Making learning amazing

June 24th, 2019
For Tenby Schools, a good student is one who has the self-motivated desire to see how far they can go, and it is committed to ensuring that their desire is realised.

For Tenby Schools, a good student is one who has the self-motivated desire to see how far they can go, and it is committed to ensuring that their desire is realised.

WHAT makes a good school? A better question is, “what makes a good student?”

Since its founding over 60 years ago, Tenby Schools has grown into seven campuses around Malaysia, offering both the International and Private National curriculum. More importantly, over the years, Tenby Schools has developed a culture where students are given the space to explore their potential and be the best they can be.

However, today we live in an age of unprecedented challenges and opportunities amidst rapid change. Changing education trends reflect schools’ attempts to provide students with the knowledge, skills and adaptability necessary to be 21st century citizens. But, while new methods and tools are good, for effective learning to happen, one must go deeper than just merely adopting these new methods and tools.

Tenby Schools takes a different perspective. From its years of experience, it understands that at its core, education is founded on the relationship between teachers, students and parents. As such, it is focused on supporting parents’ efforts to mould their child’s character, because Tenby Schools know that excellence in character will result in excellence in all that the child attempts.

As such, everything done at Tenby Schools is driven by the aim of optimising learning outcomes. Its teachers observe the children closely both inside and outside the classroom, while facilitating learning opportunities by challenging them on a personal, individual basis. Its goal is for its students to have amazing learning moments, when they reach a level beyond what they thought possible and can say, “I didn’t realise I could do that until now!”

For Tenby Schools, that’s what makes a good student. It is the self-motivated desire to see how far they can go. It is the confidence that comes from realising that their achievements are a result of perseverance through good struggle. It is the pride in knowing that they have become better versions of themselves. It is the hope in knowing that they can always be better. Our children can attain all this when they experience a school that empowers them to. For Tenby Schools, that is what makes a good school and that is what it is committed to be.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/06/18/making-learning-amazing/

Maternity and paternity leave: It’s more than just profit and loss

June 24th, 2019

Fatherhood and motherhood are not mutually exclusive activities from employment. Many talented mothers and fathers are willing to contribute to organisations that provide a work-life balance. — NSTP Archive

THE Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) has stated that the three-day paternity leave proposed by the Human Resources Ministry, to be funded by employers, will cost companies RM157.2 million or RM 52.4 million a day.

MEF executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan has suggested for the cost of such leave to be borne by the Social Security Organisation (Socso) or the Employment Insurance System (EIS).

While the approach is used in other countries, the question is whether Socso or EIS has enough funds to undertake the task.

Could MEF enlighten the public on the methodology it used to calculate the losses?

There has not been an increase in Socso contribution over the years. It is vital for the government, employers and unions to review the feasibility of using Socso and EIS to finance paternity and maternity leave, and whether contributions should be increased.

The fundamental questions are, why is there a need for a duration of paternity and maternity leave, and how is it related to modern employment?

Does allowing the father and mother to bond with their baby create stronger families and lead to retention of talent and improved productivity?

Fatherhood and motherhood are not mutually exclusive activities from employment.

Many talented mothers and fathers are willing to contribute to organisations that provide a work-life balance.

Employers who want paternity or maternity leave to form a crucial part of talent pool and retain this talent must strengthen its human touch.

Productivity, in the long term, is about creating the right conditions for the development of human capital in terms of attracting diverse talents.

Attracting a variety of talent with diverse needs is crucial for organisational survival in a competitive economic environment.

By RONALD BENJAMIN.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2019/06/498551/maternity-and-paternity-leave-its-more-just-profit-and-los

NST Leader: ‘Rumah Terbuka’ uniquely Malaysian

June 24th, 2019
A Hari Raya open house brings people together from all walks of life. — NSTP Archive

“NO man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” This phrase may well explain the popularity of the open house among Malaysians.

It’s human nature to want to be among people to socialise, to bond and to catch up with news, or even gossip. Human beings depend on one another to feel alive and be in harmony with their surroundings.

