Archive for the ‘Educational Reforms and School Improvement’ Category

Education needs major transformation, says report

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

EDUCATION needs a major transformation to fulfil its potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet, according to a new Unesco report launched in London recently.

The new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by Unesco shows the potential for education to propel progress towards all global goals outlined in the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs), China’s Xinhua news agency reported. There is an urgent need for greater headway in education, the report says.

“On current trends, the world will achieve universal primary education in 2042, universal lower secondary education in 2059 and universal upper secondary education in 2084. This means the world would be half a century late for the 2030 SDG deadline,” the report warns. The report, titled, “Education for people and planet”, shows the need for education systems to increase attention to environmental concerns.

“While in the majority of countries, education is the best indicator of climate change awareness, half of the countries’ curricula worldwide do not explicitly mention climate change or environmental sustainability in their content,” it says.

“A fundamental change is needed in the way we think about education’s role in global development, because it has a catalytic impact on the well-being of individuals and the future of our planet,” said Unesco director-general Irina Bokova.

“Now, more than ever, education has a responsibility to be in gear with 21st century challenges and aspirations, and foster the right types of values and skills that will lead to sustainable and inclusive growth, and peaceful living together,” she added.

The report urges education systems around the world to take care to protect and respect minority cultures and their associated languages, which contain vital information about the functioning of ecosystems.


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Putting a stop to inconsistency

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

CM warns that constant change in Putrajaya’s policies has stunted quality of education in Sarawak

Adenan signs a poster as a launching gimmick for the 51st Sarawak School Principals Education Management Convention. Looking on (from left) are Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Bukit Begunan assemblyman Datuk Mong Dagang, Rakayah, Lingga assemblywoman Simoi Peri and Engkilili assemblyman Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa. — Photo by Chimon Upon

Adenan signs a poster as a launching gimmick for the 51st Sarawak School Principals Education Management Convention. Looking on (from left) are Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Bukit Begunan assemblyman Datuk Mong Dagang, Rakayah, Lingga assemblywoman Simoi Peri and Engkilili assemblyman Dr Johnical Rayong Ngipa. — Photo by Chimon Upon

SRI AMAN: The state will no longer tolerate Putrajaya’s constant flip-flop policies on education.

In saying this, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem stated that the state government will be firm with the federal government on education policies in Sarawak because the constant change in policies had affected quality implementation and physical growth of education in the state over the past 50 years.

He was not happy that after 53 years, there still exist many dilapidated schools across the state, particularly in the rural areas, which are without basic facilities such as electricity and treated water supply. Many schools also lack basic infrastructure besides not being linked by road.

The chief minister added that the government has to set aside some budget to overcome the physical shortcomings of schools in the state as it can’t depend solely on its federal counterpart.

“After half a century, we are still left behind (in education facilities) and this is not acceptable. We should be on par with the peninsula.

“I know that to build facilities and infrastructures is not easy but after 50 years, Sarawak ought to be on par. Instead, we still have schools that ‘fell into the river’ and students who go to school barefooted,” Adenan said when officiating at the 51st Sarawak School Principals Education Management Convention at Hotel Seri Simanggang here yesterday.

Also present were state Education director Rakayah Madon and Sarawak Secondary School Principals Association president Ibrahim Jamain.

Adenan blamed the policy makers in Putrajaya for hindering the growth of education in the country as the constant changes in policies were confusing students as well as educators.

Adenan (seated centre) has his picture taken with participants of the convention. Also seen (seated from left) are Lingga assemblywoman Simoi Peri, Rakayah, Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis and Bukit Begunan assemblyman Datuk Mong Dagang.

Adenan (seated centre) has his picture taken with participants of the convention. Also seen (seated from left) are Lingga assemblywoman Simoi Peri, Rakayah, Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden Hollis and Bukit Begunan assemblyman Datuk Mong Dagang.

He cited the use of English to teach Science and Mathematics as an example of flip-flop policies, saying each time a new minister takes charge of education, there will be new programmes.

“One of the big mistakes we (government) had made was to downgrade the use of English language in education. Why can’t we have both?” he asked.

He described English as the language of commerce, science and technology as many important publications on these subjects are in English.

“Here in Sarawak, we are multilingual but in the peninsula, the inability of most people to speak in languages other than their native tongue of either Malay, Chinese or Indian, is a result of bad (education) policies.”

