Education Ministry Wants Quality, World-Class English Teachers

August 16th, 2017

NILAI, Aug 15 (Bernama) — The education ministry wants English Teachers nationwide to master the language and reach a C2 level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR).

Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said this would ensure the standard of teaching and learning of the English Language in the country were on par with international standards.

“To date, 20,000 or 52 per cent of English teachers in primary and secondary schools have attained C1 and C2 of the CEFR.

“So, we want the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC) to continue playing a role in improving the level of mastery and quality of writing and communication of English Language teachers in an effort to produce students who are proficient in the language and can compete globally,” he said.

Mahdzir was speaking to reporters after launching the ELTC campus and opening of the Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) Colloquium here today.

Also present were Education Deputy Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon; Education director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad and ELTC director Dr Mohamed Abu Bakar.

Commenting further, Mahdzir said the launch of the ELTC campus was a historic moment for the ministry as it was the sole institution responsible for heading the English Language education system in the country.

“This centre shows that the government is serious in efforts to improve the quality of English Language teachers in schools,” he added.

On a separate issue, the minister said the education director-general had issued the order to all district education offices (PPD) to open flood operations centres.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1382121

For the love of Malaysia

August 13th, 2017

Come SEA Games time, we couldn’t care less for our athletes’ skin colour or beliefs. We are only interested in the colours of our Jalur Gemilang. There will be cries of jubilation and groans of despair, all in unison. Let’s remember that.

I HAVE worked at The Star for over three decades. It has been my one and only employer, I’m proud to say. I’ll make an educated guess here and assume that this kind of allegiance would shock most millennials, who rarely stick with an employer for a sustained period. Apparently, three years is almost an eternity for them.

The biggest draw, for me at least, when I joined, was that The Star, as a predominantly English language media group, had a multiracial work force, a scenario which has reassuringly remained status quo to this day.

More than 1,500 staff work, and share their lives in the various departments and subsidiaries, the environment boasting an even racial makeup.

So, we stand tall for being truly Malaysian. This means, my colleagues of all races and religions, including Sabahans and Sarawakians of various ethnicities, bring our collective experiences together to make decisions.

Naturally, in this kind of ideal setting, the views of every group are considered and taken into account when facing challenges or making plans. Everything is consistently based on consensus.

A diverse workforce thrives in these settings, the comfort in communication and mutual respect generated providing for a larger pool of ideas and experiences.

Above all else though, genuine friendships have forged, grown and strengthened over the long years of service in the company, which celebrates its 46th anniversary next month.

We are so familiar and at ease with each other that harmless banter and jibes rarely offend or hurt anyone.

We might have earned this luxury and good fortune for having been products of English medium schools or institutes of higher learning, which emphasised the language.

However, this kind of neutral ground has not been accorded to those who grew up in (and continue to study at) vernacular schools, or the many mono-ethnic sekolah kebangsaan these days.

From my experience, students with similar upbringing and exposure to mine, were a multiracial lot.

Friendships were put through the grinder over the years, and came out stronger, and in many cases, life-long, as an end product.

Of course, we fought and sulked but made up, too, because we could all see the bigger picture.

And as was the practice in my time and before, we visited each other’s homes, celebrated our various festivals, ate from the same plates and slept in the same beds, as well. That was how close we were with our schoolmates – we existed in a racially-borderless world.

These are solid friendships built through the years, which is a far cry from the functional relationships of today, where meals are rarely communal affairs and visiting friends’ homes is becoming an alien concept.

I’m grateful to be able to say that it’s great to be serving at Star Media Group because of its multiracial staff, where everyone subscribes to our primary value – moderation.

In fact, I extract greater satisfaction in denouncing this as marketing ploy and instead, celebrate it as a way of life, ahead of the National Day.

It’s also heartening to know the good luck we have, because come the festive period, we are able to cover for one another – no festivals are celebrated simultaneously, after all. So, a multiracial workforce is clearly an asset.

However, I’m compelled to spare a thought for my fellow journalists who work in the Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese or Tamil dailies, because I know of their frustrations during the three major festivals.

by  WONG CHUN WAI
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/on-the-beat/2017/08/13/for-the-love-of-malaysia-come-sea-games-time-we-couldnt-care-less-for-our-athletes-skin-colour-or-be/#C4gSr4d0iHosPDFJ.99

Taking kids on the STEM route

August 13th, 2017

A COMMON misperception students have of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), is that they can only pursue careers in medicine, dentistry and pharmacy.

