Professionals in this field must have knowledge of ethical considerations, administrative regulations and case law relating to workplace activities.

Becoming an Industrial Psychologist

Step 1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree

The first step in becoming an industrial psychologist is to earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field from a fully accredited programme.

Some schools offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial psychology while others provide an industrial psychology specialisation as part of a general psychology degree. Related programmes include sociology, education and business management.

For students electing to complete a degree outside psychology, they should undertake foundational courses in psychological principles, research methodology, statistics, and social psychology, and take part in academic research.

Although it is possible to find jobs in marketing, business management or human resources with a bachelor’s degree, most students choose to continue their education.

Step 2. Complete a Master’s Degree Program me

A master’s degree is usually necessary to practice industrial psychology in the private sector.

Coursework focuses on the psychology of leadership and organisational structuring while teaching students how to apply these frameworks to the workplace.

Students also spend time honing their skills in research techniques and statistical analysis.

Many programmes require student to write a thesis based on original research in the field, although some mandate a comprehensive exam instead.

With a master’s degree, graduates can conduct research and provide consulting services for public and private organisations, but to perform clinical work a PhD is usually required.

Step 3. Obtain a Doctoral Degree

For students aspiring to higher-level careers in research, clinical practice or academia, a doctorate is usually necessary.

Most PhD programs include two years of coursework focused on theories and principles grounded in scientific research. Students must research and write a dissertation, which can take one to three years to complete.

Career Tips

In USA, Industrial Psychology currently has the highest growth rate of any occupation according to the Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Handbook.

At 53 per cent, industrial psychology has the highest percentage of expected change amongst the top 20 fastest growing occupations for 2012 to 2022.

Earnings in this field outpace the overall job market, especially for those who have a high level of education and experience.

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Strengthening the Professional Development among Early Childhood Educators

July 8th, 2019

Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng, founder of the Executive Diploma, Bachelor and Master in Early Childhood Education at the University of Malaya, then the first of such programme to be offered in Malaysia. Her first batch of Early Childhood Education students graduated in year 2000, marking the beginning of professionalism in Early Child Care and Education in Malaysia. Currently she is the President of Early Childhood Care and Education Council Malaysia and has always been regarded as a well-known authority in child development and early childhood education.

On 5 July 2019, Datuk Dr Chiam took her time to talk to more than 500 lecturers and students (both Diploma and Bachelor of Early Childhood Education students) at SIDMA College Sabah on “Early Childhood Education Current Developments and Career Prospects in Malaysia”.

Datuk Dr Chiam explained that Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in Malaysia has evolved structurally from two separate units comprising of childcare and preschool which are placed under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, and the Ministry of Education respectively to an integrated entity to provide a smooth progression from childcare to preschool. She added that both the Ministries have formed a committee, co-chaired by the respective Ministries to streamline the regulations and operations of early childhood educations.

Regarding the Standards on what a child in preschool today needed, Datuk Dr Chiam stated that the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) has set up Programme Standards for all ECE programmes, ranging from Certificate to PhD in ECE, which was enforced in May 2015. The programme standards contained all the knowledge and competencies needed by every preschool teacher to become a professional early childhood educator and she sincerely hope that all ECCE educators read and immerse all the elements in it.

On the teaching and learning aspect, she added that teacher does not merely teach the children on how to read, write and draw but must also provide the right context, environment and experience in order to give them strong foundation and the right start in life. Thus ECE teachers must therefore be ethical and morally correct in order to ensure the health and safety of the children as well as the curriculum should enable the teacher to develop and assess the child good mental health and discipline.

On this aspect, the Ministry of Education has taken the lead and develop national teaching and learning standards that incorporated components from languages and cultures of different ethnic groups to address the issues of differences in curriculum, instruction, and teacher preparation.

Every child is precious and children are assets to the future of our country. They are the most valuable asset of our nation; and to develop a nation and its people will all begin with early childhood education. In developing a child’s potential, we are really developing the human capital of the child and of the nation. We must enable the child to grow holistically so that the child is equipped with abilities, knowledge and skills to become a productive member of our country, she added. Towards this end, the Ministry has enforced Diploma in Early Childhood Educators as the minimum qualification of all preschool teachers by 2020.

She also shared that, under the Child Care Centre Act 1984, the Department of Social Welfare is providing interventional programs for young children through Child and Maternal Clinics. Such services provide educational assistance to the children from low income families to better prepare their children with skills they need to improve educational attainment and to promote quality life. This is to ensure educational equality and thus narrowing the educational gaps between majority and minority groups and consequently will create harmony and resolve the inter-ethnic issues. She added that ECCE teachers are not only there to teach knowledge, but also to advocate for the child.

Early childhood education is a diverse field that involves the care and education of children of children birth until the age of about 6 years. The Malaysian government places a strong emphasis on ECCE and has formulated the National Policy for Early Childhood Education. Under this policy, programmes have been introduced to meet the diverse needs of the crucial early years of new-borns till the age of six. These programmes provide a solid foundation for healthy growth and development which expose them to activities in nation-building and enhance their readiness for primary school education. The government’s involvement in ECCE is evident from its numerous initiatives to make early childhood education more accessible especially for the less fortunate children and those in rural areas.

For those interested in child development, particularly how a child’s formative period is developed emotionally, physically and intellectually, one might find rewarding career opportunities in early childhood education. Among some of the occupations that one can explore are the direct service careers, supportive service careers and related careers.

Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, founder and chairman of SIDMA College thanked Honourable Datuk Dr Chiam Heng Keng for her valuable time to come to SIDMA College Sabah and talked to its ECCE lecturers and students. He too hoped that all the students will benefit from this sharing session and will reflect it when practicing it in schools after their graduation soon.

Dr Morni pride that SIDMA College Sabah offered a wide range of programmes through its collaboration with UNIRAZAK (Universiti Tun Abdul Razak), UNITAR (UNITAR International University) and CUCMS (Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences) in various fields of studies such as Foundation in Management, Diploma in Early Childhood Studies, Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health, Diploma in Business Administration, Bachelor Education (Early Childhood Education)(Hons), Bachelor in Education (Hons), Bachelor in Business Administration (Hons), Business in Management (Hons), Bachelor in English (Hons), Masters of Management, Masters of Business Administration, and more; which are tailored made to meet and produce competence graduates with industry-ready skills and technical knowledge for career progression.

SPM/STPM/STAM school leavers and Diploma and Degree holders considering to furthering their studies are welcomed to visit SIDMA College Sabah / Sarawak for more information and registration. Those from Sabah are welcome to call SIDMA Hotline: 088-732 020 or 088-732 020 for more information and registration.

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