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

Being human in the 21st century

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018

IN the last several annual meetings of the World Economic Forum, an influential platform for the shaping of the global agenda, one of the biggest questions that has been raised and discussed is about being and staying human in light of emerging trends and technological developments in the 21st century.

It is interesting that despite the world’s sophistication and advances, especially in the West, people still ponder upon these basic questions that had come up as far back as over 2,000 years ago during the time of the ancient Greek philosophers, chiefly Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Consider this fact: in 2016, close to US$1.7 trillion was spent worldwide on arms, but a United Nations appeal for funds to support refugees from the Syrian crisis fell short of its target by less than US$1.7bil.

This says a lot about our state of being human.

It was reported in The New York Times on July 12, 2017 that hundreds of millions of people in China have in recent years turned to religions like Taoism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, seeking a sense of purpose and an escape from the consumerist culture, recognising that the decadence of human beings has destroyed the environment.

This corroborates the important argument by Syed Muhammad Naquib al-Attas, the contemporary Muslim thinker from Malaysia, that despite the positive contributions of science and technology, the modern man does not understand his true self better, and is unable to attain a state of peace and tranquility within himself and in relation to the others.

In the intellectual tradition of Islam – as represented by luminaries such as Ibn Sina, Al-Ghazali, Ibn ‘Arabi and many others whose insights contemporary Muslims can still benefit from – the understanding of being “human” is not the same as that of the contemporary Western world, which is derived from the Enlightenment.

In the time of philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Western civilisation started to imply that man does not have a spiritual nature in the “soul”, and thus gradually the conception of being human changed as the idea of the soul was suppressed.

Having evolved over centuries, Western thinking and consciousness have impinged on and surreptitiously infused the Muslims’ thinking and consciousness, causing confusion in how they see the nature of man, which is a key element in the worldview of Islam.

This creates a situation whereby, for instance, a Muslim today may be learned in the modern science of behavioural psychology but completely ignorant about the science of the soul as discussed by the early Muslim luminaries in history who sought to treat psychological problems at its roots.

The nature of man, as understood in Islam, postulates that man is both physical and spiritual – that is, he possesses a soul – and the physical is embedded in and serves the spiritual.

Therefore, a man who is true to his natural inclination (fitrah) will voluntarily limit his material desire through the cultivation of virtues and self-discipline in order to realise his higher and truer spiritual aspirations by which he finds his true self and place in the larger order of creation and being.

This is in contradistinction to the psychological assumption of modern economics that man has “unlimited wants”, which assumes that man is restricted to his physical self and materialistic ambition without deeper spiritual substance and higher transcendent aspiration.

It was for this reason that Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyya al- Razi remarked in his al-Tibb al-Ruhani (The Spiritual Physic), “To rein and suppress the passion is an obligation according to every opinion, in the view of every reasoning man, and according to every religion.”

In the past, when the worldview of Islam was intact, the Muslims as exemplified by men and women of spiritual discernment, understood the idea of being human as the subduing the animal aspect of man (nafs al-hayyawwaniyah) with the rational aspect (nafs al-natiqah), through ascending the stations of spiritual perfections to be a man of adab (a good man), that is, a man who knows his place in relation to others and ultimately his Creator.

Such conception of being human in Islam has seen tremendous success in history. It must be allowed to flourish in the 21st century if we wish to see the virtuous circulation of wealth; the harmonious way of living between man and his environment; the development of creative and innovative technologies that are in harmony with man and nature; and most importantly, conviction about man’s purpose and place in this world.

By Muhammad Syafiq Borhannuddin
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f technology, time and the 21st century

Thursday, February 22nd, 2018
Technology and the Internet have altered the way we conduct our lives with computers, smartphones, tablets, and other devices. FILE PIC

ON the night of Dec 31, 1999, the-then newly-connected world worried about the possibility of computers incorrectly resetting and “relocating” us back to the year 1900. It was believed then that year 2000 (Y2k) could potentially bring about the systemic collapse of power lines, energy grids, irrigation, aviation and financial systems, amongst others. The misalignment of technology with the trajectory of time could be disastrous.

Yet, the dawn of the 21st century did not bring any of those. In fact, it heralded a time of promise and discovery. We were on the cusp of yet another revolution. The agricultural, industrial and knowledge revolutions were being replaced by the Internet revolution. And, the key to this revolution was technology. Now, almost two decades later, we witness how technology and the Internet have altered the way we conduct our lives.