The Education Ministry and various institutions have been relentlessly rallying against this notion as it aspires to achieve a 60:40 ratio of science to arts students.

One such institution is Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

In collaboration with Persama (Persatuan Sains Matematik Malaysia), the varsity’s Centre of Foundation Studies for Agricultural Science and Mathematics Department of the Science Faculty recently held a maths camp for secondary school students, mostly from rural areas.

Held over two days, the camp saw the participation of over 200 Form Two students from five districts in Selangor.

UPM Centre of Foundation Studies for Agricultural Science director Prof Dr Norihan Md Arifin said the camp was aimed at increasing students’ interest and confidence in mathematics.

“It adopts modules by Persama which emphasises on playing with mathematics.

“This way, participants can see how it closely relates to their everyday life,” added Dr Norihan, who was also the programme’s director.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan, who launched the programme, said the purpose of the camp was to provide more exposure to rural students, as well as sufficient resources to keep them well informed, on par with students from urban schools.

“The ministry realises this need and we have created the 1BestariNet programme.

“Through the virtual learning environment, we can help (students in their academics), but they also need exposure and sharing of knowledge from STEM experts,”he said.

He said, the interest in STEM had to be instilled from a young age, and should be voluntary.

“You cannot force a child to be interested in STEM because when they enjoy it voluntarily, they will take the initiative to be good in the field,” he said, adding the programme was a good platform to instil such interests in the mostly 14-year-olds.

Kamalanathan said while students from rural and urban schools use the same syllabus, it is the lack of access to extra information that students require after schooling hours that keeps rural students at a disadvantage. One such disadvantage is the poor Internet coverage in many rural areas.

“Therefore, when students attend programmes like this, senior lecturers will able to guide them,” he added.

Commenting on the misperceptions students have on STEM, Kamalanathan said it was the responsibility of both the ministry and teachers to inspire and inform students of the many career opportunities in science.

“In fact, there are many fields that are without competent people, he added.

“Because of this, we have to depend on foreign workers. Upgrading workers with the necessary skills, is a requirement that recognises and acknowledges that a country is a “developed nation.”

by SANDHYA MENON
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/08/13/taking-kids-on-the-stem-route/#Dig9UWzFu7u5gquu.99

Boys who saw their hopes come true

August 12th, 2017
Foch Avenue in Kuala Lumpur in the 1960s. FILE PIC

IT was only a few more days before Merdeka was declared in 1957. I had just turned 11 and was lounging with some boys at the corner of a quarters’ block in the Police Depot (now Pulapol), off Gurney Road in Kuala Lumpur.

We were barefooted and wearing shabby shirts and shorts, but were in an exuberant and expectant mood. Then, we got into lambasting the orang putih, who had to balik negeri soon.

None of them escaped our naive contempt and ridicule. High commissioners, government officials, traders, soldiers — we fired away unabashedly with our snide remarks.

“Now they will return home without a job. Maybe they will have to drive taxis and buses, or even beg for a living. Let them!”

The fervour and disdain was as intense as any young boy during those days could muster. We were also wishful and full of hope.

“We should be senang (well off) after this because we shall govern the country and have control of our kekayaan (wealth). We will not be poor anymore as we will get to own this wealth. We can defend the country and our soldiers will fight and defeat the pengganas komunis (communist terrorists or CTs) by ourselves.”

All these we gleefully said in between laughter and giggles.

There was only one lone cautious voice, a slightly older boy, who sounded out his apprehension as to whether things could happen that easily since the country was still undeveloped and not rich.

His concern was quickly dismissed by another boy as we continued to talk about the bliss that was to come. I had written about this before but will re-live it anyway as it is quite incredulous. It is an insignificant happening, yet a memorable one deeply etched in memory.

The conversations were reflective of the feelings at that time with the coming of Merdeka. They were also innocent expressions of our hopes and fears as boys. Boys who went on to become men, and be with the country on its journey forward and, eventually, to witness the present.