Nt only at Hari Raya open houses do we bond with family and friends, it is also done during other religious festivals — Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali — it’s uniquely Malaysian.

A Hari Raya open house brings people together from all walks of life, regardless of religion. A smorgasbord of local favourites like lemangketupat, rendang and peanut sauce are served for all and sundry.

For the average Malay, it’s condensing time in manageable capsules to meet family and relatives to reaffirm the “silaturrahim” (bonding). In the old days, on the first day of Syawal, one visits family and friends to mend bridges, “bermaaf-maafan” (seek forgiveness) — an occasion to “zeroize” accounts.

A demonstration that relations are healed where there has been discord. In terms of symbolism, it’s about establishing peace in society. It’s obligatory too, to celebrate the first day as a sign of victory over a personal jihad (the end of fasting in Ramadan).

The parameters of the celebration are well defined: a time of forgiving, of rebuilding and maintaining relationships, and a time for charity.

Check your phone-calendar. You may be required to present yourself at an open house somewhere today. Courtesy may triumph over the horrendous traffic jam as one manoeuvres his way from the office to the venue.

At corporate open houses, huge crowds gather — time for business networking and socialising. New friends are made, old ties are renewed — a productive endeavour that requires particular traits, but necessary in today’s world.

In recent times, though, some open houses have become impersonal. Due to time constraints, monstrous ones are planned where everyone comes for the food and sights, but only a handful for the company and camaraderie.

Gone is the spirit and human touch, it has become matter-of-factly. There’s the worry the tradition may fade into the woodwork because of attachment to digital devices. If open houses cannot return us to a world where intrusion is alien, then they have no use.

The New Straits Times believes a renewed appreciation of an age-old and priceless tradition may just bring back the human touch. Plan and time the events well so they do not clash with productive hours at the office. Never mind the swollen city streets and highways on weekends, make an effort to present yourself.

At the event, praise the host, socialise, pick up some culinary skills, give exquisite comments about the food. Malaysians should attempt at least one, if not two, open house in their lifetime

A Hari Raya open house brings people together from all walks of life. — NSTP Archive
June 24, 2019 @ 12:00am

“NO man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” This phrase may well explain the popularity of the open house among Malaysians.

It’s human nature to want to be among people to socialise, to bond and to catch up with news, or even gossip. Human beings depend on one another to feel alive and be in harmony with their surroundings.

Not only at Hari Raya open houses do we bond with family and friends, it is also done during other religious festivals — Christmas, Chinese New Year, Deepavali — it’s uniquely Malaysian.

A Hari Raya open house brings people together from all walks of life, regardless of religion. A smorgasbord of local favourites like lemangketupat, rendang and peanut sauce are served for all and sundry.

For the average Malay, it’s condensing time in manageable capsules to meet family and relatives to reaffirm the “silaturrahim” (bonding). In the old days, on the first day of Syawal, one visits family and friends to mend bridges, “bermaaf-maafan” (seek forgiveness) — an occasion to “zeroize” accounts.

A demonstration that relations are healed where there has been discord. In terms of symbolism, it’s about establishing peace in society. It’s obligatory too, to celebrate the first day as a sign of victory over a personal jihad (the end of fasting in Ramadan).

The parameters of the celebration are well defined: a time of forgiving, of rebuilding and maintaining relationships, and a time for charity.

Check your phone-calendar. You may be required to present yourself at an open house somewhere today. Courtesy may triumph over the horrendous traffic jam as one manoeuvres his way from the office to the venue.

At corporate open houses, huge crowds gather — time for business networking and socialising. New friends are made, old ties are renewed — a productive endeavour that requires particular traits, but necessary in today’s world.

In recent times, though, some open houses have become impersonal. Due to time constraints, monstrous ones are planned where everyone comes for the food and sights, but only a handful for the company and camaraderie.

Gone is the spirit and human touch, it has become matter-of-factly. There’s the worry the tradition may fade into the woodwork because of attachment to digital devices. If open houses cannot return us to a world where intrusion is alien, then they have no use.

