Archive for the ‘Educational Reforms and School Improvement’ Category

Aiming for educational excellence

Sunday, January 14th, 2018
(From left) Deputy Education Minister Senator Chong Sin Woon, Mohamad, and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin watching students train after the launching of MyTID programme at SK Taman Seri Rembau, Negri Sembilan in 2015. — SAMUEL ONG/The Star

(From left) Deputy Education Minister Senator Chong Sin Woon, Mohamad, and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin watching students train after the launching of MyTID programme at SK Taman Seri Rembau, Negri Sembilan in 2015. — SAMUEL ONG/The Star

TWO years after becoming Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan set an ambitious target for Negri Sembilan – to be ranked among the top three states in national examinations such as the PT3, SPM and STPM.

Mohamad, who graduated from Universiti Malaya and had spent years in the banking and corporate sectors both here and abroad, set the benchmark upon discovering that the state was always positioned in the lower rungs of the tables whenever the results were announced.

Mohamad even took over the education portfolio to ensure his target of catapulting the state into the top academic achievers was realised.

“When I took over the state administration in 2004, my desire was to turn the state into a valley of knowledge.

The state government then introduced and funded several programmes such as getting teachers to undergo a nine-month Project to Improve English in Rural Schools.

This, he said was implemented after a survey found that rural students fared poorly in English although they did well in other subjects

At the same time, Mohamad set another target. In his quest to boost Negri Sembilan’s standing as a valley of knowledge, he encouraged undergraduates born in the state to excel while in university.

He then announced a reward programme where any Negri-born who obtains a first class honours degree from any public university was to be rewarded with RM25,000 by the state government.

Those who took study loans from the Negri Sembilan Foundation and the state Islamic Affairs Council also had these loans converted to scholarships.

With only one student graduating with a first-class honours degree in 2006, the number increased to 25 the following year.

A delighted Mohamad then reduced the cash reward from RM25,000 to RM10,000 in 2008 as the numbers continued to increase sharply.

In 2009, the reward was further reduced to RM5,000.

“We had no choice but to reduce the amount as we did not expect the numbers to increase so fast. Nevertheless, we are happy that our plan has been a success,” he said.

Today, Mohamad is an even happier man.

Negri Sembilan has not only been maintaining its position among the top three achievers for national examinations, it has also continued to produce more top achievers in public and private universities both here and abroad.

In 2017, a whopping 478 Negri-born graduated with first-class honours degrees.

Mohamad, who likened the first class scorers to modern-day Pendeta Za’aba (Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Ahmad), said these individuals were assets to the state and country.

“It does not matter if you are from an estate, kampung, Felda plantation or some rural area in Negri Sembilan.

“What is important is that you have now proved to be a top achiever and you must continue this culture of excellence when you start working,” he said.

Mohamad’s vision to turn the state into a Valley of Knowledge has also borne fruit with the state now home to more than 25 institutions of higher learning.

There are now several international schools in the state including

Matrix Global Schools, Epsom College, UCSI International School, Nilai International School and Zenith International School.

And among the universities that have set up operations here include Nottingham University, Manipal University, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Inti International University and Nilai University.

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Ministry lauds those that help in effort to transform the education sector

Thursday, October 26th, 2017
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (left) present the appreciation award to the New Straits Times Press (M) chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid (2nd left). Pic by ZUNNUR AL SHAFIQ.

KUALA LUMPUR: Organisations that helped in the effort to transform the education sector through the Education Ministry’s Public Private Partnership (PPP) were feted here last night.

The PPP is an initiative under the Education Blueprint (2013-2025) that sees the Education Ministry working with corporate companies or foundations that look into assisting schools through programmes that involve financial support or their expertise in related fields.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid presented trophies to all 53 organisations that took part in the initiative in recognition of their contribution to help the government transform and push the education sector to greater heights.

Mahdzir said their contributions in various fields such as sports, music and academics would go a long way in helping the government achieve its aspirations for the long term Education Blueprint programme.

“The ministry is the largest ministry in Malaysia but the magnitude of our responsibility is huge. We need to make our children ready for the future and we truly need your assistance and continued support,” he said.

The initiative comes under the ministry’s School Management Division, monitored by the Education Performance and Delivery Unit.

“The PPP initiative has three platforms in its collaborations with corporate companies and foundations under the school adoption programme, the school trust programme and one-off programme,” he said.

“The programmes are usually done in a long term period while one-off programme is held in a year or less. The companies not only support the schools financially, but in other areas also such as setting up facilities and leadership programmes for teachers and students,” he added.

The New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd was one of the 53 companies given recognition by the ministry and chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Jalil Hamid was present to receive the appreciation award.

Other recipients include the likes Yayasan Pintar, Yayasan SP Setia, Yayasan Sime Darby, Khazanah Nasional Berhad and UEM Group.


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Changing the system

Monday, July 10th, 2017

We continue to add better methods to assure that effective and useful learning takes place.

