Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

The learning challenge

Thursday, October 12th, 2017
Students taking part in the NIE English Workshop at Balai Berita, Bangsar, last year. According to the World Bank, each additional year of schooling raises an individual’s earnings by 8-10 per cent, especially for women.

IF we are to believe the World Development Report in Education 2018, published by the World Bank a fortnight ago, we are facing “a learning crisis” in global education. The report’s secondary title, “Learning to Realise Education’s Promise”, rightly champions “learning for all”.

But in reality, education and learning gaps are huge and examples endless and excruciating; and no country are unscathed. World Bank statistics also do not include the 260 million children worldwide who for “reasons of conflict, discrimination, disability, and other obstacles, are not enrolled in primary or secondary schools”.

Millions of young students in low- and middle-income countries face the prospect of lost
opportunity and lower wages in later life because their primary and secondary schools are failing to educate them to succeed in life.

Failing education is not the preserve of developing countries. There are plenty of failing schools in the United States and the United Kingdom, two of the most prosperous countries on earth, thanks largely to their amoral system of education apartheid, where money is the prime mover in the private sector, and chronic underinvestment the feature of the state sector.

As Jaime Saavedra, the World Bank’s senior director for education, warns, “education reform is urgently needed and requires persistence as well as the political alignment of government, media, entrepreneurs, teachers, parents and students. They all have to value and demand better learning”.

The World Bank’s own research shows that education is a powerful tool for raising incomes. Each additional year of schooling raises an individual’s earnings by 8-10 per cent, especially for women, and this is not because more able or better-connected people receive more education. The knock-on effect is that better educated and earning people live longer and healthier, thus contributing to society.

The education challenge differs from country to country and even among various groups, whether based on faith or ethnicity. One area, which the World Bank Report neglected, is that of language proficiency.

In Malaysia, English language proficiency is a hot topic, as evidenced by postings on social media and in newspaper articles by, among others, Permaisuri Johor Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah and Umno Youth deputy chief Khairul Azwan Harun, both passionate and pragmatic in their support of boosting the level of English proficiency among Malaysian students.

I must confess to having frontline experience in this area having lectured, for some 14 years, groups of Malaysian civil servants — both federal and state — who were attending three-month courses in London aimed at “broadening their horizons” by exposing them inter alia to inter- faith dialogue, workings of the global financial system, Islamic finance, counselling, Islamic political movements and English language proficiency.

I have also taught courses at universities and colleges in London over the years where a number of my postgraduate students were from Malaysia.

My experience vindicated the concern of thinking Malaysians that English language proficiency of many school students, university students including postgraduates, and some sections of the civil service, is seriously lacking. Malaysian politicians, bureaucrats, regulators and industry leaders I have engaged with recently concur. Unfortunately, progress has been frustratingly slow.

There are thousands of Malaysians who excel in English and who have made their mark in politics, business, finance, education, medicine, the law and other fields. I am reminded of Datuk Yunus Rais, the much-revered founder and principal of Sels College in Covent Garden, an English language school of a gem and “with the right heart” established in 1975 and accredited by the British Council, which was responsible for the English language proficiency of a generation of foreign students.

Language nationalism seems to be rooted in the politics of identity, which in Malaysia with its multicultural composition can be an irritant, especially this side of the 14th General Election. This is a non-argument, for no one is suggesting demoting Bahasa Malaysia, which, for the majority of Malaysians, is or should always be the main compulsory language, with English (or French, Arabic or Mandarin) as a compulsory second language.

The fact that many young Malaysians (including Malays) cannot speak Bahasa is not a result of promoting English language proficiency. I know students from Pakistani, Afghan and Arab descent in London who can hardly speak their native tongues — Urdu, Pashto and Arabic — and whose colloquial English is ordinary but who are incapable of understanding their English textbooks in maths, science and history.

By Mushtak Parker.

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Code of ethics for parents need to be implemented soon – NUTP

Friday, October 6th, 2017
The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) wants the Education Ministry (MOE) to immediately implement a code of ethics for parents to protect teachers as well as to maintain harmonious relationship between both parties. NSTP file pic

KANGAR: The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) wants the Education Ministry (MOE) to immediately implement a code of ethics for parents to protect teachers as well as to maintain harmonious relationship between both parties.

