Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Building their self-confidence

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
Students celebrate Merdeka Day at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih in Kuala Lumpur last year. — File photo

Students celebrate Merdeka Day at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih in Kuala Lumpur last year. — File photo

DEALING with abandonment and rejection is something even adults handle poorly.

So what about young children who were abandoned by their own parents?

This is where education and guidance is needed to ensure the children – who may be emotionally affected – would not turn to the “dark side”.

Dishevelled with ticks in her hair, an eight year-old illiterate Syafiqah Abdullah enrolled at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (SBJK) in 2014 and managed to turn her life around. (see sidebar on the school).

Her first encounter with education was when she joined SBJK five years ago.

She remains an undocumented child and does not have her MyKad due to a lack of documents.

Cikgu AG (in brown batik) guiding his pupils to make Teachers’ Day cards to present to their teachers.

Cikgu AG (in brown batik) guiding his pupils to make Teachers’ Day cards to present to their teachers.

“My grandmother sent me to Rumah Kebajikan Titian Kasih, Kuala Lumpur because she couldn’t take care of me due to her old age.

“She also could not help much in helping to sort out my papers (documentation),” said the lass who was originally from a small village in Pahang.

Syafiqah feels fortunate that she found a secure place and people who cared for her.

“It is very different in the shelter and in my school. SBJK is a safe place for me and I enjoy coming here everyday.

“I have friends and teachers here who love and care for me. This is where I learnt about sewing, cooking and other hands-on skills,” said Syafiqah, 13, whose favourite sport is running.

The aspiring veterinarian is one of the 155 “neglected children” enrolled in SBJK, which is located in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur.

Fellow classmate Danish Rayyan, 15, admitted he was a bully and always picked fights before he joined the school.

Danish who is also from the same shelter as Syafiqah, said he was grateful when SBJK accepted him.

“Teachers here are always willing to give good advice which helps us become better people.

“I am motivated when they tell me to try my best, work hard and have a good attitude if I want to change in my life.”

Danish shared that before he enrolled into SBJK, his days passed aimlessly as he had no freinds and did not know what to do.

“Being here has taught me to make better decisions and made me a better person.

“I am making friends and have started studying. I’ve also picked up a few skills such as ICT and I love playing football,” said Danish who does not have his MyKad due to a lack of documentation.

Danish’s mother abandoned him when he was an infant. Fortunately, his father is in Kuala Lumpur working as a restaurant cook but does not have enough time to care for him and his sister, who also attends SBJK.The driving force behind SBJKMany would not venture into dark alleyways but this has not prevented SBJK principal Zulkernai Fauzi from going there to carry out his mission.

He believes he was put in his position (principal) by a higher power to help the children.

Zulkernai often spends his free time visiting Chow Kit, sometimes in the wee hours of the night to look out for “neglected children”.

“They are children who are born into unfortunate backgrounds. They have done nothing wrong and have the right to an education,” said the passionate educator who received the Special Education Award for his contributions to the school during the national Teachers Day celebrations in Penang on May 16.

Though he faces resistance from the public for running SBJK, an optimistic Zulkernai said he remained positive and motivated to give his “children” an opportunity to develop.

“Attending SBJK gives them hope. Besides classes on life skills, field trips and simple out-of-class lessons we conduct such as going to the park, taking rides on the MRT or watching a movie, helps them build self-confidence and expose them to the environment.

“They live in a big city yet they are not exposed to any of it. They are the B40 of the B40 group,” he said.

He shared a heart breaking situation where he found a student and his family living under a bridge. They slept on concrete and bathed with water from the river.

It is difficult for these children who have gone through such harsh conditions to smile but when they do, it keeps Zulkernai going.

“I am so happy when my children smile. Even one smile is enough,” he said, adding that the children call him “ayah” – treating him like the father they never had.

“They would come up to me, give me a big hug, and call me ayah. It started with a few, but word got around and now many of them call me ayah,” he said with a laugh.

Noting that the 15 teachers and staff under his care play a big role in running the “second home” for the children, Zulkernai said he has to make sure they are prepared to face the reality.

“Teachers can’t use the mainstream school methods as these children learn differently.

“Without strong willpower or motivation, it would be hard to teach these children. I always motivate my teachers and encourage them to build the children’s capabilities,” he said.

