Archive for the ‘Industry 4.0’ Category

Igniting interest in STEM

Thursday, July 12th, 2018
Noraini Idris (second from left) and University of Malaya’s science matriculation students discussing their experience in learning science and mathematics in the programme.

IN the era of globalisation, digitisation and fourth industrial revolution, the need for talents in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is becoming more pronounced to move the country forward.

However, the interest in mathematics and science in schools and, consecutively, universities seems to be waning as reflected in the poor enrolment into science stream at secondary schools, and the lack of good candidates for STEM-based programmes at universities.

National STEM Movement chairman Datuk Professor Dr Noraini Idris said this disinterest in science and mathematics stemmed from uninspired teaching of the subjects at schools, which had a continued impact at the higher-education level.

National STEM Movement chairman, Datuk Professor Dr Noraini Idris

“When I was studying in the 1970s and 1980s, science and mathematics teachers at school were knowledgeable and well-versed in the subjects. In class, they had students enthralled with their stories on the subjects being taught, whether it be maths or science,” she said.

“In mathematics, we were thought to reflect and think, and had to give reasons for equations, like whether it is true that one plus one is two. And, if so, we had to give reasons why is it true. We had to prove it in class — both students and teacher.

“And, it didn’t matter if we get it wrong, as it is a learning process. During break time, at the canteen, students had the opportunity to play chess with the mathematics teacher. So, the rapport was very strong between teachers and students.”

For science, Noraini said teachers would have students carry out experiments in the science labs.

“But science is not just about chemical elements and confined to labs. Teachers would also teach science through agriculture or gardening, where students had fun and were encouraged to ask questions and think,” she said.

“Last time, we were not that clever but we built up interest in science and mathematics because our teachers were engaging.

“The textbooks used in class was not used to just copy exercises from. We read the textbooks and applied or link the knowledge to everyday life. That was what made me like science and mahematics till today,” said Noraini, who holds a string of qualifications in mathematics, including a PhD (Mathematics Education) from the Ohio State University, in Columbus, Ohio, the United States. She obtained the doctorate in 1998.

“Teachers were strong in the knowledge, as well as pedagogically. I think this is what differentiates today’s and yesterday’s classroom,” Noraini said.

“We have to strengthen our kids’ interest in STEM. When they enjoy learning STEM and partake in STEM-based activities, this will trigger curiosity and go towards exploring the use of STEM to provide innovative applications and solutions,” she said.

She said only allowing students who obtained As and Bs in science and mathematics into the science stream in upper secondary, which has been the common practice, might not be the way to go.

“When I was young, students were encouraged to take up science. 15 is too young to decide on streaming.

“What is best is for all to enter the science stream, fortified with subjects like social science and economy. That way we can get more talents in STEM,” said Noraini.

She said Malaysia could learn from Finland in training and grooming great teachers, as well as an ecosystem that supports insightful and fun learning that encourages interest in science and mathematics.

In a recent study visit to Finland, Noraini saw that to teach sicence, candidates must not only be strong in the subject, but also in pedagogy, with a clear grasp of in-depth technique of teaching science.

“They take five years to graduate to become teachers. This is inclusive of active research done in schools,” she said.

Apart from preparing competent and passionate teachers, the Finnish government facilitated the setting up of start-ups comprising graduates to create teaching modules and toolkits to be used in schools, like 3D printing kits.

There were also companies which created applications to be used in schools that animated and gamified elements of science to get children excited about STEM.

“The whole ecosystem is in place, from school to talents and start-ups, that come up with teaching aid. The framework is impressive,” said Noraini.

She said Finland parents were welcomed to school, whether they had a background in STEM or not. They get involved in teaching the kids, where parents share their careers in STEM.

“We at the National STEM Movement have been trying to involve the community and other stakeholders in the STEM Mentor-Mentee Programme to promote greater interest and capacity-building in science and mathematics among students,” she said.

Launched in 2016, the programme pools together lecturers, researchers, scientists, engineers and mathematicians from the academia, professional bodies and the industry to offer guidance in promoting better understanding of STEM and provide the expertise to nurture talents in the field, mainly among students from Forms One till Three.

It involves facilitators who are the teaching staff of universities, mentors comprising science students from tertiary institutions and mentees who are school students.

“Apart from universities becoming mentors to schools and teachers and students, parents as mentors, too, will be our push this year. It is already happening in SMK Batang Kali. Some parents who work in the medical line in hospitals and clinics have adopted Form Two and Form Three students to became mentees to doctors in the area. They are given lab coats and stethoscopes to follow the doctors when doing their rounds,” Noraini shared.

“We also encourage schools to form STEM learning centres. Some schools choose to develop agriculture centres as the core of this initiative. There are schools that have come up with fertilisers, and are selling them commercially. This is supported by the principals.

“For principals who are not keen on STEM, we hope the Education Ministry will allow teachers, school management, students and parents to collaborate.

“Schools should welcome such efforts. We shouldn’t be territorial and should be more flexible. The community volunteers can help out, if well planned. Students can see careers related to STEM with this initiative,” she said.

On other activities by the National STEM Movement this year, Noraini said the organisation would hold an Asia-Pacific Roundtable event in November involving universities, industry stakeholders, the ministry and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

“The event will focus on issues and challenges concerning STEM education and best practices, higher-order thinking skills that seem to not be successful, and Asia-Pacific collaboration going forward.”

The movement is also active in training teachers to develop digital games.

