Archive for the ‘21st Century Teaching and Learning.’ Category

5G: Five things to know

Monday, May 20th, 2019
5G is already available in South Korea and for fixed Internet lines in some US cities. It is also available in parts of Estonia, Finland and Switzerland. — AP

5G is already available in South Korea and for fixed Internet lines in some US cities. It is also available in parts of Estonia, Finland and Switzerland. — AP

PARIS/LONDON: It is heralded as an essential step to a brave new world of technology, but in the here and now, super-fast 5G networking is already pitting China against the West.

Here are five things to know about the fifth-generation successor to today’s 4G technology, which is a decade old and struggling to keep pace with global broadband demand.

What is 5G?

5G promises radically quicker transfers of data, instigating major changes to an array of products and services from self-driving cars to “telemedicine”.

The market for streaming videogames, a rapidly growing area, will get a huge lift, as will the “Internet of Things” – domestic appliances, lighting and other at-home technologies connected and operated remotely.

It’s not just about speed of downloads and uploads. 5G promises much lower “latency” than 4G. That is the time lag between a command being sent by a user and a device acting on it.

In the real world, that brings into play the possibility of factory robots being operated remotely or surgeons operating on patients from far away using augmented reality glasses.

The most visible gain from lower latency could be with the widespread advent of self-driving cars. But these will need 5G networks to cover large areas, which is some way off.

When’s it coming?

5G is already here in South Korea and for fixed internet lines in some US cities. It is also available in parts of Estonia, Finland and Switzerland.

The global breakthrough – widespread ultra-fast mobile networks on a par with 4G today – is still in the works.

Japan and China are targeting 2020 for nationwide rollouts. The rest of Asia and Europe will follow over the decade.

But mobile communications industry body GSMA, which represents 800 operators worldwide, estimates 5G will account for just 15% of total global mobile connections in 2025.

And when will most of us see 5G smartphones? China’s Huawei was set to launch a 5G phone May 16 in London.

But broad adoption by consumers depends on 5G networks spreading far enough, and for the handhelds’ chips and other architecture to be capable of handling the added workload.

5G, give us a wave

Governments first need to harmonise standards for the award of so-called millimetre-wave (mmWave) spectrum, which will carry the vast data flows promised by 5G.

That high-frequency mmWave spectrum starts at about 30 gigahertz. In contrast, 4G networks operate at lower than 6 GHz.

That means not only ultra-fast broadband but also much greater bandwidth for many more users and devices to be connected to the network at the same time.

Who’s building it?

To bring the promised speeds to the masses, 5G requires a whole new infrastructure of masts, base stations and receivers.

Among the networking companies in the race are Huawei, Sweden’s Ericsson and Nokia of Finland. South Korean giant Samsung and China’s ZTE are other infrastructure players.

Huawei says it offers better technology at a lower cost. The Chinese leader, however, is hitting hurdles in the global race.

What’s the fuss?

The US government says Huawei – founded by former Chinese army engineer Ren Zhengfei – is a security risk and has urged allies including Britain to shun its equipment over fears it could serve as a Trojan horse for Chinese intelligence services.

The US government has banned all federal agencies from acquiring Huawei equipment. Others including Australia, Japan and India have followed suit.

Against the backdrop of a US-China trade war, on May 14 US President Donald Trump went further by effectively barring Huawei from the US market.

China then formally arrested two Canadians already being held on suspicion of stealing state secrets in a case seen as retaliation over Canada’s arrest of a Huawei executive on a US extradition request.

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English teacher who turns classroom into a beach wins PAK21 teacher campaign

Friday, April 5th, 2019
Dr Maszlee Malik (second from left) presenting the prize to the winner of the 21st Century Learning Teachers Campaign (PAK21) Muhammad Nazmi Rosli (second from right) at the prize giving ceremony accompanied by Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas (left) and Datuk Dr Amin Senin (right). NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH.

PUTRAJAYA: With pupils having little to no access to the outside world, English teacher Muhammad Nazmi Rosli from Sarawak decided to bring the world into the classroom. He transformed his classroom into a beach, hospital and pet shop to let the pupils capture the experience being in those places and situations.