The teachers are given a free hand to teach the students based on their creativity.

This, he said, is to ensure the children enjoy classes and would keep coming back for more.

“One of my top challenges in running SBJK is keeping students in school.

“Many of their parents do not care about education, so basically, the children are continuing their lessons based on their own will and would come to school by themselves.

“The most difficult challenge for me is to convince their parents to let them attend SBJK, once I’ve identified them as they are often suspicious that I want to take advantage,” he said.

Meanwhile, SBJK counsellor Abdul Ghani Abu Hassan – fondly known as Cikgu AG – believes that when teachers are positive, the children would catch the vibe and be better themselves.

“I motivate myself by staying positive because I want to do my job right – which is to ensure (to the extent of my ability) that my students are happy when they come to school.

“When the children think more positively, they are able to mingle and foster closer bonds with their classmates who become their family they never had. It also helps with their learning process,” said Cikgu AG who has served at the school for a year.

The hardest challenge for teachers, he said, was helping students progress further.

“Teachers have to repeatedly teach the same topic to ensure the children would absorb the knowledge. Instead of focusing on academics, we help children here develop on their practical skills.

“Not doing well in studies doesn’t mean they are bad students. They each have a skill they can excel in. They always surprise us by producing or coming up with unexpected ideas,” he said.On top of imparting knowledge and making sure students keep up with attendance, Cikgu AG said giving constant encouragement was also a big part of the job.

To ensure the children come to school, teachers use edutainment and fun learning to encourage them not to skip classes.

In her first posting at her previous school SK Taman Segar, Cheras, Bahasa Melayu and Mathematics teacher Farisha Assila Saharudin believed that “street kids” such as those in SBJK were a “lost cause”.

“My thinking was wrong. We have to change this mindset if we want Malaysia to become a better place. Education is the way forward because it can bring positive changes to the children,” she said.

She was posted to SBJK in 2015 and learnt that these “street kids” just needed love and care.

“I became their foster mother. Before we start class, I have to make sure they’ve bathed and eaten so they can start class comfortably,” she said.

She said that many who enrolled at the school were illiterate and some did not know how to take care, or groom, themselves as they have never been taught.

“As teachers, we need to learn how to adapt to a completely different environment. In mainstream schools, teaching and completing the syllabus directed by the ministry is the focus.

By Lee Chonghui
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Malaysian education and quota: The Endgame

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
IN my last article, I took us along memory lane through the 60s and 70s when our education was world class. As I said, we prepared our bumiputra students at foundational levels in secondary residential and semi-residential schools to be able to competently compete on merit with others, at primarily international universities overseas.

After the social engineering of the New Economic Policy (NEP) quotas of the late 80s, our education system today is wrought by an overabundance of religious indoctrination, overtly in the curriculum and covertly in our public schools’ teaching environment. This was accompanied by the forcing of unqualified bumiputra students into local public universities that had to be graduated into the workforce in spite of them being mostly non performing. Gradings and exams had to bent to ensure large drop out numbers do not inundate the population. Instead, we flood the workforce with mediocre graduates who today fill the ranks of the civil service and government-link-entities top to bottom.

These graduates, in fact, today also fill up the whole levels of our education administration, teaching workforce and universities. Not all, but to most of them out there – you know who you are. Case in point are all the so-called bumi-based NGOs heads, university administrators including vice-chancellors who are somehow twisting their arguments into pretzels to defend the hapless Education Minister who just put his black shoes into his mouth with respect to the issue of a 90% quota for bumis in matriculation.

By now, everyone and their grandmother have seen the video-clip of our supposedly esteemed minister justifying the existence of matriculation quota in favour of bumis because the non-bumis are rich. To add insult to the wounds, he proudly claimed that private universities are mostly filled with non-bumis because non-bumis are better off than the Malays.

Let me today reiterate that this assumption can no longer be left unchallenged. It is patently untrue that all or even the majority of non-bumis are rich and are therefore of no need of government assistance. That the Malays are indeed so poor, that they are the only ones who are overwhelmingly in need of help.

This is a slap on the face of poor non-Malays and an insult to the many hard-working Malay parents who do not rely on government handouts and in general compete on their own merit.

Let us look at the reality, shall we?

