Archive for the ‘Curriculum’ Category

New syllabus good, but can be better.

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

WHILE welcoming the move to introduce a Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus, stakeholders stress the importance of literature especially in the age of digitisation, and are suggesting some tweaks to the planned syllabus.

Under the new Secondary School Standards-based Curriculum (KSSM) next year, Form Four students will sit for the elective SPM paper with a new format in 2021.

The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) is supportive of the new format and structure. But the syllabus aims and learning outcomes should be expanded to include contemporary readings and analytical perspectives, says its president Prof Dr S. Ganakumaran.

He says the choice of texts offered is narrow and traditional.

“We need a wider, more inclusive and progressive perspective of literature and literary texts.

“Open up the space for students to engage with the cross-cultural and global issues,” he says, calling for a wider choice of international and Malaysian texts to be included.


Perhaps a section on young adult literature can be included, he suggests. This could attract more students to take up the subject, he says, pointing to how the number of students taking literature has been on a downward trend in recent years. He thinks the lack of interest could be because there’s:

> A general drop in English proficiency;

> The feeling that literature does not have a functional purpose;

> The lack of qualified teachers to teach the subject;

> The reluctance of schools wanting to offer the subject due to timetabling issues; and

> Apprehension that the school’s overall academic performance would drop due to poor performance in the paper.

Universiti Malaya (UM) senior lecturer Dr Grace Lim says having fewer texts to study – a key feature in the new syllabus – means not having to rush through the list.

But Lim from the Faculty of Education, says it also means that students are exposed to less variety so it will depend on the teachers and students to explore on their own.

She’s keen to see how the assessment will be implemented.

“Students can produce reader-response creative works, put on performances and even write critical essays if they want. So I wonder if their results will still be wholly based on the exam.”

She hopes it will be a combination of both formative and summative assessments.

School Improvement Specialist Coach Gladys Francis Joseph favours how the new syllabus encourages teachers to stage performances because it’s really beneficial for students.

Gladys, who was involved in writing the new curriculum and was a trainer for the pilot project, says fewer texts to read and having the exam in the middle of the year would help ‘sell’ the subject.

But most schools say there’s a lack of English Language teachers. And to start a class, one needs at least 15 students. Without the support of the administrators, it is an uphill task.


“There are some schools which make it compulsory for students who want to enter the first two Science classes to take up the subject. So, Literature is thriving in these schools due to the policy implemented. Will these students take up the subject if not compelled? A significant number will not.”

Gladys thinks a black-and-white assurance on the prospects of taking English Literature for SPM is needed.

“Will they have an edge over other students for courses in colleges and universities? Parents and school administrators want to see the added value of the subject,” she says, adding that teachers willing to sacrifice their time to start small classes outside the timetable would be helpful. This needs the principal’s support.

The ministry, says Lim, should promote the subject to the public via infographics and social media. It shouldn’t just be done among schools and educators.

Lim says there’s a perception that SPM Literature in English is subjective and difficult to score. Maybe that’s why schools may not want their students to take the subject or let teachers teach it.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan fears that there aren’t enough teachers if there’s an increase in demand for classes.

“Training for literature teachers and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers – who are the majority – are different.”

Literature, he says, is a higher form of language learning that requires a different set of skills to teach.

“Literature is a coherent part of any language learning. But when it’s a subject, it’s a different ball game altogether. Exams and the way you learn are different from learning a language to communicate.”

To get students interested, the texts have to fit with knowledge that the students can relate to, and the level of language mustn’t be too demanding otherwise only those who speak English as a first language would dare take the subject, UM senior lecturer Dr Krishnavanie Shunmugam says.

Those who are struggling with English should not attempt to sit for the new English Literature paper, says Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin.

If the ministry is serious in wanting students to learn and improve their English, the language must be made a compulsory pass in the SPM.

“English Literature is offered only as an elective subject. The new syllabus is good but it’ll only benefit those who are already good in English,” he says, adding that those who can manage it should take the subject.

