Archive for the ‘Curriculum’ Category

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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Changes in store at schools

Saturday, December 24th, 2016
Time for update: The Primary School Standard Curriculum, which was introduced to Year One pupils in 2011, will be reviewed in 2017.

Time for update: The Primary School Standard Curriculum, which was introduced to Year One pupils in 2011, will be reviewed in 2017.

The Education Ministry is implementing a new curriculum in secondary schools and revising the current one in primary schools.

THE Education Ministry awaits 2017 with much anticipation as it is the year that sees the implementation of the new Standard Curriculum for Secondary Schools (KSSM) for Form One students and a revised Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) for Year One pupils.

The first cohort of KSSR began in 2011 starting with Year One.

In an interview outlining several changes made in reviewing the KSSR, the Education Ministry’s head for the policy and research sector, Naza Idris Saadon, said: “The first cycle of the KSSR which was implemented in 2011 has ended and we will now do a review of it in 2017, concurrent with the implementation of the KSSM.

“These changes will be done in stages and new textbooks will be provided to students.

“In line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, several changes must be made to our national curriculum in order to produce students who are resilient, curious, innovative and able to communicate well.”

Naza Idris said some of the changes made in the KSSR review and simultaneously the KSSM include the content of the subjects as the ministry believes it has to be up to date with the changing times.

“We want relevant content to be taught to our students.”

He emphasised that the content taught today has to change in accordance, by including new information and content into the subject especially for those that revolve around technology.

“The structure of the subjects taught is still the same but there will be tweaks in its content.

“We are also improving the content of our syllabus in accordance with global trends and international benchmarking to ensure our curriculum is on par internationally.

“Other changes include the organisation and management of the curriculum, changes in the pedagogy aspect of teaching and learning and in the allocation of time for each subject,” he added.

Naza Idris explained that in the past, teachers were required to complete a certain amount of minutes in a week for each subject.

Now, it will be completed in minimum hours per year.

“This is where we want schools to manage the allocation of time for each subject.

“The minimum hours a subject has to be completed within a year depends on the subject itself as different subjects have different requirements. How many hours in a week the teacher uses to teach his or her students their subjects is their prerogative, but they must meet the minimum hours set for the year,” he added.

Merely focusing on the national education’s syllabus isn’t enough as the ministry and teachers must look into how to deliver and teach their students effectively, added Naza Idris.

“Teaching pedagogy is of paramount importance so that the content that has been set for the syllabus will be delivered effectively.

“We want to emphasise on the importance of taking an in-depth and contextual approach in learning as well as problem-solving and project-based approach.

“To execute this, teachers need time to plan and this is why we eliminated the requirement of completing the teaching and learning of a subject in minutes per week and substituted it with hours per year,” he said.

The ministry places significant importance on a teaching and learning pedagogy based on higher order thinking skills (HOTS).

Assessments are carried out continuously through summative and formative methods to ensure the progress and achievements of student.

Naza Idris added that teachers will assess the extent to which students are able to master learning standards with reference to the performance standards.


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Entrepreneurship A Popular Subject Among Students Now — SME Bank

Thursday, November 10th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 (Bernama) — Entrepreneurship is now a popular subject among students based on the increasing number of participants in the SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge 2016.

SME Bank Chairman, Tan Sri Faizah Mohd Tahir, said the programme, in its fifth year, aimed to provide a platform for the young to explore their entrepreneurship side.

“At the start of the competition in 2012, there were 409 entries of which 1,344 were middle school students. Since then, the number of participants has seen a steady increase,” she said.

Faizah said this to reporters at the Young Entrepreneur Innovation Programme SME Y-Biz Challenge 2016 prize-giving ceremony here today.

A total prize pool of RM91,000 was given out to the winners and participants.


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Exposure To Financial Education Good For Schoolchildren, Says Kamalanathan

Monday, November 7th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 (Bernama) — Exposure to financial management among schoolchilren is essential to instill good saving and spending behaviour to prepare them for adult life, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan.

He said it is easier to learn new languages at a young age, and the same holds true for financial education.

