Evaluation Study On School Bag Weight Being Conducted

January 17th, 2018

ISKANDAR PUTERI, Jan 16 (Bernama) — The School Pupil Bag Weight Evaluation Study which is currently being conducted will come up with a report in one month, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said.

He said the process of gathering information had been initiated by the State Education Department and the District Education Office of several states which visited schools.

“Once the process is ready, the information will be sent to the ministry to be tabled before Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

“This study is aimed at finding solutions to the issue of heavy school bags. We have asked for cooperation from school authorities such as headmasters and teachers to not allow their students to carry bags for a week-long learning but to only carry books based on the daily schedule.

“Based on my own observations, these heavy bag cases are less likely to occur in Tamil National Type Schools (SJKT) and some of these issues are not caused by heavy book load but the use of wheeled school bags,” So, we must scrutinise this,” he told reporters after opening the SJKT Ladang Bukit Serampang here today.

In another development, Kamalanathan said 12 out of the 37 SJKTs outlined in the 2012 Special Plan Package had already been completed and they were already in use.

“A total of 12 schools are completed and are being utilised, 12 are completed and are waiting for the Certificate of Completion and Compliance from the local authorities while the remaining 13 are in various stages of construction.

“The construction works started in 2014 and are expected to be completed after taking into consideration the approvals received from the local authorities on the SJKT sites,” he said.

Kamalanathan said the total cost of construction of these 37 schools was RM216 million and were implemented by Indian contractors.


Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1427872

Racism has to be opposed from the top down.

January 17th, 2018

DEMOCRACY takes power away from the few, or the one, and places it in the hands of the many. Which is why we hear phrases like “people power” and “returning power to the people” bandied around when speaking about democratic reform.

Theoretically, if there is a free press, fairly delineated constituencies, independent state agencies and a respect for human rights, then the government of the day will be a reflection of the will of the people.

We, the ordinary men and women, choose our leaders. We can also “fire” them by voting them out. Therefore, we have ultimate power.

However, just because power ultimately lies with the people, this does not mean that leaders have to bend to the will of the people all the time.

This is why unpopular but ultimately worthy policies and legislation come into place. It takes leadership to do this. A person who is scared of losing popularity, especially among his core supporters, to the point of supporting noxious views, does not have leadership qualities.

Which is why if a government believes in certain things, the leaders must speak up accordingly. Conversely, they must speak up against things they don’t believe in.

Let me give you an example. If a group spouts obnoxious racism, a true leader would speak out against it, even if the group members are among his supporters.

If he does not do so, what it means is that he is condoning such views. Even if he is keeping silent so as to not alienate his support base, he is acting in a cowardly fashion and is in effect legitimising racism.

Now, I am saddened by the fact that racism in Malaysia is alive and well. When writing and teaching, I have consistently argued for us to move away from such attitudes. I honestly thought that there were more and more Malaysians who are of the same view. Sadly this is not so.

Surveys have shown that most Malays will vote based on race.

This is depressing to the extreme. Yet, this is also the reality.

One of the reasons Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the chosen Prime Minister candidate for Pakatan Harapan is so that he can woo the Malay vote.

I am presuming his Malay nationalist background will make him palatable to those who still think along those lines.

by Azmi Sharom
Read more @

Embracing Industry 4.0

January 17th, 2018
Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh delivering his mandate at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre. pic by SADDAM YUSOFF
“We must be brave in order to change. We have been brave in redesigning our higher education system. And now, we will once again show that we are brave and innovative enough to change for Industry 4.0 and beyond.” — Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, Higher Education Minister

“Higher Education 4.0: Knowledge, Industry and Humanity” was the theme of the 2018 mandate from Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh as he called for a revamp of the higher education ecosystem in Putrajaya on Thursday.

A continuation of last year’s focus on redesigning higher education, the mandate looked at how higher education institutions in Malaysia are to remain relevant and competitive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

“Last year, the ministry embarked on a year-long effort to better understand Industry 4.0 and its impact on higher education. What we found is that Industry 4.0 is the continuation of a journey achieved through advances in science and technology, and that each industrial revolution changes the way we live, work and interact with each other.

“With Industry 4.0, there is rapid change; volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity; and evolving jobs where the manual ones are being taken over by robots. But humans, with the advantage of flexibility, creativity and brain elasticity, will emerge as champions. Thus, education is key to facing these challenges,” Idris said during his presentation.

To address the challenges of Industry 4.0, he said the process of teaching and learning at higher education institutions must be changed.