In personal spaces, relationships are now formed through distanced, multimodal, multimedium means of communication. Smartphones have brought unimaginable ways of communicating. Artificial intelligence (AI), Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), among others, have brought unbelievable changes.

In professional spaces, workers are warned that the nature of jobs will alter dramatically. This is because jobs that have been in existence for the last 100 years are now disappearing. Industry 4.0 has become the catchphrase that encompasses the anticipated alterations in workspaces. The skills that were taught in the 20th century schools and universities are argued to have become obsolete. Children born in this millennium require learning experiences that must match the technology of their time. Smartboards have replaced whiteboards; tablets and the styli have replaced paper and pencils. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS) have democratised education. Anyone anywhere with a device and connectivity can learn. In fact, anyone anywhere with a device and connectivity can also teach.

Yet, in the rush to hop onto the technology bandwagon, several questions are less often raised. How does this revolution change human culture? How will the habit of talking to a smartphone alter the way young adults form their self-identity and self-confidence? How will the replacement of smartboards and tablets propel children’s educational attainment? Without these questions, there is the tendency to think of technology only in terms of devices (smartphones, computers), software (apps, programmes) and connectivity (wireless technology, cloud computing).

History reveals that “technology” is not a modern, 21st century phenomenon. The term is derived from the 17th century Greek word “tekhnologia” — meaning it refers to the idea of treating something systematically. Interestingly, tekhnologia is derived from the word “tekhna” which means art or craft. Therefore, the accepted wisdom of what technology means lies in how the systematic application of something that has been creatively crafted, has permeated and significantly altered human lives and cultures.

Technology is fundamentally about human culture.

For our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the discovery of fire was the technological revolution of their time. It transformed the way they ate their food, hunted for animals and kept their dwellings safe. Fire reshaped the way they thought about sustaining lives. But fire, if not properly managed, can also destroy. Thus, the technology of their time had to be appropriated with the culture of their community.

When the technology of writing was invented more than 5,000 years ago, human lives were altered by way of intellectual progress. Although Socrates cautioned that writing would cause the destruction of man’s supreme memory, the community then embraced it. Human memory was transformed dramatically, and in its place, remembering past lives and literature were documented.

In the 15th century, when the mechanical movable type printing press was built, mass printing and wide circulation of reading materials became possible across Europe. Therefore, mass literacy was the technology to be reckoned with. The reading culture took hold.

Reading and writing formed the bedrock of modern education systems. Mass education became the lynchpin that shaped and liberated modern civil societies. And that, is the trajectory from which the 21st century was launched.

Thus, when technology is understood as a construct of history, its “vehicle” — fire, writing, books or smartphones — will be seen to account for only one facet of what it actually is. Much more than the vehicle is the multiple ways in which human behaviour and attitudes appropriate, misappropriate, use and abuse the vehicle.

Technology, therefore, should be seen as the systematic application of creative power which impacts lives and reshapes cultures. Parents for example, must be aware that handing a smartphone to their teenager is both beneficial and risky.

Here, the cultural ways with which families form and sustain familial bonds will be tested. New theories in family psychology must be found to face the new challenges. Teachers who shift from face-to-face to online instructional methods must be confident of pedagogical principles which call for a learning culture that is receptive to human emotions, power relations and contextual differences.

As such, technology can only exist when it is appropriated within a cultural milieu. In order to advance technology, therefore, the sociology and psychology of human behaviour must lie at its heart. Negating this may result in the “vehicle” destroying the fabric of human society. Ultimately, the difficult questions would have to be addressed when taking on these new cultural challenges and changes to ensure the sustainability of the human culture across current and future technologies.

By Dr Chong Su Li

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Modern teaching-learning method in classroom through use of smart gadgets

Thursday, January 25th, 2018
The Parent-Teacher Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) of Sekolah Alam Shah head Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican pose with students after presenting a Placer-X van and iPads to teachers. Bernama pic
By SUHAILA SHAHRUL ANUAR - January 25, 2018 @ 7:52pm

PUTRAJAYA: The Parent-Teacher Association (Persatuan Ibu Bapa dan Guru (PIBG) of Sekolah Alam Shah here today introduced the ‘iPad Waqaf Project’ to empower 21st century learning method (PAK-21) at the school.