“It’s definitely a plus. It goes beyond grammar and makes you think about how words are used.”

The buzzword in teaching and learning is HOTS (higher-order thinking skills), which you get ample of in Literature, says Gladys.

“We’re heading to a future controlled by artificial intelligence and machines. Literature can teach the next generation to be more humane, enhance their critical thinking and creativity, and most importantly, develop intuitive knowledge and reasoning skills to distinguish the real from the fictitious.”

Literature is one of those rare subjects that help students understand that not everything is in black and white, says Lim.

It might be unnerving at first but they soon learn that multiple perspectives can exist together. This develops their ability to consider and engage with different ideas and viewpoints.

“The point is not to prove that your opinion is the only one that matters but to give due consideration to how others interpret the texts.”

Literature helps students mature by letting them engage with experiences and situations that they might not have experienced before.

Students will also be more sensitive to how word choice and phrasing are ways through which language represents subjects.

“For example, calling someone a visitor instead of a guest indicates a different attitude towards that individual. In this sense, language is rarely neutral,” she says.

Krishnavanie believes that students who take SPM English Literature have an edge over others when applying for college or university degrees related to languages and linguistics, performing arts, creative writing, media studies, mass communication and language education.

“Even if they’re applying for a degree in the hardcore sciences, having SPM English Literature on their certificate would be impressive because it would imply that the students have not only been exposed to the kind of analytical skills needed for science, but have also been trained to have critical thinking skills necessary for reading literature.”

Literature, in whatever language, mirrors various facets of life – happiness, suffering, evil, goodness and foolishness – in creative forms, she adds.

“Literature has made me more sensitive to what’s happening around me. It’s given me a fresh perspective to stereotypes.”

UM language teacher J. Yasodhara N.V.J. Menon agrees.

“Many people are still stuck in the misconception that literature is old and boring. But they fail to realise that literature is alive, fluid, and in the present. It’s a written record of human consciousness and personal experiences. It tells us that humans are one in their needs and desires.”

Prof Ganakumaran says the study of literature has many benefits. It improves vocabulary and understanding of the different ways language can be used. This gives students the confidence to communicate and express themselves better.

By Christina Chin and Rowena Chua
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New SPM English Lit syllabus

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

PETALING JAYA: A Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus will be introduced to secondary schools next year in a move to boost proficiency in the language.

Form Four students will study the syllabus in January and sit for the SPM exam with a new format in 2021, Examinations Syndicate director of examinations Adzman Talib said.

The 18-month curriculum is drawn from 10 poems, one novel or six short stories, and one drama, he said.

Among others, these students will read The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), The Clay Marble (Minfong Ho), and Embra­cing Your Shadow (Chua Kok Yee).

The poems would include To Autumn (John Keats) and When You Are Old (by William Butler Yeats).

Under a pilot project which started in 2017, 300 Form Four students from seven schools in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak sat for the International General Certificate in Secondary Education (IGCSE) Eng­lish Literature exam in June 2018 instead of the SPM English Litera­ture paper.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin explained that re-branding the English Literature curriculum was among the ministry’s efforts to enhance the English proficiency of students.

The new Standards-Based English Literature Curriculum for Secon­dary Schools emphasises the importance of sustaining the use of the Eng­lish language within and be­­yond the classroom.

The elective subject serves as pre­paration for studying language or literature at higher levels as well as to enrich students’ knowledge of English, he said.

To encourage uptake among STEM (Science, Technology, Engi­neering and Mathematics) students, the 2021 English Literature exam will be held either in June or July, said Amin.

“This is to alleviate the stress of sitting for many subjects in November and to encourage more students to learn this subject,” he said.

Amin said the ministry wanted to encourage all students, including those in the science and technical fields, to learn this subject, as it would help improve their command of the language through the exposure and study of both local and international texts.

Literature, he said, would improve their proficiency while enhancing their knowledge of history and cultures.

“It also provides vicarious experiences through reading and promotes critical thinking and analytical skills,” he said.

