Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Breaking the ice on the first day

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

A teacher introduces various traditional kuih to pupils in class to break the ice on the first day.

EVERY year on the first day of school, we as teachers want to create a positive vibe so that everything will be smooth sailing throughout the whole year.

For examination classes, the students are the ones who are always tensed.

We try to make them feel calm and relaxed so there is no nagging on the first day and everything is cool. I make sure I shake their hands and wish them ‘Happy New Year’ and bribe them with sweets and chocolates, a wish that the whole year will be prosperous. I do this for all the classes that I teach.

This year I brought traditional kuih to class. (see the photo of the kuih I brought to school) It was sad that not all students got the names correct.

These kuih were famous during the 1970s and 1980s and many teenagers fancied them.

Nobody knew what “asam ketok” was, after tasting it, they knew it was something sweet and sour.

When we were kids we ate them and there were a lot of seeds in them and our tongue would turn red, what a memory! We should introduce our traditional kuih to these young children too.

In some primary schools, they have mascots on the first day. These include – Spiderman, Batman or Superman. But there are none in secondary schools.

The only time we had mascots was during Chinese New Year when the different animals according to Chinese Zodiac such as rooster or rat came to the school.

There was also a lion dance troupe.

Thanks to the Chinese Language Society and the Chinese teachers for having these traditions in school.

It was a happy celebration for the students and school community.

I should bring more traditional delicacies which are famous in Malaysia to school.

School is still the best place to introduce everything about culture.


Making the case for a separate Higher Education Ministry

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
The government should consider bringing back the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: Due to the complexity of our educational system and to reduce the burden on our Ministry of Education (MOE), the government should consider bringing back the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).

MOHE was first established in 2004. It was responsible for higher education, polytechnic and community colleges, student loans, accreditation, student volunteers and other matters involving higher education.

After the 14th General Election in 2018, the new government decided to combine MOHE under MOE.

Unlike other countries, our country’s educational system is rather complex as it consists of many types of educational institutions.

Our education system is divided into preschool education, primary education, secondary education, post-secondary education and tertiary education. It is further divided into public and private education.

There are hundreds of schools in the country. There are also dozens of colleges and universities, not to mention technical and vocational institutions.

It will be very difficult for a single ministry under a single minister to give his or her full focus to deal with all issues and problems being faced by all the educational institutions.

These issues and problems also vary from one institution to another. The issues and problems faced by school teachers and pupils are different from those faced by lecturers and students at university level.

Ever since Pakatan Harapan took over, many plans were developed by the new government to improve the existing educational system at all levels.

To be frank, it will be very tough for the current ministry and its minister to give their full focus to all the issues and problems involving educational matters.

This will affect the government’s noble aim to carry out major reforms in our education system and all the educational institutions.

As such, it will be much better for the government to consider bringing back MOHE as a single entity along with a minister in charge of the ministry.

Bringing back MOHE will reduce the focus and burden faced by the existing MOE as matters involving higher education issues will be placed under a separate ministry, headed and supervised by another minister.

This would allow the existing ministry (namely MOE) to give its full focus on other remaining educational institutions and allow the government to reform our educational system and institutions for the sake of the country and our future generation.


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Japan hosts 10-day visit for educators from universities, religious schools

Friday, January 10th, 2020
Japanese ambassador to Malaysia, Hiroshi Oka (6th from right) with the participants of the programme at the certificate-giving ceremony. With him are Professor Dr Mohd Kamarulnizam Abdullah (seventh from right), Noorazlina Subari (left) and Hafazah Yusof (right). -NSTP/OWEE AH CHUN.

KUALA LUMPUR: Nine educators from Malaysian universities and Islamic schools visited three Japanese schools practising the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) curriculum in Tokyo and Kanagawa recently to promote intercultural and interfaith exchange.

Organised by Japan Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by the Education Ministry, the 10-day visit aimed to deepen mutual understanding between Malaysia and Japan.

At a certificate-giving ceremony today, Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Hiroshi Oka who described the programme as unique said: “We have hosted their stay in Japan and learn about Malaysia’s culture and religions as well.

“This programme focuses on strengthening education and religious aspects between Malaysia and Japan as we have a long running friendship between our countries.

“The participants also went to places in Japan to immerse themselves in our culture by trying local cuisine and visiting historical spots in our country.

The visit, he said, also provided teachers with an opportunity for intercultural and interfaith dialogue held in Taizo-in Buddhist temple – a historical Buddhist temple in Kyoto.

He added that the dialogue focused on common challenges religious leaders and educators face in promoting peace, tolerance and diversity in the society.

Programme coordinator Professor Dr Mohd Kamarulnizam Abdullah, who is also an International Studies lecturer at Universiti Utara Malaysia, said the visit was crucial to provide true understanding of Islam to the Japanese society.

“Our religion is often presented in a negative way by associating it with terrorism and violence while it is actually a religion of peace.