On the 4-day convention which takes place till July 20, the chief minister urged delegates to discuss ways on improving the mastering of English language among students.

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Better approach needed, teachers and educators told

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Great response: All the participants at the academic conference on Sunday

Great response: All the participants at the academic conference on Sunday

SIBU: Teachers, teacher trainers and managers of education have been told to acquire skills in having a better approach in management and teaching methods.

State education director Rakayah Madon told an academic conference on “Innovation, a catalyst to propel an innovative generation” over the weekend, said such skill was necessary in view of globalisation brought about by the advent in information technology.

Some 380 teachers from throughout the state attended the conference held at University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS).

The event on Sunday saw three academic papers presented in the plenary session. This was followed by 36 papers presented at the parallel session in order to pave way for teachers and educators to discuss on critical issues in education for the betterment of teaching and learning in school.

This conference was a collaborative effort of Education Department Sarawak, University College of Technology Campus Sarawak and SMK Sacred Heart Sibu. As a joint effort, Swinburne University of Technology Campus Sarawak, Curtin University Sarawak and University Putra Malaysia Bintulu were also giving their full support in this conference.

“Due to globalisation, the role of education has become a very challenging one which is different from yesteryears. The process of education and educating in the class now needs to shift to the new era in accordance with the changes in the world,” she said.

She said in view of this the conference was very much needed to empower education and strengthen the role of teachers as facilitator in the classroom.

“We go for innovation, action research and retraining teachers so as to upgrade the quality of their service to the target group which is the students,” she said.

SMK Sacred Heart principal David Teo said the hallmarks of their success in staging this annual conference were entrenched in the consistency and sustainability in the development of their niche area – innovation and research in the process of teaching and learning.


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New Zealand Institutions To Showcase Quality Education In Malaysia

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

SINGAPORE, Aug 12 (Bernama) — New Zealand will showcase its high quality education system to Malaysian students when Education New Zealand (ENZ) hosts its annual education fair at the One World Hotel in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

ENZ is the New Zealand government agency responsible for marketing the country’s quality education internationally.

The fair will give students and parents the opportunity to speak directly with 11 New Zealand education institutions, including the Auckland University of Technology, University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, Lincoln University, University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Waikato, Otago Polytechnic and the Southern Institute of Technology.

Immigration New Zealand and the Choose New Zealand Alliance will also be at the fair to provide students and their parents with relevant information on studying in New Zealand.

ENZ regional director Ziena Jalil said Malaysia was an important market for New Zealand education institutions.

“With more than 1,800 Malaysian students studying in New Zealand, institutions in the country are committed to providing high quality education opportunities for Malaysian students,” she said in a statement here.

Ziena said this year’s New Zealand education fairs offered a one-stop shop for its education institutions to showcase career paths, courses for undergraduates and post-graduates, and campus life to Malaysian students.

“We warmly welcome students from Malaysia to study in New Zealand, which is a safe place to learn and grow.

“It is the first country in the world to put in place a Code of Pastoral Care for International Students, which institutions must sign up to and abide by to enrol international students,” she said.


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State Education Department implements EKSA

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: The State Education Department hopes to further improve its service with the implementation of the Public Sector Conducive Ecosystem (EKSA) certification awarded yesterday.

The department’s director Datuk Jame Alip said that EKSA has also been implemented in all district education offices (PPD) as of 10th June this year and will eventually be implemented in all schools across the State “All schools (in Sabah) starting this year should be exposed to EKSA and start implementing it,” said Jame.

He added that the EKSA implementation is also a criteria in the Ministry Star Rating evaluation, which is in line with the department’s goal in quality improvement and holistic quality management approach.

Jame was speaking during the Opening Ceremony to the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) EKSA Audit Exercise Certification Ceremony at the State Education Department, here, yesterday.

EKSA is an improvement of the 5S practice that has already been implemented in all PPD and most government agencies.

The benefits of EKSA include image improvement in the corporate public sector, creating a conducive work environment and encouraging creativity and innovation.

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Navigating her way to America

Monday, June 16th, 2014

The writer talks about her journey towards a liberal arts education experience.

ASK anyone in their final years of secondary school what’s next and these two words are especially daunting to hear.

The reminder is an inescapable one if you are surrounded by those who seem to have everything figured out.

At the time, many of my friends seemed certain that they wanted to pursue medicine, engineering, law, accounting and so forth, with the belief that these degrees would land themselves a job.

