Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Education Ministry to review national education policy

Saturday, July 21st, 2018
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the committee’s role would be to revisit the philosophy and policies behind the national education system and also upgrade the curriculum and the education system from pre-school to university level. Pic by STR/HALIM SALLEH

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry will form a committee to review the national education policy, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the committee’s role would be to revisit the philosophy and policies behind the national education system and also upgrade the curriculum and the education system from pre-school to university level.

“This would cover civic consciousness and the development of noble values as well as the strengthening of science and technology,” he said.

The minister was responding to a question by Ahmad Faizal Azumu (PH-Tambun)’s question on the direction of the education system during the question and answer session.

Maszlee said the committee would consist of experts in the field of academia, politics, religion as well as representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGO).

Replying to a supplementary question on steps taken to encourage usage of the English language without neglecting Bahasa Malaysia in rural areas, he said the Education Ministry would increase the number of English teachers deployed in such areas.

By Bernama.

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Students to wear black trainers next year, says Dr Maszlee.

Friday, July 20th, 2018
A welcome change: Dr Maszlee speaking during the question-and-answer session on education. Looking on is Johan.

A welcome change: Dr Maszlee speaking during the question-and-answer session on education. Looking on is Johan.

SHAH ALAM: Next year, school students will step out in black shoes instead of in white.

According to Education Minis­ter Dr Maszlee Malik, the ruling is prompted by parents.

“The mothers especially, not so much the fathers,” he said during a question-and-answer session on education organised by Sinar Harian.

The packed session yesterday was moderated by journalist Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar.


“I want to ensure that children carry lighter bags to school and shorten the number of years students spend in school before furthering their studies,” he replied.

Dr Maszlee also said the ministry agreed with the Transport Ministry to sell special number plates to alumni of public universities as a form of additional funding for the institutions.

“Through a JPJ (Road Transport Department) collaboration with the universities, we will try to issue and sell number plates.

“For example, a graduate of UM (Universiti Malaya) may like to have the number plate UM1000 or UM2322.

“So they will pay JPJ, with half of the proceeds going to the university,” he said.

He urged the alumni to support their own universities.

“If the graduates and alumni don’t help their alma maters, who else will?”

Dr Maszlee also said he had assured the universities that their funding would not be cut but at the same time, there would be no guarantees of additional monies for them.

Meanwhile, Mydin managing director Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin asked if Dr Maszlee’s statement on black shoes for school students had been made after adequate consultation.

“I’m sure some mothers have complained but has he asked all the stakeholders, like parent-­teacher associations?”

Ameer noted that for generations, the practice of Malaysian students keeping their school shoes clean was a way of demonstrating personal hygiene, standards and discipline.

He added that parents would have to fork out money to buy new black shoes for their kids.

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No more white school shoes from next year, says Maszlee

Thursday, July 19th, 2018
School shoes have always been white in colour however beginning next year, this will no longer be the case. (NSTP file pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: School shoes have always been white in colour however beginning next year, this will no longer be the case.

Taking into account the complaints by parents on white-coloured school shoes, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced that students will be wearing black shoes.

This change will take place next year, Maszlee said at a talk organised by Sinar Harian today.

“This is what the parents hope for, especially mothers…fathers don’t really mind. Beginning next year, we will wear black shoes in school,” he was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

By NST Online.

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Education costs rising

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018
(File pix) Over the last decade, pressure for financial reforms in higher education has intensified.

WE are often reminded by those older and wiser to reflect on the past, assess the present and look forward to the future.

In the case of Malaysia, we hope that the future will be good for us under the emerging scenario. For this to be realised, we need to recall several stylised facts. In connection with (higher) education and the human condition, there are at least four stylised facts:

EDUCATION is the basis for human development;

HIGHER education is important for social mobility;

HIGHER education is getting more expensive; and,

THERE are emerging and less expensive delivery modes for higher education using web technology.

We are also confronted with scenarios based on accountability, efficiency and value for money.

If we bring together the stylised facts and emerging pressures, we will learn how limited and restricted our options are in the financing of higher education.

This is even more so if we bring into the equation concepts and objectives such as accessibility and equity.