“To achieve this aim, the Education Ministry works alongside Bank Negara and other financial institutions to develop educational financial programmes targeted at schoolchildren to equip them with basic financial knowledge and money skills,” he told reporters after presenting prizes to Alliance Bank AEIOU Challenge 2 winners here today.

The AEIOU Challenge, a financial literacy competition (involving the drawing of a comic strip) for primary school pupils (Year Four to Six) was to help children improve their understanding of financial concepts and to cultivate the habit of living within one’s means.

Alliance Bank group chief executive officer Joel Kornreich said the challenge has helped pupils understand financial literacy in a simple, fun and engaged way.

Participation in the competition increased more than 60 per cent over last year, with 8,500 pupils from 23 schools nationwide taking part.

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School Specialising In Arts To Be Set Up In Sabah Next Year

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

BEAUFORT, Sept 18 (Bernama) — Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said a secondary school specialising in the arts would be set up in Sabah, next year.

He said the plan to build the school with a budget allocation of more than RM70 million was included in the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).

Mahdzir said Sandakan was the ministry’s chosen location to develop the secondary arts school.

“The curriculum at the secondary arts school will be the same as a normal school, but it focuses in the arts.

“It is one of the initiatives, to provide artistic skills including aspects of management in the field,” he said after a gathering with teachers and students of SMK Gadong, here, today.

Mahadzir is a former principal of SMK Gadong and served for three years from 1990.

He said so far, such secondary schools had been established in Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baharu and Sarawak.

In a related development, Mahdzir said he was confident the federal government would allocate funds for the development of education in Sabah in the 11MP as there were still schools that needed to be improved and upgraded.

He said the development of education in the state would be carried out in a holistic and comprehensive manner. There will be an emphasis on critical infrastructure in schools such as teachers’ quarters and hostels, whether in urban, rural or remote areas, including the 63 schools located on the islands.


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Financial Literacy Elements In School Curriculum

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, June 18 (Bernama) — Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Education Ministry have introduced a module for primary schools to educate pupils in good financial management.

Finance deputy minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan said the module containing elements of financial literacy was incorporated into the school curriculum last year for Year Four pupils, and expanded for Year Five pupils this year.

“The module will be extended in stages to other classes, he said in reply to Datuk Datu Nasrun Datu Mansur (BN-Silam) at the Dewan Rakyat here today.

He said the BNM-Education Ministry initiative was aimed at producing a financially literate generation capable of making smart financial decisions.

Datu Nasrun also wanted the ministry to disclose the measures taken to educate the Malaysian society in financial management, as outlined in the Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020.

Ahmad said elements in the module included income and career, responsible financial decisions, savings and investment, and credit and debt management.

He said for secondary schools, students could choose to learn financial management in the Commerce, Principles of Accounts and Basic Economics subjects.

As for public higher learning institutions (IPT), the government with the cooperation of the Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) had managed to push for the financial management module to be an elective subject at 52 public and private IPT and 30 polytechnics.

Aside from that, AKPK had given financial management briefings to 732,051 people nationwide up till May, he said.


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What Is Integrated Curriculum?

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

Innovative educators concerned with improving student achievement are seeking ways to create rigorous, relevant, and engaging curriculum. They are asking questions such as these:

  • Can making wind and rain machines improve the reading comprehension and writing scores of elementary students on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test?
  • Do students really learn math by learning to clog dance?
  • When students spend after-school time participating in a microsociety that reflects the roles of real life, will their test scores in math and reading improve?

In Florida, Okhee Lee, an education professor at the University of Miami, engages elementary students in making little wind and rain machines. Students focus on the “big ideas” such as evaporation, condensation, and thermal energy. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) does not test science; however, Lee’s students have shown more than 100 percent gains in comprehension and writing on the FCAT. Their success in language is particularly impressive because many of the students come from different ethnic backgrounds, and many of them speak English as their second language. Lee claims that when she teaches science concepts she also teaches students to think and write in the structured, coherent ways required on standardized tests (Barry, 2001).