I was not interested in these things. Actually, to be more precise, I was not sure if I was interested in these things. For these reasons, the idea of committing to a set degree frightened me.

I feel that a lot of what we learn in secondary school is somewhat superficial; not necessarily reflective of what it really takes to be successful in a field. For instance, just because one enjoys biology does not mean one will definitely enjoy a career in medicine.

My friends were also considering universities in Malaysia, Australia, Singapore and the United Kingdom (UK) where one is required to commit to the entire length of the programme.

As a result, I wanted to know if there was an alternative to this — a road less travelled perhaps?

The workshop serves as a platform to connect interested students with fellow Malaysians who have gone through the application process.

The workshop serves as a platform to connect interested students with fellow Malaysians who have gone through the application process.

Fortunately enough, I happened to attend the USAPPS workshops a few years ago because I was looking for options. Through the experience, I was extremely heartened to know that alternatives do exist.

I learnt that broad-based learning — the core of the liberal arts philosophy — is central to education in the United States and adopted by many American institutions.

In a system like this, one is encouraged to seize his or her education. Ask lots of questions, think outside the box and don’t limit themselves to a particular discipline.

Instead, one is exposed to various fields of knowledge, learning how to connect different topics and think critically. This is why the American education system is a good fit for me. After two semesters of being at university, I feel like I have been thoroughly engaged in my subject matter.

The classroom has become an immersive space for me. During lessons, classroom discussions among students and professors are common, and in fact encouraged as a means of collective discovery and learning from each other.

Having the liberty to take charge of the direction of my education has encouraged me to be proactive in my learning decisions. It opened my mind to the possibility of finding an interest through the passion of another.

by Samantha Tang.

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SM Taun Gusi now a top school in Sabah

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: SM Taun Gusi, about 8km in Kota Belud may be a young school having only being incorporated in 1982.

But it has gone through tough times and challenges from poor discipline among students and even at one point disunity among the multiracial students.

But the years of hard work by principals and teachers, the school has evolved into one of the top schools in Sabah. One of the contributors to the change is the State Education director Datuk Jame Alip who was a former principal. Having a soft spot for the school, he recalled that when he was heading the school, racial gaps were widened among the students.

“But with cooperation of the teachers at that time, we were able to address the issues by introducing and applying a united spirit among students,” he recalled.

Jame who returned to the school yesterday to attend the school excellence award presentation advised the current students to continue with the spirit of unity.

“We must all remain united regardless of our race and religion,” he told the students.

As for the teachers, he said that it was important for educators to adopt an exciting approach during lessons. “The academic achievement of our students depends on how we approach them as teachers. We can get their attention if our approach is right and exciting,” Jame said.

He added that the use of current technology could fascinate the students in wanting to learn. The school principal, Suid Hanapi who is also a super principal, shared that the school has managed to reduce misconduct among students.

The school even introduced excellent award to teachers and honoring families who are supportive of their children studying in the school.

“We will continue to boost the morale of students and teachers to strive harder and higher,” Suid said. A total of 204 awards were presented to students, teachers and three families representing Bajau, Dusun and Irranun communities.

by Noor Eviana Datu Mazinal.

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Reforms must have substance

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

A FEW weeks ago, I attended a public event where a representative from the Education Ministry gave a powerful and passionate speech about the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

One statement really caught my attention: the fact that globally, 70% of countries embarking on education reform, fail miserably.

What I personally find interesting about the recent wave of global reforms is that the strategies being used by the majority of the reforming countries (both successful and unsuccessful reformers alike) are remarkably similar.

They involve rolling out a standardised set of education policies related to teacher training; curriculum reform; uniform and regular student assessment; teacher accountability measures; and decentralisation. Malaysia’s education blueprint has drawn heavily from this playbook.

At first sight, it seems like many countries are adopting the same education policies and that some are achieving a lift-off while others are crashing.

We obviously need to look at this carefully to ensure that ours is a success story.

Back in 1974, the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman told the story of Tanna Island in the Pacific, during World War II. A small population of indigenous islanders witnessed thousands of US troops land en-mass with vast amounts of military equipment and supplies.

When the war ended, the military abandoned the airbases and stopped dropping the cargo. The islanders were utterly distraught and longed for the now missing supplies.

They undertook their own in-house strategies and concluded that if they could replicate the conditions that existed when the Americans were on the island, the cargo would be air-dropped again.