The English Language Teaching Centre and the ministry’s master trainers will train teachers who are interested.

Those with a background in English Literature can be re-posted to the states of their choice.

State education departments will promote the subject at premier and residential schools and oversee the implementation of the new curriculum.

By Christina Chin
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Include Federal Constitution in school syllabus

Friday, April 19th, 2019
Make it a requirement that the Federal Constitution is taught in schools to expose students to the history behind the Federal Constitution and state constitutions, and the forefathers who drafted them. FILE PIC

CALLS have been made as far back as 10 years ago for the Federal Constitution to be taught in schools.

Every citizen, young and old, should know what the Federal Constitution contains as it sets out the legal framework and rights of all Malaysians.

Some parties have decided to renew the call again, following the public dispute on the provisions of the Federal Constitution following the government’s move of signing, and later rescinding from being a party to the Rome Statute and also the resignation of Datuk Osman Sapian as Johor menteri besar which sparked an intense discussion on the provisions in the Johor State Constitution on the appointment of his replacement.

Earlier, there was a heated debate as to whether the government would contravene the Federal Constitution if it ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

We find that some of those participating in the debates do so without having enough information and knowledge or without thinking about it.

As such, it is the duty of every citizen to know the Constitution and their respective state constitutions. In fact, every household should keep a copy of the Federal Constitution and their respective state constitution.

While one can download the Federal Constitution from the website of the Attorney General’s Chambers, it is a little difficult to source the state constitutions.

Percetakan Nasional Malaysia should make these available for purchase at its premises or at major bookstores nationwide.

It should be incorporated in the school curriculum to expose students — both at schools and universities as students today are leaders tomorrow — to the history behind the Federal Constitution and state constitutions, the forefathers who drafted them and their salient points. This would enable them to appreciate the wisdom behind the crafting of the documents and understand the various articles in the constitutions.

Each and every one of us has to be educated on the Constitution. This will make us informed citizens. It will also make us think clearly and rationally about what to say or what to believe.

Universiti Malaya law professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi, in one of his articles published by the media, said a constitution is not just a legal document. It is linked with philosophy and politics. It has as its backdrop the panorama of history, geography, economics and culture.

“The Constitution is not a magic wand. It is not the alchemy that will set everything right. The challenge for Malaysian citizens is to get to know their Constitution, appreciate its moderating influence and bridge the gap between theory and reality,” he said.

I the United States, for example, it is a requirement by law that the US Constitution is taught in schools.

In 2004, a bill was signed that made it a law to teach the US Constitution in federally-funded schools. It is the legal obligation of those schools to provide students with programmes that open their eyes to the importance of the Constitution in their everyday lives.

Taught properly, students can understand the true meaning of their rights and the vital constitutional amendments that protect those rights.

It is also a law for the head of each US Federal agency or department to, among others, provide each new employee with educational and training materials concerning the Constitution as part of the orientation module provided to new employees.

There is also a Constitution Day (or Citizenship Day) in the US. It recognises the adoption of the US Constitution and those who have become US citizens.

It is normally observed on Sept 17, to commemorate the day in 1787, when delegates to the Constitutional Convention signed the document in Philadelphia.

And a quick check on the Internet showed that over 60 countries celebrate Constitution Day. While it is not a public holiday, Constitution Day is often celebrated on the anniversary of the signing, promulgation or adoption of the constitution, or in some cases, to commemorate the change to constitutional monarchy.

In India, for example, Nov 26 is observed as Constitution Day and on that day, schoolchildren would be taught about the Constitution.

The Constitution of India is the longest written of any country in the world, containing 444 articles in 22 parts, 12 schedules and 118 amendments, with 146,385 words in its English-language version.

In an article on its website “The Malaysian Bar”, the Bar Council said people would realise that the Constitution plays a pivotal role in their daily lives if they are aware of its provisions.

“It is vital for everyone to understand the rights and privileges granted by the Constitution. It is important for us to understand the demarcation between the responsibilities of the federal government and the state governments,” it said.