Figures provided by Parliament in 2015, showed that bumiputra households make up the majority of the country’s top 20% income earners (T20), but the community also sees the widest intra-group income disparity. According to data from a parliamentary written reply, the bumiputra make up 53.81% of the T20 category, followed by Chinese at 37.05%, Indians at 8.80% and others at 0.34%.

So which groups overall are the top 20% income earners in the country? Answer: bumiputras by a whopping 16.76% to the next group, the Chinese!

However, when the comparison is made within the bumiputra group itself, T20 earners only comprise 16.34%. The remaining comprises the middle 40% income earners (M40) at 38.96% and the bottom 40% income earners (B40) making up the majority at 44.7%.

This means that in spite of almost 40 years of affirmative action, handouts, subsidies and quotas, bumis as a group has a large disparity between its haves and the havenots. That raises the question if it means practically none of the government assistance has in fact gone to help the bumis that truly needed help but has gone to further enrich those who are already having it all!

To the Malays, I say, “You should look into this disparity instead of pointing fingers to other Malaysians who work hard to uplift themselves without any help from their own government”.

Maybe because of your adulation of your Bossku, feudal fealty or religious chieftains that they are the ones that are taking up what is essentially yours to uplift your own lives?

After all the YAPEIM (Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam), yes, another institution in Malaysia using religion to sucker people, the Director himself takes home RM400,000.00 in bonus and his senior executive draws another RM250,000.00 all by themselves. Must be one hell of a “pembangunan ekonomi Islam”.

The problem is not between the Malays and the other races. The problem is clearly within the Malay community itself. The help is not reaching the supposed target group. Why? So do not punish others with quotas that penalise the excellence of others for your own dysfunctions.

Now, contrast with the Chinese and Indian communities, where the M40 group makes up the majority.

Within the Chinese community, the T20 group makes up 29.66%, followed by the M40 group at 42.32% and B40 at 28.02%. As for the Indian community, the T20 group stands at 19.98%, followed by the M40 income earners at 41.31% and the B40 at 38.71%.

It is so clearly not true that all non-bumis are rich and therefore the quotas must remain to enable the bumis to compete on an equal footing. The quotas are no longer justifiable if it was ever justifiable in the first place. It is very clear from these data that equal opportunity to university places must be provided irrespective of race purely on merit. The help on the other hand must be in the form of scholarships or loans to those deserving based on the financial capability of each successful university entrant, as simple as that.

If a candidate does not qualify, he or she does not, race be damned. That person must then take a different route – vocational or skilledbased profession or any other road to success. There is nothing wrong with not being a university graduate if one is not qualified. Find your vocation and passion in a field that you will excel in.

The Government has no business populating a university and later the workplace with a single race based on the criteria of fulfilling quota. It makes no sense and it is the root of ensuring the downfall of both the administrative branch of government or even the overall machinery of the nation’s economy.

Maszlee claims that foreign university branches in Malaysia are filled up by non-bumis, therefore Malays need more places in public universities via matriculation. As such the Government instituted matriculation in 1999. He cited Monash and Nottingham as examples. Unfortunately, Monash was opened in KL in 1998 and Nottingham in 2000. That lie blew up in his face pretty fast, didn’t it?

But really why would private universities be filled up with mostly non-bumis? Can’t Maszlee see that if the local public universities are providing only 10% quota to non-bumis to enter via matriculation, an even tougher entry through STPM and none via UEC, that middle and low income non-bumis will have no other choice but to opt for the less expensive private local and branch universities to sending their children for overseas education?

They even can’t gain entry to public universities due to the quotas despite having better results than Bumis. Where do you expect them to go then Maszlee? I know of many non-bumis who are scraping their barrels to ensure they send their kids to further their studies either local or overseas. Many of them have fewer children because they know they will have to pay for
their kid’s education in the future. With most if not all of the scholarships given to bumis do they have another cheaper option?

How much more heartless is your assessment of our fellow non-bumis’ predicaments can you get, my dear Maszlee?

I think Maszlee need to learn facts and have some critical thinking before opening his mouth. Being the education minister is not like teaching religion, where people are not going to fact-check you because they think you are a gift from God. An education minister with such thinking cannot be allowed to stay in that position much longer. It is untenable.