The New Straits Times believes a renewed appreciation of an age-old and priceless tradition may just bring back the human touch. Plan and time the events well so they do not clash with productive hours at the office. Never mind the swollen city streets and highways on weekends, make an effort to present yourself.

At the event, praise the host, socialise, pick up some culinary skills, give exquisite comments about the food. Malaysians should attempt at least one, if not two, open house in their lifetime.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2019/06/498553/nst-leader-rumah-terbuka-uniquely-malaysian

Time to end single-use plastics altogether

June 23rd, 2019
Cause for concern: According to a National Geogra­phic article, one study estimated that ‘8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches’.

Cause for concern: According to a National Geogra­phic article, one study estimated that ‘8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches’.

COME July 1, all eateries in Selangor will be banned from using plastic straws.

The state government’s aim is to eventually eliminate single-use plas­­tics altogether, followed by a nationwide ban on plastic straws by next year.

As we all know too well now, the plastic pollution problem in Malay­sia and worldwide has worsened and taken its toll on our environment.

In August 2017, The Star reported that if one straw is used per person each day in Malaysia, 31 million plastic straws are used daily nationwide.

But while announcing the ban, Selangor Environment, Green Tech­­no­logy, Sci­ence and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Hee Loy Sian said the eateries could still provide plastic straws to customers if they requested it, which is counter-­intuitive.

This is where we, the consumers, need to really change our mindset and look at this from a much bigger perspective and simple economics.

If the demand for plastic straws can be reduced, it can possibly lead to lower production of these non-­biodegradable utensils.

For a start, places like hospitals also need to also look into using these “alternative” straws for pa­tients, especially children and elderly.

On our part, we can stop using plastic straws and consider carrying stainless steel straws for dining out and takeaways.

According to a National Geogra­phic article, one study estimated that “8.3 billion plastic straws pollute the world’s beaches”.

A single non-biodegradable plastic straw takes hundreds of years to break down into small pieces, known as microplastics.

But straws are only 0.025% of the global pollution crisis.

It has been reported that eight million tonnes of plastic flow into the ocean every year.

All of us saw the magnitude of the plastic pollution problem when a dead whale was found off Davao Gulf in the Philippines earlier this year with almost 40kg of plastic in its stomach.

According to National Geographic, the whale was not alone.

The website also stated that more marine life has been found dead with their bellies stuffed with plastic, and based on Unesco statistics 100,000 marine animals die from plastic pollution every year.

In some cases like that of the whale, the plastic build-up trapped in the stomach starves the animal as it blocks food from travelling from the stomach to the intestine.

The time has come for us to really put into action our habits to reduce pollution for our marine eco-system as well as our current livelihood and that of our future generations.

It all boils down to a change in our daily practices and everyone making a conscious effort to reduce not only the use of plastic straws but also all single-use plastics.

When buying cooked food outside, we can bring our own tiffin carriers or reusable containers instead of using the plastic takeaway packaging at hawker stalls.

As for purchases of raw food such as meat and seafood, we can bring our own freezer re-sealable storage bags. For eggs, bring our own reusable egg cartons.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/the-star-says/2019/06/23/time-to-end-singleuse-plastics-altogether/#5vfGp21h7GOf8upf.99

Rural, small schools make an impact

June 23rd, 2019
The winners from the Frog World Championship.

The winners from the Frog World Championship.

RURAL and small schools have once again proved their mettle in the Frog World Championship.

SJKC Choong Cheng has emerged as a role model to Chinese schools in Kedah, especially schools under the purview of the Kuala Muda Yan district education office, with its third victory in a row.

Having observed evident improvements in pupil behaviour, the teachers from this school are not only dedicating themselves to providing them with a 21st century learning experience through Frog, but have also stepped up in advocating the use of technology in education to the community so that more teachers and pupils have equal opportunities and exposure, and are not left behind.

At SJKC Choong Cheng, pupils have become more motivated and excited to learn through Frog, and with group projects also conducted on Frog, they have also gained confidence in the classroom and are now able to present on group projects with confidence. Noting this, the teachers hope to spread similar benefits to their peers in other schools.