Its president Kamarozaman Abd Razak said the code of ethics for parents would also ensure that the teachers’ dignity and emotion would not be adversely affected by the stress caused by parents’ displeasure on things they were dissatisfied with.

“NUTP submitted a proposal to MOE a year ago but until now there was no development. Therefore, we have to take proactive action similar as the ones implemented by developed countries, and not scrambling to address the issue only after a mishap occurred,” he said.

He said this when met by reporters after the launch of CDERT-NUTP and the conferment of the rank of affiliate officers of CDERT (Civil Defence Response Team)-NUTP by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim here last night.

Kamarozman said the NUTP would take proactive action by obtaining feedback from parents, non-governmental organisations and to discuss the code of ethics with lawyers before submitting the proposal to MOE.

“A majority of cases involving parents attacking teachers occurred in the urban area. Although the numbers have yet to reach alarming level, they still affected the teachers and if not contained, it can spread to wider areas and ultimately causing discord between teachers and parents,” he said.

On the upcoming 2018 Budget, he appealed to the government to increase the allocation for schools, as many of them, especially in rural areas are mainly of old buildings, the majority are more than 20 or 30 years old, and they need to be immediately maintained or repaired to ensure the safety of students and teachers.

“In efforts to implement the transformation and to create quality human capital, education is very important,” he said, adding that the RM600 million allocation for the maintenance of 10,600 schools nationwide, tabled in the 2017 Budget, was inadequate.


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Education Minister: People expect quality education

Monday, October 2nd, 2017
Mahdzir says that the Internet has exposed the public to the quality of education they can expect and demand from schools.

Mahdzir says that the Internet has exposed the public to the quality of education they can expect and demand from schools.

THE biggest challenge facing teachers today is the demands from society.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said people today are asking for quality education and expect teachers and schools to deliver it.

“Today’s society wants quality,” he said, when closing the national level Excellent Cluster School Convention 2017.

He said that the rising number of middle class, upper middle class and upper class groups, who are becoming more well-versed in education matters, are responsible for this increase in expectations from teachers.

He added that the easier and increasing access to the Internet has enabled people to have more exposure to education-related articles online. Expectations are also higher with a more informed society.

Mahdzir said that among other things, people expect schools to produce students who are creative and innovative.

He added that students must have higher order thinking skills (HOTS) which can be pickd up through using 21st century learning methods.

These are also among the aims of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, Mahdzir said.

“If schools can follow through on these demands, then we can create such (holistic) students,” he said, adding that this was especially important for cluster schools.

However, Mahdzir added that despite ministry efforts to form more well-rounded students through the use of school-based assessments (PBS), the public still has an “academic success mentality” where the number of As scored, is still important.

“They are still asking how many As a student scores,” he said. Schools must work towards changing this mindset, said the minister.

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Education Ministry committed to fighting drug abuse among school-going children

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid (left) visit the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in Kampung Datuk Keramat. Pic by YAZIT RAZALI

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry is committed to combat issues of drug abuse among the youth in the country particularly among school-going children.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said that various programmes and activities would be conducted in schools to educate and create awareness among children on the danger of drugs.

“The challenge for us (government) today is to further improve the lifestyle and moral values of the people.

“I did not say that the moral values of the people today have decreased, but I believe there are various outside elements that are affecting the people today, as compared to the past.

“We have various existing programmes introduced for the youth and school children, but they require some value-added changes,” he said at a press conference after his visit at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school in Kampung Datuk Keramat here today.

Mahdzir pointed out that the Education Ministry has identified a total of 402 schools nationwide as hotspots for disciplinary and drugs problems as part of the effort to combat drug abuse among youth and school-going children.

“In terms of school dropouts, we are trying to find a way to understand the nature of the school dropouts as not all of them are suspended by the school authorities

“I have heard of cases where teachers themselves approached the students at their homes but have failed to convince them to return to school.

“This is another challenge that we are facing and hope to address it in the near future,” he said

Mahdzir also added that his ministry fully supports the decision of Deputy Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi) to introduce stricter regulations on religious schools and childcare centres, including compulsory fire safety plans,” he said.