“We will continue with the mentor-mentee programme, science carnivals and hold the Malaysia Technology Exhibition in February next year,” she said.

Noraini is also currently helping University of Malaya set up its STEM centre, which would see the development of science- and mathematics-based teaching modules, aimed at making learning the subjects more exciting and insightful.


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Security aspects of Fourth Industrial Revolution

Thursday, June 14th, 2018
(File pix) Robot: A one-man bomb detection squad? Pix courtesy of Police
By Cung Vu - June 13, 2018 @ 10:16am

THE term ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (FIR) is a buzzword introduced by Klaus Schwab during the World Economic Forum in 2016. It is defined as the convergence of technologies to blur the lines between the physical, digital, and biological worlds. It is also used interchangeably with the more popular term ‘Industry 4.0’ coined by the German government in 2011.

In fact, it is the convergence of underlying technology domains of nanotechnology, biotechnology, information and communication technology and cognitive science where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

The security implications of the FIR are too complex to fully grasp. These technological waves are coming fast and leaders, whether in the private sector or in public service, need to be prepared. The major concern is what happens to the economy and job distribution. However, there are security implications leaders need to be aware of to develop informed policies and strategies.

Let’s peel off each layer of the FIR “onion” one by one. As the security implications are both deep and wide, the following are only highlights of the security aspects of the underlying technology domains.

Nanotechnology: A technology conducted at the nanoscale (one nanometre is equal to one billionth of a metre), materials at these dimensions behave differently from bulk properties. Nanotechnology is used to produce nanomaterials, smart materials, nanoelectronics, nanosensors, nanodevices, nanomedicine and so on.

Nanotechnology has numerous homeland security and defence applications. It is used for detecting potentially harmful materials, finding pathogens in water supply systems, or for early warning and detoxification of harmful airborne agents. Nanomaterials are used to build lighter and stronger armour and parts for vehicles, equipment, and aircraft. Nanomaterials also allow building of smaller, more powerful rockets, bombs, and other explosive devices.

Biotechnology: Biotechnology is a broad discipline in which biological processes, organisms and cells are exploited to develop new technologies and products that help improve our lives.

Biotechnology has advanced so much that personalised drugs could be developed based on individual DNA. We are now not only able to sequence and synthesise DNA, but also edit it.This has very grave implications as potential new viruses could be created from the laboratory.

Information and Computing Technology (ICT): It seems that almost all aspects of our life now depend on ICT. The Internet-of-Things allows endless connectivity to improve how we work and live. Our dependency on the digital world has made us more vulnerable. Cyber attackers could exploit such vulnerability to serve their purposes.

Cognitive Science: This is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. Advances in the development of human-machine interfaces, algorithms, and power sources as well as other components are making robots readily available for personal and industrial use.

Brain stimulation drugs have been used as cognitive enhancement to keep soldiers alert for days without sleep. Amphetamine and fenethylline are known to be taken by terrorists in suicide bombing missions or to allow them to go into battle not caring if they live or die.

Technology Convergence: The security impacts of technology convergence are virtually limitless.

One of the technology intersections which receives a lot of attention is artificial intelligence (AI) where “intelligent machine” could be created to operate and react like a human being. That means a machine can see, hear, talk, learn and reason.

This leads to the fear that human jobs, both blue and white-collar, would be lost to robots or even the human race could eventually be taken over by robots. Only time will tell. In the near term, as machines get smarter and smarter, the potential threats are also gradually increased.

China is incorporating AI in autonomous unmanned aerial systems. Their drone swarms could utilise neural networks to deny the US the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. The US also leverages AI to develop cutting-edge technology for military and intelligence purposes.

In the homeland security front, attackers are using AI to study the target, and identify vulnerabilities to generate hacks.

Let’s take a look at a few areas of AI:

In speech recognition, a startup company named Lyrebird has developed an algorithm that can mimic anybody’s voice after analysing a few pre-recorded audio clips. It can read text with intonation and punctuation.

In visual recognition, computer scientists were able to exploit AI to modify or synthesise images to impersonate people online. When both audio and video technologies combined, they could be used to generate fake news to persuade public opinions or to fabricate terrorist propaganda.

In machine learning, scientists have demonstrated that AI-generated malicious links outperform human competitors in terms of composing phishing tweets, distributing them over cyber space and victimising more users.

In another area of machine learning, researchers have pointed out that many pattern recognition algorithms are easy to manipulate to trick computers, and the implications are scary.

By Cung Vu.

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Education is key to IR 4.0 success

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
(File pix) Education will help us face the challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Pix by Iqmal Haqim Rosman

EDUCATION is an important asset for any country. It is for this reason that the former Barisan Nasional government allocated financial aid amounting to RM61.6 billion for the education sector in the 2018 Budget.

We are entering the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), which is expected to transform the way we live, work and play.

Experts visualise an environment where an Internet of Things and artificial intelligence technology will connect us through smart devices, aimed at reducing human frailties and risks.

These experts see machines making our lives easier. And, as we spend most of our time at work, it is in the office that we will come up with such challenges the most.

Experts expect robots to replace humans. Such changes will not only be faced by those who work in the manufacturing sector, but also other economic and social sectors.

What all this means is that we have to be armed for such a revolutionary change.

We not only have to upskill ourselves, but we must also learn new skills. Some of the skills have to be learnt as we go along.

The answer to all these challenges lies in knowledge. It is for this reason that education needs to be supported by the government. Without education, people will be left out of the modernisation equation.