Throw in democratisation and “massification” (practice of making products available to the mass market) of higher education, the financing for higher education gets more complex.

All these require answers from policymakers and intellectuals. How will the government fund higher education? Can it be offered for free? Can subsidy-oriented policy work optimally?

What about public-private partnership in the provision of higher education and related infrastructure? Is it possible for consumers and providers to jointly finance higher education?

Let us look back to the 1950s and 1960s. There was a dominant view that public education, including higher education, should be free. This was essentially justified — with free education, there is higher social mobility, and the poor and marginalised are educated.

When it comes to higher education, there are three goals that many countries aim to achieve: access to quality education, wider coverage and adequate provision.

But, how can we achieve these with reduced public spending? Evidently, “retreat of the state” in financing higher education is the consequence of fiscal pressure, consistent rise in costs of providing higher education and the change from elite to mass participation.

All these demand radical changes in the higher education system. In developed countries, these radical changes have been initiated through increased financial autonomy, improved funding and private sector funding.

When evaluating the financing policy for higher education, policymakers are confronted with the issues of accessibility, equity and efficiency. Maureen Woodhall in her book, Sharing the Costs of Higher Education, Financial Support for Students, wrote: “A scheme designed to widen access and increase participation in higher education will not save taxpayers’ money. A scheme designed to reduce public expenditure will not increase participation. A scheme designed to reduce the burden of parental contributions must either involve an increase in the taxpayers’ burden or a shift in the burden from parents to students.”

In the context of Malaysia, the World Bank study on Public Expenditure on Higher Education undertaken in mid-2000 concluded that the government had allocated substantial resources for higher education, but we have not been efficient in using these resources. In other words, we need to deal with equity and efficiency issues.

Over the last decade, pressure for financial reforms in higher education has intensified. With increasing enrolment, the notion of free education is unimaginable. In fact, education, particularly higher education, provides high private rates of return and this justifies the notion that those who benefit directly from higher education should be responsible for the cost.

The introduction of user fees policy, that is, cost recovery, is highly justifiable. For a country such as Malaysia, the cost recovery approach would necessarily mean increasing fees above what is charged.

By Prof Datuk Dr Morshidi Sirat.

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SM Sains first Sabah school to go cashless

Monday, July 16th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Electronic cash is the way forward and SM Sains Sabah (Smesh) took a step further by becoming the first school in the State to implement the cashless school system.

The system uses the eM-ONEi digital wallet platform to enable users – both students and school staff – to make payments via an electronic card (eCard) at touch-and-pay terminals provided at the school’s canteen and co-operative.

Commending the initiative, Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob hoped the digital system will improve the efficiency of canteen and co-operative management in the school.

“The business transactions in both outlets will surely be smoother, apart from a more systematic account management,” he said during the school’s Parents and Teachers Association’s annual general meeting cum cashless school system launching ceremony, at the school’s hall, here, Saturday.

“Furthermore, it would be easier for parents to transfer money to their children or monitor their expenditure online through the digital wallet platform.

“I was made to understand that such system can also reduce money lost or theft in schools.”

His speech was read by his Assistant Minister Jenifer Lasimbang.

Yusof also hoped the programme will be extended to other schools and learning institutions, especially after it is proven effective in the pilot project in Smesh.

“Smesh even proposed for the eCards’ functions to be enhanced in future so that they can record students’ attendance in the school,” he said.

The cashless system was developed by MobilityOne and Smesh is the second school in the country to implement the system after another fully residential school in Pahang.

MobilityOne Chief Executive Officer Datuk Hussian A Rahman said they received many enquiries from other schools after the system was first introduced three months ago.

“After Sabah, we will go to Labuan and from there, we will try to expand the system to other schools.

“At the moment, we are focusing on secondary schools and later on, we will implement the system in primary schools,” he said.

The eCard, he said, currently can only be used within the school compound and its usage will be stretched in future.

“We are licensed and monitored by the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM)…so, we can operate nationwide.

“In order for the cards to be used outside of the school compound, we just need to appoint merchants.”

Hussian said one of the best feature of the card is that parents can monitor and put a limit on their children’s spending.

“Parents can reload the card with any amount but they can set a specific daily expenditure limit for their children so that they will only buy necessary things like food,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jenifer said her ministry will follow up with the Federal Education Ministry soon on the issue of a permanent building for Smesh.