In public schools in Asheville and Buncombe, North Carolina, students learn math skills through clog dancing and explore the solar system through modern dance. In these schools, teachers deliver the core curriculum through the arts. This approach is based on the research report Champions of Change: The Impact of the Arts on Learning (Fiske, 1999). This report offers clear evidence that sustained involvement in particular art forms—music and theater—is highly correlated with success in mathematics and reading. Furthermore, at-risk students do particularly well both academically and personally in these types of programs (Blake, 2001).

Students participate in a microsociety in an after-school program at Amistad Academy in New Haven, Connecticut. This program prepares middle school students from a poor minority population for colleges, careers, and citizenship. They attend traditional classes during the regular school day, and after school for a few hours a week, they belong to a microscociety—holding jobs, paying taxes, running businesses, making laws, and punishing lawbreakers. The purpose of the program is to make school more relevant and fun while building transferable life skills. The school raised its average test scores two and a half levels in math and one and a half levels in reading. In 1998, a study of 15 microsociety schools in six states found that at two-thirds of the schools, students posted gains on standardized reading and math tests that were as much as 21 percent greater than those of their peers (Wilgoren, 2001).

In these three examples, student achievement is a primary focus. Teachers maintain accountability while designing learning experiences that are relevant to student interests. Interestingly, two of the schools serve populations of diverse students. In each case, teachers have developed intriguing curriculum that pushes beyond the boundaries of traditional disciplines to produce positive results. Comprehension, for example, is comprehension, whether taught in a language class or a science class. When students are engaged in learning, whether they are taking part in the arts or role playing in a microsociety, they do well in seemingly unconnected academic arenas. These are only a few of the countless examples of students involved in interdisciplinary studies at all grade levels. The examples highlight the potential of integrated curriculum to act as a bridge to increased student achievement and engaging, relevant curriculum.

Defining Integrated Curriculum.

What exactly is integrated curriculum? In its simplest conception, it is about making connections. What kind of connections? Across disciplines? To real life? Are the connections skill-based or knowledge-based?

Defining integrated curriculum has been a topic of discussion since the turn of the 20th century. Over the last hundred years, theorists offered three basic categories for interdisciplinary work; they defined the categories similarly, although the categories often had different names. Integration seemed to be a matter of degree and method. For example, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) offered the following definitions in 1935:

Correlation may be as slight as casual attention to related materials in other subject areas . . . a bit more intense when teachers plan it to make the materials of one subject interpret the problems or topics of another.

Fusion designates the combination of two subjects, usually under the same instructor or instructors.

Integration: the unification of all subjects and experiences.

We joined this conversation in the early ’90s. At the time, we were unaware of the long history of educators with similar concerns. In our separate locations, we defined three approaches to integration—multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary. Our definitions of these categories emerged from our personal experiences in the field. We noticed that people seemed to approach integrating curriculum from three fundamentally different starting points. In looking back, we see that our definitions closely aligned with the definitions proposed by other educators over the decades. The three categories offer a starting point for understanding different approaches to integration.

Multidisciplinary Integration.

Multidisciplinary approaches focus primarily on the disciplines. Teachers who use this approach organize standards from the disciplines around a theme. Figure 1.1 shows the relationship of different subjects to each other and to a common theme. There are many different ways to create multidisciplinary curriculum, and they tend to differ in the level of intensity of the integration effort. The following descriptions outline different approaches to the multidisciplinary perspective.

Figure 1.1. The Multidisciplinary Approach

Intradisciplinary Approach. When teachers integrate the subdisciplines within a subject area, they are using an intradisciplinary approach. Integrating reading, writing, and oral communication in language arts is a common example. Teachers often integrate history, geography, economics, and government in an intradisciplinary social studies program. Integrated science integrates the perspectives of subdisciplines such as biology, chemistry, physics, and earth/space science. This type of intradisciplinary program is offered for middle school by the University of Alabama’s Center for Communication and Educational Technology. Through this integration, teachers expect students to understand the connections between the different subdisciplines and their relationship to the real world. The program reports a positive impact on achievement for students who participate. (See for more information.)