He said different kinds of learning spaces and pedagogies were needed, such as heutagogy (self-determined learning), paragogy (peer-oriented learning) and cybergogy (virtual-based learning). Curriculum had to be fluid and organic, incorporating the latest learning and teaching technologies.

“The ministry will introduce a policy whereby all higher education institutions are allowed programmes with 70 per cent set subjects, while the remaining 30 per cent is open to content that is relevant to current trends.

“The implementation of 21st century pedagogy means classes need not be conducted through lectures (learning without lectures) and assessments need not be based solely on exams.”

This year, the ministry will implement the Professional Development Programme 4.0 for lecturers with the aim of having 30 per cent of all teaching and learning at public higher education institutions be aligned to Industry 4.0 by 2020. The Rethinking and Redesigning Higher Education Awards will be continued in 2018.

Idris said another move to address the challenges of Industry 4.0 was to have the industry and the academia act as one to fulfil industry and graduate needs.

“We don’t have to fear not having jobs as there will be new types of jobs created. The TVET 4.0 framework will be completed next month, and it will look at new industries and how we adapt education to requirements of such industries. The role of higher education institutions is to prepare students for the changes brought by Industry 4.0.

“Merging industry and academia is for humanity and not industry. Universities must ensure that they offer programmes relevant to Industry 4.0. We need to hasten the changes or universities will become irrelevant.”

Another initiative mentioned in the mandate is having at least 40 per cent of programmes in public universities implement the Integrated Cumulative Grade Point Average (iCGPA). All public universities are to establish the e-Portfolio system and integrate it with the iCGPA system.

Idris also proposed that the Malaysia English Assessment (MEA) be integrated in the communication component of the iCGPA.

He also called for the 2 Years in University and 2 Years in Industry (2u2i) programme be intensified among public universities and invited private universities to implement it.

As for the CEO@Faculty programme, the number of corporate heads will increase by 10 to 83. The ministry will continue with its CEO@Faculty 2.0 programme to involve 60 young lecturers, who will be mentored by the CEOs. The CEO@Faculty programme will be expanded to polytechnics and community colleges this year.

Each public university is required to increase the usage of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) to at least 20 per cent of all courses offered. Two subjects must be taken and completed by students via MOOC.

For polytechnics, the ministry targets having 40 per cent of students use MOOC through the offering of 70 courses starting this year.

To transform public universities into smart campuses, the ministry targets all public universities to start implementing Smart Campus by June.

In line with the Entrepreneurship Action Plan of Higher Education Institutions (2016-2020), the ministry targets 80 per cent of students to have entrepreneurial exposure while studying, nine per cent to register a business during studies and 3.5 per cent of graduates to choose entrepreneurship as a career.

Translational Research continues to be emphasised in the form of Translational Research 2.0, as do the emphasis on internationalisation to make Malaysia an international education hub.

“We must be brave in order to change. We have been brave in redesigning our higher education system. And now, we will once again show that we are brave and innovative enough to change for Industry 4.0 and beyond,” said Idris.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia vice-chancellor Professor Tan Sri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali said what was required in the higher education sector was change and higher education institutions must be able to offer strong value to society in the context of Industry 4.0 — particularly in the process of learning and teaching.


Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/01/325914/embracing-industry-40

PSD: Extended hours at govt depts will benefit civil servants

January 17th, 2018
The new operating hours at government departments and agencies nationwide, which have been extended from 7.30am to 6pm, will provide flexibility to public servants. NSTP file pic/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

PUTRAJAYA: The new operating hours at government departments and agencies nationwide, which have been extended from 7.30am to 6pm, will provide flexibility to public servants.

In a circular, Public Service Department director-general Tan Sri Zainal Rahim Seman said the longer operating hours, which took effect on Jan 1, would also enhance public service delivery.

“This is in line with the public service transformation and our continuous efforts to improve service delivery, as well as to give flexible working hours to the civil servants.

“The new working hours for federal government offices are from 7.30am to 6pm effective Jan 1,” he said in the circular.

With the extension, civil servants nationwide will work on four shifts: 7.30am to 4.30pm, 8am to 5pm, 8.30am to­ 5.30pm and 9am to 6pm.

Government departments and agencies in Perlis, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will be open on weekdays from 7.30am to 6pm.

Their break time remains unchanged from 1pm to 2pm (Monday to Thursday) for all states and 12.15pm to 2.45pm (Friday) in Peninsular Malaysia.