Mahdzir who is also the patron of Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd (YGMB or Malaysian Teachers Foundation Bhd) handed over contribution of RM2,000 cash to each of the families of the fire tragedy where 21 students and two teachers of the school perished

Meanwhile, families of the tahfiz students who perished in the fire, said the donations of RM 2,000, can help lighten their burden.


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Educators laud move to amend Education Act 1996

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
The suggestion by government to register tahfiz schools nationwide has been well received educators. File pic by FAIZ ANUAR.

SHAH ALAM: The proposal to amend the Education Act 1996 (Act 550) that could pave the way for the requirement to register private religious schools, including tahfiz centres, could help to ensure that the inadequacy faced by the institutions be addressed by the Federal government.

Persatuan Institusi Tahfiz Al-Quran Negeri Selangor (PITAS) secretary Mohd Zaharudin Hussain said this was especially on the aspects of safety and infrastructure of tahfiz centres where a majority are set up at wakaf (endowment) surau or houses.

“Tahfiz schools have everything to benefit when they also come under the purview of the Federal government, apart from the state. There are times when endowment properties are unsuitable, aging and needs to be renovated to be turned into a school.

“That is when the Federal government, through its various agencies such as the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health as well as the Fire and Rescue Department could offer their expertise in ensuring safety requirements is in place and monitored.

“I believe it would make the coordination with the relevant agencies and departments much easier when tahfiz schools are registered. It also means that tahfiz schools can be upgraded to be on par with national schools,” he told the New Straits Times today.

Meanwhile, Maahad Tahfiz An-Nabawi principal Mohamad Najmi Inchik Hashim, in welcoming the suggestion, also called for the consideration of religious schools to be given special allocation, on par with other national schools.

“I do not see a problem with tahfiz schools having to register because we want to be seen as legal in the eyes of the Federal government and the authorities. With the registration, we hope that we are given annual funds to ensure the operations of the schools are smooth.

“The Federal government could render assistance in terms of funding to maintain the tahfiz schools, which more often than not, faces financial difficulties.

“We depend heavily on the students’ school fees as well as contributions from the public. Contributions, however, are inconsistent and may disrupt the school’s operations,” he said.

Meanwhile, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Ustaz Abdul Khair Jalil said the panel supervising registration of tahfiz schools must be someone familiar with the inner workings of religious schools.

“They must be someone who knows how these schools operate and things that suits their study environment.

“These schools cannot be standardised like conventional schools as their nature of education is different, including the background of the students,” he said.

As for National Union of The Teaching Profession, its president Kamarozaman Abdul Razak lauded the government’s suggestion to register tahfiz schools, saying that it was long overdue.

“It will be very hard for the government to monitor these schools safety-wise if they are not registered.

“When a problem arises, the government will be blamed for inaction.” he said.

Kamarozaman said religious school administrators should not worry about the Federal government’s interference in their operation as the focus would be on safety of the schools and the students.

“The Education Ministry has never interfered in tahfiz school curriculum. What’s important is to keep track of the well-being of the school, whether religious or conventional,” he said.



Sarawak Dilapidated Schools To Be Repaired Within Two Years Time – CM

Thursday, September 21st, 2017

SIBU, Sept 16 (Bernama) — Sarawak will implement the project to repair or rebuild the more than 1,000 dilapidated rural schools in the state within two years time.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, who said this at the state-level Malaysia Day celebration at the Sibu Town Square tonight, added that the fund for the project would be financed by the Development Bank of Sarawak (DBoS) where later the federal government would repay the state government for the expenditure estimated to be about RM1 biilion.

“I would like to express my appreciation to the federal government especially the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who has agreed in principle on this agreement. We will implement this project within two years,” he said.

The deputy prime minister came here on Wednesday to chair a coordination meeting for the construction of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

The state government understood that the federal government might not have sufficient funds to repair or rebuild the poor rural schools.

He said the cost was over and above the sum allocated in the 11th Malaysia Plan.

Abang Johari stressed that the sorry state of the schools must be rectified to address the perception that Sarawak had not been given due attention by the federal government although education is under the purview of the federal government.