They set about creating runways, picked their strongest men to march up and down the “airbases”’ and fashioned radio headphones from coconuts.

One islander donned the “headphones” and played the role of air traffic controller, guiding the planes in.

The Tanna islanders successfully replicated most of the features of island life during the American occupation, but unsurprisingly the planes still didn’t come back!

Feynman called the phenomenon Cargo Cult Science which has become a widely-used term to describe situations where organisations try to make improvements by copying the features of another successful reference group but they get it spectacularly wrong — by focusing only on the irrelevant features.

New policies

I think there are some education reforms that have gone down the path of the cargo cult phenomenon.

It would explain why so many countries adopt similar reform policies but with varying degrees of success — because there is some other hidden “wiring” in the strategies of successful reformers that seriously gets lost in translation. It’s really important that Malaysia avoids this.

In CfBT, a not-for-profit organisation that I work for, one of the common reasons for failure in cargo cult education is that the reforms stop at the classroom door.

Everything gets reformed, except the micro interactions between the student and teacher inside the classroom. But it’s easy to understand why policy-makers focus their reform efforts outside the classroom.

Things like changing class sizes, the content of exams, the written curriculum, school facilities or the terms and conditions of teachers are a lot easier to achieve than the mindset shift of a single teacher.

by Dr Arran Hamilton.

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Bringinging 5S to schools

Monday, February 10th, 2014

IN an effort to create a more conducive learning environment, the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) has been working on instilling the 5S culture among school employees and students.

The 5S culture that originates from Japan, is a systematic approach to maintaining workplace cleanliness based on five phases — sort, straighten, shine, standardise and sustain a productive work environment.

Recently, three Selangor schools — SMK Rawang, SMK Seri Garing and SMK Tun Perak — were 5S certified and were honoured at a special ceremony. The event was held at SMK Rawang.

Present at the ceremony was MPC director-general Datuk Mohd Razali Hussain, its senior director Abdul Rahim Yusoff, project coordinator Mustapha Sufaat, 5S ambassador Kapt Jamel Abdul Rahman, Panzana Enterprise Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Ahmad Sufian Abdul Majid, SMK Rawang Batu 16 principal Hamidah Husin, SMK Tun Perak principal Siti Endon Mohamad Dahlan and SMK Seri Garing principal Ho Chee Lean.

The Quality Environment Certification (5S) has been awarded to schools since 2008, the first being awarded to SMK Taman Dato’ Harun, Petaling Jaya. To date, 30 schools nationwide have been 5S certified.

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Act now on education woes

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Policies have been formulated to improve and facilitate teaching and learning at all levels, yet there are weaknesses in the system that need to be urgently addressed.

THE dismal performance of our students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) in 2013, where 51.8 % of our 15-year old students failed to reach even the baseline level for Reading, Mathematics and Science, has rightly alarmed many concerned Malaysian parents and educationists.

It bears repeating that the quality of an education system simply cannot exceed the quality of its teachers, no matter how many billions of ringgit is used in educational development plans or blueprints to improve our school system.

Prominent lawyer, politician, columnist and author Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, could well be expressing the sentiments felt by many informed Malaysians when he wrote in his book I, Too, Am Malay, that many teachers, are “poor in quality” and the school curriculum is irrelevant while administrators are too political.

The fact that 70% of our English teachers failed to make the grade in the Cambridge Placement Test speaks volumes of why and how we continue to witness a decline in English proficiency in our schools and universities over the years.

If it is true that a large number of our teachers are incompetent, then policy-makers will have to get the views of all the major stakeholders, accept sound suggestions from various quarters, before they attempt to tinker with our school system.

M. Bakri Musa, columnist and author in his book An Education System Worthy of Malaysia, mentioned the greatest weakness of all our educational reforms is the government’s exclusive dependence on in-house or Education Ministry officers, who have somehow failed to improve the quality of our education system over the years, in spite of all their grand schemes.

Let’s review how effective, practical or meaningful the educational reforms have been at school level.

Motivating students

When the co-curricular points system was first implemented in our schools, it seemed like a good way to motivate our students to participate more actively in sports clubs and societies to make them well-rounded students.

In the first place, the system was never implemented in good faith.

Students sitting for the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) exams face a serious handicap when it comes to applying for admission to local universities for some degree courses compared to Matriculation students, who study for a shorter period of time and sit for their relatively easy internally-marked exam papers.

by Henry Soon.

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