The Bar Council also said that the role of the rakyat vis-à-vis the Federal Constitution is a simple one. It is to respect the Constitution and ensure that it is defended and upheld at all times.

By Fauziah Ismail.

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Govt to look into introducing Technology as a subject in education syllabus

Monday, March 11th, 2019
The government is looking at introducing a Technology subject as part of the education syllabus.

SEREMBAN: The government is looking at introducing a Technology subject as part of the education syllabus.

This is to prepare the younger generation with advanced technology and knowledge in the digital industry said

Minister of Communications and Multimedia Gobind Singh Deo.

He said the proposal had been discussed with the Education Ministry.

“We want to create a new learning system to meet the ever-expanding technological challenges, especially now with the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) having given a new impetus to educational transformation,” Gobind said after launching the JomStudi programme at Kampung Kering Labu’s Internet centre, here, today.

“We will collaborate with the Education Ministry, but at the moment, no decision has been made so far, as we need to set up a proper infrastructure before the syllabus can be introduced,” he said.

Gobind acknowledged that various preparations needed to be made before the idea could be executed, especially providing easy Internet access nationwide, especially in the rural areas.

“It is a challenge, but we must overcome this.

“We must start somewhere as the world now is moving towards the industrial and digital era.

“We are working hard to providE internet access, infrastructure and facilities which can benefit people from all walks of life,” he said.

A collaborative effort involving Media Prima Bhd, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd (Astro) and Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd (Digi), JomStudi is a new digital learning hub that aggregates school syllabus-based content to make digital learning more available, especially those in under-served areas.

Hosted and managed by Digi, JomStudi provides students with easy access to quality education content that follows the syllabus format set by the Education Ministry.

Also present at the launching event were Media Prima group managing director Datuk Kamal Khalid, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commision chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak, Astro chief executive officer Henry Tan, Digi chief executive officer Albern Murty and Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation vice-president of talent and digital entrepreneurship Sumitra Nair.

Gobind said the collaboration was vital to bridge the digital gap and change the way learning was experienced.

By Nur Aqidah Azizi.

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Anti-corruption element to be included in Civics subject next year

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018
Education minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the subject would be taught to those in the primary and secondary schools as well as at pre-school level to shape moral values. Pic by NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry will introduce education on anti-corruption into the Civics subject from next year.

Its minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the subject would be taught to those in the primary and secondary schools as well as at pre-school level to shape moral values.

Aside from anti-corruption, other elements which will be added include human rights, road safety and the environment.

“We don’t have a specific subject on anti-corruption, but what we can do is add it as one of the topics in the Civics subject, which we will re-introduce

“Starting next year, we will re-introduce the subject. It will not be a must-pass subject, but it will a compulsory subject,” he said after a national Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Education Ministry forum 2018 here.

Maszlee said this in response to MACC’s proposal to have a compulsory subject on anti-corruption in schools.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull earlier said efforts must be taken to teach children from young to dislike corruption.

On Shukri’s disclosure that corruption had spread to schools involving students, and teachers asking for sex from students as an inducement to pass examination, Maszlee said he had not received such a report so far.

“We urge those who are involved to lodge a report with the police. Don’t hide it. We will not tolerate such action and action will be taken.

“The victims are protected by law. We want the victims to come forward and lodge reports so that we can ensure schools are a safe place for all students and teachers,” he added.

By Irwan Shafrizan Ismail.

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Swimming co-curricular to be introduced next year – Maszlee Malik

Sunday, October 21st, 2018

Swimming will be introduced as a co-curricular activity for school students next year, said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik. (NSTP/KHAIRUL AZHAR AHMAD)

KUALA LUMPUR: Swimming will be introduced as a co-curricular activity for school students next year, said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said the ministry aimed to equip the students with swimming skills and curb drowning incidents.

For a start, he said, the activity would taught to students at schools located near a public swimming pool.