Muhammad Nazmi was announced the winner of 21st Century Learning Teachers Campaign (PAK21) – a campaign organised by the Ministry of Education through the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU).

His school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Long Sukang in Lawas is tucked in green mountains about 660 kilometers away from Kuching.

“The pupils have never seen a beach so I decided to bring the beach to them. Once they are exposed to the outside world, they are allowed to dream bigger dreams and believe that they could do more.

The resourceful teacher added that he made use of old boxes and plastic bags lying around the school grounds in creating the props.

PAK21 is an initiative to get teachers to incorporate simple yet different ways of teaching that will help to foster communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and values and ethics amongst their students.

“Some assumed that PAK21 is all about technology but, I wanted to prove that providing the best education is possible even without technology and access to the internet,” he added.

Present at the closing ceremony were Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin and Education Ministry secretary general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas.

In his speech, Maszlee said the campaign was introduced to find an extraordinary teacher applying PAK21 into their classrooms. He added that teachers who went the extra mile deserve recognition and should be an inspiration to others.

“They are the backbone of change and deserve our appreciation, admiration and gratitude.”

The minister called for all teachers to continue fighting the good fight until every student feels the impact of PAK21.

He said there is a need to shift to 21st century learning methods as they teach transferable skills that are irreplaceable by the threat of automation.

Citing the Khazanah Research Institute’s recent ‘School-to-Work’ study, he said that employers are looking out for a mastery of soft skills like communication and collaboration to scale up the value chain, which are taught through PAK21.

A Science teacher of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Jerlun, Kedah, Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib emerged as first runner-up while English teacher at SMK Pasir Gudang, Johor, Emira Nabila Ramli won the third place.


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Educating today’s students for tomorrow’s world

Monday, February 18th, 2019
TIMES have changed, and so have schools. Gone are the days of sitting in rows, poring over textbooks, memorising facts. Advances in pedagogy, the latest academic research and technological developments have all helped shift our understanding of what great teaching and learning looks like.
Students as learning leaders
At Taylor’s Schools, learners are empowered to take control of their learning. Through the adoption of enquiry-based curricula like the IPC (International Primary Curriculum) at Nexus Malaysia and the integration of world-leading pedagogical approaches such as Quantum Learning at Taylor’s International School and Visible Learning at the Australian International School, students are nurtured to become resilient, curious and analytical thinkers.

Taylor’s Schools also understand that it’s important to offer students outstanding learning environments to support great learning.
The award-winning campus at Taylor’s International School Puchong is just one example of this, while the innovative learning environments at Garden International School and open-plan classrooms at Nexus Malaysia also help to inspire and engage students.

However, it is the quality of teaching that makes the greatest impact on children. Good teachers should be qualified, experienced and above all, passionate about what they do. In addition, strong professional development programme and regular opportunities for professional collaboration- featured in all Taylor’s Schools are crucial to ensure that teachers are able to bring out the best in every child.

Nexus Singapore: A centre of excellence .

Nexus Singapore will welcome students to its innovative new campus in 2020.

Here in Malaysia, Taylor’s Schools are well known for the high quality of education they offer, but Nexus Singapore is also well known for being a centre of excellence. The school’s recent “Topping Up” ceremony, at which guests and dignitaries gathered to ceremonially complete the foundations of the main campus building, marked an outstanding achievement for the Nexus brand.

Outstanding learning environments are important to support great learning.

Beating stiff competition from some outstanding competitors, Taylor’s Education Group won the bid for an outstanding piece of land in the centre of Singapore upon which to expand Nexus Singapore – an overwhelming endorsement by the Singapore government.