The feelings should not be too difficult to comprehend. We were of the generation born just after the war and survived the difficult post-war period. Then, we grew up during the period of the first Emergency, which was declared in 1948 and saw the consequences of the communist revolt on the Malay peninsula.

The conflict was a civil war, and we felt the threats, dangers and fears from perennial dusk-to-dawn curfews, the security checkpoints, the identification checks of people, the barbed wire entanglements and seeing soldiers and policemen of all shades, size and colour always around us.

In the air, ex-Battle of Britain pilots flew their fighters and bombers, at times dropping leaflets instead of bombs, which thrilled us as much as it reminded that the communist threat was real. At the same time, Radio Malaya and the Information Department broadcast frequently anti-communist messages and news of the Special Forces’ contacts with CTs, and their numbers killed or captured.

All of these were seen and felt while being conscious of our subservience to the orang putih, who remained unchallenged as the lord and tuan.

We were, therefore, in some disbelief that we would be gaining independence.

An uncertainty that was put to rest when the Union Jack was finally lowered and the flag of the Federation of Malaya raised in its place at the Selangor Club padang (now Dataran Merdeka).

The next morning, on Aug 31, Tunku Abdul Rahman formally declared the country’s independence and led all at Stadium Merdeka to shouts of Merdeka!

But, as the days went by, we realised that it took more than shouting “Merdeka” to build a country and a nation. It required vision, leadership, time and a lot of hard work and sacrifices. Thus, other than the immediate change of government and leadership, things moved rather slowly and gradually forward during the first few years of independence.

The Emergency was declared over in 1960 although the communist threat continued to loom. Hundreds of CTs remained active at the Malaya-Thailand border, operating from their sanctuary in southern Thailand. The government sought to contain this threat while focusing on the unity and uplifting of the standard of living of the population.

On the personal side, life continued to be hard for all of us at the Police Depot. In school, we had to survive only on my father’s low policeman’s pay.

The hopeful imaginings of bliss did not materialise as quickly as we had thought, and soon, they were temporarily forgotten. The older boy was right. We had first to study and work hard in order to attain progress and security.

The kampung stay during school holidays were the best times for us. It provided pure happy moments — gathering mangosteens, rambutans and durians when they were in season, and then pampered by my maternal grandmother when the better-off cousins were not around.

My mother and father became noticeably resigned to the drudgery of a hard life, constant work and the small rewards. Thankfully, they persevered without ever showing any sign of despair or of wanting to give up. This grit is their greatest example for me to follow in my own adult life.

A significant happening occurred in the late 1960s, when my father became the personal bodyguard of the Raja of Perlis, the third Yang Dipertuan Agong.

We were initially excited when we had to move into Istana Negara, but were quite dismayed by the small and windowless workers’ quarters. My parents, however, remained unperturbed and laboured constantly to make the quarters more habitable.

By LT JEN (RTD) DATUK SERI ZAINI MOHD SAID.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/08/266833/boys-who-saw-their-hopes-come-true

Leave no Malaysian behind

August 12th, 2017

When we talk about unity, let’s include all the different races, religions and genders as well as the differently abled.

IT was a big week for Asean. On August 8, the regional grouping celebrated its 50th anniversary (Asean@50), further cementing the need for the 10 nation states to continue collaborating on trade, security and many other relevant issues.

In the same week, Singapore celebrated its 52nd National Day on August 9. This date is also a part of our nation’s history as in 1965, following political and economic differences, Singapore separated from Malaysia.

This coming August 31, Malaysia will be celebrating our 60th Independence Day, as the proclamation of independence of the country then known as Malaya was announced on said date in 1957. I am always cautious when I state this, so as to not offend those in Sabah and Sarawak, fully conscious that the Malaysia I have known all my life was formed on September 16, 1963, thus making Malaysia only 54 years old.

The reason I wax nostalgic about dates in history is to present a case for how complex history can be. We must now learn our lessons from this history, in our efforts in building this nation called Malaysia.

As my friend, Calvin Woo, succinctly put it during the Asean@50 conference, “Malaysia is our home, and Asean is the neighbourhood”. While there have been numerous calls for unity, inclusivity and progress lauded in many talks and conferences, I personally am of the opinion that 50 to 60 years of history surely must have gathered enough data to inform policies, for us to move forward in the best way possible, whether in Malaysia, Asean or the world.