Its PIBG head Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the initiative would be implemented through ‘Futuristic Classroom Programme’ which was set to benefit some 830 students and 72 teachers at the school.

“PAK-21 is an important element in the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) 2013-2025 in preparing students for challenges of the future including the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

“Through this project, each student and teacher will own a tablet and use them during the teaching and learning process in the classroom,” he said.

PAK-21, introduced by the Education Ministry, involved the use of smart gadgets in the classroom. It will also see the use of conventional whiteboard and blackboard replaced with smartboard.

Reezal Merican said through the project students who cannot afford to own a tablet would be given one by the school through contributions by various organisations.

“For those who can afford, we encourage them to contribute more, according to their affordability. We just want each and every student to own a tablet.

“Our concept is ‘no one should be left behind’. For that reason alone, the PIBG will continue to look for funds and contributions including from corporate companies,” he said.

He said this teaching and learning approach would churn out futuristic human capital and elevate the country’s name to higher level.

“This human capital produced in school must grow on par with the development of technology so that no one gets left behind,” he said.


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Classrooms should have CCTVs

Sunday, January 21st, 2018
CCTV cameras can be installed in schools. — File photo

CCTV cameras can be installed in schools. — File photo

THE 21st century classroom should have closed circuit television cameras (CCTVs).

CCTVs are vital devices that need to be installed in every primary and secondary classroom.

The CCTVs will ensure that teaching and learning is maximised in the classroom.

The CCTVs will ensure that teachers enter and leave the classroom according to the time table.

The CCTVs will ensure that teachers teach the lesson and not sit at their table and do their own work .

There have been reports of teachers who give work to their children and then do their own work.

Some teachers have been known to do their tertiary assignments and course work in the classroom.

Some teachers do reports and other school clerical work during lessons in the classroom.

A lesson is usually 30 minutes, 40 minutes, or 60 minutes.

There are some teachers who waste much of the time in the classroom by doing unnecessary work not related to the lesson.

Small children are quite vulnerable to teachers who do not use their teaching time well.

Teachers need to know that the classroom is a divine place where knowledge is imparted to impressionable minds and hearts.

Teachers should leave all their personal and professional problems and anxieties outside the classroom.

Teachers should not enter the classroom with a heavy and burdened heart.

They should leave such baggage outside the classroom.

When they enter the classroom, they should enter with a clear heart and mind to teach the young children. The teachers’ core business is teaching.

The classroom is the teachers’ theatre of dreams.

There are many passionate and dynamic vibrant teachers in schools who go the extra mile to teach children.

They give themselves like a burning candle to illuminate the lives of their charges.

But at the same time there are the deadwood teachers who bring the teaching service a bad name.

Though their numbers are small, installing CCTVs in classrooms will curb abuse and check the teaching and learning experience of children.

The CCTV recordings can be viewed for teacher evaluation.

Classroom observations of a teacher’s lesson by the head teacher, senior assistants and subject panel heads can have its pros and cons.

If the teacher is informed of the observation, the teacher will prepare a wonderful lesson to showcase to the observers.

An impromptu observation can result in authentic, trustworthy and genuine evaluation of a teacher who is hard working.

For a balanced, fair and transparent evaluation of teachers, all classrooms should be equipped with a CCTV which would record the teaching and learning mode in the classroom.

CCTVs in classrooms would not only raise the standard of teaching and learning to a higher level but also solve a lot of disciplinary problems in the classroom.

The teacher’s core business is teaching and that should be the ultimate criterion to determine the teacher’s performance index.

The teacher’s competence and knowledge of the subject matter can be gauged from observing the teacher’s lesson.

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Machines taking over our jobs? Academics weigh in on the issue.

Friday, December 1st, 2017

THE World Economic Forum’s warning that five million jobs could disappear in five years because of advances in technology sounds like robots are taking over the world.

In a report published early 2016, the WEF said that developments in artificial intelligence, robotics and biotechnology would disrupt the business world in a similar way to previous industrial revolutions, with administrative and white collar office jobs most at risk, according to a CNN report.

New skill sets that are relevant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution were explored at the forum, as it looked at how disruptive technology has impacted the higher education industry and traditional fields like law, medicine, science, business, finance, accounting and construction.