“Smesh is one of the top performing schools in Sabah and the country…unfortunately, the school has been using the former campus of the Kent Teachers Training College, here, since three years ago,” she said.

by Ricardo Unto.

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Not enough budget for education infrastructure projects in Sabah

Wednesday, July 11th, 2018

Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob

KOTA KINABALU: The budget to implement education infrastructure projects in Sabah is not enough.

According to Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, they have already identified the education infrastructure for Sabah and the Federal Government has already given the budget for them.

“But it is not enough. We need extra allocation,” he told press members at the State Education Department Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration held at its headquarters near here yesterday.

Yusof however said that they will continue to implement projects that have already been given allocation for.
“We will resolve the emergency ones first. Next year, we will continue to address critical infrastructure problems and hope to resolve them in a year,” he said.

He added that RM36 million had been allocated by the Federal Government to address emergency developments in the sector.

Additionally, it has also allocated half billion Ringgit for dilapidated schools in Sabah.

“It is not enough. I hope they will increase it by another half billion Ringgit to address the dilapidated schools issue,” he said.

Concerning the infrastructure, Yusof said that these were to do with water, electricity as well as internet supply to schools.

He also commented on the recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).

He said that it was already being studied.

Yusof also mentioned the placement of Sabahan teachers in Sabah was now at 86 percent.

He stated that as it was now the month of July, they did not want to disrupt the students’ learning prior to their major examinations and they will achieve 90 percent of the teachers placement in Sabah next year.

by Jenne Lajiun.

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Maszlee: Holistic solution for UEC recognition needed to avoid U-turns on any decision.

Sunday, July 8th, 2018
MARANG: A holistic approach towards any decision to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) is needed to ensure that the national language and national unity are not threatened.

“We want to avoid unnecessary U-turns on the issue,” Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic) said during his visit to SK Seberang Marang here.

He said that the ministry needs to consider all angles before acting and listen to the opinions from various stakeholders who not only question the certificate as a necessary document to enrol into public universities, but are also concerned about upholding Bahasa Malaysia as the national language and the country’s unity.

“There are various stakeholders including educationists – those that champion the national language as well as those who want a harmonious nation.

“We also need to ensure that in recognising the UEC, we are not selling out on these two aspects,” he said.

“We cannot please everybody but I’m sure at least everyone will be relieved with a comprehensive solution to the issue,” he said.

Education is to build character

Sunday, July 8th, 2018
EDUCATION is a process of absorbing knowledge through various modes. The educative process guides us through the intricacies of knowledge perception from the social, cultural, moral, spiritual and ethical perspectives and brings understanding through the various modes of critical, analytical, creative, visual and abstract thought process.

It is not only cerebral, but also physical in addressing the corporeal aspects of a person to create a holistic individual. Such an educative process avails itself through both formal tutelage and informal experiential learning.

Formal tutelage is usually associated with schooling that involves the classroom format, which aims to develop one’s critical faculties through the analysis of data by constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing information into various formal structures and conceptual framework that elicit different and even contrasting meanings.

Such an intellectual exercise is executed within the conscious realm that encourages cognition of phenomenal manifestations.

The formal classroom learning happens in a controlled situation that prescribes the nature and extent of knowledge transfer administered by the teacher.

It is mainly individualised with minimal teamwork and is totally assessed through individual efforts.

Experiential modes of learning, on the other hand, are through a variety of engagements and interactions outside the classroom format.

Such a learning is executed consciously and unconsciously in a less stressful and even stress-free setting and of one’s own volition. The learning could be intuitive and implanted unconsciously in one’s memory through the medium of play or other leisure activities at one’s behest.

And there is a kind of psychological safety in these experiential learning as they are not judgmental, unlike in the formal classroom setting, where students are assessed and graded according to their performance.

The classroom situation is stressful as students are openly evaluated according to certain prescribed standards.

Experiential learning, on the other hand, allows students to do it at their own pace and they can switch to other experiences without penalty. It develops confidence and a sense of achievement.

Examples of experiential learning are in sporting and aesthetic activities, such as dance, music and drama, which develop communal awareness and camaraderie as well as team spirit that are crucial in real life.