It is not possible to envisage all that will happen in the future, but wise Malaysians will seize all opportunities to arm themselves for such a future

Business leaders talk of acceleration of innovation and disruption, but this continues to surprise many in and outside the work of the environment. Agility and speed will define IR 4.0.

By Assoc Prof Dr Saunah Zainon .

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Asean experience for IR 4.0

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Datuk Kamel Mohamad presenting Higher Education Framewwork 4.0 which aims to address issues and challenges of IR4.0.

INDUSTRY Revolution 4.0 represents the movement towards smart industry and manufacturing goals.

Asean countries, including Malaysia, are experiencing industrial transformation on an unprecedented scale with automation, data exchanges, cloud computing, cyber-physical systems, robots, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and semi-autonomous industrial techniques.

Compared with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth is evolving at an exponential pace.

And, the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management and human resources.

With every industrial revolution, there has been a requirement for a skill change, and higher education must prepare graduates to handle new technologies and embrace IR 4.0.

According to Asean Socio-Cultural Community deputy secretary-general Vingthep Arthakaivalvatee, the higher education sector must be ready for this change.

He said education and training were key to social and economic development in a globalised world.

“These issues depend heavily on international cooperation as much as national action. We need to make sure our education system is marked by quality, credibility and innovation.

“We are looking at the modern trend of automation. This means it’s not just about computerisation, but also the ability of different computers and machines to communicate with each other and perform complex tasks together.

“The notion has become an important reference of the education sector, considering its implication to training, curriculum and practice.

(From left) Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin, Vonthep Arthskaivalvatte, Nottingham University United Kingdom vice-chancellor and president Dr Professor Shearer West, Datuk Kamel Mohamad and Dr Khine Mye discussing on Redesigning Higher Education for 4.0 Industrial Revolution — the Asean Experience at the Going Global conference. pic by ROSELA ISMAIL

“Thus, the evident problem in the near future could not be the lack of employment, but the shortage of skills that new jobs will demand,” he said.

Vingthep was speaking on Redesigning Higher Education for 4.0 Industrial Revolution — the Asean Experience session in conjunction with the Going Global 2018 conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre recently.

He said the Asean Work Plan on Education 2016-2020 included relevant priorities, such as strengthening the use of ICT through the expansion of Asean Cyber University (ACU).

“Among them are advancing Asean Studies Programme and courses at the higher education level through online and cross-border mobility, as well as preparing ICT-ready teachers through the enhancement of teachers’ competency to address specific needs of vulnerable groups.

“These three phases of activities are in line with the Asean goals to use ICT effectively for teaching and learning. The advantage of cyber education is that it provides the opportunity for economically disadvantaged countries in Asean to enjoy high levels of education at low cost,” he said.

ACU was established in 2009 to promote education cooperation and people-to-people exchange designed to help Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam acquire the technology and knowledge related to e-learning systems to help students in remote areas access higher education.

Thailand’s Education Minister Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said the ministry had to abandon central planning for a redesign of its higher education for IR 4.0 in Thailand.

“We have tried it for centuries but it doesn’t work. No one, even the most intelligent, can know what is going to change.

“Education is not just for living, it is also for life. There is a sense of what life is that can’t be taught by machines,” he said.

In Thailand, the ministry has offered funding to any universities that want to re-design their curriculum.

He said two month later, 20 universities took the offer and the government has approved the budget to redesign the curriculum.

“For example, we have a group of engineering students who are undergoing a newly-designed curriculum to enable them to be IR 4.0-ready in the next five years or so.

“We believe in the next 10 years we will have another 100,000 more students,” said Teerakiat.

The ministry also welcomes foreign institutions to set up their universities in Thailand so that they can collaborate and exchange expertise.

Malaysia Higher Education Ministry deputy secretary-general (chief Information officer) Datuk Kamel Mohamad said higher education in this country was confronted with changing the landscape of employment trends, technologies and demands.

Kamel said the Higher Education Framework 4.0 (MyHE 4.0) was established to address the issues and challenges of IR 4.0. The framework is more specific than the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education).

“Under the framework, universities have to change their curriculum and delivery to ensure that their graduates have jobs. One of the measures being taken is to produce holistic, balanced and entrepreneurial graduates who can adapt and fill in jobs that are yet to exist,” said Kamel.

He said the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) had incorporated elements meant to tackle the uncertainty of

IR 4.0.

Kamel said the process of teaching and learning had to be changed. Under Learning and Teaching 4.0, there are four aspects: learning spaces should be redesigned; different kinds of pedagogies are needed; curriculum must be fluid and organic; and, all the aspects should incorporate the latest learning and teaching technologies.

“For example, lecture halls with multi-tiered collaborative tables and the use of smart boards should be implemented. The ministry announced that this year, up to 30 per cent of all university programmes will adopt this concept, enabling them to respond to innovations and new areas of knowledge without being bound by traditional rigid curriculum practices,” he said.

Looking ahead, Vingthep said Asean countries must think about the right balance in targeted reforms to support IR 4.0-ready education.

“Do we have the means to do it? How about the digital divide affecting those that have no access to technology?

“Even within Asean, we have concerns about the development gap. How about the cross-sectoral coordination of efforts, including private sectors, and opportunity for a regional approach and role of the Asean Secretariat in terms of

information sharing, organising politics dialogues and targeting support for Asean members?

“The 32nd Asean High Level Task Force on Economic Integration Meeting recommended a study on the preparedness or readiness of Asean Member States in IR 4.0, which is ongoing,” he said.