The roundtable was attended by Management Development Institute of Singapore (Malaysia campus) CEO Prof Datuk Dr Syed Ahmad Hussein, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia provost-CEO Prof Roger Barton, University of Reading Malaysia provost Prof Tony Downes, Iskandar Investment Berhad president-CEO Datuk Khairil Anwar Ahmad, University of Southampton Malaysia interim CEO Prof Peter Smith, and Raffles University Iskandar president Prof Dr Graeme Britton. Star Media Group editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh was the moderator.

Disruptive technology is not a new phenomenon, the panellists say. While disruptive technology has brought change, and with it the fear that manual jobs are disappearing, Prof Britton foresees that there will be new opportunities as well.

“When computers came, people said it would run the world and we’d be out of jobs. But computers have created more jobs instead,” he says.

Prof Smith says that quantum computing and quantum technologies will transform what we do in the future, and “we are at an early stage of a revolution to create new companies and new industries.”

The consensus among the roundtable panellists is that adaptability and resilience are key attributes a fresh graduate should possess in order to forge successful careers in a rapidly-changing world where disruptive technology constantly influences how things are done.

“Skills that they use immediately after leaving university may be redundant further down their careers,” says Prof Downes. “What’s essential is for graduates to have an ability to continue to learn. This will be key to their success in the future.”

Because globalisation and technological development are realities of life, Dr Syed Ahmad says “we should not resist or reject them, but manoeuvre around them to get the best advantage.”

Sharing his observations from the construction industry today, Khairil says innovations and technology are being harnessed to address some of the disruptive developments taking place. He cites the shortage of skilled workers which has compelled the industry to automate certain functions and processes, resulting in industrialised building systems that depend less on on-site work.

In the field of medicine, Prof Barton says that it is all digital. “Many will see its impact on medicine as a positive one, for it facilitated quicker and better healthcare. It enables rather than disrupts,” he says.


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Developing human capital for the future workplace

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017
Students attending a lecture at Universiti Malaysia Pahang last year. We must help make science education more interesting, relevant and applicable to our daily lives. FILE PIC

MALAYSIA needs to be prepared for a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected and technologically rich world where there will be many new opportunities.  There will also be disruption across many industries, demanding greater career flexibility.

We need expertise in various disciplines, particularly science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). More effort is needed to increase the number of researchers, scientists and engineers. In the future, we will have to compete with our brains, and with science.

Promoting STEM education has long been prioritised in Malaysia, beginning in the 1970s with the first national science and technology enrolment policy, which aimed to see 60 per cent of students enrolled in science studies, 40 per cent in arts

Increasingly today, however, Malaysian students opt out of STEM fields at the secondary school and tertiary levels — part of a worrisome global trend.

To overcome this, science teaching must change, with the overall objective of fostering a living science as a dynamic force for societal improvement. Our efforts must be geared towards the creation of a scientific mind. Science teaching has to evolve from its traditional form, where sciences are taught without showing much of its exciting usefulness and practicality in everyday life.

In classrooms, scientific laws are learnt, not discovered; hypotheses are not tested but taught. This does little to develop an attitude for inquiry, adaptability and objective understanding. Students need the ability to critically observe, analyse and draw conclusions on everyday phenomena. We must help make science education more interesting, relevant and applicable to our daily lives.

Graduates must not only be book smart and curious, but have the “soul” or conscience to know right from wrong; they must have the ethics and integrity to pursue science for the betterment of society.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak believes that increasing the number of STEM students should be a “national movement” to ensure our competitiveness in the global arena

Tabling the 2018 Budget recently, he announced RM250 million to set up a STEM centre to develop the latest learning methods to train STEM specialist teachers.

The computer science curriculum module will be enhanced to include coding by primary and secondary school students, and 2,000 classes will be upgraded to 21st century smart classrooms to enhance creative learning and innovative thinking.

The government is also committed to technical and vocational education and training, announcing the TVET Malaysia masterplan, including 100 TVET Excellent Students Scholarships worth RM4.5 million.

Also of note is the bid to support skilled workers in the rail industry. The new  National Rail Centre of Excellence, Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd, in cooperation with higher education institutions, will train 3,000 professionals in the industry.

In 2011, futurist Thomas Frey predicted that 60 per cent of the jobs in the future have not yet been invented.