Interestingly of late, a number of those from the Malay academia have come to the defense of the hapless minister defending matriculation quota because of workplace imbalance in the private sector. I have to ask is this proof that our universities are headed by Malays who have no business graduating and being employed and now heading such academic institutions and organisations? Do they even realize the tenuous relations between entry quota into learning institutions vs recruitment variables?

We truly need to clean up the education ministry from top to bottom including at our public universities. Too many people with no brains sucking up to powers that be and playing the race and religion card. It’s enough to make you weep.

Back to our conundrum that is the Malaysian education, what then is our endgame?

1. Stop quota – period. Any type of quota. It does not work and it will destroy the capability of our public and private sector to excel. Merit must reign.

2. Go back to basics. Primary and secondary education are the foundation that will allow any persons of any race to compete on equal footing in order to enter vocational institutions, colleges, and universities. The rest will take care of itself upon them graduating and joining the workforce. Trust in our youth. The bumis are not incapable of excelling given the right foundation.

3. Bring back a Science, Mathematics and English-heavy curriculum for primary and secondary years. Go back to basics. These are foundation years. Do not worry about having the latest technology. Children will absorb that in their own time. Tertiary education is where skill-based knowledge is acquired. Foundational knowledge and critical thinking is honed before you leave high school.

4. Please leave religion at home. Teach it if you want but do it outside of normal school hours. Let our children be among their peers as human beings without any differentiation of beliefs and faiths. Let them celebrate their differences without adults telling them who is better than others. Show them all the beauty they possess without judgment.

5. We are all Malaysians. We all bleed the same blood and we all weep the same tears when we are capable but are unable to fulfill our potential because we do not have the financial means to achieve those goals. Help us irrespective of race. All of us contribute to our taxes. No one group should benefit more than the other because they are of a different ethnicity.

By Siti Kasim
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NST Leader: Missing the wood for the trees?

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik. (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

YESTERDAY marked a year in office for Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

Where we are going and where have we been are good questions to ask the minister.

Some of this was answered by Maszlee himself in his New Straits Times op-ed article, Thank you, everyone, an attempt of sorts at report carding his and his ministry’s performance. But there were bigger things missed.

This paper has reported “a creeping sense of misplaced priorities” before. This bears repeating.

Take the case of the downward spiral of English language competency among our students. None of the nine pillars in the op-ed article mentioned anything about doing something about such language incompetence among Malaysians.

Even our English language teachers seem to have competency issues.

Otherwise, why would the Education Ministry compel them to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET)? But MUET, like the black shoes controversy, has, quite rightly, attracted unnecessary noise.

Firstly, MUET is a university entrance test, not a cure for ailing English proficiency. If it is true that English language teachers need their competency upgraded, a custom-made training course is a better choice.

Secondly, the National Union of Teaching Profession does not see the need for teachers to sit for MUET because they are English language teachers in the first place. Obviously, neither the ministry nor NUTP is speaking the same language.

Missing too is the problem of our national schools fast becoming a single-race school rather than a multiracial one.

The dream of single-stream national schools and the attendant aspiration of national unity seem destined for the netherland. If unity doesn’t begin at schools, there is no place else where this can cohere.

Vernacular schools are mushrooming, while homeschooling, unheard of before, seems to be an increasing alternative now. If nothing is done to arrest this problem, Malaysians will soon be arguing from different premises.

But the unnoticed elephant in the room must be English as the medium of instruction. But none dare touch it.

What more a minister who is just a year in office. Plus, it is a hot potato in this beloved land of ours. But a happy compromise must be found.

This Leader, however, takes cognisance, too, of the views by the directors-general of education and higher education in today’s Opinion section.

Meanwhile, a black shoes-like controversy is brewing a storm in the media of one sort or the other: Bumiputera quota for matriculation.

Speaking to students of Universiti Sains Malaysia, Maszlee was quoted by a news portal as saying: “If we want to change, if we say in Malaysia Baru there is no need for a quota system and so on, then we must also make sure job opportunities are not denied to Bumiputeras just because they don’t know Mandarin.”

Like the black shoes, that remark has not gone down well with some sections of society. To be fair to Maszlee, he was pushing for context in speech.

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NUTP: Don’t hold activities during school holidays

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is urged school administrators not to hold any activities, including extra classes or academic programmes, during the school holidays. NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is urged school administrators not to hold any activities, including extra classes or academic programmes, during the school holidays.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said throughout the school session students were burdened with too much homework.