Perhaps I am talking with naïve optimism, but Malaysia is my home, and I believe that we can be better as a nation. As with any family, skirmishes and differences are to be expected, and in some adverse situations family members may have left, as was the case with Singapore. Yet the co-operation that Malaysia and Singapore have through Asean has proven that differences can be negotiated in order to achieve a common good.

Moving forward, we must realise that when we talk of unity, we are talking about including every single Malaysian. During the panel on “Asia’s New Wave – Beyond Diversity” organised by Nikkei Asian Review on August 3, Datuk Seri Johan Raslan said out loud what has been on my mind for quite some time now.

“(In calling for inclusivity in diversity) we must not forget the differently abled,” he said. I would like to add that we must also not forget to include women – so often sidelined from “manels” (a popular millennial term used to describe all-male panels), policy-making and representation in national and regional politics, as well as those living with invisible lifelong disabilities such as people living with HIV and those living with mental health issues.

Malaysia today is at a very interesting, albeit worrying, juncture. On the one hand, we wax lyrical about a “Bangsa Malaysia”, made evident from the responses collected through #TN50 townhalls and many collective movements that promote unity – examples include efforts of Ecoworld and Star Media Group (SMG) via the #AnakAnakMalaysia movement; SMG and SunSuria Group’s #RideforMalaysia; SMG, Aset Kayamas and MRCB’s Raise The Flag; and the current effort by Projek57, #RideforUnity.

On the other hand, we seem adamant about pushing ourselves into categorical boxes. A Malaysian almost always has to be further defined by race and religion, whereas in the case of Muslims, certain aspects of our lives are also governed by state-sanctioned syariah laws. This means Muslims risk not being seen as equal before the law, as enshrined in Malaysia’s Federal Constitution.

Any anomaly or discourse on either race or religion is deemed publicly unacceptable and any outspoken individual risks being placed under the sub-category of heretic, or worse, liberal!

Where is the sweet spot for balance here? Even those of us calling ourselves “moderates” have had our voices curtailed through character assassination online and book banning, in particular the book Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation, Islam in a Constitutional Democracy, that if properly read cover-to-cover provides the academic discourse on the very issue of identity and the nation state of Malaysia.

When we call for unity for Malaysia, I think we must not forget to ask, “Whose Malaysia?” Surely if we were to appreciate our own history, we would accept the concept of “Bangsa Malaysia” without a second thought.

Yet, to implement this, we must be courageous in putting aside our fears and our egos. Policies need to take into consideration the multi-ethnic, multi-religious (and yes, this should include those who subscribe to atheism) make-up of our country, where targeted policies meant to empower a particular group must not end up discriminating against another, or worse, sidelining minority groups altogether.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/naturally/2017/08/12/leave-no-malaysian-behind-when-we-talk-about-unity-lets-include-all-the-different-races-religions-an/#zdoUV5X7lizA12b0.99

Rectify teaching flaws to salvage English

August 12th, 2017

THE declining standard of English in Malaysia is gaining attention especially since the authorities are mulling over making English a compulsory pass in SPM.

Some feel it’s time to be firm on the matter, while others are more concerned about the number of students who will be made to leave school without a certificate. This debate has consumed a fair amount of time, energy and expertise.

Unfortunately it often hits deadlock and left to hibernate without an amicable solution.

By now one should be aware of the fact that we DO have some serious flaws in our system which needs to be rectified.

Teachers’ unpreparedness is identified as one of the main reasons for the delay in implementing some of the intended policies.

Now with the root cause being identified, what can we do?

If a systematic selection process, one without partiality, was executed and only the deserving candidates were granted the chance to be in the profession, we will not be grappling with this issue now.

I do appreciate the attempts taken by the Education Ministry to upgrade the proficiency level of the teachers by constantly offering various courses and making some courses compulsory. But how have these courses helped in solving the issue at hand? Do we have data to support the claim of progress made or objectives achieved?

If so, how is it reflected in their teaching and the results obtained? How is their progress monitored and by whom?

Are the ones monitoring and assessing the progress competent and credible enough? What if a teacher failed to reach the required level despite numerous attempts? And how about those who refuse to budge from their comfort zone and are adamant in accepting any forms of assistance?