They also involve the conscious and unconscious observations of real-life phenomena.

Our whole life is one long educative process, ranging from the standard school, college and university education to more experiential and self-improvement learning.

We definitely learn in our workplace and may upgrade ourselves through in-service or self-improvement courses. But education is not just a process of transferring knowledge and developing skills. More importantly, it is meant to develop character.

In simple terms, character encompasses the qualities of self-worth, integrity, humility, truthfulness, thoughtfulness, discipline, sharing, passion and determination in pursuit of a quest.

Character development depends on three types of environment, namely, the home, school and peer group.

But school plays a more important part in overcoming shortfalls in character development than the other two environments, for it aims to instil discipline and right values.

The school, if properly managed, can instil in students the correct values of life that will enable them to make meaningful contributions to society.

The peer environment, which is found both in and outside the school, is most unstable in character development. For it may lead to the learning of negative values that are detrimental to personality development, and even engender anti-social and rebellious behavioural patterns.

Therefore, there is a need to guide students to be in a right environment, which can be done only through the home environment.

Home is the crucial environment for instilling positive values. The behavioural expressions of parents and other siblings will surely impact the students.

More important is the responsibility of parents as role models.

This poses a problem for the low-income group, where living space, insufficient finance and bickering parents may lead students astray and cause them to seek the company of peers, who may not be ideal for character development.

There is a dire need to institute a social ecosystem that provides formal and experiential learning. This is the responsibility of the state as well as the immediate community.

There has to be a holistic approach towards education. The authorities should not only concentrate on the school environment, but equally important is the socio-economic and cultural environments.

And the educative process should be tailored to address the scholastic needs and developments of students from different walks of life without forgetting special needs students, who tend to be overlooked in educational planning. Thus, the educative system should aim to develop character that combines sound education with positive behavioural qualities, and a robust mind and spirit to strive for excellence in all endeavours.

In the final analysis, the educative process is a path of discovery and rediscovery of the wonders of the universe, and the self which allows us to recognise our weaknesses and fortify our strengths to overcome our failure to create a meaningful life.


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Sabah still negotiating power over education

Friday, July 6th, 2018

Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob

KOTA KINABALU: The state Ministry of Education and Innovation is still in negotiation with the federal government pertaining to the extent of its powers.

Its minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob hoped this matter would be resolved in the near future.

He said this in response to Tambunan assemblyman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan’s question on whether the ministry was given autonomy or full power on education.

At present, Yusof said it was important for the state and federal education ministries to forge close cooperation.

Although education policies and development agenda were under the purview of the federal Education Ministry, he said the state government still held a lot of powers in education development in Sabah.

For instance, he said the state government had power to approve a new site for school building under the Lands and Surveys Department as well as the development plans by the District Council or City Hall.

On another note, Yusof said his ministry would provide vocational or skill training for unemployed graduates or school leavers.

He said the reason graduates could not find jobs was because their fields were not relevant to the industries and the lack of job opportunities in the state.

He said this in response to Kemabong assemblyman Jamawi Ja’afar’s supplementary question on the difficulty for university graduates to find jobs in Sabah and had to resort to working in West Malaysia during his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly here yesterday.

Yusof said there were about 45,000 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) leavers in Sabah each year, but only 50 per cent pursued tertiary education.

He said students who did not quality for higher learning institutions should take up Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for them to learn an expertise and find a job, perhaps even be an entrepreneur.

Meanwhile, Yusof also vowed to assist rural students with lower academic results to obtain scholarships or to enroll in colleges.

Pitas assemblyman Datuk Bolkiah Ismail in his supplementary question suggested offering scholarships to rural students who might not be able to secure the grant based on the current meritocracy system.

Yusof said the award of scholarships based on meritocracy might not be to the advantage of rural students, who came from poor families and not being on a level playing field in terms of their learning facilities.

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Tertiary studies on the cusp of change.

Thursday, July 5th, 2018

NOW that we have a new Education Minister, hopefully some fundamental questions will be asked about the role of our universities, where Malaysian tertiary education stands and where it ought to go.

As a member of a university community for the last 45 years, I myself reflect on a range of issues on which scholars have widely divergent views.