“There is no Islamophobia in Japan, but they are curious about our religion. Hence, the participants play an important part by explaining to the Japanese about the essence of Islam through their interactions with the locals.

“Participants are also encouraged to learn the Japanese way of doing things, their ethics and unmatched discipline in order to apply the values in their schools and among students,” he said.

Participant Noorazlina Subari said the visit was an eye-opening experience for her.

“Although Islam is a minority religion in Japan, a lot of its culture and values are similar to the practice of Muslims especially in the aspects of moral behaviour and cleanliness.

“While visiting the four states in Japan, I was impressed that I had not sighted a dirty place.

“We also had a school visit where we could observe the students who are well-mannered. They are respectful in their words and actions towards their teachers and the elderly.

“On top of that, we could see how the Japanese elderly people maintain their health and are still actively working despite their age. Their secret is practicing a healthy diet and lifestyle,” said the headmaster of Taski Sri Al Firdaus, Klang.

Sekolah Menengah Agama Hj Mohd Yatim in Ulu Gadong, Negri Sembilan teacher, Hafazah Yusof said that she was moved by the visit to the Taizo-in Buddhist temple.

“Upon visiting the temple, we have to perform our prayer since it was already time. So, we laid down our praying mat and performed our prayer just nearby the temple.

“The temple visitors showed tolerance and did not stop us from doing so.

“During the intercultural and interfaith dialogue, the speaker talked about the two most practiced religions in Japan, which are Buddhism and Shinto. Although different in their beliefs, the Japanese are able to live harmoniously which is something us Malaysians can relate to,” she said.

ESD engages in activities that address various issues related to the environment, peace, human rights in an interdisciplinary, holistic way that includes environmental, economic, societal, and cultural perspectives.

By Murniati Abu Akrim.

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2020 – The Next Leap of Expansion in Africa

Tuesday, January 7th, 2020

Lim (middle) receives a rapturous welcome at the Limkokwing University in Sierra Leone on his arrival.

IT’S a record for a Malaysian educationist, probably even the world, to single-handedly set up seven universities in Africa – and Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing has done just that.

What’s more, this is not the end of it as the 73-year-old continues his African journey, one which many other businessmen still have lingering doubts about, coupled with a deep hesitance when it comes to putting money in the continent.

But Lim has placed his faith in Africa the last 15 years and has set up Limkokwing branch campuses in Lesotho, Botswana, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) and Sierra Leone.

Come this month, three gleaming new campuses are set to open in Namibia, Uganda and Rwanda.

Paper work is also being done to see to the setting up of the South Africa and Nigeria campuses. It’s an important milestone for Lim, and he is excited to greet 2020.

“It’s a very proud moment for Malaysia. Limkokwing University is a Malaysian brand and remains the only Malaysian university to have branches around the globe.

“As part of our Brand Malaysia, the Jalur Gemilang is hoisted in every campus and graduates hold the mini version of our flag at every convocation, ” said the advertising guru turned educationist.

He is enormously proud of being a Malaysian and an ethnic Chinese, adding also that he did not compromise on the naming of his universities anywhere in the world, saying it has to be Limkokwing.

The university’s parent campus is the one in Cyberjaya, where more than 80% of its student population is international – foreign students from 150 countries.

It has branches in Melaka, Kuching as well as Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Britain.

Although the year is only about to start and many university staff are still on leave, it is a busy time at Cyberjaya.

His senior aides are busy briefing him in minute detail on various topics ranging from the number of billboards put up in the three African countries to queries received from prospective students as the campuses open for business.

There is almost an “electric” atmosphere at the university president’s floor with the deadline looming.

The senior management knows that history is in the making in Limkokwing’s African transformation plan with the next leap just about to take off.

Transforming lives

The first African campus was set up in Gaborone, the capital of Botswana, in 2007.

“When we opened our doors for registration, 6,000 hopeful young people turned up for the 1,500 places available.

“The Botswana government invited us to set up the university within six months.

“Then, the country had only one university and the talk of having a second one set up had been going on for years.

“And here comes a Malaysian who achieved it within six months, ” he said, adding that the university went on to open its second and third campuses in Botswana.

The following year, Limkokwing opened in Maseru, the capital of Lesotho, with the aim of producing the same kind of graduates with skills and knowledge.

Lim activated the Laptop Empowerment Initiative to make it possible for every Limkokwing student to own a laptop – an unheard of plan in Lesotho then.

By 2010, the university opened in Mbabane, the capital of Eswatini, as news spread about the transformation in nearby countries with King Mswati III extending an invitation to Limkokwing to set up campus.

Four years later, another campus was added into the Limkokwing family, this time in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone but it opened its doors at a tough time as the Ebola virus had just hit the country.

“We faced a potential crisis but quickly came out with a response, banking on our skills to create a huge public awareness. After that initial lockdown, we created history in 2016, when more than 1,000 students began their semester.

“One year later, the President of Sierra Leone, Dr Ernest Bai Korma, officially opened the university.”

