Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Textbooks do not make the teacher

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017
A set of Pulse 2 classroom audio CDs, which comes with the Pulse 2 teacher’s book. PIC BY NIK HARIFF HASSAN

THE recent announcement of imported English textbooks to replace locally-produced ones in our schools next year has led to many discussions and arguments. Questions were also raised on the price of the imported textbooks.

The decision for the change is based on the reason that the previous textbooks have not been able to meet the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) levels. These books were selected for their quality and alignment to academic standards. They conform to the CEFR objectives and recommendations for the evaluation of language competence.

CEFR is the international established frame of reference for language teaching, learning and assessment adopted by the Education Ministry. In 2013, Cambridge English was commissioned to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the English language education in Malaysia. From pre-school to pre-university levels, the study was to give a picture of how our students were performing against CEFR.

The result is a roadmap with planned structural changes spanning 2015 to 2025 to reform the country’s English Language education system and raise the standard of the language.

I have shared in this column late last year on the start of this journey that included cascade training of information transfer for thousands of English teachers on CEFR. I have also expressed my concern of this approach and the need for ongoing support over periods of time.

In keeping track on the roadmap, I finally got my hands on the teacher’s book of Pulse 2, which will be used by Form One and Two school students.

With claims that rural students have problems using local English textbooks, could these imported textbooks make lessons more effective?

First things first, the use of textbooks in the classroom has always been a contentious issue for many teachers. It is argued that textbooks limit the learning and creative potential of students and teachers.

However, the latest Cambridge Evaluation Study 2017, a follow up of the Baseline study in 2013, finds that 46 per cent of 2,826 teachers in the country are at a CEFR C1 proficiency level, with C2 being the highest level.

The results based on the Teaching Knowledge Benchmarking also indicate that although our teachers generally possess comprehensive knowledge of teaching, there is still room for improvement.

t the same time, while technology has transformed the learning landscape and could be leveraged to support learning, many schools are still not using it

Pulse’s 2 teacher’s book carries a detailed guide of how teachers can use the textbook during lessons. It also comes with classroom audio CDs. Each unit has different types of language practice from mechanical along with meaningful and communicative practices. If used correctly, this textbook can be an invaluable source of activities for communicative interaction.

With this in mind, having a tried and tested textbook can be a form of support and guidance for our teachers. They can provide effective language models and input for them whose first language is not English and who may not be able to generate accurate language input on their own.

The panel of experts under the English Language Standards and Quality Council (ELSQC) also stressed that getting quality CEFR-aligned textbooks is important at this phase of the roadmap while they develop expertise to produce our own textbooks suitable for the students.

The other concern is that the cultural content in these textbooks might be distant and alien for many students.

In the six-page starter unit of Pulse 2, the textbook begins with a topic on celebrations. From Easter to Valentine’s Day, some of our students might not be familiar with these celebrations. In the following pages, words like “jumper” and “trainers” were used to describe the clothes one wears.

I do not see the cultural factor as a main issue, instead, it could be helpful to students in preparation for life in the 21st century. In today’s increasingly interconnected and globalised world, students need to expose themselves in many ways to have a deeper global awareness and understanding of other cultures. I would, for instance, introduce these celebrations in my lesson and expand the content on various other celebrations in our country.

As I remember, my enjoyable and memorable English lessons in school were without textbooks. Truth be told, I cannot remember the English textbooks we used or if there was one.

During my own training in English Language teaching for four years followed by another two of postgraduate education in the same field, emphasis had always been on teacher-created materials and they are always encouraged in the language classroom. We were always reminded that using only textbooks in the classroom could cause boredom and hinder learner centred environments. Chaining to the idea that a certain unit from a textbook should be completed at a certain time, for instance, should not become the goal of teaching.


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Group: Imported textbooks may hinder some students.

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017

JOHOR BARU: Some teachers are worried that certain students may not be able to catch up to the higher standard of English in imported textbooks that will go into use next year.

Johor English Language Teaching Assoc­iation president Vincent D’Silva said a sudden switch to materials from overseas could be detrimental because learning English is a major challenge for many Malaysian students, especially those in rural areas.

“If the students cannot identify with the topics taught, they might just switch off and this will hinder them from learning English.