Let’s leave the matter to the experts and start focusing on the students who deserve more attention.

Before taking the big leap (making English a compulsory pass subject), let’s rectify the damage done by changing the perception towards the language and the manner it is taught.

Arresting the issue of the declining standard of English, has to begin by creating interest among the learners. Interest has to be created before aspects of the importance of language are brought in.

Once the interest towards the language is created, learning the language will be effortless. I have witnessed students with zero exposure to the language outside class, succeeding in conversing in impeccable English!

Often, teachers stand behind these students with their power in initiating the first spark. Such is a teacher’s influence! The interest created then becomes the fundamental factor, which pushes the students forward.

As a matter of fact, interest should be an inherent factor instilled on the first day the language is introduced to a child.

Creativity of a teacher plays a significant role here. Games and activities, which involve the participation and involvement of students will surely draw attention of the students.

SR2,
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/08/06/rectify-teaching-flaws-to-salvage-english/#Aw7Wpmx3du9mPLZM.99

Privilege to grow up in an independent nation

August 12th, 2017
Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj proclaiming the country’s formal independence from Britain at Merdeka Stadium on Aug 31, 1957. FILE PI

AT the tender age of 7 nobody can be expected to be politically aware. Life was a take it as it is given.

The adults, though, were euphoric. Those in my family were noticeably overjoyed, something normally seen only during festivities such as weddings, Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Safar (the second month of the Islamic calendar) to mention a few, or when long-lost cousins were found. This last my mother had the fortune to experience.

Radios and televisions, now ubiquitous, was then, at best, found in the wild imagination of those prone to fantasy. There was an unending refrain of “Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!”. It provided a brief respite from the news which normally provided statistics on the number of Communist insurgents who were shot dead or had surrendered.

Why do I remember this? Well, as a child I dreaded the midday news and would pedal my tricycle so I would be out of earshot of this tragedy.

Now, however, I understand that this peninsula, dangling from the Isthmus of Kra, was being fought over. Indeed, the Federation of Malaya, as the newly independent nation came to be known, was a British colony struggling to regain its sovereign identity. The Communists were unwilling to gracefully accept the defeat of the Malayan Union and the Malays refused to give up their right to the land known as the Malay Peninsula. The British were trying to do the right thing and retain a foothold, all at once.

Unlike in neighbouring Indonesia, where the war of independence pitted the Pribumi against the Dutch colonisers, Malaya had to contend with a Communist insurgency or, if you like, a civil war of sorts.

But, reason triumphed and a compromise was struck even before the insurgents were defeated and Malaya gained independence on Aug 31, 1957.

Merdeka, I imagine was a merrymaking event unlike any other. It is, perhaps, comparable to victory day, the day when, for the masses, good triumphs over evil. While the bliss of innocence denied me the depth of emotion born of nationalist fervour, the years since have demonstrated how much freedom is to be treasured, how important the right to self-determination is to nation building.

I first noticed this when my father, a colonial civil servant, became part of the transitional administration. He had returned from Cardiff, Wales, armed with a degree. Some two years before independence the large colonial bungalows in the exclusive recesses of Kuala Lumpur were being filled by non-British officers who were shipped in to man the colonial civil service. Hence, my vivid recollection of the Pertunjukan Seni, Tarian dan Anika (Pesta) at the Lake Gardens in 1956, because we lived in Clifford Road and the lake was within walking distance.

A repeat of this grand and extraordinary jubilation has yet to happen. That the Pesta was etched into my young mind is testimony of this magnificent showpiece of nationhood. That year, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj returned from London with news of Malaya’s imminent independence. Malaya had negotiated her way to self-determination.

The first general election had occurred the year before. I vaguely recall (Tun) Ghafar Baba, then a schoolteacher, visiting our Melaka house in the run-up to the 1955 elections to garner support for the Alliance Party. My mother, a teacher, was a natural constituent. Once the Malayan Union was defeated the fight for an independent Malaya picked up pace and so palpable was the nationalist sentiment that even a child could feel it. The Alliance symbol, the political symbol which took Malaya into independence, was everywhere, including in our house.