On the academic front, since implementing Frog in teaching and learning, more and more pupils are achieving straight As each year. The pupils’ results have improved after the school adopted FrogPlay for independent learning and revision.

In third place is SK Sungai Baru in Perlis, a rural school that only started actively using Frog in 2018, but has come a long way in this short duration through the sheer commitment of its leadership. Being a rural school, the teachers and pupils faced difficulty in accessing the Internet and devices at home.

The school believed in the potential of Frog in enabling its pupils to compete on a level playing field with urban schools, so they went the extra mile to enable the use of the Internet for education. As a result, the school saw pupil attendance and participation increase. The pupils achieved overall academic improvement in Maths, Science, English and Bahasa Malaysia. Its pupils have also bagged the state prize in the Frog Championship 2018.

FrogAsia Sdn Bhd executive director Yeoh Pei Lou said the Frog World Championship is one of the efforts at FrogAsia to encourage more teachers and pupils to embrace and benefit from 21st century learning.

“We have witnessed tremendous improvement in pupils participating in the competition since it was launched in 2017, not just in terms of the competition results, but more importantly, in terms of overall learning outcomes due to the competition format.

“Schools from the rural areas, which were once eclipsed by urban schools are now emerging as world champions.

“This goes to show that the Frog World Championship has remarkable ability and promise in elevating education outcomes – not only in Malaysia but globally,” she said.

A total of USD10,000 (RM42,300) is on offer to the winners of the Frog World Championship. To win, teachers and students will need to do their part to achieve Leaderboard points for their schools. For teachers, they need to access, create and publish quizzes on Frog VLE while students need to use FrogPlay and Boost to gain Leaderboard points.

Among the global schools, the Westminster Church of England Primary Academy in the United Kingdom was one that achieved a notable outcome. The school – mostly comprised students who are immigrants or asylum seekers who use English as a second language, started using Frog in October 2018 but most of them did not have access to devices at home.

To encourage learning, the teachers initiated the breakfast club where students could come in early to school to use the devices and log in to Frog in school. Through the use of Frog, students started improving their command of English. One particular student who was classified as a failing student improved through consistent and competitive use of Frog, and emerged as one of the world winners in the student category this year!

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/06/23/rural-small-schools-make-an-impact/#Vve4YCSMBWxW30Gl.99

New syllabus good, but can be better.

June 23rd, 2019

WHILE welcoming the move to introduce a Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus, stakeholders stress the importance of literature especially in the age of digitisation, and are suggesting some tweaks to the planned syllabus.

Under the new Secondary School Standards-based Curriculum (KSSM) next year, Form Four students will sit for the elective SPM paper with a new format in 2021.

The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) is supportive of the new format and structure. But the syllabus aims and learning outcomes should be expanded to include contemporary readings and analytical perspectives, says its president Prof Dr S. Ganakumaran.

He says the choice of texts offered is narrow and traditional.

“We need a wider, more inclusive and progressive perspective of literature and literary texts.

“Open up the space for students to engage with the cross-cultural and global issues,” he says, calling for a wider choice of international and Malaysian texts to be included.

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Perhaps a section on young adult literature can be included, he suggests. This could attract more students to take up the subject, he says, pointing to how the number of students taking literature has been on a downward trend in recent years. He thinks the lack of interest could be because there’s:

> A general drop in English proficiency;

> The feeling that literature does not have a functional purpose;

> The lack of qualified teachers to teach the subject;

> The reluctance of schools wanting to offer the subject due to timetabling issues; and

> Apprehension that the school’s overall academic performance would drop due to poor performance in the paper.

Universiti Malaya (UM) senior lecturer Dr Grace Lim says having fewer texts to study – a key feature in the new syllabus – means not having to rush through the list.

But Lim from the Faculty of Education, says it also means that students are exposed to less variety so it will depend on the teachers and students to explore on their own.

She’s keen to see how the assessment will be implemented.

“Students can produce reader-response creative works, put on performances and even write critical essays if they want. So I wonder if their results will still be wholly based on the exam.”

She hopes it will be a combination of both formative and summative assessments.