History in the making

Fast forward to 2020 – the Ugandan campus will be the first private international university in the country, following an invitation to Limkokwing.

It was made after a visit by Second Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, to the Cyberjaya campus in 2018.

The programmes will be industry focused on skills, with emphasis on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). There are diploma and bachelor degree programmes on architectural technology, broadcasting (radio and TV), business management, information technology, software engineering and fashion design, among others.

The campus will be located on a 6ha piece of land in Namataba, where Limkokwing University has officially taken over the premises of the former Namataba Technical Institute (NTI) campus in Mukono District, Uganda, last year.

Skills development

“The next plan is to have a bigger campus for post-graduate courses and eventually Limkokwing University programmes across the country of about 44 million.”

The students will be a mix of government-sponsored and private students.

Lim is excited with the opening of the Rwanda campus in its capital of Kigali. The country has attracted the attention of the world with its economy projected to hit 7.8% in 2019 and 8% this year.

Rwanda’s economy has undergone rapid industrialisation due to a successful governmental policy and since the early 2000s, it has witnessed an economic boom.

It is eager to shout about its success to the world and has even taken a £30mil (RM160mil) sponsorship with the Arsenal football club as its official tourism partner.

But its big show is in June when Rwanda hosts the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm).

“We hope to use this special occasion to boost the presence of Limkokwing University in Kigali, to coincide with the Chogm Youth Summit.

“We have started operations for the campus to be set up and by April, the academic year will begin, with similar emphasis on TVET programmes.

Rwanda has a population of 12.5 million, of which half are below 20 years old, with the median age of 22.7.

“There is a hunger for education and the government is emphasising on education and skills development. It is a country in a hurry.

“In Africa, Rwanda has even been dubbed the Singapore of Africa. Malaysia hopes to play its part and Limkokwing is proud to play that role in the education sector, ” he said, pointing out that Microsoft has plans to set up a tech park in Kigali while China’s Alibaba is set to create Africa’s first digital e-commerce hub.

He pointed out that this was an entirely Malaysian direct investment by Limkokwing with no government sponsorship and student loans.

“Our target is 500 students, as a start, and the programmes include tourism management, as Rwanda has an international recognition for this with many job opportunities.”

In 2018, Travel & Tourism contributed US$1.4bil (RM5.7billion) to the country’s economy, an increase of 13.8% in 2017.

This means that Travel & Tourism now account for 14.9% of the total Rwandan economy.

Revenue from gorilla trekking in Volcanoes National Park grew by 25% in 2018 to US$19mil (RM77mil) from the previous year, according to the latest data from the Rwanda Development Board. The money was earned from the sale of 15,132 gorilla permits during the year.

The statistics released by the board points to a rise in revenue from gorilla trekking after the revision of permit prices from US$750 (RM3,099) to US$1,500 (RM6,199) in 2016.

Limkokwing will also open its Nigerian campus in the state of Edo, known for its rubber and oil production. It has a population of five million people.

“We are the first 100% foreign-owned university in Nigeria, ” he said, adding that the university was invited to set up its branch campus there.

In 2017, the Governor of Edo state Godwin Obaseki visited the Cyberjaya campus as part of an introduction to its ecosystem of training industry-ready graduates.

In Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, Limkokwing will begin its classes next month with launches already in full swing.

The campus is being set up as a private university, offering similar TVET programmes.

In the pipeline will be the campus in South Africa, where Limkokwing has already identified a site in Warrenton, an agricultural town in the Northern Cape province of South Africa, situated 70km north of Kimberley. The town is named after Sir Charles Warren. Diamonds were discovered here in 1888 and mining still continues. It is known for its lush farmland and rivers.

“It is a picturesque place with a rural setting, and certainly has a conducive environment for studying.

“We believe that both the students and parents will like this place once it is ready. “

Lim says it was ironic that his African education journey had not started in South Africa, much as his love with the continent began in South Africa.

His friendship with the legendary Nelson Mandela is well-documented including how he spent two years from 1993 working with Mandela and the African National Congress in the run-up to the first free elections.

Lim played a phenomenal role in shaping and directing the Mandela campaign following the recommendation of then (and present) prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to get Lim to use his experience and skills.

Thus began a love affair with Africa that has not abated but has been reinforced over the years.

“I see Africa as an exciting continent of boundless untapped potential. I also believe that youths should have access to education in today’s globalised world.

“Education will change their lives. No young person should be denied the transformative power of a great education.”

A book, “Limkokwing: Transform Africa” about his African journey is slated to be launched by the middle of this year. The 345-page book traces his involvement in South Africa and the subsequent education journey in the continent.

“I look forward to 2020 as it is a year of expansion in Africa and the next stage of my journey in the continent that I love so much.”For Lim, the university expansion isn’t just about setting up campuses and producing graduates but about transforming the lives of young Africans.

“It is a mission to change these young people into confident, skilled and techno-savvy individuals who can contribute to building their country’s economy.

“Education is the key and all these countries depend on this human capital to spur economic growth, with the proper skills and training.”