The new Nexus campus will welcome its first students in 2020 and will include innovative and flexible learning spaces, world-class theatre, music recording studios, sports fields and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Find out more about Nexus Singapore at

Great facilities support an outstanding education experience
A heritage of excellence
In Kuala Lumpur, Taylor’s College has been delivering an outstanding Sixth Form experience and consistently impressive results for many years. Recently, the college celebrated its 50th anniversary – an outstanding achievement, which highlights the robust academic foundations and impressive heritage of the college. At the celebration, hundreds of alumni gathered to share some of their fondest memories of being a Taylorian and how their education at Taylor’s institutions played a key role in their personal and professional success.
Both in Malaysia and in Singapore, Taylor’s Schools deliver an outstanding education that ensures students are “future ready”.

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All set for digital learning

Sunday, February 10th, 2019
(From left) Azizi, Roslan and Badrul Hisham checking out the tablet on how TM ONE can help to transform the national education landscape.

(From left) Azizi, Roslan and Badrul Hisham checking out the tablet on how TM ONE can help to transform the national education landscape.

TM ONE wants to equip schools and ensure they are ready to carry out 21st century learning techniques.

TM One chief executive officer and executive vice president Azizi A Hadi says the company has the necessary infrastructure to support interactive digital learning.

He adds that it needs the green light from the Education Ministry but once they have it, it can deliver on their promises.

Azizi says TM aims to “enable” 85% of Malaysia’s over 10,000 national schools with high-speed Internet access, to use fibre technology within the next six months.

“That’s about 8,700 schools,” he says, adding that this will include both urban and rural schools.

TM, he says, has a network of over 50,000km of cables nationwide, adding that “fibre is the best solution for schools.

“We feel this is our uniqueness. We have the readiness to equip the schools.

“We want to fulfil the ministry’s aspirations to be quick and impactful while being cost-effective.

“TM’s network is secure and we can provide security to the whole infrastructure and protect from hackers,” says Azizi.

One of its key focuses is to ensure nationwide access to education, he says.

“We want to become the digital enabler in a very hyper-connected ecosystem,” he adds.

Azizi says its key stakeholders are the students and teachers, while parents are also important.

TM One has engaged with other stakeholders such as the state education departments, district education offices and the National Union of the Teaching Profession to understand their needs so it can create the best learning environment.

Over the past two years, TM One has learned that the company needs to meet the technological demands of the 21st century classroom and Education 4.0, which aims to equip students with the necessary skills to meet the fourth industrial revolution.

Azizi says teachers have a “wishlist” and want to see augmented and virtual reality being used in the teaching and learning process one day.

Teachers, he says, would also like to not have to rewrite their lesson plans or attendance list.

“Why rewrite something when it can be digitised?”

“They want to use rich content, they want it to be interactive. Teachers want to be able to discuss with their counterparts in other places or teach multiple classes at the same time,” he adds.

But, Azizi points out, “to do all these things, we need the platform and the connectivity.”

“This is where, we believe we can come in and help all these stakeholders,” he says.

“To do this you need the right infrastructure and technology to do it.

“TM has our (ready) data centres (nationwide) and we have the infrastructure to store all the content.”

Azizi says that with the right connectivity and technology, all kinds of things can be possible in the future.

As an example, students can use a smartcard for almost all their daily schooling needs.

“Just imagine, everything from recording attendance by tapping into readers, to purchasing food in the canteen,” he explains.

He says parents can even check if their child has boarded their transport home, so increasing the safety and security aspects too.

“Items such as smartcards and e-wallets can be part of this solution.”

This is not the first time TM is getting involved in education, he says.

“We started way back in 2004 when we started providing SchoolNet to schools.

“But now, we want to play a bigger role in Malaysia’s education so that we can bring our nation into the next level, which is the fourth industrial revolution,” he adds.

TM One chief operation officer Roslan Rashidi and senior director Badrul Hisham Besri were also present.

By Rebecca Rajaendram
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Advancing science with humanity in mind

Thursday, January 24th, 2019
‘We want to replicate some of the early success we have and create new sub-industries driven by Malaysian companies’ – JOHAN MAHMOOD MERICAN, Finance Ministry National Budget Office director

AT the inaugural Asean Emerging Researchers Conference in Sunway University last month, Tunku Besar Seri Menanti Tunku Ali Redhauddin Tuanku Muhriz said science should not serve scientists alone, but humanity as a whole.