He said NUTP hoped that students and teachers would be given the opportunity to take part in leisure activities during the holidays so that they could recover from the stress.

He added that students of different ethnic backgrounds should also be given the chance to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“During school holidays in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidilfitri, let the students and teachers rejoice while resting with their family and relatives, as well as friends to celebrate the meaningful Hari Raya,” he said in a statement here today.

The school holidays started yesterday and will continue until June 9 for Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu, while for other states, the holiday begins today and ends on June 10.

By Bernama

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Dr Maszlee has tackled many burdens affecting educators, says NUTP.

Monday, May 20th, 2019

ALMOST half of the problems being faced by teachers have been solved by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said out of the 41 issues raised by the union, 18 have been solved, another 11 are at the discussion stage while 12 issues are pending.

“Following the handing over of the 41 issues, several discussion sessions have been organised between the Education Ministry and the union,” said NUTP president Aminuddin Awang and secretary-general Harry Tan in a joint statement on May 14.

The document containing the 41 issues was presented to Dr Maszlee on July 9, 2018.

Among the successes, the union added, included the five initiatives to reduce teachers’ administrative workload announced by Dr Maszlee during his 2019 mandate earlier this year.

One of the initiatives was that teachers will no longer have to prepare and file multiple copies of documents.

These included preparing the classroom attendance and subject committee records.

The union, comprising 230,000 members, said Dr Maszlee’s swift action and full commitment in tackling the burdens faced by the teachers show that he is the right choice to be Education Minister.

“As a union that cares for the welfare of teachers, NUTP is satisfied with his open attitude as he really wants to help teachers on the issue of their workload, dilapidated schools, Technical Education and Vocational Training (TVET) and drafting the standard operation procedure for teachers’ safety and welfare when bringing students out of school to attend the official ministry programmes.”

The union said that the issues will be tackled through the ministry’s long-term, medium-term and short-term plans.

Among the issues which are still pending discussion are the shortage of teachers at religious schools and the workload of sports schools’ teachers.

By Rebecca Rajaendram Educate@Thestar.Com.My
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Impart positive values on schoolchildren: Dr M

Friday, May 17th, 2019


Dr Mahathir (second right) together with award recipients Datuk Asariah Mior Shahruddin (second left), Nawi Ismail (right) and Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (left) on Thursday

GEORGETOWN: The positive values of being diligent, trustworthy and highly-disciplined should be inculcated among schoolchildren so that they can put it into practice from a young age and eventually become their culture of success, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

He said these three values should be upheld and practised by all Malaysians to enable them to stay ahead and be successful in their respective fields.

“With these three values, we will be a successful nation,” he said when launching the National Teachers’ Day celebration at the Setia Spice Convention Centre in Bayan Lepas, near here Thursday.

The prime minister said he still gave emphasis on the Look East Policy because the developed Eastern countries such as Japan and Korea were respected by the world not only because of their development but also due to the three values, as well as the spirit of patriotism, inculcated among their citizens.

“Teachers are being highly regarded by the people because teaching is a noble profession which is to ensure that the children are ready to face the challenges while upholding good values and universal principles,” he said.

Dr Mahathir said teachers should also prepare their students to face disruptive changes as a result of the implementation of new and advanced technologies.

He said the national education system facing such a challenge required a paradigm shift to ensure that it would remain relevant.

“The explosion of technology and the digital revolution have witnessed a drastic change in the global environment which requires the national education system to always be compatible with technology development,” he said. Dr Mahathir said the government’s commitment to ensuring that priority would be given to the education sector was proven with the allocation of RM60.2 billion or 19.1 per cent of the total budget this year.

“An allocation of RM2.9 billion has also been set aside as education aid to help the poor through food supply, textbooks and cash aid,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also called on teachers to continue to instil interest and awareness in mastering English, Science, Mathematics and Technology subjects in tandem with the government’s aspiration to make optimal use of the fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0).

He said the government is currently focusing specifically on technical and vocational education and training (TVET) programmes, which are capable of making a significant contribution to the country’s development in the face of Industry 4.0.

“The Ministry of Education as TVET provider must remain committed to empowering cooperation among industries and intensify collaboration across TVET institutions,” he said.