He said the ministry would also carry out discussions with the respective local councils and state Education Department.

“The implementation of the co-curricular would be carried out in stages, starting with schools located near public swimming pools.

“We found that a lot of the swimming pools nationwide are under utilised.

“We hope that the swimming activity would be expanded to all the schools nationwide to prevent drowning among the children,” he said in his speech at a child safety programme held in conjunction with this year’s Children’s Day at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), here, today.

The co-curricular was among the four good news for education next year.

One of them, he said, was to ensure all schools were subjected to the issuance of Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO) or Completion and Compliance (CCC) and certificate of fitness (CF) to ensure the safety of the children at school.

Other efforts revolved around ensuring that no students were left behind, encourage teachers to also give attention to class beautification, and reduce the school bag burden.

“I have instructed the Education director-general to make the schools the safest place to learn and play.

“I was made to understand that many schools were not certified with CF and CCC; this matter must not be compromised.

“On the issue of school bag, the ministry is committed in seeking solutions and my officers will carry out an in-depth study to reduce the weight (carried by students to school everyday) by next year.

“We don’t want them (children) to carry huge and heavy luggage like those of the stewards.

“We also want the teachers to be happy by reducing their workload as they are no longer required to do clerical jobs beginning next year and focus solely on teaching,” he said.

By Meor Riduwan Meor Ahmad.

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MOE To Conduct Moral Values Development Programme Next Year

Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Education (MOE), via the Education Implementation and Performance Unit (PADU) will conduct a comprehensive Moral Values Development programme next year.

MOE deputy director-general (Policy Division) Dr Zainal Alam Hassan said the measures were taken following the rise in the number of bullying cases among school students.

“We do not want our students to focus only on education, and want them to become complete human beings,” he told reporters before the cinema preview of the Education Development Plan 2013-2025, here today.

Meanwhile, PADU principal managing director Khadijah Abdullah said various initiatives were undertaken to improve the standard of education among Malaysians in line with the Education Development Plan.


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School Curriculum To Be Reviewed Every Five Years – Kamalanathan

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 (Bernama) — The government will review the primary and secondary school curricula every five years for improvement and to ensure these remain relevant with the times.

Deputy Education Minister, Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the existing curricula emphasised on the aspects of knowledge acquisition, practical elements, practice, appreciation and enculturation.

He was replying to a supplementary question from Dr Mansor Abdul Rahman (BN-SIK) on the matter at the Dewan Rakyat sitting, here, today.

Kamalanathan, meanwhile, said only 0.12 per cent of the 5.1 million primary and secondary school students nationwide were involved in acts of moral decadence or social problems such as gambling, stealing, threatening teachers and other students, extortion and gangsterism.

To a supplementary question from Nasrudin Hassan (PAS-Temerloh) on extending the tahfiz module to other schools, he said the Education Ministry had plans to introduce the tahfiz and vocational modules to the national religious secondary schools.


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Schools to teach about Environment

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

IPOH: Environmental education is expected to be introduced as a subject in schools and universities by 2019.

The draft would be presented to Cabinet next year, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Dr Wan Junaidi said he mooted the suggestion earlier this year, not only for the subject to be introduced in the primary and secondary schools but also at kindergartens and universities.

“We are already in discussion with the Education Ministry.

Dr Wan Junaidi said with the syllabus in place, it would greatly help in addressing environmental pollution problems and the importance of sustainable development, among others.

“As a school subject, we can instil in children the importance of protecting the environment at an early age. It will be a great step forward,” he said.

During his talk, Dr Wan Junaidi said it was impossible to carry out development without thinking of sustainability.

He said the management of natural resources was important so that future generations could enjoy it.

“In Malaysia, we have several forests in Sabah, Perak and Langkawi that attract tourists from far and near,” Dr Wan Junaidi said.

“If these are destroyed it will also impact tourism.”

Dr Wan Junaidi said people were visiting countries in Europe and the United States, but there was just as much to see in Asean countries.