Therefore, he said the emphasis of research should be on finding solutions to issues faced by the community, and helping those facing the toughest challenges within the community — solutions that are accessible, affordable and culturally acceptable.

The conference aims to create a platform for Asean scientists and its diaspora to promote research excellence in the region. Its objectives are to enhance interdisciplinary knowledge-sharing and to identify emerging areas that Asean researchers can champion to address local needs and global challenges.

It was endorsed by Asean, the Malaysian Education Ministry; the Malaysian Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry; and, the Thai National Science, Technology and Development Agency.

Tunku Ali Redhauddin Tuanku Muhriz (first row, seventh from left) with attendees and speakers of the Asean Emerging Researchers Conference at Sunway University. PIC BY NUR ADIBAH AHMAD IZAM

It was supported by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, Oxford and Cambridge Society Malaysia, Malaysia Research University Network, Nanyang Technology University Singapore and International Network for Government Science Advice Asia.

Addressing some 300 researchers, Tunku Ali Redhauddin, a Cambridge University graduate, highlighted the region’s future as it continued to be shaped by science, technology and innovation.

“The socio-economic transformation of our nations has been achieved through the growth of critical technologies that provide for basic needs and improve our quality of life.

“In coming years, as we go through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the changes will only continue to be good, with the development of artifical intelligence, big data analytics and machine learning making our lives better.

“But the world ahead is not without its challenges. Environmental, economic and social risks are ever increasing. Worryingly, the gap between the have and have-nots is widening.

“The population is also aging, with a smaller percentage of working individuals looking after a larger retired population.

“Automation also means jobs will be lost, or at least evolve, and people will need a new set of skills. In addition, social media may allow us to stay connected, but does it also mean that we are giving up our freedoms and privacy?

“No doubt you would have read about the initiatives to rank people based on their social behaviour. And finally, if we are not able to save ourselves from environmental destruction, then is there any point to all these development anyway?” he said in the opening speech.

In her address, University of Cambridge’s Wolfson College president Professor Jane Clarke said today’s research environment is multidisciplinary and international in nature.

Without international cooperation, without interdisciplinary expertise, researchers have nothing much to learn or gain.

“It is vital to have mobility for researchers as it is important to have diversity in a research project. It is important to have a research environment where people have different skills and can look at problems in very different ways,” she said.

Clarke also emphasised that “research is a leap into the unknown and basic research is an investment”.

She said if societies want to develop something, investments must be made in fundamental research.

Professor Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Yusoff (left) fielding a question during a forum.

“Out of basic research, comes new technology, comes new ideas. Many start-up founders are young scientists — PhD students and post-doctorate scholars who have an idea from their fundamental research. They then develop their ideas to change the world,” she said.

World Academy of Sciences vice-president Professor Datin Paduka Dr Khatijah Yusoff concured with Clarke.

“Fundamental research is very difficult. But it is important because that is where we get our designs, our patents and so forth. Nevertheless, translational research, which is taking your research to be used by the community and industry, is also important.

“We need the right objectives and goals to carry out our research, which I think should allow for a little bit of freedom.

“Now, in Malaysia, if I get a research grant, I have to be accountable and persistently produce statements of expenditure at every stage throughout my project.

“Whereas for Professor Clarke, she may be allowed to do whatever she wants, and in five years’ time, she produces something novel.

“We need to take big bold steps like that. We need to take risks. Without the risks, we are just going to produce low-hanging fruits, just like simple supplements and not real drugs.”

Khatijah also expressed concern over current restrictions, like the cutback on postgraduate scholarships, which may affect the momentum of research and development.

“I’ve had students, particularly Malaysians, who have registered to pursue a PhD under my supervision, but they have to defer their studies because they aren’t able to support themselves without a scholarship.

“So, if this happens to me, it also happens to all scientists in Malaysia. And I think if only we can have that little bit of money, if you can pay the students, that will help them a lot in getting their degrees. And it is so important that we build our capacity in talents,” said Khatijah.