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Schools With High Risk Of Fire In Johor Should Be Identified – Sultan Ibrahim

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

JOHOR BAHRU, Sept 14 (Bernama) — The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar has decreed that schools at high risk of catching fire in the state should be identified.

He said this following the fire which occurred at religious residential school Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah in Kuala Lumpur at 5.15am today, which claimed the lives of 21 students and two teachers.

Sultan Ibrahim expressed his sadness over the heartbreaking tragedy, and conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims.

/”May Allah give strength and fortitude to the families of the victims,\” he said in a statement issued by the Johor Royal Press Office here, tonight.

His Majesty urged the Malaysian Fire and Rescue Department to take immediate action to identify high-risk premises, including madrasahs, tuition centres, boarding schools, primary and secondary schools.

He also called on the authorities to clamp down on centres which were operating illegally.


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Politicians must note that politics has no place in schools.

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

A PRIMARY or secondary school is a children’s place of learning. Especially in the daytime, when classes are being taught, it is neither a public space nor a venue for activities that will not benefit the students. We can all agree on that.

It is almost a sacred duty to ensure that the children can focus on their studies as much as possible while in school. And that duty does not just rest on the shoulders of the Education Ministry and school administrators. Parents have a role as well, as do those who regularly visit schools.

Among these visitors are senior government officials and other VIPs.

Last year, the ministry issued a directive asking government schools to go easy on the pomp and protocol when organising events, particularly those built around guests of honour.

It is best that these events are held during co-curricular hours so as not to eat into study periods. The number of students involved in greeting the VIPs and their rehearsal time should be kept to a minimum. As the ministry pointed out in the circular, the core activity of schools is to be a centre of learning and teaching.

The circular addresses how these events are put together, but there is another dimension to these VIP visits that is equally important in protecting the sanctity of schools as places of learning – the visitors’ conduct.

This has become a subject of public discussion after Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng complained that the state Education Department rejected his request to visit a Chinese vernacular school in Bukit Mertajam late last month.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said when Lim went to the schools to attend functions or to hand over allocations, he tended to use these occasions as a platform to talk about politics.

When people inappropriately turn visits to schools into leverage for something very different from education, it is not difficult to support decisions to bar them from going to schools.

The rationale should apply across the board, regardless of political allegiance.

The Star Says.
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Code of ethics for parents needed, says NUTP.

Saturday, September 2nd, 2017

PUTRAJAYA: The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is urging the Education and Women, Family and Community Development Ministries to come up with a code of ethics for parents.

Referring to disciplinary issues in schools, NUTP president Kamarozaman Abd Razak said it was important for parents to cooperate with schools to ensure a harmonious relationship.

“Parents must behave professionally. There have been too many incidences of parents attacking teachers as they believe everything their children tell them.

“A code of ethics for parents must be implemented by the two ministries,” he told reporters after the NUTP’s 21st tri-annual conference.

“There are codes for teachers, so why isn’t there one for parents?”

Kamarozaman also said counselling was necessary.

“There aren’t enough counsellors in schools. In primary schools, every 350 pupils are assigned to one counsellor while in secondary schools, it is 500 students to a counsellor.

“If there are sufficient counsellors, bullying and disciplinary issues in schools will be reduced,” he said.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said in schools, principals and headmasters have the power to allow teachers to cane students but this must be done in front of eyewitnesses.

“There is standard operating procedure to follow,” he added.

The union also raised concerns over a lack of uniformity in school timetables.

Tan said while some schools start at 7.40am, many tend to have activities before school hours.

“This causes problems for teachers and parents. We suggest all quarters follow the official time schools are supposed to start.


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Empower District Education Officers To Handle Minor Issues – Mahdzir.

Monday, August 28th, 2017

KUCHING, Aug 23 (Bernama) — Empowerment of district education officers to handle minor issues, among others, will be discussed at the 19th National District Education Officers Management Conference which began today until Friday.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the move was necessary in order to empower district education officer to provide feedback on certain matters, including posts.

“The ministry will decentralise authority to district education officers and if it can be implemented it means that some matters can be resolved at the district level and decentralised,” he told reporters before opening the closed door conference here tonight.


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