> What should tertiary education’s aims and objectives be? Is higher education about knowledge or utility, learning or earning?

> What are the qualities university education should seek to engender in the institution’s students and staff?

> What should our curriculum contain?

> Who should constitute the clientele of our universities? How should this clientele be chosen?

> What pedagogical methodologies should be adopted?

> How should university leaders and staff be chosen, retained and retrained?

> How far should the government try to control universities?

> Should universities evolve their own rating criteria?

> How can language proficiency of staff and students be improved?

> How should universities improve their financial standing?

Each of the above issues requires separate treatment. Let us concentrate on the first issue – the aims of education.

Education is a multi-dimensional thing. Any university worth its name must have broad and multiple roles. Priorities may vary from age to age and from university to university, but what is certain is the multiplicity of the aims of education.

Temple of learning: A university is a storehouse of the knowledge and wisdom of the past. It is a mirror of humanity’s great heritage in art, culture and science. At the same time, it is a place where new knowledge should be generated. Members of the university community must not only be the mirrors that reflect the light produced by others; they must be the source of new illumination.

Career training: A university is a place to learn skills for the job market and the professions. This role requires greater synergy between the university and the industries.

Some Masters and PhD students should do their hands-on research under supervisors from the industries. Lecturers must attend industrial training courses and professionals from the industries must be recruited by universities to provide the bridge between theory and reality.

Building of character: Besides careers, universities must build character and provide all-round development. University education should produce good democrats, good parents and mature graduates who are capable of contributing to the happiness of others.

Besides being profession-oriented, the university should be people-oriented. The curriculum should be so devised that staff and students are involved in the amelioration of the problems of society.

The programme of studies should impart a social conscience and social perspective. It should involve students in the daily struggles of the ordinary citizens. It should teach them the value of social service and emphasise town-gown relationships and community links.

A university curriculum should not resemble a factory assembly line blueprint. Education, as opposed to mere literacy, must be holistic.

There must be correctives against over-specialisation as well as some immersion in language, literature and the humanities. This problem is acute because most professional courses in this country are post-secondary and do not require a degree at entry point.

In keeping with the imperatives of liberal education, our education ministry must relook the science-­art streaming in schools.

Maturity and independence: Our entire education system is formalistic and authoritarian. It is aimed at producing obedient and compliant supporters of the status quo.

However, if our aim is to produce thinkers who can innovate, create and think outside the box, we need to loosen up on the culture of conformity and the requirement to comply with officially correct versions of what is wholesome in life, law and religion. Our instructional methodologies need to get more participative. The laws that govern our universities need a fresher look.

Research: The crucial factor in a university’s eminence is qualified academicians with proven research abilities. A good part of the research should be “applied research” to address and suggest solutions for the burning issues of the times – be it the impending environmental catastrophe, poverty, injustice or marginalisation. Through research and innovation, the university must contribute to the nation’s economic and industrial development.

But the emphasis on research must not be at the expense of teaching. In many citadels of education, post-graduate research is leading to a number of adverse tendencies.

Teaching is being neglected. Some senior educators shun preparatory and beginning courses. Committed teachers are being bypassed in tenure and promotion in comparison with entrepreneuring researchers.

Instead of singling out and supporting good researchers wherever they are found, the government’s approach is to anoint some universities with apex or research university status and shower them with special grants. Innovators in non-research universities are prejudiced.

In our research-centric atmosphere, a danger to guard against is that of receipt of sponsorships and grants from the industries, which often leads to the rigging and supporting of findings favourable to the sponsor.

Another problem is of show over substance. A great deal of research is a facade. It is for show and statistical record, and has no impact on the alleviation of the problems of society.

In such a milieu, university administrators must walk the tightrope between shaping reality and being its servile agents.

Social engineering: Perhaps in all countries but especially in Asian and African societies, universities must be part of the machinery of social engineering and social restructuring. It is a university’s job to reach out to all marginalised, left-out sections of society, irrespective of race or religion, and to give them opportunities for upward mobility.

Nation building: Education should contribute to nation building by fostering respect for each other’s cultures and traditions and by aiding the development of political maturity.

By Shad Saleem Faruqi.

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