Vingthep also said the emergence of an Asean Education 4.0, helped trigger the transformation of mindset in curriculum design, pre-service teachers training, internship scheme and higher education competencies.

By Zulita Mustafa

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Wanted: Teachers who make the grade

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018
A trainee teacher in a communications skill-based session with primary school pupils.

SCHOOLS have always been regarded as bastions of knowledge with teachers considered as content experts and transmitters of knowledge.

But with globalisation and technological advances that have resulted in trends such as digitisation and the dawning of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0), successful learning can no longer be about knowledge acquisition from one source alone.

With knowledge available from numerous sources due to technology, teaching is now shifting towards equipping students with skills that will enable them to filter knowledge as well as apply it in an appropriate manner and create new knowledge that will be useful.

Taylor’s University School of Education head Dr Logendra Ponniah said: “The metric of success for learning does not stand still. It shifts in tandem with changes in demands and challenges that time brings. Teachers, and by extension teachers and the curriculum and other related policies that impact on teaching, has little choice but to respond to this changing metric if they are to prepare successful learners for any era. For example, successful learning in the 21st century is no longer about knowledge acquisition alone.”

He added: “The sort of teaching common in yesteryears — teaching that is one dimensional, emphasising knowledge only and uni-directional, one-way transmission of knowledge from teacher to students, clearly is no longer tenable in the 21st century. At the bare minimum, teaching in the current era has to be multi-dimensional and multi-directional if it is to stand any chance of making the grade.”

As the world and nation embrace IR 4.0, teachers and teaching will be coming irrelevant and relevant at the same time.

“Teachers who see themselves as content transmitters will no longer be relevant in future. Teachers in Malaysia tend to see their role as preparing students for formal examinations. This is based on the understanding that learning is about the ability to recall facts and figures in an unauthentic setting.

“The pedagogy of the future will be centred on competency, not knowledge. We need teachers who can prepare students who can learn, unlearn and relearn to be in tandem with the evolving economical topology. We need teachers who see themselves as someone who teaches, not transmit content.”

Professor Dr Aida Suraya Md. Yunus of Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) Faculty of Educational Studies commented that the mindset of children, their thinking and ways of doing things are different from yesteryears.

“They are the alpha generation in a technology-driven era. They like challenges and they want to be challenged. Teachers have to adopt pedagogies that are more student-centred. Parents have great expectations of schools. They expect smaller class size, well-trained teachers and better facilities.

“Private schools, international schools and Islamic-based private schools are getting very popular, and parents are willing to pay high fees.

“We need to improve government schools to meet the needs of stakeholders,” she said.

She added that the role of teachers today is to facilitate learning and they need to become creators and inventors of innovative pedagogies to be able to do this instead of just conducting “business as usual” teaching.

“They need to keep abreast of technology and current developments in their areas of expertise, adopt lifelong learning to upgrade knowledge and adapt to changes that the country and students are facing.

“We need to prepare our future teachers with future-proof talents so that they have the right skills and attributes that will survive the ever changing future.”


Cognisant of trends, the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Preschool to Post-Secondary Education) has placed teachers as the most effective lever to transform primary and secondary education and deliver improved outcomes for students.

Within the framework, the curriculum too has been revised to embed and develop 21st century skills such as critical and creative thinking, as well as encourage holistic, well-rounded personal growth.

Institute of Teacher Education, Ilmu Khas campus director Dr Mohd Suhaimi Mohamed Ali said teachers are now expected to impart not only knowledge in specific school subjects but also soft and thinking skills that cut across the curriculum.

Use of technology in class is increasingly becoming a norm.

“Teachers have the responsibility to prepare students with future skills needed for future jobs. In schools today, the challenge for teachers lies not only as knowledge providers but also as facilitators. So, teachers need to model the necessary skills and integrate information and communication technology in class.

“They are also expected to design classroom activities to incorporate collaboration and problem-solving activities, and make group work and task-based activities a norm,” he added.

Institute of Teacher Education, International Languages Campus director Dr Nagalingam Karuppiah believes that effective teachers are those who can employ elements of critical thinking in class. They know how to draw opinions and ideas from students, and in the process get them to be creative.

“Teachers should be able to manage their students by implementing the psychological component in class. We want teachers to understand students’ emotions so therefore they themselves must have a high level of emotional intelligence. Teachers should have the cognitive flexibility to be able to negotiate and make judgements on what to do in each classroom because every classroom is different.

“The concept of challenging the cognitive ability of students is also important — creating cognitive dissonance so that students will make an effort to learn.

“We want teachers who want to make students producers of knowledge where they can put forward new ideas,” he said.


As schoolchildren nowadays are generally technology-savvy, teachers must accept and adapt to this change, said Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran.

“Teaching in the conventional way may result in students feeling bored and hence impacting their educational achievements. Teachers in the IR4.0 and Education 4.0 era must enhance their teaching skills by creating a unique environment in class, employ creative teaching methods and display leadership qualities,” he said.

UPSI has introduced the concept of teachers as facilitators and requires lecturers to create a networking approach in their teaching to give future teachers the opportunity to share and debate on ideas, and exchange knowledge.

“With the emergence of technology, lecturers are urged to explore the smart approach by using online platforms such as Microsoft Teams, digital hub for teachers and students, Google classroom and cloud-based applications.

“In addition, social science subjects can be taught outside the classroom,” he said.