ARGUABLY, education systems across the world differ in many and most ways; accommodation, delivery, discipline, syllabus and finance not to mention political and philosophical influences, which act upon the strategic and physical shape of our education as does religion and tradition.

There is one similarity, however. From England to El Salvador, Fiji to Finland and Malawi to Malaysia; it is agreed that, in some way, we must provide some kind of a forum in which to send our children and learn collectively.

Notwithstanding those families who choose for their children to learn at home, education is almost entirely provided at a school, in a school building and by teachers but what are our reasons for this?

Do we continue in this manner since the result is a resounding success or is it that we have always continued in this fashion and believe in the maxim, “What isn’t broken; don’t fix”. Is it broken though? Politicians continue to argue this point.

Need for change

Let’s assume that there is a need for change; in which case, how to change it?

Consider a country, for the sake of argument, Finland – A nation enjoying the spotlight for fabulous education; a culture of change and experiment. Breaking down the old thinking and practices is what seems to be driving the perceived success of its educational system whilst the rest of the world look upon jealously. “Wow, if only; what could we do to be like the Finnish?”

In a few years’ time, could it be that educational thinkers will come up with a new model for learning? It might look nothing like what we have ever seen. Then again, it may look a little like previous models only this time its components redesigned, restructured, renovated, removed, revamped, recreated, rectified reconditioned or resurrected.

By way of example let us consider the auto industry. If you look at any car; despite differences in shape, size, colour and power; do we not see a basic standard? A basic format? Are we able to break away from this shape? Do we have the vision to create an entirely new machine; an entirely new concept for personal day-to-day transportation? Perhaps not, due to a plethora of basics that guide us in the creation of a car, for instance, its power and its controls. Legal requirements and restrictions also inhibit any move away from the norm.

Could we consider the concept car? Beautiful? Grotesque? Maybe a daring new body contour, an innovative, green, method of propulsion or even a control system so advanced that it requires minimal human input. The Mercedes’ Smart car, a flying car or Google’s driverless car maybe. We still see one constant though. Whatever the innovation applied to develop a vehicle, it is clear that we still recognise it for what it is; a car.

Take for instance the Mini Clubman, a tiny British car zipped around the streets of England and, for that matter, a collection of other countries in the 1960s. The beloved Mini proliferated due to its affordability and fun whilst it basked in infamy alongside Michael Caine as it tore through the streets and sewers of Milan in the cult heist movie, “The Italian Job”. One red one, one white and one blue. After a while, like most things it was the end of the road (or should I say tunnel) for the Mini……or was it?

Paradoxically, following a burst of British nostalgia the German Giant BMW gave new life to the Mini; its resurrection still enjoyed to this day. The shape is such that it honours its predecessor only larger due to safety requirements and an enticingly powerful engine.

Applying this analogy to what we were actually talking about, education; it seems that whatever we do to try to develop pedagogical methods from a concept, the basic recognisable shape still shows.

So are we actually changing anything by innovation and change? Well, despite it all, I would say yes. Like the mini we continue to add better systems and methods to assure that effective and useful learning takes place.

Changing the system

Apprenticeships are now offered by many firms. This training method is extremely well developed now, providing an industry specific on-the-job training with firms such as Jaguar Land Rover UK and Mercedes Benz Malaysia (cars again!). Apprenticeships are seen as the way forward in training but they, of course, are not a new concept. Around the globe, the practice of a youth apprenticed to a master of a trade, such as the black smith in England or the Wau Maker in Kelantan, is the traditional handing down of skills. Our industries, once again, are recognising the value of this; really only revamping what we have already seen. This could also be said to be true for progressive education systems which, very simply put, subject students to fewer hours in school, focus less on classroom activities and more hands-on learning by discovery; on the whole taking a less formal shape with an emphasis on participation and collaboration. Ironically, this is probably akin to the shape of education a time long ago where the day of “the school” or “the classroom” had not even dawned. The young of the world were taught in a less formal situation in the family or village according to the immediate environment and needs. Practical life skills would have been the lesson for every day; hands-on learning!

What then made us decide that it would be better to gather up all the young and pack them into a room? Do we not create an abstract nature to most topics with a move away from the practical?

So we should ask ourselves, “Is the Finnish system the educational utopia that we all seek or is it merely the utopia for now? What are we seeing? Could the global movement towards collaborative and theme-based learning mean that we can see the object of our quest to discover educational perfection? Or, is it merely a step along the way?”

A friend once said to me; an absolute cynic I might add: “Stick to one way of teaching for all of your career and you will be right several times.” So is this what we are to expect? Will the Finnish and other forward looking nations decide, at some point in the future, that formalising the systems is what provides for effective learning? What, by the way, do we all need in our development? Is it the social aspect of our development? With the advance in communication technology, could we be looking at societies ironically losing social skills by the advance in communication in isolation?

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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

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?

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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