For Sabah and Labuan, their break time on Friday is from 11.30am to 2pm, while in Sarawak, their break time on Friday is from 11.45am to 2.15pm.

In Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Johor, operating hours are from 7.30am to 6pm from Sunday to Wednesday and 7.30am to 4.30pm on Thursday.


Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2018/01/323323/psd-extended-hours-govt-depts-will-benefit-civil

Make environment our 2018 priority

January 15th, 2018

THE year has barely started, and already we have so many reports of weather and climate-related events.

Heavy wind, snow storms and below-freezing temperatures paralysed cities in the United States’ East Coast. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was in chaos with hundreds of flights suspended.

Yet, just weeks previously, big fires linked to a heat wave were sweeping through parts of California on the West Coast, burning 112.000ha of forest and threatening lives and homes.

Colder weather in one place and hotter temperatures in another are signs of global climate change, which can also cause heavier rainfall and drought in different regions.

We can expect the weather, and more broadly the environment, to figure prominently this year.

The alarm bells sounded long ago on the environmental crisis. But it is not easy to achieve a continuous high level of concern among political leaders.

After a calamity and public outrage, there are pledges to correct the situation. However, the interest fades after a while, and not much action is taken, until the next disaster happens.

In Malaysia, people are now looking at the sky constantly to anticipate whether it is going to rain.

Heavy rainfall has been causing floods in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak.

In Penang, severe state-wide flash floods seem to be occurring every few months, with localised flooding in several areas in between. The mud brought down from eroded hill-slopes into overflowing rivers and then into houses, makes floods an even worse nightmare for those affected.

For some unlucky ones, hardly have their houses and furniture been cleaned than they are under one metre of water again through a new flood.

Heavier rain and more floods is the new normal in Malaysia. There has been an increase in rainfall for most parts of the country in 2000-2009 compared to 1970-1999, with the major increase in 2005-2009, according to a 2012 paper by Yap Kok Seng, then the head of the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment (MMD), and his colleagues.

The global temperature increase has led to changes in weather including major wind patterns, amount and intensity of precipitation, and increased frequency of severe storms and weather extremes, according to the paper, Malaysia Climate Change Scenarios.

In Malaysia since the 1980s, there had been increasing number of days of extreme rainfall events, extreme wind events and annual thunderstorm days, added the paper.

Unfortunately the situation will worsen. A study published on Jan 10, whose authors are affiliated with Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, predicted that millions more people will be affected by river flooding as global warming increases severe rainfall in the next 20 years.

In Asia, the most affected region, people at risk from floods will rise to 156 million from the present 70 million in the next 20 years.

Global warming increases the risk of flooding because rain during an extreme downpour “increases exponentially” as temperatures rise, the institute’s Anders Levermann told Reuters.

“We have to adapt to global warming. Doing nothing will be dangerous,” he said.

Countries will have to act urgently and make major investments in flood protection to boost their flood defences, according to the report.

This advice surely applies to Malaysia as one of the countries already being affected by heavier rainfall and extensive river flooding.

Flood mitigation measures must be increased, including de-silting, widening and deepening rivers, improving urban drainage, strengthening river banks, redirecting water flows, constructing tidal gates, and pumping excess water into ponds.

Even more important is flood prevention. A main cause of the floods is deforestation, leading to the loss of the forests’ valuable roles in soil and water retention and climate regulation.

It is really short-sighted and irrational to damage and destroy forests, especially forest reserves and water catchment areas.

Exposed soils are swept by rain into rivers, clogging up streams and drains with mud and causing floods downstream in the towns and villages, while also depriving us of much-needed water supply.

There is a great deal of public concern over recent developments that threaten forests and hill lands in the country.

These include the de-gazetting of the Ulu Muda water catchment area in Kedah; the de-gazetting of hill lands in Penang that previously were protected under the Land Conservation Act and which are now being “developed” with the aid of higher permitted density ratio; the conversion of 4,515ha forest reserve to cultivate oil palm plantations in Terengganu (being opposed by WWF-Malaysia); and protests over the imminent loss of a forested park in Taman Rimba Kiara in Kuala Lumpur to make way for housing.