UPM’s Faculty of Educational Studies, meanwhile, tries to provide learning experiences that will equip teachers with skills in applying the latest technology through the Putra Future Classroom (PFC) and, by next year, the Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science.

“As a teacher training faculty, PFC serves as an avenue for demonstrating 21st century teaching to future teachers. We attempt to break the taboo that technology is a foreign pedagogy and not meant for everyone. We firmly believe that the teacher’s role cannot be replaced by technology.

“So, PFC is not just about technology. Our focus is on testing technology and determining the best pedagogy for technologically enhanced classrooms. Technology is regarded as a catalyst for taking teaching to the next level,” said Aida Suraya.

Those who know how to apply technology are able to redesign teaching to optimise learning. “However, there are those who simply use technology to digitise traditional learning practices. We need to move away from this.”

The Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Science will be provided equipment for the development of UPM’s undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as well as provide in-service training for teachers. “It will also be a training ground for graduates who are not able to secure jobs but aspire to be entrepreneurs in areas related to agricultural science.

“With the challenge of a reduced budget, universities need support from the industry to share the burden of providing the ultimate learning experiences for students. The industry can help by providing equipment and offering educational attachments. In advanced countries, the burden of training the future workforce is borne by both the university and the industry.”


To fulfil the roles that are required of school teachers, those wanting to enter Institutes of Teacher Education to pursue the teaching profession must score at least 5As in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia as well as fulfilling the requirement for their majors. They must also score at least a credit in the History and Bahasa Malaysia papers.

They have to undergo physical and aptitude tests before being called for interviews. “This means only candidates who are physically and emotionally fit to become a teacher will be shortlisted. Having teacher identity, being open to current and new knowledge are some of the criteria. Applicants for specialised programmes such as music education have to sit a practical test if they do not have music certificates,” said Mohd Suhaimi.

After undergoing a foundation programme for a year, teacher trainees at Institutes of Teacher Education pursue a four-year degree course in teaching.

“Apart from being taught the content on the subjects that they will teach in primary schools, they have to attend courses on education, co-curriculum activities and management, educational technology as well as electives of their choice such as photography. They have to work on a research project, complete two cycles of practicum and three cycles of school-based experience,” he added.

A year after the graduates are posted to schools, feedback from school administrators is sought. Mohd Suhaimi and Nagalingam said reviews for their respective institutes have been good.


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Bringing the real world into classrooms

Sunday, May 13th, 2018
English teachers trying out the activities at the NiE workshop.

English teachers trying out the activities at the NiE workshop.

NiE a way to 21st century learning.

GRAMMAR and vocabulary should always be taught within context. This point was highlighted during a Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) workshop held in Batu Pahat, Johor.

“The English language should always be taught covertly in context. Give your students a situation – only then will they be able to identify the function of grammar,” said Star-NiE freelance consultant trainer Shyamala Sankaran to a room full of English teachers.

“Purpose is very important. Students should feel that learning has a purpose. The 21st century way of learning also requires you to bring authenticity to the classroom.

Held in three sessions over three days, the NiE workshops took place at SK Penghulu Salleh and SK Tengku Mariam, Johor. The workshops were held for teachers teaching in the Batu Pahat district in Johor.

Batu Pahat district English Language officer Mohd Nazri Samad said that teachers attending the workshop will greatly benefit from it.

“With NiE, I hope that English lessons will become more fun.

“NiE activities can boost students’ communication skills, especially when exchanging ideas and conducting group work. This is part of the 21st century learning.

“Collaboration can also be instilled through these activities. It boosts their critical and creative thinking. Rather than plain reading, they use words in a different way,” he said.

Mohd Nazri said that English language material is limited in non-urban schools in the district.

“The newspaper is a resource that is easily accessible for teachers. Plus, the newspaper is a good English language resource, especially when it comes to vocabulary building. For a beginner or intermediate English language user, I think the language style and level is suitable,” he added.

Teacher Norsaidah Badri from SMK Dato Onn said that the workshop was an excellent exposure for all of the teachers.

“It gives us more ideas on how to teach the 21st century way of learning. I look forward to trying the activities out with my pupils. The newspaper is good material for English class lessons. Activities can be adapted according to pupils’ proficiency levels.

“I teach in a non-urban school and the pupils encounter English only in school. The newspaper activities can trigger students’ interests. It gives them a different take on the English language. Right now they are just studying to pass exams. Using these activities, I think it is easier for them to understand and it is a fun way for me to teach English,” she added.

English teacher Ter Hong Boon from SMK Munshi Sulaiman recalled his secondary school days of getting a pizza voucher when he took part in the NiE annual contest.

“It was a contest that encouraged me to complete and send in a good entry.

“I think the workshop is good and more teachers should know about it. From the workshop, I learnt several ways to engage the entire class. The activities can also be adapted to suit secondary and primary school students. Everyone can participate in the activities,” he said.

Anwar Albar Bakri, who teaches at SK Penghulu Salleh, said that the workshop came at a very apt time.

“I like this workshop! This is what 21st century teaching really ought to feel like. I’m sure that my students will enjoy the activities,” he added.

Although it would be hard to conduct NiE every day, he said that teachers should do something different every week.

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Greatest tragedy in developing world

Sunday, May 13th, 2018
Educationists in the developing world have failed to imagine an alternative curriculum that can fulfil the needs of their population.