Lim does not believe in the conventional academic teaching, saying he believes that students should have creativity and innovative skills.

Like him or loathe him, he is without doubt the Simba or the lion king of private education in Africa. And he remains the only Malaysian to have achieved that feat.


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Time for real change for Malaysian education

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

New decade, new Malaysian education: For the sake of our children and our future, Mazlee’s replacement should be a qualified and capable Malaysian – irrespective of race or religion.

We need a new Education Minister with the right qualifications, a scientific mindset and a technocratic iron will to implement the critical changes.

I HAVE been a big critic of and objector to Maszlee Malik as Education Minister from day one.

I took no pleasure in it then nor do I take pleasure in it now. It just is. The wrong person must go and the right person must come in.

Education is far too important for a nation to be entrusted to those not competent in moulding the minds of our most precious resource, our youth. Education is where we develop this resource for either the success or the failure of our nation.

We do not have to look far to see success. A country with no natural resources, with a tenth of our population, can be a developed nation by sheer power of its human resources.

In 1965, Malaysia and Singapore went separate ways in more ways than one. Look at where they are and look where we are now. The lessons to be learned are abundant. Have the humility to know when we are wrong and they have been right all along. There is no need to look East. Look South.

“A nation is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people and the quality of its leaders which ensure it an honourable place in history, ” said its architect, Lee Kuan Yew in 1963.

The education ministership is the leader in ensuring that our children and our youths are able to take the nation to the next level. It is just not at the very top have we got it wrong, again and again. We must have the humility to admit when we are wrong and have been wrong for more than 30 years. We must have the decency, discipline and courage to want to change so our future can be assured.

What did Singapore do right in education? When one looks at massive differences in results, one need not look at many things. One need only look at the fundamental deviation at the root.

One: Singaporean education is in English.

Despite more than 76% of its population being ethnic Chinese, the medium of instruction for its public schools is English. Have you ever heard the Singaporean government or its leaders talk about “memartabatkan” (to give dignity to) the Mandarin language? They have no time for such foolish ethnic pride.

They may find ways to conserve Chinese heritage but they have no interest or inclination to play to racial sentiments that would sacrifice the very essence that will ensure their children have the easiest access to the widest and latest conservatory of human knowledge since the late 19th century.

As such, accessibility of critical knowledge for their children and subsequent generations are assured from young and is continuous throughout their lives. It is so easy to do for those who have the best interest at heart and yet so difficult to do for those with foolish pride and Machiavellian political ambitions.

No mandatory Chinese calligraphy is needed to ensure Chinese heritage continues. No shouting of slogans of Ketuanan Cina and its preservation. That is confidence in your own ability to shape destiny. To hell with all that. Learn in English.

Two: Their education is secular. Because that is the essence of education.

One of the greatest physicists and teachers of the 20th century, the late Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman, famously said, “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes an education.

Singapore does not impose belief on its citizens. And that starts in education. Question everything and everyone. Anything that cannot be questioned has no place in the classroom of public education. That is called indoctrination.

You want to indoctrinate your children that the sky is filled with butterflies and angels in the morning, go ahead, but not on our time or our dime.

It is abhorrent the amount of taxpayers money and children’s time that have been wasted on indoctrination of belief. Indoctrination stops you from thinking, it is the complete acceptance of belief.

As Einstein said, “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”. Religion is not about thinking, its about accepting.

Religion – any religious indoctrination – has no place in public education. You do not find that in Singapore and you do not find that in any other developed nation. If you want to include religion in public education, do it as part of comparative religion in the social sciences context. Otherwise it is indoctrination. It is useless as education.

Belief, religion and its indoctrination must be the domain of parents, if they so choose, and not government. Otherwise the result is imposition, persecution and finally tyranny of belief upon the citizenry. And no nation will survive such tyranny.

There is a reason great men of history have warned us against such wanton imposition of religious beliefs and indoctrination of the masses. Thomas Jefferson once said, “In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to liberty.”

We need to heed this warning.

Three: One word – Science.

I have said this again and again. Science is the salvation of a nation, especially today in the 21st century.

The triumph of human civilisation is the triumph of science. The ascendancy of humankind, each empire, each nation and people has been through their grasp of the “science” of their time and its application in their minds and lives.

Our education must be science-centric. No ifs or buts. There must be more basic science taught, learned, experimented with and exposed to our children from the day they start school until they leave it. In depth and breadth and in the number of hours spent on it. We must have truly competent and passionate teachers to carry out this duty.

Even as a lawyer, I have learned that the human mind and senses are limited. Nothing fools humans more than their minds and their own senses.

In just the last decade, more convictions of innocents due to so-called eye-witness testimonies, even multiple ones, have been overturned as a result of DNA evidence to the contrary. Why? Science has proven that human senses and minds can be easily fooled, especially by emotion and herd mentality. But science is objective, evidentiary knowledge.