“Caution must be exercised when we introduce something new as it can have severe repercussions. Not every student is exposed to Western culture,” he said yesterday.

He said teachers would need support from experts to ensure successful implementation.

“There is no rule stating that foreign textbooks should be the only materials used, but they can be supplemented with local materials such as newspapers.

“We can have a webpage where issues related to the use of foreign textbooks can be discussed and addressed,” he added.

D’Silva said English textbooks should serve as facilitators rather than barriers to learning the language.
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Average Primary School Dropout Rate Kept Under One Per Cent

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Bernama) — The average dropout rate for primary school pupils from 2014 to 2016 was only between 0.26 to 0.74 per cent in Peninsular Malaysia while in Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan, it was between 0.05 to 0.10 per cent.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the average rate for secondary school students was between 1.09 and 3.59 per cent in Peninsular Malaysia while it was between 0.41 and 1.18 per cent for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan during the same period.

He said his ministry had established an initiative under the 2013-2025 Malaysia Education Blueprint on improving access from pre-school to secondary level and above to combat the problem of school dropouts.

“Through the initiative, guidelines have been provided to manage pupils at risk of dropping out in government and government-assisted schools,” he said during question time at the Dewan Rakyat today.

He was replying to a question from Dr Azman Ismail (PKR-Kuala Kedah) on the number of student dropouts from primary and secondary schools throughout the country.

Kamalanathan said an intervention module had also been prepared as a guide for teachers to carry out intervention programmes for students at risk of dropping out so that they could complete up to Form Five.

At the moment, the guidelines and intervention module are being introduced in three states, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Kedah before they are adopted nationwide next year, he said.

He said the ministry was also preparing various assistance such as giving textbooks, Supplementary Food Programme, 1Malaysia Mlik programme and the construction of hostels for students from poor families to remain in school.


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Mahdzir: Need for strong value system

Sunday, November 19th, 2017
Mahdzir and Treadell engaging in an activity with children at the Bett Asia Leadership Summit and Expo 2017.

Mahdzir and Treadell engaging in an activity with children at the Bett Asia Leadership Summit and Expo 2017.

MALAYSIANS must strive to be a civilised nation.

To achieve the goal, values like integrity must be ingrained in every individual, said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

“It can’t happen overnight. It’ll takes years but it’s something we must develop,” he said..

Speaking during the ministry’s Integrity Day celebration in Putrajaya last week, he stressed on the need to inculcate a strong value system from early childhood

“In Japan, when a disaster happens and food is distributed to the victims, people line up and take only what they need so there’s enough for everyone -– one bottled drink, one piece of bread per person. Here, when I host a buka puasa event, some stack their plates full of chicken and those who get to the buffet table last, are left with nothing to eat.

“The difference between us and the Japanese is in how we are trained to behave.

“If we are a people of integrity, we won’t need boom gates at the Smart Tag lanes because we won’t have to worry about drivers trying to cheat the system,” he said, adding that in some countries, a lost wallet would be returned within the hour.

He said it was important for the ministry – which has been given a big allocation under Budget 2018, and a staff of some 500,000, to ensure the success of the education system, to fulfil its responsibilities with integrity, and transparency.

He said the ministry, through its corruption risk management plan, had identified 10 significant corruption risk areas that need attention.

The majority of the state education departments, he said, have taken the anti-graft oath and signed the pledge to fight corruption.

“We must get the best value for money when delivering service to the public.

We want to cultivate a high integrity culture. But the lack of integrity is not just about misappropriation or corruption. It includes avoiding work, absenteeism, and low productivity.”

In his speech, ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Alias Ahmad said from 2010 to October this year, almost half of the 1,996 errant civil servants were sacked, while 14% were let off with warnings.

“The rest either had their salaries cut, or increments delayed, were fined, stripped of their emoluments, or demoted,” he said.

During the event, exemplary integrity awards were presented to chief assistant director Dr Rodiah Idris, and chief administrative assistant Jamai’ah Zainal Abidin. Both have served the ministry for over two decades.

The theme of the celebration was “Integrity – the core of quality education”.

Said Alias: “This is the first time we’re celebrating Integrity Day on a ministerial level. I hope it will be an annual event aimed at making integrity a culture within the ministry.”