School Improvement Specialist Coach Gladys Francis Joseph favours how the new syllabus encourages teachers to stage performances because it’s really beneficial for students.

Gladys, who was involved in writing the new curriculum and was a trainer for the pilot project, says fewer texts to read and having the exam in the middle of the year would help ‘sell’ the subject.

But most schools say there’s a lack of English Language teachers. And to start a class, one needs at least 15 students. Without the support of the administrators, it is an uphill task.

task

“There are some schools which make it compulsory for students who want to enter the first two Science classes to take up the subject. So, Literature is thriving in these schools due to the policy implemented. Will these students take up the subject if not compelled? A significant number will not.”

Gladys thinks a black-and-white assurance on the prospects of taking English Literature for SPM is needed.

“Will they have an edge over other students for courses in colleges and universities? Parents and school administrators want to see the added value of the subject,” she says, adding that teachers willing to sacrifice their time to start small classes outside the timetable would be helpful. This needs the principal’s support.

The ministry, says Lim, should promote the subject to the public via infographics and social media. It shouldn’t just be done among schools and educators.

Lim says there’s a perception that SPM Literature in English is subjective and difficult to score. Maybe that’s why schools may not want their students to take the subject or let teachers teach it.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan fears that there aren’t enough teachers if there’s an increase in demand for classes.

“Training for literature teachers and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers – who are the majority – are different.”

Literature, he says, is a higher form of language learning that requires a different set of skills to teach.

“Literature is a coherent part of any language learning. But when it’s a subject, it’s a different ball game altogether. Exams and the way you learn are different from learning a language to communicate.”

To get students interested, the texts have to fit with knowledge that the students can relate to, and the level of language mustn’t be too demanding otherwise only those who speak English as a first language would dare take the subject, UM senior lecturer Dr Krishnavanie Shunmugam says.

Those who are struggling with English should not attempt to sit for the new English Literature paper, says Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin.

If the ministry is serious in wanting students to learn and improve their English, the language must be made a compulsory pass in the SPM.

“English Literature is offered only as an elective subject. The new syllabus is good but it’ll only benefit those who are already good in English,” he says, adding that those who can manage it should take the subject.

“It’s definitely a plus. It goes beyond grammar and makes you think about how words are used.”

The buzzword in teaching and learning is HOTS (higher-order thinking skills), which you get ample of in Literature, says Gladys.

“We’re heading to a future controlled by artificial intelligence and machines. Literature can teach the next generation to be more humane, enhance their critical thinking and creativity, and most importantly, develop intuitive knowledge and reasoning skills to distinguish the real from the fictitious.”

Literature is one of those rare subjects that help students understand that not everything is in black and white, says Lim.

It might be unnerving at first but they soon learn that multiple perspectives can exist together. This develops their ability to consider and engage with different ideas and viewpoints.

“The point is not to prove that your opinion is the only one that matters but to give due consideration to how others interpret the texts.”

Literature helps students mature by letting them engage with experiences and situations that they might not have experienced before.

Students will also be more sensitive to how word choice and phrasing are ways through which language represents subjects.

“For example, calling someone a visitor instead of a guest indicates a different attitude towards that individual. In this sense, language is rarely neutral,” she says.

Krishnavanie believes that students who take SPM English Literature have an edge over others when applying for college or university degrees related to languages and linguistics, performing arts, creative writing, media studies, mass communication and language education.

“Even if they’re applying for a degree in the hardcore sciences, having SPM English Literature on their certificate would be impressive because it would imply that the students have not only been exposed to the kind of analytical skills needed for science, but have also been trained to have critical thinking skills necessary for reading literature.”

Literature, in whatever language, mirrors various facets of life – happiness, suffering, evil, goodness and foolishness – in creative forms, she adds.

“Literature has made me more sensitive to what’s happening around me. It’s given me a fresh perspective to stereotypes.”

UM language teacher J. Yasodhara N.V.J. Menon agrees.

“Many people are still stuck in the misconception that literature is old and boring. But they fail to realise that literature is alive, fluid, and in the present. It’s a written record of human consciousness and personal experiences. It tells us that humans are one in their needs and desires.”