Finance Ministry National Budget Office director Johan Mahmood Merican said with limited resources given to universities by the government, the key is to look at how the country can sustain its competitiveness by building on existing knowledge to evolve into the next stage of research and development.

“It is not that we are looking for something that we have no idea about to work on. It is like the analogy of monkeys jumping trees.


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4IR — a continuum of events

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018
The steam engine, invented some 250 years ago, powered the First Industrial Revolution. It is dubbed by economic historians as a ‘general purpose technology’. PIC BY REUTERS PIC

THAT the world is enthralled by what is in store for the future with the rise of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is an understatement.

Ever since the concept of the 4IR became a catchphrase for the next “big” thing, the global trendsetters are peddling it as a panacea that can cure most of the ills that humanity is currently grappling with. What is more, the technopreneurs are saying that the fusion of digital revolution and biotechnology will change the world like never before.

After being lulled into accepting that technological progress is the only way forward, we forget that we will lose our humanity along the way.

This is partly due to the fact that with technological change, social and cultural norms will have to evolve; some of those norms will then be codified into a body of regulatory law. This is most evident when the First Industrial Revolution took the world by storm.

An unprecedented social, cultural, economic and ecological change took place alongside the First Industrial Revolution: mass urbanisation, significant increase in the educational attainment of the population, role of the state and in how governments are chosen, child labour, and ecological crisis were not simply the negative and positive externalities of technological change, but were ways in which society evolved in order to enable the productivity possibilities of the new technologies.

In his illuminating new book, Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak lays bare the contradictions of how humanity is dealing with technological change.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution: The Leadership Dilemma, the writer acknowledges that the world is changing fast, and in unexpected ways. He rightly points out that with rapid advancement in information technology, huge swathes of the job market are at risk of being automated.

This book is a rarity in the discourse on 4IR because unlike the mainstream narrative, it cautions the reader to assess technological change with a keen eye on what it does to humanity.

Dzulkifli argues that there are three “leadership” dilemmas that have to be wisely dealt with before a successful policy on the 4IR can be formulated. The first dilemma has to do with whether or not the 4IR is an isolated phenomena or it is a continuum of events.

We would do well, according to the author, to conceptualise the 4IR as a continuum of events as we have to understand the interconnectedness of the 4IR to the first, second, and third industrial revolutions.

What were the factors that triggered the First Industrial Revolution in Europe some 250 years ago? How did European society deal with the disruptions? These are some of the important questions that need a well thought-out answer before we can embark on the 4IR superhighway.

The invention of the steam engine during the First Industrial Revolution, for example, is dubbed by economic historians as a “general purpose technology” — an advance that can be used to do things more effectively across many different facets of life.

A steam engine could be hooked to any production facility that previously relied on wind or water or animal power. It could be affixed to transport devices — boats, cars, train engines to make them go farther, faster, with more horsepower.

Steam could be used to boost productivity in all sorts of contexts and industries. It is the general purpose technologies such as steam and electricity that generate revolutions.

What is of importance, Dzulkifli cautions, is to take a holistic view of the previous industrial revolutions and take stock of both the good and the ugly. Many of the negative externalities of the previous revolutions such as the ecological crisis are still not dealt with successfully.

Will 4IR be able to deal with a host of problems brought about by the previous industrial revolutions or will it exacerbate the problems?

The second leadership dilemma is even more pressing. With the change in technology, are we moving away from anthropocentrism to technocentrism? The First Industrial Revolution had ushered in the anthropocentrism era largely due to heightened human activities.

Put in another way, the ability to “tame” nature had placed humanity at the centre of the universe. That said, we should also note, according to the author, that anthropocentrism had caused immeasurable damage in the guise of species extinction and in widening the wealth gap between the top one per cent and the rest.

In addition, the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) will bring anthropocentrism to a new low. Since STEM is already dehumanising, 4IR has to be properly navigated so that it will not bring about the new era of technocentrism, which will surely relegate humanity to the backburner.

The final dilemma is the tug of war between artificial intelligence (AI) and primordial intelligence. Will the rise of AI bring about the end of “free will” as we know it? Will it also bring about the dictatorship of the machines?

By Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk.

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Schools to modernise classrooms

Sunday, September 30th, 2018
Palestinian children use laptops at the Ziad Abu Ein School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. — AP

Palestinian children use laptops at the Ziad Abu Ein School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. — AP

Educators hope the use of technology and the arts will create new opportunities in a society that has produced large numbers of unemployed college graduates

AS the teacher pointed to the large touch screen, her first-grade classroom came alive. With the click of a link, an animated character popped up on the screen, singing and dancing as it taught the children how to read.

The day’s lesson was the Arabic letter “Raa,” and the screen displayed cartoon pictures of objects that contain the letter _ desert, chair and pomegranate _ as the teacher asked the children to come up with other words. The students smiled and sang along.

Just a few years ago, such scenes were unthinkable in most Palestinian classrooms. Like elsewhere in the Arab world, schools in the Palestinian territories have traditionally emphasised memorisation and obedience over critical thinking and creativity.

“The students don’t need to memorise things. They need to understand first,” said Ruba Dibas, the principal of the Ziad Abu Ein School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “Then they need to express their understanding through writing, speaking, drawing, acting.”

Ziad Abu Ein is one of 54 “smart teaching schools” introduced last year. This year, the number tripled. By 2020, all 1,800 public schools in the West Bank are to be part of the programme.

Dibas said the goal is to eliminate testing from the classroom. Instead, she said students need to enjoy the learning process to absorb information.

On a recent day, her school was buzzing with activity.

In a fifth-grade classroom, each child had a tablet and the teacher guided them through an Arabic lesson, using her own tablet to give assignments. Third-grade students went to the smart board, playing a game to learn the multiplication table.

In other classes, students drew cartoons to learn the physics of how airplanes fly. An English class did a project about evaporation.

Four third-graders recently learned about self-esteem in a lesson called “learning by drama.” They performed a short skit about a shy girl who discovers a passion for journalism and grows up to become a successful reporter.

Their teacher, Sawsan Abdat, said the children learned an important lesson that day _ that they need to find what they are good at.

After initial scepticism from parents last year, enrolment at the school has nearly doubled. This year’s first grade has nearly tripled to 43 students.

“I love the school,” said Malak Samara, a nine-year-old fourth grader. “We learn and enjoy. We learn and play.”

These techniques are a radical departure from a system in which generations of students were forced to memorise information and cram for exams under the stern watch of an authoritarian teacher who in some cases would beat them with a stick if they could not complete their work.

But with the unemployment rate for new college graduates hitting 56 percent, according to the Palestinian Statistics Bureau, officials realised that something had to change.

Education Minister Sabri Seidam also introduced vocational training in grades seven, eight and nine last year to meet the needs of the market.

“Society needs singers, carpenters, cleaners, athletes, sergeants,” he said. “We can’t just produce engineers and doctors.”

Youth unemployment, particularly among university graduates, is a major problem across the Arab world.

Arab governments used to absorb new graduates, often in civil service jobs, but they can no longer afford to do that, in part because of the region’s “youth bulge.”

The private sector offers limited opportunities, leaving large numbers of young graduates unemployed throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

“There is no greater challenge facing the MENA region in its efforts to build a future based on inclusive growth than job creation,” the International Monetary Fund said in a report early this year. It noted that 60 percent of the region’s population is under 30, the world’s second-youngest after sub-Saharan Africa.

“Pressures on the region’s labour markets are rising. In the past five years, the region’s working-age population increased by 50.2 million, and 27.6 million people joined the labor force. Yet employment increased by only 25.4 million,” it said.

Others in the Mideast have tried to make similar changes. In Egypt, the largest Arab country, the Education Ministry this year is providing students with tablets, along with a new curriculum that enhances critical thinking.

The ministry said it is also trying to improve the level of instruction by increasing training and wages for teachers, building more classrooms and creating a more modern classroom through digital learning facilities. The government this year secured a US$500mil (RM2.09bil) loan from the World Bank to help fund the reforms.

For now, it appears too soon to say whether the reforms can make a difference.