Among them are drone traffic supervisor, data scientist, avatar designers, 3D printing engineers and autonomous transportation specialist. We need to address the conundrum of how to prepare our young for this

On that point, physician and writer Dr George W. Crane makes this assertion: “There is no future in any jobs, the future lies in the person who holds the job”.

Hence, we can no longer focus on equipping students for specialised careers. Career paths are becoming more flexible and we need to change expectations of what a person’s “career”, or “careers”, will look like. Of course, we need specialists and academics, but businesses need employees with a broad range of skills and experience that can help them to creatively adapt to technology-rich environments. Young people need that range of skills so that they can move between careers.

Graduates of the future should become job creators, rather than job seekers. The world needs new ideas, innovative solutions and visionary leaders who can make them happen.

Today’s most successful entrepreneurs are those who pursue both economic and social values, who create not only wealth but also a wealth of opportunities for others. Entrepreneurship education is a vital part of the overall curriculum.

We also should prepare the education system to support the ongoing re-qualification of the industrial workforce, recognising the need for training to take place in more settings than traditional locations. This support could include providing online-learning platforms and access to free courses at “open” universities, which have no entry requirements, as well as using mobile apps to offer training and access to know-how.


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Empower education sector by harnessing latest tech developments: Mahdzir

Saturday, November 25th, 2017
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid. NSTP file pic SAIRIEN NAFI

PETALING JAYA: The latest developments in information and communication technology should be harnessed to further empower the country’s education sector.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said this is important, as the education sector plays a crucial role in realising Malaysia’s vision to become a high-income developed nation.

‘By maximising technology’s benefits with comprehensive internet coverage, teachers and students will be able to (access quality) sources of online teaching and learning; and (this would) facilitate (PdPc) in accordance with the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025,” he said in his speech which was read by Examinations Syndicate director Dr Aliah Ahmad Shah.

Aliah was representing Mahdzir at the 2017 KL EdTech Day, an educational technology conference for teachers.

Mahdzir also said that all Malaysians should be given access to quality education, beginning from pre-school.

‘The Ministry’s priority is to ensure that access to education (is open to all Malaysians) using existing technologies,” he added.

Around 300 teachers from across Malaysia gathered at the Brickfields Asia College, Petaling Jaya to attend the two-day talk and practical workshops which offer in-depth insight on the creative use of apps and devices to update pedagogy, streamline administrative processes and improve the outcome of teaching and learning.

By Beatrice Nita

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The Finnish classroom

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017
Teachers Tiina Malste (second from left) and Emmi Herler-Westeråker (left) during the demonstration of Finnish education approach at SK Taman Megah in Petaling Jaya. PIC BY SADDAM YUSOFF

AS I open the door to the classroom, a typical Finnish Math lesson is under way.

The classroom is divided into four stations with desks and chairs arranged in a cluster to accommodate 10 students in a station. There are ice cream sticks and macaroni in one, and small tubs in red and blue in the other.

Forty pupils, divided into four groups, are engrossed in activities with their new teachers of the day, oblivious to observers in the room.


The Finnish education system has been making news since its outstanding PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results in 2000 and so much has been written about the system.

Its ability to produce high academic results among children, who do not start formal schooling until the age of 7, have short school hours, long holidays, relatively minimal homework and no exams, has long fascinated education experts around the world.

Recently, the Finland embassy in Malaysia organised a half-day demonstration of Finnish teaching and learning approaches in conjunction with its 100th year of independence. It was a chance not to be missed to see for myself what takes place in a Finnish classroom.

The lessons, ranging from English, Math to Music and Crafts, are conducted by Tiina Malste, a teaching expert, and Emmi Herler-Westeråker, an experienced teacher from EduCluster Finland. It is followed by a reflection session in the afternoon for the observers.

The one I observed was a Maths lesson conducted in English for 40 Year Two students at SK Taman Megah in Petaling Jaya.

Among the widely accepted explanation for Finnish success include Finland’s focus on teacher-student interaction and the demanding teacher-education system. Finnish education has a national curriculum, often revised, but how the teachers implement it is up to them. Their teachers are trusted as professionals and given a great deal of responsibility with flexibility on what and how they teach.

I was curious not only to observe if their lessons were any different, but also how the two teachers handled these eight-year-olds, who came from a different education system.