He said integrity refers to a code of behaviour grounded in honesty and high moral values.

“It’s about doing the right thing even when nobody is watching.”

Alias also reminded civil servants that they must not be disloyal to the King, country, and government.

What they say, do, or how they behave – including sharing their views on social media, must be neutral and impartial, he said.

“Be committed and dedicated. Carry out your duties in line with the Rukun Negara. Integrity must be a part of all that we do, regardless of age, designation, and rank,” Alias added.

More industrial exposure

Meanwhile LEE CHONGHUI reports that Mahdzir had said that students should participate in the Upper Secondary School Industry Apprenticeship (Pima) programme.

By doing so, they can acquire and benefit from vocational skills in the automotive, accounting, health and wellness (spa services), baking and other industries.

“We (the ministry) are targeting 10% of 2,048 secondary schools across the nation to be part of Pima by next year,” he said after launching the Bett Asia Leadership Summit and Expo 2017 on Wed-nesday..

Also present at the event were British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell, Gems Education UK senior advisor (education strategy) Sir Michael Wilshaw, Thailand Vice-Minister of Education Dr Sophon Napathorn, and Laos Education and Sports Minister Sengdeuane Lachanthaboun.

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Pintar Foundation raises almost RM900,000 to facilitate education for the underprivileged

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: A whopping RM887,500 has been raised by Pintar Foundation to facilitate educational opportunities for rural children and underprivileged communities including those from Sabah and Sarawak.

The monies were raised at the Pintar Rockin’ CEOs fundraiser tonight, which was launched by Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah and witnessed by his consort Raja Permaisuri Tuanku Zara Salim and corporate captains.

The monies were raised at the Pintar Rockin’ CEOs fundraiser tonight, which was launched by Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah and witnessed by his consort Raja Permaisuri Tuanku Zara Salim and corporate captains. Pic by NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

The event saw corporate leaders performed songs for guests, while outfits designed by Datuk Seri Bernard Chandran, footballer Thanabalan’s jersey and songstress Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza’s items were auctioned off to raise funds.

Pintar Foundation chairman Tan Sri Arshad Ayub said the funds would be used to assist target groups to undergo the foundation’s programmes tailored to develop confidence, proficiency, interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, apart from national pride and responsibility.

“The aim of the platform (fundraiser) is to garner public support and involvement in Pintar Programmes and specific projects so that our vision of assisting students of underperforming schools throughout the country can be realised.

“It is a platform to encourage the public to assist children in getting the education they deserved,” Arshad said in his speech during the event.

He said Pintar was an acronym which stood for “Promoting Intelligence, Nurturing Talent and Advocating Responsibility”, and its foundation was formed in 2006 as a social responsibility initiative mooted by Khazanah Nasional Bhd.

Pintar Foundation chairman Tan Sri Arshad Ayub. Pic by NSTP/EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

“The foundation has been working closely with government-linked companies, private companies, non-profit organisations and government bodies, to ‘adopt’ schools in rural areas and underprivileged communities.


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Look into welfare of urban schools too, says SMK Petra Jaya PTA

Saturday, October 28th, 2017
SMK Petra Jaya Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairman Awang Zaidel Awang Jamil says the welfare of schools in the urban area should also not be sidelined. NSTP pic.

KUCHING: The RM1 billion allocation to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak as stated in the 2018 Budget will create a more conducive studying environment for students especially in the interiors of Sarawak.

SMK Petra Jaya Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairman Awang Zaidel Awang Jamil said the welfare of schools in the urban area should also not be sidelined.

“We understand that there is urgency for the respective authorities to repair schools in dilapidated condition located in the rural areas.

“However, we also hope that the state government and other related agencies will also look into the financial assistance sought by schools in the urban areas.

“Most of the schools in the city are more than 30 years old and are in need of repair works, especially wiring at the premise,” said Zaidel when asked to comment on the 2018 Budget tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday.

Zaidel also said the operating cost of running a school has increased over the years as many schools are establishing 21st century classroom.

“Most of the schools in the state utilises unused classroom and turn it into computer rooms without designating a special area to house the computer server.

“This will not only lead to higher use of electricity, which needed stringent monitoring to avoid any electrical issues.


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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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