We need to build a science-centric society and that starts with our primary and secondary education. From the beginning, Lee realised the importance of establishing Singapore as a leader in the field of science and technology in Asia. He did not care what your ethnicity or religion was, that was the priority. And look at the society he built. Modern in outlook and progressive in thought, to the point he could no longer really control the people.

Maybe that is what our leaders are afraid of. A questioning, educated, critical thinking masses.

We must halt this downward slide of epic proportions in Malaysian education.

A new education minister with the right qualifications, a scientific or science-centric mindset and a technocratic iron will to implement critical changes must be appointed. Nothing less can be acceptable to Malaysians. This must be our demand.

I believe the next appointment will be a critical test whether this Pakatan government is worthy of our consideration in the next elections or an alternative must be considered and pursued vigorously by the right-minded citizenry.

We need the new education minister to implement what is needed. Go back to the basics and have the will, courage and ingenuity to make tough changes against what I expect to be conservative political opposition, both racial and religious.

If the person is more interested in putting colleagues in religious brotherhoods ahead of qualified intellectual professionals in positions of authority in education, then we are all doomed.

If the person is more interested in telling and allowing teachers to carry on dakwah (Islamic preaching) instead of closing down separate canteens in schools, then our quagmire will continue.

Black shoes and hotel swimming pools. That is the legacy we have been left with.

We need to see the closing down of worthless tax-payer funded universities that carry the word science but are based on beliefs and scriptures. They make a mockery of our nation and society. They promote the dumbing down of our population and produce graduates that will have nothing to contribute but further destruction of the Malaysian civilisation. We need a shake down of epic proportions for Malaysian education to return it to its past glory and make future progress.

As such, unlike a certain racist and bigoted MP from PAS, who insists on a Malay Muslim candidate only for the post, we need a minister who is qualified, irrespective of race or religion. We just need a Malaysian who is capable, for the sake of our children and our future.

We need an education minister who understands what is essential education. It is not rocket science.

But like all things in Malaysian politics, I have stopped believing in the capabilities or integrity of most of our politicians and political leadership. How I hope that I am proven wrong.

I close with this quote from Carl Sagan, one of the foremost teachers of science: “We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.”

That could very well describe our Malaysian education system and administration.

But 2020 has arrived, so it’s time for real change to happen.

Activist lawyer Siti Kasim is the founder of the Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity Foundation (Maju). The views expressed here are solely her own

By Siti Kasim.

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Over 130,000 Year One pupils start school on New Year’s Day

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

A young boy fights to hold back the tears on the first day of school. Bernama Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: New Year’s Day was also the first day of school for over 130,000 Year One pupils in Johor, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan today with all sorts of antics as the little ones bravely stepped into the new world of school.

Some were seen crying after their parents left, some slept in the class, and others were excited getting acquainted with new friends and all these were captured by the lens of Bernama photographers conducting surveys at schools in the states.

According to the 2020 School Year Calendar, these four states also recorded a total of 106,391 students to enter Form One for the 2020 academic year today while other states to start new school session tomorrow.
In JOHOR, according to state education department, a total of 53,372 pupils started their Year One while 47,179 students entered Form One and 20,590 preschool children at 1,189 schools.

In KEDAH, some 60,000 pupils started Year One and Form One in over 700 primary and secondary schools statewide.

State Education and Human Resources Committee chairman Dr Salmee Said said the first day of the school session in all schools went smoothly.
In TERENGGANU, a total of 21,595 Year One pupils started school while 18,178 Form One students entered secondary schools.

State education director Salim Ab Ghani said the state recorded a total number of 128,609 students in primary schools while secondary schools have 96,956 students.

He said, currently 22,533 teachers serving in the state.

In KELANTAN, 27,900 Year One pupils and 11,034 Form One students started school.

According to the Kelantan education department, the new school session in the state involved 267,893 student from 418 primary and 177 secondary schools. –

by Bernama.

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421 new programmes for special needs students this year – Maszlee

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Dr Maszlee Malik – Bernama file photo

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 421 Integrated Special Education Programmes (PPKI) will be implemented this year for the benefit of 7,600 special needs students (MBK), said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said these programmes involving 1,109 classes would make education more accessible to special needs students.

“The extension (of the programmes), which involves an allocation of RM54 million, is to provide facilities for special needs children to give them better access to education.

“In terms of maintenance, the Education Ministry has allocated RM16 milion this year for another 320 schools and the enrolment has also increased in tandem with the development of MBK infrastructure,” he told a press conference in conjunction with his visit to check out the first day of the new school session here today.

Maszlee said the number of special needs students registered at schools offering special education had increased to 88,419 in 2019 from 83,598 in 2018.

“This is a positive development to the zero reject policy implemented by the ministry to help the less abled group, which is also an asset to the country,” he added.

He said 75 more schools had introduced the PPKI, bringing to 2,418 the number of schools offering the programme from the pre-school to secondary school levels throughout the country.

He said education for special needs students was a priority of the ministry in line with the zero reject policy.