At the event, Dr Mahathir also presented the Tokoh Kepimpinan Pendidikan Kebangsaan 2019 Award to former Deputy Director-General of Education (Teaching Profession Development Sector) Datuk Asariah Mior Shaharuddin and the Tokoh Guru Kebangsaan 2019 Award to the former teacher of Sekolah Menengah Teknik Kuala Terengganu,


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Thank you, everyone

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019
The focus of education is on the students, which is the third pillar. -NSTP/File pic

THIS article is specially penned to elucidate the milestones that have been achieved by the Education Ministry.

Our milestones are neither perfect nor have we been able to solve the challenges at hand but we have got off to a good start. Riding strong on the people’s mandate, we shall work tirelessly to deliver results to them.

PILLAR 1: Benefits for Students from B40 Backgrounds

The Education Ministry has outlined nine core milestones. These milestones are focused on nine priority groups that we have identified. First, we want to ensure a balanced and equitable access to education so that no one is left behind, and in doing so, shall give undivided attention to the B40 group.

Besides the 60 per cent placements at fully residential schools and matriculation centres, beginning this year, B40 students shall also enjoy preferential access to public universities, as well as scholarship and financial assistance. This initiative is expected to benefit 23,895 students.

PILLAR 2: Primary Focus on Teachers

The second pillar shall be teachers; our primary focus. We acknowledge that teachers are the real heroic agents of change whose plight cannot be ignored. We are taking a two-pronged approach on this.

FIRST, in the interest of teachers’ welfare, the MOE is holding consultation with stakeholders to draw up a standard operating procedure to ensure teachers’ safety and wellbeing when taking students off-campus.

The MOE is also beefing up the roles and functions of the Inspection and Quality Assurance Board to boost teaching and provide better learning experience for students.

SECOND, we recognise that our teachers are bogged down with various duties. Starting this year, we have introduced five initiatives to reduce the teachers’ burden. Among others, these initiatives seek to eliminate overlaps and redundancies so that teachers can focus on teaching and learning, thereby increasing classroom interaction or facetime, which is a critical element in education and talent development.

We are also looking at several long-term solutions to tackle more complex issues which require revising the existing rules and policies, upgrading IT facilities and infrastructure. This includes the working hours for teachers, Internet penetration in schools, information system integration, administration and implementation at schools and teachers’ allocation.

PILLAR 3: Students at the Core

At the core of education is, of course, the students. Our third pillar is to give full attention to them. Examinations during the first phase of primary education (standards 1-3) have been abolished.

We want pupils to look forward to going to school and to have inquisitive minds. They must be able to learn without being pressured or forced.

We want fun learning to facilitate better knowledge absorption among pupils. This is part of our aggressive push towards a new paradigm of pupil-centred learning.

For children who are born to Malaysian parents, but who do not have the proper documents, they now can attend school. Some 2,635 children have enrolled since the beginning of this year under this policy.

Our principles are clear — education is the right of every child regardless of who they are or where they come from. Previously, upon being denied their rights to education, children in this group would often be out on the streets. Education would be able to save them from falling prey to crime and social ills.

This is in line with the ministry’s zero-dropout policy — Program Sifar Murid Cicir — a programme where no child is left behind.

Under this programme, 26.1 per cent or 262 students at secondary level have returned to schools.

Pillar 4: Commitment to Dilapidated Schools

We must also strive to future-proof our education, especially in meeting the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Towards this, MOE has pledged to always invest in our most basic infrastructure and facilities, all of which are vital for our children’s decent education.

The fourth pillar, therefore, is our biggest commitment today; to address the issue of dilapidated schools, something that I have personally witnessed on the ground. I have set up a dashboard in my office so that I can always get updates on this.

Of the 394 dilapidated schools, 301 have been refurbished and obtained the certificate of practical completion while 93 are in the process.

PILLAR 5: Full Attention to Special Needs Children

Our fifth focus requires special and frequent attention. Children who are disabled or with special needs will not be deprived of education.

In January, we had 1,486 special needs children who registered with us manually at schools, having missed the opportunity to do so online. On April 8, the number rose to 10,948. This is more than a 10-fold increase and is a huge achievement.

Those with disabilities can also continue their studies in public universities. Public universities are required to implement disabled-friendly policies on campuses. This will also be rolled out at private universities nationwide.