THE digital revolution and the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) have undoubtedly taken the world by storm. For those uninitiated, these two revolutions are the culmination of the previous industrial revolutions, plus the cutting-edge technology of unprecedented connectivity powered by the World Wide Web. While we are trying to come to terms with the full implications of 4IR, policy-makers the world over are searching for possible remedies to tackle the creative destruction that will be unleashed by it.

One possible remedy, and it could be the most potent, is through strengthening the education system. Embracing the latest technology has become the cornerstone of development and modernisation. To be fully “developed”, nations are judged by their technological capabilities and investments. What better way to expose the population to the latest technological advancement than through education.

While most developing countries are emulating their colonial masters in embracing online education, the former has another crucial hurdle to overcome. Educational systems in most developing countries are inherently based on colonial systems with inherently alienating or irrelevant curricula, methods and subject matters.

Educationists in the developing world have failed to imagine an alternative curriculum that can fulfil the needs of their population. They are oblivious to the underlying objective of colonial education, which is to perpetuate colonial rule.

Today, the global reach of Western-style education is astounding in its conformity to how the West looks at the rest of world. The greatest tragedy that has befallen the developing world is their full embrace of the Western education system upon gaining independence.

The West, as an imperial power, has succeeded in creating a global educational system that is blindly sought after by many inhabitants of the developing world even though the system and its epistemology are only understood by few. This phenomenon has led to a paralysis. In academia, it is insisted that the Western way of knowing is inevitable and it is the “true” and “objective” way of understanding the world in all its complexity.

As a matter of fact, the Western education system should be seen for what it really is. The fundamental aim of the Western education system is to sift and sort the knowledge traditions of the world in accordance with a narrow set of intellectual assumptions about how the world works from Western rationalist, materialist and modernist outlooks.

Stanford Graduate School of Education Professor Martin Car-noy captured this aptly when he said that since schooling was brought to non-Europeans as a part of empire, it was integrated into the effort to bring indigenous peoples into colonial/imperial structures.

After all, the European teacher and school were built on the European capitalist model, transmitted European values and norms, and began to transform traditional societies into modern ones, were it not?

Similarly, author and political activist Ward Churchill has shown and warned us that the American educational system is predicated on Eurocentrism, not only in terms of its focus, but also in its discernible heritage, methodologies and conceptual structure.

Churchill went on to say that as currently established, the university system in the United States offers little more than the presentation of “White Studies” to students, general population and minority alike.

The curriculum is virtually totalising in its emphasis, not simply upon an imagined superiority of Western endeavours and accomplishments, but also upon the notion that the currents of European thinking comprise the only really “natural” or at least truly useful formation of knowledge/means of perceiving reality. In the vast bulk of curriculum content, Europe is not only the subject in its conceptual mode, the very process of learning to think but subject matter of investigation as well.

It seems reasonable to pose the question as to what consideration is typically accorded the non-European remainder of the human species in such a format. The answer is often that coursework does, in fact, exist most usually in the form of upper-division undergraduate broadening curriculum — surveys of Oriental Philosophy are not unpopular, The Philosophy of Black Africa exists as a catalogue entry at a number of institu-tions, even Native American Philosophical Traditions makes it appearance here and there.

But nothing remotely approaching the depth and comprehensiveness with which Western thought is treated can be located in any quarter. One can only imagine how this festering problem is going to be further confused by imposing Western educational technology innovations that are already being criticised and proven problematic in the West itself.

Many well-intending educational bureaucrats are falling under the influence of Western corporate schemes. While nations are providing fertile markets for technology products, they are unable to critically evaluate the consequences of duplicating an imported educational system.

By Dr Azeem Fazwan Ahmad Farouk.

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Way forward for higher education in 4IR era

Friday, April 27th, 2018
(From left) Higher Education Ministry’s secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur, Datin Paduka Dr Siti HamisahTapsir, ASLI Chairman Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and ASLI chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh at the launch of the book recently. Pic by EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

THE Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents new ways in which disruptive technologies are embedded in our daily experience.

This has emphasised the need to redesign the education system and transform the learning and teaching delivery, as well as demanding the industry sectors to enhance, reskill and upscale talents.

Experiential learning, future-ready curriculum, and life-long learning mindset are critical elements in uplifting graduates’ skills and attributes to thrive in the gig economy world.

Hence, talent planning is critical to ensure Malaysia’s preparation in producing talents and graduates who are agile and adaptive to the changing demands of 4IR.

Looking at the importance of 4IR, the Higher Education Ministry recently launched a book, Framing Malaysian Higher Education 4.0: Future-Proof Talents, by its minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

The book provides background information on 4IR, its impacts and challenges, the current scenario and future alternatives in redesigning Malaysian higher education.

The basis of this book is to produce ethically and morally upright citizens who are spiritually grounded and caring to cope with the demands of 4IR.

Regardless of technology advancement and changes, graduates will be prepared to overcome disruptive innovation through life-long learning, which creates the opportunities to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Idris said Malaysian graduates had to possess strong positive values and be work-ready to stay ahead in the global marketplace and contribute to global wellbeing.

“The book encapsulates the way forward for the higher education sector in adapting to the ever-changing demands of higher education.

“It frames four foci (focal point), 15 approaches with detailed initiatives, three future-proof attributes and nine Malaysian future-proof skill sets in unlocking the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education),” Idris said at the launch of the book, in conjunction with the 22nd Malaysian Education Summit at Sunway Resort Hotel in Petaling Jaya.

The focal points mentioned in the book are future-ready curriculum, agile governance, research and innovation, and talent planning.