Fusion. In this multidisciplinary approach, teachers fuse skills, knowledge, or even attitudes into the regular school curriculum. In some schools, for example, students learn respect for the environment in every subject area. At Mount Rainier Elementary in Washington State, teachers incorporate the theme of peace into every thread of the school’s curriculum (Thomas-Lester, 2001). Students begin each week promising to be peaceful, respectful, and responsible. They follow a list of responsibilities and learn about peace in their classes. In reading, for example, students analyze positive characteristics of people in stories; in social studies, they learn the importance of cultures working together. The school records the number of days without a fight as “peace days”; teachers write the accumulated number of peace days on the blackboard in every classroom. Teachers wear peace signs, and students greet each other with the peace sign.

by Susan M. Drake and Rebecca C. Burns.

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Empathy, key component in moral studies

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Helping hands: Two boys clean up a classroom with their teachers after floods hit their school. It is this trait - their willingness to help - that reinforces the importance of good values. - File Photo

Helping hands: Two boys clean up a classroom with their teachers after floods hit their school. It is this trait – their willingness to help – that reinforces the importance of good values. – File Photo

While schools aim for academic excellence, there is also a need to inculcate in students the values of patience and compassion.

MORAL Education has come a long way in Malaysia. Since Malaysia attained independence, much has been said about the subject.

In fact, recently, Moral Education came under scrutiny where many ‘higher order thinking skills’ (HOTS) questions were posed to students when they sat for their PT3 Moral Education paper. Candidates were not fully prepared for the HOTS questions.

There have been discussions and debates about the purpose of having Moral Education in our curriculum.

Many educationists, have said that Moral Education cannot be taught solely for examination purposes.

Moral Education or otherwise known as Values Education, Character Education, Ethics Education or Civics and Citizenship Education in other developed and developing countries, can be taught in an interesting and thought-provoking manner to develop the mindset of the students. However, are we focusing on just this (mindset) all the time?

Moral Education should also touch on the affective side that the educators seldom focus on. We may not be aware that moral emotions are crucial for one’s development and empathy is one major component.

There are various definitions of empathy. Various theorists and psychologists have suggested different definitions for empathy like Feshbach, who asserted that empathy has both cognitive and affective components.

An expert in Emotion, Nancy Eisenberg viewed empathy “as an affective response that stress from the apprehension or comprehension of another’s emotional state or condition and is similar to what the other person is feeling or would be expected to feel in the given situation”.

Motivating factor

Empathy as a component plays an important role in moral development as well as being a motivator for prosocial behaviour. Researchers have stated that people who deeply care for others and experience their empotions, are motivated to help other people.

According to famous theorists and psychologists, it is Hoffman’s theory of empathy that has the most extensive coverage on the development of the topic and care in humans.

He defined empathy as “an affective response more appropriate to another’s situation than one’s own”.


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Civic And Citizenship Education To Be Enhanced

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 (Bernama) – The curriculum for Islamic Education, Moral Education and History will be improved from 2017 to enhance Civic and Citizenship Education (PSK).

Deputy Minister of Education Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching said PSK, a core subject in secondary schools, will not be taught as a subject under the Malaysian Education Development Plan 2013-2025.

“PSK aims to create awareness among students about their roles, rights and responsibilities to create citizens who are united,” she said replying to a question in the Dewan Rakyat Monday.


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Agriculture to become curriculum activities in secondary school

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

NILAI: Integrated science can become one of the curriculum activities in secondary schools nationwide, said Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said the minister encourage agriculture in schools as it was previously not being given any attention.

“The involvement of youths in agriculture is somewhat wanting with only 15 percent involved in the sector. So we want to nurture the interest among youths through students at schools,” he told reporters after the ‘Malam Ramah Mesra’ function, organised by Cempaka International Ladies College (CILC), Bandar Enstek near here last night.

He said the matter would be discussed with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister so that agriculture could be made a curriculum in schools.

“We will start at secondary schools and we expect it will be launched next year,” he said, adding that CILC which is equipped with suitable land for agriculture and fish ponds would be used as the pilot project initially.


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