PILLAR 6: The Competence of Higher Education Institutions

We have implemented six initiatives under this, which are:

Abolishing Section 15(c) of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which is the prelude towards totally replacing the act in 2020 with a more comprehensive legislation.

Campus elections for the first time were organised by students themselves after over 30 years.

A students’ union at each of the universities.

October 5th every year shall be Academia Day, something which academics themselves proposed to better recognise contributions that they make towards the academia.

Higher education institutions will be completely open for intellectual discourses, forums and debates for scholars and politicians alike.

RM455.35 million is allocated towards research.

To give students a more prominent voice by allowing them participation in a university’s decision-making.

The MOE is shifting the university’s trajectory towards becoming a solution or a problem solver for our society. Universities must be a competent social agent that drive social discourse.

PILLAR 7: More Collaboration in Higher Education Institutions

A roadmap specifically for this sector is being drawn up. Private HEIs will, for the first time, be involved in the crafting of policies that include them.

The MOE is also seeking to further strengthen efforts to internationalise the higher education sector. Among countries which will be involved are the United Kingdom, Japan, Jordan, France, China, Morocco, Indonesia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Brunei. MOE is also in the process of signing memorandum of understanding to further collaborate in higher education and to push towards becoming the region’s education hub. We hope to make Malaysia the premier education destination.

PILLAR 8: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

MOE has convened a TVET Empowerment Committee in June last year. For the first time, we have implemented a harmonised accreditation and quality assurance system which allows for a flexible pathway for TVET article-ships up to level 6 and 7.

This is also the system that will be used by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and Department of Skills Development (JPK) to accreditise courses offered by public and private TVET institutions within the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF).

PILLAR 9: Upholding Language, Culture and Literature

The ninth and final pillar is to address issues surrounding language, culture and literature. This is closely related to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), the Malaysian Translation and Books Institute (ITBM), the National Book Council of Malaysia (MBKM) and Kota Buku Incorporated.

We have so far run the “Sasterawan di Universiti” (Laureates at Universities) programme where poet and laureates are placed at each university. This programme will be expanded to polytechnics, teachers’ training institutes (IPGs) and later at schools. Among others, we seek to make National Laurates more visible and play a bigger role in our society.

We also would like to make Malaysia a reading nation by 2030. For this purpose, we are running a National Reading Decade campaign with over 36,000 activities planned nationwide.

The MOE is also in the process of drawing up the National Book Policy and National Literature Policy, as well as revising the National Language Policy to promote language, culture and literature.

Dr Maszlee Malik

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Ken Hwa sets target for three public exams

Friday, May 10th, 2019

KENINGAU: SMJK Ken Hwa here has set a target for this year based on its development programme and academic achievement, especially the school and students performances in the three public examinations namely the PT3, SPM and STPM last year.

Principal Chong Nyuk Choon said this involved development programmes such as classroom building (phase 2), mini auditorium and school infrastructure.

“As for the students’ academic achievement for PT3, the average grade target this year is 4.04 with 80 per cent passes while for SPM, the average grade target is 4.50 and 94 per cent passes and the STPM target is average grade of2.60 with 100 per cent passes,” he said at the launch of the School Target 2019.

The ceremony was launched by Chairman of the School Management Board, Pang Shu Hin, that saw teachers, students, parents, members of the School Management Board and Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) members attending.

Chong said co-curriculum achievements were also taken into account where 70 per cent uniformed unit, 97 per cent attendance, co-curriculum meeting, 35 per cent achieving Grade A in co-curriculum and 100 per cent pupils achieving at least Grade C.

He said the Student Personality Development target is 96 per cent and above in terms of annual attendance, 85 per cent on cleanliness and cheerfulness, less than three per cent in heavy discipline cases, 65 per cent attendance of parents compulsory functions in PTA KPI 1and KPI 2, 25 per cent parents attendance in other events.

“In conjunction with this ceremony, there was also incentive presentation for outstanding students in PT3, SPM, STPM exams last year and for Test 1.

“There was also the dialogue for Form Five and Test 1 Transcript Submission which were attended by parents of students and members of the School Management Board,” he said.

He urged the students to work harder and initiate healthy competition among them to excel.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Board of School Management, Pang Shu Hin, also urged the students to strive for success not only in education but also in life and that teachers must play their role in helping the students excel in their education.

By: Johan Aziz.

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Include Federal Constitution in school syllabus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Fauziah Ismail.