On the programme for transfer of teachers by mutual agreement, which is among five major initiatives of the ministry this year, Maszlee said it would be implemented in a more organised manner via online applications.

“In 2020 and the years after, the transfer of teachers will be more organised and implemented on a digital-based system. The ministry will ensure it is carried out successfully,” he said.

by Bernama.

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The ashes of our education

Monday, December 30th, 2019
THERE are three portfolios, outside of the Prime Ministership, in the Cabinet that I consider the most important:* Finance Minister

* Economic Affairs Minister

* Education Minister.

If the Prime Minister is essentially the Executive Chairman of Malaysia, the Finance Minister is basically the custodian of our Treasury and practically the Chief Financial Officer of the nation.

I have written about the Economic Affairs portfolio before when I touched on economics – the Minister is for all intents and purpose hold a very powerful position with respect to the business of the nation, while not having a reporting function for the executive cabinet members. He is essentially the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the country.

The business and well-being of the economy, the growth and (business) development of the economy leads and runs through the CEO. He is accountable for the bottom-line. And I have already made my opinion known on the state and the rudderless situation of this portfolio, which has not been performing since its inception to this date.

Now I have written more than a few times about education, but today I shall return to it from a different perspective.

The education portfolio is nothing short of the Chief Human Resource (HR) Officer.

The so-called HR function is easily understood but in a nation this role is even more powerful than in a corporation. This is due to the portfolio not only develops but IMPLICITLY allocates the most valuable resource the nation has – its youth – into every sector of the economy, private and public.

Not too long ago, a photo of a widely smiling Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin, holding up the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) was published. He proclaimed that its ranking showed Malaysia has improved significantly for all three categories of Science, Mathematics and Reading literacies. Smiling with pride, he announced that the ranking put us in the middle one-third of countries participating in the international assessment, from being in the bottom one-third in previous cycles.

Based on results released by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Malaysia scored 440 in Mathematics, 415 in Reading and 438 in Scientific literacy in PISA 2018. Amin said that our country is thus above other Asean countries, except Singapore.

For the DG to tout a six-point drop in Maths and a five-point increase in Science as “Overall, Malaysia’s achievement showed significant increase”, just takes the cake. (The 2015 PISA is 446 for Mathematics and 443 for Science).

Really, ladies and gentlemen, this is what the Education Ministry is proud of?

It seems that this PH Government after almost one and a half year in power has not been able to shed the old habits of the BN Government of sweeping the rubbish under the rug and putting lipstick on pigs.

Dear citizens of Malaysia, please see the chart given by OECD in their PISA result and how we stand and what it really means.

What is so difficult about calling a spade a spade, being honest about the state of affairs, having the integrity and courage to admit the problems and the issues; and then having the leadership and vision to lay out the exact remedy, strategy and plan to execute the corrective measures, improvement and development?

What is so politically difficult about that?

Is it because you lack spine, or you lack the brains and capability to come up with the solution and the strategy to implement them?

I have just two words to describe the Malaysian education system as reported by the PISA 2018 result – a FAILURE and PATHETIC.

Then we have the widely celebrated Education Minister making the proud announcement of making free education available to Malaysians. Please tell me, what is the use of being given a free car if that car is a 30-year old clunker that will break down right inside the Sempah Tunnel before it can even get up to Genting Highlands.

If memory serves me right, when I first started school, my year was the first year all subjects were taught in Bahasa Malaysia (except English, of course) and SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) was first-time all-in Bahasa in 1980. I still recall the strength of our SPM curriculum, which was equivalent to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) in England.

Our lessons were practically unchanged from the days of MCE (Malaysian Certificate of Education) in English the year before, the teachers we had were superb, even though some were struggling to adjust to Bahasa Malaysia. Also, unlike today, the science laboratories were available and fully stocked. The sciences were subjects I looked forward to in-spite of my not being a strong science student.

A good friend of mine who went to do engineering in one of the top universities overseas told me he practically did not need to go to class in his first semester because our standards were so high in Form Five that he already knew the things taught in the Basic 101 physics, chemistry and maths courses – which he practically aced, by the way.

That was 40 years ago. Looking at the PISA results, I doubt that we would still be at the same level today if a proper review was done. Look at where we stand in relation to Great Britain: a 67-point difference in science and a 62-point difference in maths. For goodness sakes, we are 40 to 50 points below the average for maths and science.

Singapore used to be the same level as us but within 40 years they are more than 100 points ahead in each of those categories. This is a complete embarrassment and a damning indictment of our education policy, system, administrators, teachers and schools. Not to mention the governance of our society.

By the way, should any one one dare to point out that Singapore is a small country and easier to manage and centralise their education etc. I would point to China.

China’s figures are even higher than Singapore and much far ahead than us.

Think about this.

The infamous Tiananmen Square incident was in June 1989. China was in a precarious situation in the 1990s, socialism in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union was collapsing and the future of China under the Chinese Communist Party was at a breaking point. They were far behind Malaysia in terms of development and education.