Prof Ganakumaran says the study of literature has many benefits. It improves vocabulary and understanding of the different ways language can be used. This gives students the confidence to communicate and express themselves better.

By Christina Chin and Rowena Chua
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2019/06/23/new-syllabus-good-but-can-be-better/#OycCMrV2xQfhvlGS.99

Burying our noses in books

June 23rd, 2019

THE sweet scent of paper. The comforting feeling of a hardcover in your hands. And the thrill of turning to the last page to know how the story ends.

These experiences from reading books, novels and others can never be replaced by our handphones and digital devices.

But even at a time when everything is online and available at the tap of a button, Malaysians seem to love the written word in print.

In fact, the National Library of Malaysia has recorded more membership applications and higher number of borrowed materials over the past few months.

A check by Sunday Star on the library’s website showed that more people have applied to be members from 2,563 applications in February to 4,153 in May this year.

More reading materials are also being borrowed, steadily increasing – 27,293 in February, 32,390 in March, rising to 34,111 in April and 34,436 in May .At present, people can choose to enjoy audiobooks, e-books and other digital reading material.

But printed books are still a strong choice among Malaysians when it comes to leisure reading, deep dive reading and the non-fiction category, says Malaysian Book Publishers Association president Arief Hakim Sani Rahmat.

“This is especially when people want to turn off from social media noise,” he says.

However, while Malaysians love to read, Arief Hakim Sani points out that there are areas which can be improved.

“We hope that the new #MalaysiaMembaca reading campaign initiated by the Education Minister will get serious funding and receive public support,” he adds.

The Malaysian love affair with books is also evident during book sales and festivals, with crowds making a beeline for them, happily carting away their purchases.

About 650,000 people visited the BookFest@Malaysia that ended on June 9, an event by Popular Book Co (M) Sdn Bhd, which has grown stronger every year.

Malaysians also flocked to previous sales like the Big Bad Wolf book sale, which opened 24 hours for avid readers to shop at any time of day.

These signs show a healthy love for reading but more still needs to be done if Malaysia is to be on par with developed countries.

Citizens in such countries read an average of 40 books a year, the Education Ministry said in reports.

Malaysians, in comparison, read only 15 books a year, based on an interim study done by the National Library in 2014. In 2005, Malaysians only read two books a year.

While the ministry is embarking on efforts to boost reading through the National Reading Decade, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) also suggests that school libraries be revamped to attract more young minds.

“Make the library a place of choice and what students want,” says NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan.For one, the selection of books should be contemporary to reflect the times.

He observes that libraries in local schools are somewhat conservative.

“Our knowledge doubles up every few years but most of our books are still the same,” he says.

To make it attractive for students, libraries should also be a more welcoming place.

“There should be beanie bags for students to read in a relaxed setting. Lockers and coffee machines could also be included to create a friendly environment and encourage more to step inside a library,” he suggests.

In December, the ministry declared 2020 to 2030 as the National Reading Decade, to foster a reading culture among Malaysians.

The ministry had said although 87% of Malaysians do read, there was still a need to strengthen the habit across society.

“A campaign to inculcate reading among Malaysians has been implemented for over two decades through various programmes.

“However, there’s still not enough impact and participation,” the ministry said.

As such, the ministry has ongoing plans to increase efforts to encourage reading through national reading campaigns until 2020.

Then, from 2021 to 2030, during the National Reading Decade, the ministry wants to transform Malaysia into a reading nation.

It was reported that Malaysia ranked as among the world’s highest spenders on books based on a recent study by Polish e-commerce firm Picodi.According to the report in April, 76% of Malaysians bought at least one book over the past year.

However, the study noted that this does not reflect actual reading habits.

A main factor to boost the reading culture is starting them young.

Tan admits that while students do read, it just isn’t always know­ledge-based information or what their teachers want.

“They know about the latest apps online. They can also read and sing Korean pop songs, and they do it on their own,” he observes.

As such, Tan says the challenge is to make students want to read about educational material, either through physical books or through digital devices.