During the lesson on that day, both teachers, although not anxiously pacing around the classroom, had their eyes on the pupils. It was clear that decisions made during the lesson were with a common objective: to ensure that the child learns.

One of the basic principles of Finnish education is that the child comes first. Every pupil and student has the right to educational support from highly competent teachers and the child’s potential should be maximised.

To foster the potential of every child, a teacher must be alert and observant.

Malste, during the reflection session, said student individualisation meant the teacher was aware of each student’s behaviour and emotional state. It helps that in Finland, teachers generally stay with the same class for at least a couple of years.

As like any young children, some listen, while others don’t, during the lesson. Many times, I noticed that the teachers had the firm, no-nonsense approach similar to the traditional, teacher-centred classroom instruction. Yet, most of the time, they were gentle and approachable.

It was as simple as when the time was up at a station and the pupils needed to move to the next one. Both teachers made sure that they queued up and moved in an orderly manner. Another example was when Herler-Westeråker explained a math concept on the board.

One girl, who was sitting at the end of the table, was distracted by the pupils in the next station and was not paying attention. Realising this, the teacher moved the pupil quietly nearer to the board to bring her focus back to the lesson.

What’s also interesting was that each child got his or her own math practice exercise on small laminated card that the teacher had prepared earlier to pace the pupils and track their progress. The pupils used ice cream sticks and macaroni to complete the tasks on addition.

When one child got the right answer, the teacher would give him or her another piece of card to attempt. When a child did not get the right answer, the teacher would decide if the child needed more help.

In Finland, students are not categorised based on their abilities. Teaching is adjusted to serve the mixed abilities in a classroom. Effective teaching is more important than the size of the classroom. Teachers must be aware of their students’ levels and prepare the tasks accordingly.

Earlier, the lesson started with a brief instruction for these pupils on what they were going to do at each station for an hour that day. Only two out of the four stations needed thorough instructions with some teaching but the other two got the students working independently.


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1,000 Schools To Be Upgraded With 21st-Century Smart Classrooms

Friday, November 17th, 2017

NILAI, Nov 15 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Education will upgrade 1,000 schools nationwide with 21st-century smart learning classrooms starting next year.

Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad said each school would have two classes upgraded to smart classes according to the criteria set by the ministry.

“Currently, the 1,000 schools are still in the selection process based on the criteria set, such as Internet access in the region. We are working with the state education department to determine which schools are eligible to be upgraded,” he told reporters after his official visit to the 21st century learning class and classrooms of the future at Tunku Kurshiah College, Bandar Enstek near here, today.


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Perak Sultan stresses need for diplomacy transformation to meet 21st century demands

Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah delivering his Royal Address at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Foreign Ministry, where he is also the IDFR’s Royal Patron. Pix by Mohd Yusni Ariffin

KUALA LUMPUR: Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah stressed the need for continuous diplomacy transformation to keep up with 21st century demands.

Sultan Nazrin was delivering his Royal Address at the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR), Foreign Ministry, where he is also the IDFR’s Royal Patron.

In his address, he specified that the need to transform and adapt is not something new in diplomacy.

“It has faced this challenge throughout recorded history. It has done so ever since organised political entities began interacting with one another.

“Then as now, the geopolitics, geo-economics and geo-technology of the day have been the primary drivers of transformation.

“Communication technology, especially the technology with which countries and peoples communicate with one another, exerts an especially powerful influence upon the conduct of diplomacy,” he said.

He added that the changes occurring in the environment for diplomacy are extremely important, and have been gaining momentum since the end of the last century.

“It is impossible to ignore them. The changes are already impacting upon the world of diplomacy and becoming the new norm.

“Nations that respond astutely will be able to leverage more effectively the new environment.

“This will entail making appropriate adjustments to the ways in which states formulate foreign policy and conduct diplomacy,” he said.

Sultan Nazrin also pointed out that national interest is best served when diplomats work together with civil society and NGOs to advance shared interests.

“Long-established and reputable cause- and issue-oriented international NGOs such as Amnesty International, CARE International, OXFAM International, Doctors Without Borders, and Mercy Malaysia, all make invaluable contributions to the alleviation of human suffering and the improvement of livelihoods.

“Working with NGOs may not always be easy, especially on the domestic scene. Things can get uncomfortable when governments become sensitive to critical scrutiny by assertive and vocal NGOs.


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