The region’s authoritarian governments might encourage education reforms as an economic necessity but could balk in the future at efforts to nurture a new generation versed in critical thinking. Schools across the Arab world face other obstacles as well. A 2015 study by the UN culture and education agency Unesco talked about chronic underfunding, a lack of qualified teachers and increased class sizes throughout the region.

Syrian schools have been devastated by a seven-year civil war, while many schools in neighbouring Lebanon have been overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. US cuts in funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees have jeopardised the school year for some 500,000 students, most of them in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And Israel’s half-century occupation of the West Bank, along with a decade-long blockade over Gaza, continues to stifle the Palestinian economy.

“Education in the Arab world is in a very bad condition. The salaries of teachers are very poor, the classes are overcrowded, and schools lack the essential infrastructure,” said Saeda Affouneh, director of the E-Learning Center at al-Najah University in the West Bank.

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Importance of Online Marketing for Education Sector Industry

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

The education sector has become more competitive and sophisticated than ever before. This is due to the increase in the number of digital marketing agencies. In today’s era of competition, institutions need to adapt to effective digital marketing strategies to go through new changes. Nowadays, the invention of the internet has totally changed the way people consume products, especially the ones related to education. Although we haven’t reached the point where digital marketing has obscured traditional marketing entirely, the Indian context offers a promising premise – especially if we take the example of the education industry.

But why is digital marketing becoming an important part of the education industry?

Digital marketing for education is becoming a promising platform due to the increase of web and digital media in the education sector. This sector has transformed entirely, and this is partly due to the widespread access that people have due to the internet. Therefore, educational industries should keep this in mind and work on their digital presence to reach a large number of students & parents with ease. This is one of the many reasons why digital marketing is considered to be the best option when it comes to reaching out to both students and parents.

Here are some reasons why you should consider the utilization of digital marketing for your institution-

1. Cost-effective

Digital marketing is very cost-effective; it is the best medium to attract a broader audience at little to no cost. With the help of an educational marketing agency, the institution can get excellent results with smaller investments and can also avail services like search engine optimization, social media marketing, mobile marketing and email marketing. It implies that educational institutes can focus on a more significant audience at a low cost, and achieve greater benefits.

2. Enhance Brand Awareness

Digital marketing is the best way to generate brand awareness through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., as they comprise a greater section of the audience. This can help enhance followers and improve the conversion rate as well.

3. Facilitates performance tracking

You can track campaign performance with the help of relevant digital marketing tools, which can help extensively when it comes to measuring and tracking the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaign. This marketing strategy can also be changed if the statistics of the institution are on a low. Digital marketing in the education sector helps to redirect the focus of the strategy, so that can help optimise the marketing mix.

4. High Conversion Rate

Online educational marketing platforms receive a high conversion rate. Messaging platforms like SMS and e-mails are some of the forms of digital marketing that receive a high response rate due to the fact that they are personal and educational institutes can easily reach their targeted audience in an effective way.

5. Digital Presence

Forming a great digital presence is imperative for any institution, and the education sector is no exception to this fact. With the majority of people finding their information online, it’s highly recommended to establish a strong digital presence to make sure that students and parents can discover you on these channels and consider your institution while making their choice.

6. Promote through paid channels

Search and display ads are one of the most effective ways to market an educational institution. Lead generation can yield more results through ad campaigns, as it directs a large section of the online audience towards your site. This is the most appropriate way to drive traffic to the website. Usage of relevant and best keywords will also help in increasing the total number of impressions.

7. Manage online reputation

Nowadays, managing your online reputation is a must. This can be done by promoting quality blogs, capturing videos, garnering testimonials from achievers and great inspirational personalities, gaining and implementing alumni feedback, and promoting positive campus news to gain the attention of the audience. This generates interest in the minds of the audience, which leads to a quality online reputation.