Deng Xiaoping, then embraced capitalism and a scientific-driven education for his society. If you want to understand what this leader saw, remember that he left for France at the age of 16. He looked West and never looked back. And in less than 30 years, look at where they are compared to us.

What did we do instead?

Looked East for a short while before looking inward, became a more race-based, controlled economy and made our education religion-centric.

Did Deng Xiaoping embrace an increase in Taoist or Confucius “pondoks” or “madrasahs” and increase such classes in their schools?

Did they incorporate religious elements in teachings? NO. They went scientific.

They threw their youth out to the best schools in the West, most to study in the sciences and come back and rebuild their schools and universities on merit. They don’t spend wasted taxpayer funds to send their young for religious “education” nor do they tolerate teachers or universities that bring religion into education. They bring evidence-based knowledge, they bring maths and science.

We meanwhile have watered down our curriculum to make it easier to pass and handed out A’s by the bushels. Just look at the number of straight A’s per school every year when the results come out. It does not make statistical sense.

For what? “Syok sendiri” I call it, so that our teachers and school administrators can pat their backs. And our molly-coddled students can easily be admitted into universities via a disproportionate 90% racial quota. They then graduate out and start that cycle all over again by occupying positions in public administrations and GLCs that are incompetent and lose money year in and year out.

Why is this happening?

I always say one need not look any further than at the leadership. Since after Musa Hitam left the post of Education Minister in 1981, we have had a minister who was either of religious “scholar” in background or outlook in mindset. How then do we expect our education system to be world class and scientific?

We need a new scientifically- minded technocratic policymaker as Education Minister. One who is willing to dismantle the hegemony of religious influence in curriculum and racial mindset in educational opportunity.

We need a minister who understands that primary and secondary education is about imparting the basics of 21st century thinking knowledge, which can only be provided by maths and the sciences.

Someone who also understands that humanities and other types of electives are additional knowledge and skill at fundamental level that would allow our children to enter university with a more rounded evidenced-based critical knowledge.

Streaming is important because not everyone needs to learn calculus or higher-level physics or chemistry in secondary school. But those capable should be allowed to take them at the fundamental level so that they can compete at the level needed for tertiary education in the sciences.

The priorities of this education minister are so laughable that sometimes I want him to stay there forever as he is quite good comedic material, if it is not so tragic. He makes a big deal about “coding” as a subject. Coding skills are like any other skill, such as learning different languages, shop-skills, arts and the likes are all based on aptitude and interest. It’s an elective. It is not fundamental for education.

Focus on the basics.

Return our fundamental education to where it was in the 1970s and early 80s and update the curriculum to a tougher and higher level. For example, if in the 70s we taught up to Mendelian inheritance, today we should go right up to DNA structure and genetic evolutionary biology. If we stopped at Newtonian physics, then include general and special relativity now.

Put teachers who are truly interested and capable to teach these subjects, qualified at least at the master’s level and pay them what they deserve. Not having teachers and headmasters coming to school talking about religion in every other classes and having prayer gatherings.

Then let merit reign. Not everyone should go to university or be a university graduate. Those who do not merit such places can go vocational, learn the hospitality industry, obtain certificates in skills that we require for our daily economy to function at every level.

Why do you think if you go the USA there are no migrant workers at even the roadside diners? Because those who do not merit a degree are not accorded one and they pride themselves in working an honest day at decent wages. No need for migrant labour from Pakistan or Bangladesh or security guards from Nepal.

My final thought on this is: give options for other well-rounded humanistic knowledge of human civilisation, like languages of places where knowledge is today being produced – such as French, Chinese and German – world history and geography, music and the arts and… coding.

Education is not rocket science. But you need to be scientifically-minded, and therefore critical in thinking, in order to make true policy and substantive changes in our education system if we want to progress as a nation and not be left behind by the rest of the advanced world.

Note: The PISA, administered by the OECD, is a triennial survey of 15-year-old students that assesses the extent to which they have acquired key knowledge and skills essential for full participation in society. For PISA 2018,6, 111 students from 191 schools were chosen to represent Malaysia. These students were assessed and compared with students from 72 OECD and non-OECD countries.

By Siti Kasim

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‘Put teaching of Jawi on hold’

Monday, December 30th, 2019

Rapt attention: People including representatives from vernacular schools board of governors and PTAs attending the National Congress on Jawi that was held at the Crystal Crown Hotel in Petaling Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: The National Congress on Jawi passed several resolutions after a two-hour meeting, chief of which was to put on hold the teaching of a Jawi calligraphy module in the Year Four Bahasa Melayu syllabus without a detailed discussion with all stakeholders.

The group’s spokesperson Arun Dorasamy said more focus should be given on strengthening Bahasa Melayu as the national language while upholding vernacular schools and mother tongue education.

He said participants of the congress were of the opinion that Jawi calligraphy should be made an elective learning module for the pupils, away from the formal syllabus.

“We call on the Education Ministry to defer the implementation so that a roundtable discussion involving all stakeholders can be held.