“Perhaps one way is to spark curiosity and interest through science-based comics.

“We need to embrace new ways to reach out to students and learn to change the stuff they read to what we want to teach,” he adds.

Nevertheless, the love for books burns bright, despite it being the digital age.

Popular Book Co (M) Sdn Bhd executive director Lim Lee Ngoh says youths have many distractions like social media and video games.

“As a bookseller, it’s always our role to encourage Malaysians to read. This year, we want to urge youths to cultivate the good habit of reading.

“But despite the Internet and digital devices, Malaysians in general still love reading and buying books.

“From our observation, people purchase books based on their preference for authors while some buy books to add to their collection,” she says.

By Yuen Meikeng
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/23/burying-our-noses-in-books/#fp6FG84LW6JkrMwV.99

Physical books are more personal than e-books, say Malaysian bookworms.

June 23rd, 2019

THERE’S nothing like curling up with a good book for company.

When asked why they prefer reading physical books than e-books or other online material, several book lovers say it is simply a more personal experience.

“Books are more like companions, so I can say that most book lovers like me are normally emotionally attached to our hard copies.

“It also feels like I have ownership of the books – ‘They’re mine, I love them! My precious!’

“The books I read also represent my identity, personality, feelings and somewhat define who I am or who I want to be.

“Hence, I take really great care of my books like they’re part of me.

“E-books don’t evoke such feelings. It feels more like a digital service,” says Juliana, who started reading more avidly two years ago after she quit her office job.

She believes the reading culture here is blooming, with more people selling second-hand books, vintage publications on social media and online marketplaces.

“Some people also do book swaps, so getting hold of books are made easy and cheap,” adds Juliana, who enjoys genres like

fantasy, sci-fi, romance and classic literature.

She believes many more Malaysians would want to read if they have more balanced lifestyles.

“It will take a lot of effort from the government, institutions including libraries and corporations to come up with efficient ways to promote reading to Malaysians,” she says.

Postgraduate student Anna Raj, 29, also points out that the look and feel of physical books put her in the mood to read.

“With online stuff, I find that I struggle to focus and my reading speed is slowed down,” she says.

Anna buys an average of 30 books a year, having a habit of borrowing books from friends and local libraries since young.

“Through my childhood and teenage years, I’ve enjoyed fiction, especially the fantasy genre.

“But more recently I prefer non-fiction books that are related to political studies and current affairs,” she says.

She agrees that Malaysia’s reading culture is average and we need to do more.

“In developed nations like the United Kingdom, you will find

people reading just about everywhere, especially when on public transportation,” she observes.

Anna says she does see many youths carting away boxes of books at sales but from observation, they don’t read them as often as they should.

As someone who admits buying loads of books from sales, marketing executive Mike Lam, 28, says he goes for the discounts and buys in bulk.

“Sometimes, I buy bags and bags of them until my mother complains,” he laughs.

Lam says he prefers to buy physical books to support his favourite authors including Paulo Coelho, J. K. Rowling and George R. R. Martin.

“I also read works from politicians and popular personalities including Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama.

“I like to keep track of what I read too, it feels better with a physical copy than an e-book,” he says.

Lam says reading books also offers a chance to disconnect from digital screens which are part of everyday life today.

However, some do believe that e-books and online publications have its own benefits.

IT executive Candice Wong, 34, says she reads online articles from magazine websites during her spare time to unwind.

“I can read it anywhere as long as I have my phone with me. There is also the option of viewing photos and videos online.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/23/physical-books-are-more-personal-than-ebooks-say-malaysian-bookworms/#Ku3Xj1iUg7sMAc08.99

Malaysians love reading, but fewer local books sold.

June 23rd, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The love for rea­ding is growing with more people applying to be members of the National Library.

There has been a steady growth in membership applications every month from 2,563 in February to 4,153 in May this year, according to the National Library’s website.

But sales of locally published books have declined, leading to less revenue for Malaysian publishers.

The Malaysian Book Publishers Association (Mabopa) said this was due to, among other reasons, fewer books being published in the country.