Thus, for an educational institution to be successful in today’s era, it’s a must to utilize and implement a comprehensive and well-thought-out digital marketing strategy. This digital marketing strategy should be ideated and implemented properly so that the educational institution can enjoy all the benefits, such as high levels of student enrolment, improved cost-effectiveness, garnering a strong reputation, and also attaining a higher conversion rate and a higher rate of return when it comes to your investment.

by Nishant Nayyar.

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Knowledge and skills

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018

WHAT kind of knowledge and skills do our children need in the 21st century?

What type of hobbies can be recommended and how do we encourage and support our children at school?

Globalisation creates unprecedented challenges and opportunities. It is therefore fundamental for the new generation to acquire the knowledge and skills of global citizens while still at school.

To begin with, they should master one or more languages, learn to read and write, express themselves and know how to communicate. These are all key basic skills.

We have to educate Malaysians on nation building, agriculture, energy to defence and healthcare. These topics matter. We also cannot ignore climate change and the environment.

Analytical and critical thinking is also important.

Learning to learn is an essential skill for personal development, at school and at work, where flexibility is key.

Young people should learn to collaborate with people from different backgrounds, cultures and disciplines to solve complex, multidisciplinary issues in a respectful and flexible way.

Cultural awareness is important, and so is the ability to appreciate and understand music, literature and visual arts.

Mathematical competence is needed in everyday life, as is an understanding of the natural world and the ability to apply knowledge and technology to different situations. Considering the influence and pervasiveness of digital technology in current and future societies, it is important that children learn how to positively engage with these tools in school and out of it.

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Malaysia National Industry 4.0 Policy Framework

Saturday, September 22nd, 2018

Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry has published the National Industry 4.0 Policy Framework Draft and now open for public consultation (Duration: Feb. 12, 2018 – March 2, 2018).

I believed with the brains of various contributing organizations (government agencies, universities, Associations, Industry, etc), MITI has managed to collectively gather all the relevant and necessary inputs. Except that I noticed they did not consult Startups for whatever unknown reasons since I believed Startups have their own vision too. In fact, Startups looks at the world differently from the bigger conglomerates.

Also, take note that the Industry 4.0 Policy Framework only focused on the Manufacturing sector. Thus, the definition 4.0 takes into the progress and impact of manufacturing sector due to the advancement of technologies. Previously there’s an argument about the differences between the terms 4th Industrial Revolution and Industry 4.0. Personally, I felt limiting ourselves to the lower part of the value-chain (manufacturing), will also limit ourselves to transform our Nation into totally digital (digital lifestyle).

Framework is one thing, but the most important success factor after this will be the execution of the Framework by the respective parties (Government, Public, Private or Universities, etc)

Below are my personal public comments (will upload this comment to the MITI website later):

  1. Talent Development – It’s difficult for a Nation to move forward without enough talent pool. We can depend on foreign expertise only when we don’t have enough talent locally. But have we done enough? How do expedite the process of approving new Courses or revamping old syllabus in the Universities?
  2. Buy Local Attitude – We must ensure a balance between importing technology and using local technology. Local companies can’t immediately go global if they are not given a chance to prove locally. To encourage the growth of Startups that are key to becoming job creators, we must support them in providing the necessary trust and environment to proof their technology are also at par or better than the overseas.
  3. Digital Transformation Mindset – If your company doesn’t have Internet, not many or none of the younger generation wants to work there simply because the current generation is tech savvy. It’s about time, the “older” generation take a bold step forward and become tech-savvy themselves. We didn’t realize that having an Internet access and IT database are actually prerequisites to Industry 3.0. Ask ourselves, are we already in Industry 3.0 before stepping towards 4.0? If yes, how big is the gap between rural and urban in this digital transformation?
  4. Impact of Industry Integration to Policy Making – Remember UBER and how we react towards them? Remember motorcycle-sharing Dego and how we react towards them? Who will regulate a driverless taxi? What happens when a Taxi can fly? All of these disrupt the current business and need a new way of regulating them. We need to be fast. Thus, we must have trials as early as possible to see the impact of public usage and government regulations. In future, Insurance and Transportation or Insurance and Home or Health will be merged as an Outcome-based economy rather than the product-based economy. How flexible are we in handling this inevitable business merger?

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