“The ministry needs to play its role as a catalyst by focusing on pro-active skills transformation, both in the educational system and workplace, as well as emphasising the role of the younger generation in the future,” he added.

The book contains guidelines, strategies and aspirations for public universities and private institutions in meeting the demands of 4IR.

It was developed through collaborative and consultative processes with various stakeholders who underwent numerous programmes, workshops and meetings involving more than 10,000 individuals comprising public and private university leaders, administrators, academics, students and industry players.

The book is based on the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) and the initiatives, such as the integrated cumulative grade point average (iCGPA) and work-based learning programme (2U2I), in redesigning Malaysian higher education landscape that are aligned with the vision and mission of the ministry.


Over the years, the delivery of Malaysian Higher Education Programmes (MyHE) had transformed significantly.

There are four phases of MyHE:

MyHE 1.0 centres on teachers as the source of knowledge by employing the chalk-and-talk teaching method;

MyHE 2.0 establishes the utilisation of basic technology practices in the classroom and features students as receptacles of information, who regurgitate and respond to knowledge;

MyHE 3.0 encourages dynamic teaching approaches by requiring student exploration of real-world problems and collaboration on social learning platforms; and,

MyHE 4.0 promotes student diversification of roles as curators of knowledge, content producers, connection-makers ― the web as the open global curriculum and educators as the resource guide.

In this book, it is stated that MyHE 4.0 emphasises higher order thinking skills than the lower order thinking skills.

The cognitive domain drives the goals of the learning process, where learners are expected to acquire new skills, knowledge and attitude, as well as construct their own new knowledge.

Learners should actively contextualise and produce data instead of only acquiring it. They need to be able to generate knowledge based on personal experiences and environmental participation.

It is imperative that the higher education ecosystem put into place the right education, networks of people and infrastructure to enable better management of the impact.

Therefore, Malaysian higher education institutions must play their role in producing future-proof graduates tailored and prepared for immersive education, which combines the virtual world, simulators, learning games and sophisticated digital media.


One of the lead authors of the book, Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir, said life-long learning must be embraced by all students through reskilling and upskilling opportunities.

“We need to equip our graduates with future-proof skill sets by harnessing their humanistic, technological and data analytics competencies in embracing 4IR,” she said.

“4IR is radically changing the landscapes of higher learning institutions all over the world and Malaysia is no exception.

“Most of the challenges and opportunities of 4IR are moving at a high speed. For example, data science is now the key pre-requisite of knowledge in automation and big data analytics.

“It also provides the background in the understanding of how cyberspace will become obsolete.

“The ministry’s successful entry into 4IR is dependent on its ability to respond to change, master new knowledge, as well as engage in frontier research, development and innovation on a continuous basis.”

The book also identifies that there are three clusters of 4IR challenges facing the higher education sector.

The first challenge relates to institutional awareness and readiness.

By Zulita Mustafa

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Preparing for Industry 4.0 with leadership skills

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

HOW prepared are you and your business for an uncertain and surprising future?

In today’s complex global business environment, disruption and change are constant.

Development in digital technology is driving exponential changes in the global business environment, leaving business leaders with the need to acquire new skills, thinking and behaviour.

At Oxford University, Industry 4.0 is not a technological issue, but a leadership issue that demands new ways of thinking and behaving.


Hence, the introduction of the new Oxford Leadership 4.0 Immersive Learning Lab, a collaboration between Saïd Business School, Oxford University, and K-Pintar. The programme aims to build the capabilities and skills of Malaysians and Asean business leaders and to respond to adaptive changes in a complex and fast-changing environment.

According to Saïd Business School Corporate Executive Education director Dr Elaine Heslop, the learning lab is a dynamic and immersive process that supports leaders from Malaysia and Asean as they navigate the leadership challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

She said the lab provided a place to question assumptions and build a deeper understanding of how you can develop and guide your organisation for competitive advantage.

“This provocative and intellectually rich programme leverages the expertise of the Oxford University to deepen your understanding of the megatrends and emergent movements that are set to change the future of corporations,” she added.

The learning lab consists of a five-day residential module at Oxford Saïd’s executive education facilities in Oxford, United Kingdom designed to equip senior business leaders with the knowledge and capability to move away from traditional notions of hierarchical leadership. It allows them to be more agile and resilient leaders, and make organisations less vulnerable to critical changes in the wider business and social context.

Participants will be encouraged to reflect and build a greater awareness of the unique attributes of humans as leaders in the digital economy.

Heslop said through the learning lab, the module would prepare one to engage with the following:

WHAT does it mean to be human in the context of the future of work?

HOW do we build and lead organisations in an Industry 4.0 world?

WHAT does firm success look like and how does it occur in Malaysia today, and how will that change?

WHAT do leaders do in this emerging context — mindset, power and authority, collaboration, team?

“The lab marks a new direction in our executive practice at Oxford. We are delighted to be working with colleagues across Malaysia, a burgeoning economy in the world, on how to engage and confront the new challenges posed by 4IR.

“Our faculty has renowned experts and researchers in their specialist subjects and will provide one with access to leading-edge thinking, bringing complex ideas and questions to life,” said Leadership 4.0 Immersive learning Lab for Corporations academic director Professor Dr Marc Ventresca.

The lab will be led by Ventresca and Heslop. It will be delivered through a combination of interactive classes, discussion, group work and facilitation.

The faculty from Saïd Business School will be joined by academics, practitioners and business leaders with relevant insights.