The total revenue earned by local book publishers shrank by 29% from RM1.192bil in 2014 to RM847mil in 2016.

“Revenue started to drop after 2015 due to the decline in sales.

“It also declined in 2016 because of the cancellation of the previous government’s book voucher programme for students.

“Another factor is reduced consumer spending power in the past few years,” said Arief Hakim Sani.

The industry took a hit when the RM1,000 tax incentive specifically for books was replaced with a RM2,500 lifestyle tax relief inclusive of books, Internet subscription and other things in 2017.

Last year, 18,663 book titles were published locally with most being under the languages and literature categories, according to the statistics of books registered under the Library Depository Act.

Malaysians, on average, read about 15 books a year based on an interim study done by the National Library in 2014.

But this is still a long way to go compared to those from developed countries who read an average of 40 books a year.

Arief Hakim Sani said the association believed that reading would grow in tandem with Malaysia’s economic and social progress.

“We hope the government will boost reading culture through tax incentives, specifically targeting the purchase of reading materials, book donations, and for royalty income from writing.

“There are existing incentives but we need more, especially with the current rising cost of living in Malaysia,” he said.

Arief Hakim Sani hoped there would be funding for libraries to purchase and restore book collections with latest books.

In March, it was reported that Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said he would reinstate the RM250 book vouchers that students once received under the now-­defunct 1Malaysia Book Vou­cher (BB1M) programme by next year.

Currently, the ministry provides RM100 aid to each student under the new Higher Education Student Aid programme.

This one-off aid is channelled into debit cards for students known as Kad Diskaun Siswa, enabling them to buy reading material, stationery, computer equipment and Internet access.

“Any extended assistance from this programme in future is subject to the financial capabilities of the government and based on the need to fulfil other commitments,” the ministry said when contacted.

Despite the changing times, the ministry said that a reading culture was still the key that led a society to be advanced and developed.

By Yuen Meikeng
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New SPM English Lit syllabus

June 23rd, 2019

PETALING JAYA: A Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus will be introduced to secondary schools next year in a move to boost proficiency in the language.

Form Four students will study the syllabus in January and sit for the SPM exam with a new format in 2021, Examinations Syndicate director of examinations Adzman Talib said.

The 18-month curriculum is drawn from 10 poems, one novel or six short stories, and one drama, he said.

Among others, these students will read The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), The Clay Marble (Minfong Ho), and Embra­cing Your Shadow (Chua Kok Yee).

The poems would include To Autumn (John Keats) and When You Are Old (by William Butler Yeats).

Under a pilot project which started in 2017, 300 Form Four students from seven schools in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak sat for the International General Certificate in Secondary Education (IGCSE) Eng­lish Literature exam in June 2018 instead of the SPM English Litera­ture paper.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin explained that re-branding the English Literature curriculum was among the ministry’s efforts to enhance the English proficiency of students.

The new Standards-Based English Literature Curriculum for Secon­dary Schools emphasises the importance of sustaining the use of the Eng­lish language within and be­­yond the classroom.

The elective subject serves as pre­paration for studying language or literature at higher levels as well as to enrich students’ knowledge of English, he said.

To encourage uptake among STEM (Science, Technology, Engi­neering and Mathematics) students, the 2021 English Literature exam will be held either in June or July, said Amin.

“This is to alleviate the stress of sitting for many subjects in November and to encourage more students to learn this subject,” he said.

Amin said the ministry wanted to encourage all students, including those in the science and technical fields, to learn this subject, as it would help improve their command of the language through the exposure and study of both local and international texts.

Literature, he said, would improve their proficiency while enhancing their knowledge of history and cultures.

“It also provides vicarious experiences through reading and promotes critical thinking and analytical skills,” he said.

The English Language Teaching Centre and the ministry’s master trainers will train teachers who are interested.

Those with a background in English Literature can be re-posted to the states of their choice.

State education departments will promote the subject at premier and residential schools and oversee the implementation of the new curriculum.

By Christina Chin
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t https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/06/23/new-spm-english-lit-syllabus/#LGBqUcq1A2QDB27B.99