Federal, state and local governments should give priority to environmental rehabilitation of damaged forests and hills, prevent damage to the coastal ecosystem including mangroves, and take comprehensive flood prevention and mitigation measures.

by Martin Khor
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/global-trends/2018/01/15/make-environment-our-2018-priority-impact-of-forest-cutting-and-climate-change-is-worsening-more-mus/#2hA43BzjjZ4dxyUB.99

Set higher bar to boost English skills

January 15th, 2018
English communication skills are vital as it is the language of international trade and commerce. — AMERUL AZRY ABDUL AZIZ

THE Malaysian University English Test (Muet) is mandatory for admission into most local universities. While some universities may admit students without Muet scores, it is compulsory for them to take the test before they can graduate.

Most faculties in public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) have a minimum requirement of a Band 3 in Muet. Professional courses, such as medical sciences and engineering, require a minimum of Band 4 for admission.

In my view, the universities should set Band 4 as a minimum qualification for entry into all faculties as Band 3 is inadequate
for either academic or professional courses.

English communication skills are vital as it is the language of international trade and commerce. I believe setting a higher bar for Muet will push our graduates to improve their English.

Many companies, especially multinationals, conduct their business in English. Without the requisite proficiency in the language, our graduates will not be able to perform.

These employers conduct job interviews in English, and this requires candidates to be “good users”, which aptly describes graduates with a Band 4 in Muet .

Some employers use writing tests to gauge applicants’ proficiency in English. I believe the way we write is a reflection of the way our mind works.

Muet or the International English Language Testing System should be made a mandatory requirement for English teachers. Nothing less should be entertained.

By Amerul Azry Abdul Aziz.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2018/01/325241/set-higher-bar-boost-english-skills

Parents not obliged to give payslips to schools.

January 14th, 2018
Ready to learn: Kamalanathan (left) handing over a stationery set and books to Shamita Satiaseelan, five, at the launch of Tadika Lestari Bukit Sentosa in Rawang.

Ready to learn: Kamalanathan (left) handing over a stationery set and books to Shamita Satiaseelan, five, at the launch of Tadika Lestari Bukit Sentosa in Rawang.

RAWANG: Schools do not have the right to demand for the payslips of parents unless they are trying to identify children in need of aid, such as the Additional Food Programme (RMT).

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said this is to ensure assistance reaches the targeted low-income group.

“If parents choose not to give, then I don’t think it is right for us to force them,” he said after attending the launch of Tadika Lestari Bukit Sentosa and its Founding Principal Scholarship here yesterday.

He was responding to complaints from parents that they were being forced to provide their payslips by some schools in the Klang Valley.

Kamalanathan said the ministry had asked schools to identify students from lower and middle income families to help them.

He said he would look into the matter and get an explanation as to why schools required the payslips.

On another matter, Kamala­nathan said the Government had provided free education from preschool until Form Five to ensure a child’s right to education.

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/01/14/parents-not-obliged-to-give-payslips-to-schools/#jS6rTD4zLRevRUMm.99

Guide to choosing institutions, programmes

January 14th, 2018

THE Malaysian Quality Evaluation System for Private Colleges (MyQUEST) developed by the Higher Education Ministry can be used as a guide for the public to choose private colleges and study programmes of quality.

Private Higher Education Institution Governance Division director in the Department of Higher Education Dr Mohamed Ali Abdul Rahman said MyQUEST was introduced in 2010 to assess the quality of private colleges nationwide.

“This assessment is necessary to ensure the competitiveness of the private higher education sector in Malaysia through continuous improvement and capacity building,” he said.

Dr Mohamed Ali said the system generated three categories of reports, namely college-based assessments, study field-based assessments and international students’ service assessments.”

“The assessment of international student services, meanwhile, measures the level of service, resources and college’s practices in meeting the minimum requirements of international students’ service standards,” he said.

He said the scores calculated for each category of report result in the award of one of six grades namely 6 stars (Outstanding), 5 stars (Excellent), 4 stars (Very Good), 3 stars (Good), 2 stars (Satisfactory) and 1 star (Weak).

Dr Mohamed Ali said private colleges registered with the ministry under the Private Higher Education Institutions Act 1996 or Act 555 could enrol in MyQUEST.

“However, the college must meet two criteria to be eligible for evaluation, that is having at least one matured study programme, and a cohort of students who have graduated,” he said.

He said the criteria of assessment in MyQUEST included students (10 percent), resources (30 percent), quality management system (30 percent), programme recognition (10 percent) and graduate recognition (20 percent).

“For 2016/2017, some 206 out of 398 private colleges across the country registered have been assessed in which 15 colleges receive a rating of 6 stars, 63 colleges (5 stars), 61 colleges (4 stars), 37 colleges (3 stars), 22 colleges (2 stars) and eight colleges (1 star) for the college-based assessment category,” he added.