Over the past 15 years, Heslop has worked with a wide range of leading organisations to architect and deliver transformational change programmes.

She has a particular interest in organisational design, the role of play in executive education, and the design of leadership interventions at scale.

Dr. Andrew White (fifth from left) and R.A. Thiagaraja (fourth from left) at the launch the Oxford Leadership 4.0 Immersive Learning Lab for Corporations recently. PIC BY EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

As director, she is responsible for the portfolio of clients that the school delivers throughout the world. Heslop’s team works with Oxford Saïd’s Faculty and Associate Fellows to create tailored programmes to meet the needs of individual organisations.

On the other hand, Ventressa’s research and teaching focuses on innovation, institutions and infrastructure. It involves empirical projects of organisational strategy and economic sociology in growing markets.

The learning journey progresses from why the questions matter and exploring what they mean in an Asean, networked, and 4IR context, to how organisations and leaders can best respond to and convert challenge into opportunity.

Saïd Business School at Oxford University Executive Education associate dean Dr Andrew White said in the wake of 4IR, fresh graduates are less than likely to see longevity in their first job and will have to re-invent themselves in line with the technological changes around them.

“I forsee that their first jobs will not last long. What young graduates are going to learn is how they reinvent themselves as life and technology around them change,” said White.

On corporates’ ability to retain their millennial talents, he added that larger organisations will have to be transformative and make their workplace interesting enough for young people to see a future.

“Some large companies are lazy, not that they are not working hard but they do the same things over and over again. The world is changing around them but they are not changing.

“You’ll find a lot like this, the more successful and bigger they are, the harder they find it to do something different,” he added.

White acknowledged that one of the reasons millennials leave companies is because they see no future there.

Participants will represent leading blue chip organisations from across general industry, and are expected to be C-Suite level influencers from leading Malaysian and Asean organisations.

Supported by the Human Resources Development Fund and the Great Britain Campaign, the programme, led by the Department for International Trade was especially developed in partnership with leading Malaysian training provider, K-Pintar.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Embracing the fourth industrial revolution

Friday, January 26th, 2018
One of the aspects of the digital economy that TN50 must focus on is Artificial Intelligence to prepare the nation and youth for 4IR

THE 241-page report of the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects was recently released, and it points to a better world economy this year, with global economic growth expected to increase to 3.1 per cent.

The positive momentum, anticipated to continue for a few more years, is also forecast to be across the board, where emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) are expected to do better than the rest of the world, where growth is projected at 4.5 per cent. The forecast for the Asian region, in particular, is that it will experience the fastest growth among other regions in the EMDE. This encouraging trend, according to the report, is due to some crucial factors, such as the recovery of global trade, investment, and manufacturing activities

Of course, this trend is not without its downside risks, as the report correctly pointed out. The risks, among others, are the issue of deep financial stress, the rise in geopolitical tensions, and an increase in protectionism. All these, might, depending on their nature and magnitude, threaten the growth and development of EMDEs in the near future. It is also dependent on how well the EMDEs anticipate and
respond, and how resilient and strong their economic fundamentals are when confronted with these risks.

The report also disclosed some worrying trends, where it sees the rate of growth of EMDEs to gradually slow down. The World Bank scenario suggests that the potential growth of EMDEs between now and 2027 may drop, on average, by 0.5 percentage points from the period of 2013 to 2017, and 0.9 percentage points below its average a decade ago. It also says, moving forward, a structural reform is necessary to offset this slowdown. One of the aspects of the reform is to improve the total factor productivity (TFP), which is the measure of output given the quantity of labour and capital.

Indeed, as far as boosting TFP is concerned, focusing on labour market reforms is paramount. It is also apparent that EMDEs have to find a new source of growth in the future as some analysts have argued that one of the reasons for the drop in TFP is the saturation of the information and communications technology (ICT) of the 1990s, which is the main source of their TFP growth. These are areas, which I think EMDEs have to prepare from now since the economic outlook is still good. We don’t know for sure for how long this is going to last.

Malaysia, in this regard, has made its move earlier. Under Vision 2020, Malaysia has reaped abundant opportunities from ICT, especially from the Internet. But, today, this may not be sufficient. To boost our TFP, we need to prepare for the inevitable fourth industrial revolution (4IR), which is basically about digital economy, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), cross border e-commerce, and many more.

This is what Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) must emphasise on to prepare the nation and youth for the challenges of 4IR. The transformation has already started with the launch of the Digital Free Trade Zone last.

November, which is the first in the world outside China. This is testament to the government’s vision and long-term economic plans. The appointment of Alibaba Group executive chairman, Jack Ma as Malaysia’s digital economy adviser, is another milestone for Malay sia, and Malaysians must tap the vast expertise from him to grow and develop in this industry.

To date, there are more than 2,000 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) registered under this new platform, and there are many programmes and incentives provided, such as the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur programme to build this industry further.

But, I believe it is the education sector which needs to play a crucial role in the future, as we need to build the right ecosystem for the growth of digital economy, including producing a talent pool of e-commerce entrepreneurs.

Last year, as part of the joint effort between the Higher Education Ministry and Alibaba Group Limited, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) and the Chinese Internet giant. (UUM) will be responsible for coordinating the joint effort which will benefit students in all public universities and polytechnics nationwide. Public universities and polytechnics will be offering programmes conducted with the collaboration of Alibaba Business School. UUM will also offer courses such as e-commerce, information technology, and big data.


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