Therefore, Merdeka was momentous for me in that there was the Pesta, a huge celebratory, fun-filled gala involving all Malayans. But, did I know it then? No, but I did know that somehow heroes were made as a result of the struggle for freedom.

Our traditional house in Melaka had the famed tangga batu (stone staircase) with exquisite tiles and a serambi (verandah) where a huge portrait of Soekarno, the liberator of the Indonesian islands, was hung.

Growing up in an independent, sovereign nation then is a privilege. But, the break-up of Malaysia was a low point, surpassed only by the May 13 riots. However, the highs must come with the lows for the one without the other makes national identity impossible. How would Malaysians know what is good when all they were ever privy to was a national struggle of words and more words, debate after debate and talking heads?

The country’s rich natural resources made it easier to develop. And, every five years or so, the people get to decide who will lead them. The race riots of 1969 therefore necessarily defined the route to be taken, a peaceful and stable one.

That 60 years of independence was all it took for Malaysia to achieve modernity is near miraculous. Politics aside, Malaysians have themselves to thank: the wisdom that has seen a long stretch of political stability; the recognition that prosperity comes through hard work; and, the realisation that reason must always take precedence over pride and prejudice.

I grew up with Chinese neighbours and sleepovers among us girls were natural. The aunty next door held prayer meetings and my parents never took exception. Both aunty and my mum were teachers and they walked to the school where they worked together and walked home together.

By ASKIAH ADAM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/08/266491/privilege-grow-independent-nation

Privilege to grow up in an independent nation

August 12th, 2017
A restaurant owner putting the finishing touches on the mural depicting the declaration of independence by first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman at his premises. FILE PIC

MALAYSIANS have always celebrated Merdeka Day on Aug 31 of each year. We all know, of course, that it was on that day in 1957 that Malaya won its independence.

When negotiations started in earnest in subsequent years for Malaya to morph into Malaysia, to include Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, the understanding had been that the latter’s formation and formal declaration — which would also mean independence for the other three territories then still under British rule — would happen on Aug 31, 1963, so all four territories would share a common date for independence, if not the same year.

But hiccups caused primarily by Indonesian and the Philippines’ objections to the idea of Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak, meant a delay in the birth of the new country to Sept 16, 1963.

It did not even occur to most Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak to question Merdeka being celebrated on Aug 31 (or at least them celebrating Merdeka on that date) until very recent years. After all, they can reasonably argue that the two eastern states only became really independent when Malaysia was proclaimed on Sept 16, 1963, or Malaysia Day.

As often happens in the best tradition of give-and-take that we are wont to practise in this country, it was then decided by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that both Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day will, henceforth, be recognised as public holidays nationwide and, therefore, giving both dates due and equal status as National Days.

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We are thus probably the only nation anywhere where all its citizens accord the different dates of independence for its constituent parts equal recognition.

That Malaysia Day is now recognised as a national public holiday naturally means perhaps a good deal more for Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak than in the rest of the country. For far too long, there had been national and collective amnesia of sorts about the day. It was not even recognised as state holidays in Sabah and Sarawak for the first few decades of Malaysia’s existence

That it is now nationally commemorated all across the country gives Sabah and Sarawak national prominence and, most crucially, respect, that both states often felt had been lacking before. And, respect almost always begets respect in return.

It was no less than Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, currently Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri, who, when he was still the chief minister several years previously, was moved to make perhaps the most cogent and, coming from a Sarawakian, very gracious defence of why Aug 31 ought to continue to be celebrated nationally as Merdeka Day.

The Sarawak leader made reference to July 4 being celebrated as Independence Day for the United States by all Americans in all 50 states, when the date actually marked only the independence of its original 13 states in 1776. Subsequent states were progressively added onto the federal union later on different dates, but they all accept and recognise July 4 as Independence Day because it is the original date of US independence.

The unmistakable inference by way of reference to the US Independence Day is that all Malaysians should similarly take the cue from Americans and rightly regard the original date of Aug 31 as Merdeka Day.

Malaysians in Sabah and Sarawak understandably and rightly take umbrage at any hint that their place and standing within the Malaysian federation is in any way slighted by other Malaysians.

That for so many decades before now, Malaysia Day had all but been officially ignored reminds those in Sabah and Sarawak that their sensitivity at being slighted is not exactly misplaced.