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Solving education challenges on a global scale

Friday, April 19th, 2019
(File pix) Zainab Arkani (left) and Ahmed Ullah (second from right) sharing their experience on how education has helped them as refugees during the Global Education and Skills Forum opening plenary. Pix by Global Education & Skills Forum

CHANGE was the theme of the seventh annual Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) this year as inspirational speakers, featuring leading personalities and change-makers from across the globe, gathered in Dubai to share, discuss and debate on how to make a positive impact on the world.

An initiative of Varkey Foundation, its founder Sunny Varkey said: “By sharing the stories of grassroots activists, campaigners, philanthropists, tech developers and many more, we can have a much smarter debate about how to solve challenges on a global scale.”

Among the key speakers who spearheaded the sessions were Sierra Leonean president Julius Maada Bio, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos and former British prime minister Tony Blair.

At the opening plenary, two young Rohingya, now living in Canada, shared their experience on how education has helped them as refugees.

Zainab Arkani and Ahmed Ullah, who had fled persecution in Myanmar, called upon the international community to ensure that Rohingya children did not become a “lost generation” without an education or future.

“I was lucky I was among the one per cent who went to school, because 99 per cent did not have the chance to go to school,” said Zainab, who moved to Canada and started the only Rohingya school in her basement.

Rare for a Rohingya woman, Zainab completed her undergraduate studies in Myanmar, despite systemic barriers and discrimination in the schooling systems.

“We have enough sympathy, empathy and donations. What we need is education and vocational training for Rohingya children.”

Ullah said he was proof that refugees could do anything as long as they were given a chance.

Born in a refugee camp, Ullah is now a youth coordinator of the Canadian Rohingya Development initiative.

“There are millions of children suffering the same way I was. All they want is education. Why can’t we give Rohingya children hope that they can go to university and build something for their people?”

Malaysian teacher and Top 50 global Teacher Prize 2015 finalist Yasmin Noorul Amin was also one of the three speakers who spoke on “getting girls into STEM (Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics)”, one of the topics discussed under “Change in the Classroom” theme. Yasmin, who teaches chemistry at SMK la Salle in Petaling Jaya, shared her forensic science activities that she organised for her allboys students with the participation of students from an all-girls school.

“it does not matter if they are boys or girls, but we have to give students chances and motivate them to pursue STEM. I have been teaching boys for the past 15 years and it is important for me to continue with them as I believe we need to empower the boys to empower girls.

“There are around 15,000 to 16,000 female students in Malaysia in the Science stream last year. So that shows the interest is there.”

She said while there was no restriction for girls to take up STEM in Malaysia, the numbers did not necessarily translate to them pursuing STEM at the tertiary level.

“I graduated in aeronautical engineering, but my father told me to teach instead. So, I decided to be a science teacher, though I told myself that I cannot be just a teacher, but I have to be an extraordinary teacher.

“Although I had to forgo an engineering career, I still have the engineering mindset. So I engineer the minds of my boys to empower girls,” she said.

Also discussing the same topic were Emma Russo, a physics teacher from the United Kingdom, Metropolitan South West Science Teachers association president Kenneth Silburn and global Teacher Prize 2019 finalist Chifuniro M’Manga-Kamwendo.

The highlight of the two-day forum was the global Teacher Prize, presented for the fifth year, to an exceptional teacher for their outstanding contribution to the profession. This year, Peter Tabichi, a mathematics and physics teacher at Keriko Secondary School in Kenya was named the winner.

On winning the prize, Tabichi said: “I believe science and technology can play a leading role in unlocking Africa’s potential. We all know that scientific discovery and innovation fuel progress, facilitate development and can tackle issues such as food insecurity, water shortages and climate change.”

Tabichi mentored his students through the school’s Science Club, helping them design research projects that qualify for competitions. At the Kenya Science and engineering Fair 2018, his students showcased a device they had invented to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects. They came first nationally in the public schools category.

His students have also won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.

“As a teacher working on the frontline, I have seen the promise of its young people — their curiosity, talent, intelligence and belief. Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. africa will produce scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world.

And girls will be a huge part of this story,” Tabichi added.

GESF 2019 also hosted the next Billion Prize, which recognises leading education technology startups making an impact on education in low and emerging economies.

By Hazlina Aziz.

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