Read more @

Engaging disengaged students

January 14th, 2018
Kamalanathan (standing, fourth from right) posing with the Ascendance team and the official partners for Ace It Right.

Kamalanathan (standing, fourth from right) posing with the Ascendance team and the official partners for Ace It Right.

WE want 100% enrolment in primary schools to give all children a chance for an education.

The government and Education Ministry also want all children to receive at least 12 years of free education, from preschool right up to Form Five, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan.

“What is important is that these children continue their education right until the end of 12 years in school for the benefit of their futures,” he said at the soft launch of the Ace It Easy programme in Putrajaya on Monday.

However, he added, they should not just ensure that the academically-inclined students are the ones given attention throughout their schooling years.

“I like the Ace It Easy initiative that engages the disengaged students,” he added.

“We need students to continue their education and not just go to school because they do not have a choice,” he said.

“Students must be passionate (about studying) and teachers in the school are ever ready to help them to keep the light and passion burning for education.”

“Ace it Easy”, said Ascendance chief executive officer Mathura Kannan, will allow participants to explore the skills they are good at, discover their passion, relate that passion to their studies and achieve excellent results in their examinations.

“It’s also about holistic success and supports the aims of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to form students who are holistic intellectually, physically, physically as well as emotionally,” she explained.

She said they want the participants to leave as good leaders who can guide their own friends towards the path of success.

“We want them to learn about themselves, set their own goals and then, achieve them,” she added.

Mathura said her team consists of four, highly ambitious and results-oriented youngsters aged 15 to 21 who “want to give back to our generation.”

She said about 40 participants will be identified by the schools to take part in the day-long programme.

Ace it Easy is a programme developed by students for students, and is a form of peer-to-peer guidance to “engage students who are disengaged.”

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2018/01/14/engaging-disengaged-students/#obeY4TDRYZoPQGh1.99

Assessments vital for student learning

January 14th, 2018

ASSESSMENT is perhaps the most vital of all the processes in academic and vocational education.

People who understand assessment will always stress on providing a quality assessment system with emphasis on the different aspects of subject matter, appropriate feedback given, ensure learning is sufficient to the right students, and honouring a qualification that is well received.

When the right procedures and proper systematic tasks are in place, students can be assured of the quality of their training and studies, and employers can have confidence in qualified students.

Without them, however, any of these can be placed in jeopardy.

There is also an increasing amount of research and development being carried out in assessment and this has introduced new challenges and given rise to the traditional approaches to assessment that fail to address.

The importance of assessment issues in academic and vocational education is often not appreciated.

There is of course probably more bad practice and ignorance of significant issues in the area of assessment than in any other aspect of education.

The effects of bad practice are far more potent here than for any aspect of teaching.

Students can escape from the impact of poor teaching; they cannot (if they want to succeed in a course) escape the results of poor assessment.

Assessment acts as an instrument to control learners that has more effect on learners than most teachers or administrators are prepared to acknowledge.

Eckstein and Noah (1993) helped summarise the level of concern and debate about assessment by mentioning that:

“If examinations provoke debate and conflict, it is because they are not merely technical devices to evaluate students.

The policies and practices they embody carry ideological and political freight. Educational, ideological and political issues become intertwined, especially over questions of control, who shall control the examinations, and what shall the examinations control?

“Neither of these questions finds permanent solutions in any country. Instead, current examination policies and arrangements are best regarded as the outcome of a series of compromises among competing values, interests, and points of view, or . . . as a set of trade-offs between competing values.”

Assessment is thus important in its own right and it cannot be separated from the social context, and it also aids or inhibits the attempts of educators to improve teaching and learning.

Assessment as in the past, whether it is classroom, school-based or centralised examinations, have always been for comparing individuals with each other or to discriminate ‘the know’ and the ‘don’t know’.

In education, assessment needs to be thought of not as a comparison between individuals, but as “the process of collecting evidence and making judgments on the extent and nature of progress towards the performance requirements set out in a standard, or a learning outcome” (Hagar, Athanasou and Gonczi 1994).

Though many would deny the fact they are actually ‘differentiating learners’ it may be due to that:

* Most assessments are said to emphasise on memory and lower-level skills;

* Most assessments encourage students to focus on those topics which are assessed at the expense of those which are not;

* Students will put more effort and concentrate on graded tasks over those which are ungraded;

Read more @