“For example, many people are not aware that the Sarawak Chamber at the Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak is the largest in the world.

“It is so big that about 100 Boeing 747 planes can fit inside,” he added.

On a separate matter, Dr Wan Junaidi said more areas in the country would be included under the National Heritage Trust (Amanah Warisan Negara) to protect and maintain green zones.

He said that among these places were Pulau Anak Tikus, Kilim Geoforest Park and the Dropstone area measuring 1,200m in Langkawi.

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Include character education in curricula

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

Our local universities, be they public or private, are increasingly transforming the national tertiary learning climate to one that is challenge-driven. FILE PIC

I WOULD like to think that when the New Economic Policy was introduced in 1971, the nation felt compelled to step out of its comfort zone. Times were certainly rough in those days, but the nation rose to the occasion under then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein’s leadership.

Razak’s calm and decisive demeanour were instrumental in getting the rural people, in particular, to change their mindset. He urged them to fulfil their obligations to their country to the best of their abilities, and assured them that every effort they put forth would not be in vain.

Our past generations have done the hard work and we have reaped the benefits of their labour. Amidst the growing complexities and high pace of change in the world today, the aspiration of building a united Malaysian nation in diversity remains a work-in-progress.

We were privileged to get a head start in uncovering and appreciating the values and beauty in diversity, but as our world gets a little more crowded and as our priorities change, it would take more than what we understand from our informal learning on religious values and civic virtue to contain ourselves for polite, attentive discussions of the solutions. How social justice is differently defined in this age and time could well further add to the intricacies in reaching a common platform. Our societies need to be capable of not only accepting, but also leveraging on differences. Relevant knowledge, skills and traits are critically needed to propel us forward.

We understand that education is a prime vehicle for fostering social change, and this is where universities play a role. Our local universities, be they public or private, regardless of the form we operate in, are increasingly transforming the national tertiary learning climate to one that is challenge-driven. We are constantly learning to maintain a temperature of mutual respect between the members of our communities to encourage professional growth and character development. Our commitment to education should run deep on the same nestled belief that we, too, are fulfilling our obligation to the country, ensuring that our efforts contribute to the progress of the nation.

Back in the 1960s, when Razak was still a deputy prime minister, he addressed a large group of teaching professionals, calling for coordination for all the activities and influences which will serve to erase differences and promote unity as a reminder on the importance of educators playing their role in fulfilling the nation’s supreme need in becoming united.

“If one pulls his weight, we would have travelled a little further along the road that leads to complete and real national unity.

“A strong and happy Malaysian nation is our most important national objective and we all must work towards its achievement.

“This is our sacred task and if we fail here, the whole future of this nation will be imperiled,” said Razak in his speech in 1974, echoing the same call to persistently work hard and train the mind that with good heart and goodwill, all will prevail.

Oftentimes in tertiary education, we find it challenging to be focused on anything else but the development of our students’ cognitive and psychomotor domains when designing the curricula, as our graduates have to be prepared for the jobs of tomorrow.

Under the guise of practicality, the vocational style of learning and teaching capitalises on the anxieties of parents and employers’ wants.

Education is geared towards preparing graduates to be economically self-sufficient for as long as the economic environment dynamics remain similar to what they were exposed to during tertiary studies. We fall short on training of the whole person for our graduates to become more effective after university, in the work they have chosen and as functioning citizens in our future national and global social landscapes, in which the planet prospers because diversity matters.

Now that we have built our tertiary education climate to be challenge-driven, character education must be formally incorporated into our curricula and its importance infused in our learning ecology. Let us not be contented with character building as a “nice” outcome of the learning activities we hold.

It is past due that we take a proactive role in educating students for character and include the affective domain as a critical part in our student assessments. Many of our youth are struggling with the issues of fairness and consideration, and as educators we should nurture our students for social ability, emotional management and traits that will improve our consciousness as Malaysians. My hope is that one day soon, our universities will not only promote sound character development in an intentional manner, but also move it to the forefront.


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