It is a rather complex feeling Sabahans and Sarawakians harbour for their country. They want, above all, to feel the same sense of belonging that other Malaysians feel for the country.

Their sense of being alienated often cannot be helped when they feel that they are either ignored altogether or taken for granted by the rest of the country.

By John Teo.

Read more @ www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/08/266829/merdeka-malaysia-days-are-significant

216 Islamic teachers to meet the shortage.

August 12th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Some 216 graduates have been appointed Islamic Education interim teachers and posted to schools in Sabah to address the critical shortage of teachers in the subject.

State Education Director Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul said they are the first batch of Sabahans without having a degree in education to benefit from the programme, the first in the State’s education history.

She said 166 teachers are being posted to secondary schools while 50 to primary schools in the State based on the schools’ respective needs.

“The appointment of 216 Islamic Education interim teachers for Sabah is, in fact, the second strategy of a master plan to address the shortage of Islamic Education teachers in the Education Department.

“The Education Ministry has approved an application by the department to appoint interim teachers for the subject which are critically needed in Sabah’s schools.

“As a result of the given approval by the Ministry, 211 graduates in Islamic Education field were called for interview in which 206 candidates attended the interview, but only 201 were successful to receive the appointment and postings and another 15 who are reserve candidates under the Ministry,” Maimunah said presenting letters of appointment and placements, Thursday.

Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif presented the letters of appointment and placements at the Federal Administrative Complex here.

Maimunah said these interim teachers are required to attend courses during school holidays called “Kursus Dalam Cuti” (KDC) so that they will be absorbed as permanent teachers. “We are thankful to the State Government for its continuous support to voice out the shortage issue and the 90:10 policy to have 90 per cent teachers from Sabah while 10 per cent teachers from other states in the country.

“We expressed our gratitude to Arifin, who is also the Sabah Islamic Religious Council (Muis) Chairman, for highlighting the shortage of teachers in Islamic Education to the Umno assembly at national, state and branch level.

“Thank you also to Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Yadim) for helping the department in gathering information on the graduates of Islamic Education which facilitates the department in appointing the interim teachers,” she said.

She also thanked Tabung Haji for sending 50 trainees under 1Malaysia Training Scheme (SL1M) to schools for three months from May to July. Maimunah also called on the 211 interim teachers to make full use of the opportunity given by the Education Ministry where some have even completed their studies in 2009 and waited for good opportunities to come by. “Apart from enjoying special facilities in terms of the allowance and other incentives, I hope the 211 interim teachers would render their best and quality services to the department, especially in educating the students who need their guidance and Islamic knowledge.

by Hayati Dzulkifli.

Read More @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=119345

Use Of ICT Devices Not Throughout Classroom Session In Schools – Mahdzir

August 12th, 2017

BUKIT KAYU HITAM, Aug 10 (Bernama)–Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid has stressed that the teaching and learning process in the school classroom will go on as usual although students are allowed to bring along their ICT devices like tablets and netbooks to school from next year.

Mahdzir said allowing students to bring along these devices would just be a supplementary measure for students to do reference work during the teaching-learning process in an interactive way, and not using the devices all the time.

“I wish to emphasise that it is not the Education Ministry’s intention that students must learn through these devices, No. The teaching-learning process in school will go on as what it is currently. (The devices are) just an additional means of learning for those students who bring the devices to school.

“And it’s usage is not from 7.45am until 2pm. Perhaps for two hours but and we have finalised this yet, whether two or three hours and at which time (these devices can be used) ,” he said after opening the 5th Kedah Scouts Jamboree and International Brotherhood 2017, here, last night.

Mahdzir was recently quoted as saying that the ruling and circular on the use and type of ICT devices allowed for students to bring to school were being drawn by his ministry.

Earlier, on April 18, Mahdzir announced the proposal to allow students to bring ICT devices to school where their usage would be to ease the teaching-learning process in the classroom, according to the time and subjects determined by the ministry.

However, he said, the ministry so far would only allow such devices (tablets, notebooks) and not the mobile phone, to be brought along to school by students.

Mahdzir said usage of ICT devices had been allowed since quite a while back for high-performing fully residential schools, and international and private schools.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1380494