“A list of resolutions passed today on the issue will be submitted to the ministry tomorrow (today), ” he told a press conference after the meet.

The organisers of yesterday’s congress were Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Jawi Teaching Special Committee (JTSC) and Seni Khat Action Team (Sekat).

A few hundred people, including representatives from vernacular schools board of governors, as well as Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs), attended the meeting.

Among the speakers included columnist and lecturer Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, activist lawyer Siti Kasim, Dayak Rights Action Force activist Bobby William and SJK (T) Ladang Emerald’s PTA chairman K. Thayalan.

Arun said they had set up an appointment with the ministry’s officials in Putrajaya at 11.30am to submit the resolutions.

‘’We want to work with the government and find a win-win solution on this issue, ’’ he said.

Arun, who is also Sekat national secretary, said the congress was aimed at deracialising the teaching of Jawi in vernacular schools.

Initially, it was intended to complement the Chinese educationist group Dong Jiao Zong meeting on Saturday that was cancelled following a court order by the police, citing safety concerns.

The group also called for a dialogue with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik to discuss the issue.

JTSC coordinator Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai said the ministry should help pupils in vernacular schools master Bahasa Melayu by improving the teaching system because at least 20% of them failed the subject.

“We are not against learning Jawi calligraphy. It should not be compulsory but an option.

“Also, we want to protect the school boards’ authority in deciding school policies, as it is unsuitable to leave the decision-making solely to the parents as many of them are not too interested or aware of the impact, ” he said.

Heng said the school boards should be given a say in deciding such matters.

“That is why we hope the ministry will listen to our concerns, ” said Heng, who heads the SJK(C) Sentul KL school board of governors.

He also noted the possibility of a legal challenge against the ministry as a last resort.

“This is not what we want. We hope for a dialogue session with the ministry so that a consensus can be reached, ” he said.

According to the ministry, Jawi calligraphy was to be introduced in three pages of the Year Four Bahasa Melayu subject starting Jan 1.

This caused an uproar among various groups, prompting the ministry to first let teachers decide if they wanted to teach Jawi to pupils before passing the decision to parents in the latest guidelines.

Earlier in his speech, Prof Tajuddin said it was not right to label vernacular schools as “anti-national” because schools in Malaysia were originally set up by the community before independence.

“Leaders should understand that education is a right of the people whereby they only play the role of facilitators.

“When there are problems, they should meet the people and address the issues, ” he said.

William said the government must not treat students like “white rats in the laboratory”, and called for more discussions before implementing any new policy.


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Achieving targets

Thursday, December 26th, 2019
The Education Ministry continues to elevate TVET to make it be on a par with other educational pathways. NSTP/SAIRIEN NAFIS

THE Ministry of Education was the first ministry to present its report card for 2019, closing the year with five major changes focusing on its 53 reform initiatives in the national education system.

“The year 2019 is the beginning of all the changes and we have targeted 2019 to be a strong foundation year to ensure that the country can move towards an inclusive and high-quality education system,” said Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

The five focus areas are: Restoring Love and Care Into Education; Quality Teaching and Learning; Autonomy and Accountability; Malaysia Reads; and Manifesto Fulfillment.

At tertiary level, RM68.1 million worth of scholarships were given to 31,614 students under the first focus area.

Some 51,191 students from B40 group benefited from the special routes to public universities and special training institutes. Meanwhile, 62.06 per cent of matriculation enrolment comprised B40 students.

Under Quality Teaching and Learning, the ministry achieved five targets, namely, system reformation, digital reformation, increase in achievement, dilapidated schools repair and TVET.

As a means of system reform, a White Paper to strengthen the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) system was drafted.

For TVET, 547 courses were recognised by MQA and the Engineering Technology Accreditation Council.

A total of 16,625 industry collaborations were formed to ensure job opportunities and 2,396 TVET students were involved in dual programmes.

More importantly, the marketability level of TVET graduates grew to 96.5 per cent, with 54,789 graduates securing employment.

Under the third focus, a policy review committee was set up to propose improvements in the education system and produce a report on the Higher Education Act.

Some RM455 million in research grants were given to universities to address society’s problems.

To strengthen students’ activism, campus elections held at all public universities were independently run by students.

This year also saw 43 university students appointed as senate members at 20 public universities and the establishment of Student Unions beginning with International Islamic University Malaysia.

Meanwhile, 237 intellectual programmes involving the government and the opposition were organised at 17 public universities.

To promote a reading culture, the Laureate at the Faculty programme was established to introduce the National Laureates to the youth.

Under Focus Five, the PTPTN loan blacklist was abolished and borrowers earning less than RM2,000 were released in line with the government’s manifesto.

Discount or exemptions were given out to excellent students and students from the B40 group.

Tax incentives were also introduced to employers who pay off their employees’ PTPTN loans without salary deduction.

To date, the Unified Examination Certificate Task Force has held 48 engagement sessions with different stakeholders.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

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