Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Let’s keep children away from political influence

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
(File pic) Children’s level of understanding of politics differs from adults, who have the maturity and experience in dealing with political issues. (NSTP/EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN)

CHILDREN should not be exposed to political influence or indoctrination.

They should be protected from exposure to political agendas by politicians or political parties.

Politics is a sensitive and complex issue, as it requires maturity and experience before getting involved in it.

Children’s level of understanding of politics differs from adults, who have the maturity and experience in dealing with political issues.

There is also fear that the political influence of children might disturb their studies and affect their mental, emotional and psychological developments.

They may also be used by parties to serve their agendas.

Political education in school should be done in light and simple ways with the help of experts.

It should not be carried out as though the children are going to face political situations like adults.

One way to protect children from politics is by having strong laws

In this regard, it is worth to note that Malaysia has enacted the Child Act 2001 [Act 611] to fulfil its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the
Child 1989 (CRC), which is to protect the welfare of children below 18.

By having provisions or legislation on this issue, not only can children be better protected, but everybody in the country, especially politicians, can be alert to such issues and take steps not to disrupt or influence children’s growth.

By Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow

Faculty of Syariah & Law, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Nilai, Negri Sembilan

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Crucial to prepare students for the real world

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
Students must be encouraged to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means having to pass over work opportunities with organisations that hold conflicting values. – FILE PIC

THERE is much deliberation on how much of what is learnt in school actually makes a difference in real life.

Some studies argue that we only use 10 per cent of what we learn in school in the real world. Hence, how prepared are our students for the real world?

There is a big transition between school and tertiary education.

For starters, it is in terms of workload and how it is distributed. Often, the newfound freedom that tertiary life can be too liberating and it is easy for students to become disengaged.

As much as education avails knowledge, the competency to use it will come from the guidance that helps students bridge textbook-learning and real-world experiences.

Therefore, it is crucial that students are prepared to anticipate real-world circumstances.

A school course crafted to address real-world scenarios can enrich students with progressive academic aptitudes.

It is imperative that the curriculum extols a hands-on approach benchmarked after international standards. It must be built on a foundation of industry-based learning, strengthened through dynamic and vibrant teacher-student relationships.

Mentors well versed in the industry can help students understand how they can collaborate and contribute to the community.

Reality is manifested through a context, and in order for one to steer the real world, one has to understand the forces at work.

Peer exchanges, especially among those with diverse portfolios, can help students better understand real world subtleties.

Immersion is another excellent way to foster real world insight as it nurtures empathy, which helps students thrive in the real world.

It is pivotal that we help students transcend from sympathy to empathy to enable them to be self advocates who will be the change they want to see.

The real world does not need us to walk on by. It needs us to be courageous enough to walk in the shoes of others, compassionate enough to walk hand-in-hand with one another and when times are challenging, to walk on no matter what.

Every step we make in life must be one that is based on positive values.

Students must be encouraged to stand up for what they believe in, even if it means having to pass over work opportunities with organisations that hold conflicting values.

Lets work together to ensure that when reality knocks, we will all be able to embrace and ride the challenges and opportunities the real world brings.


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Education Ministry allocates RM48mil to fix teacher shortage, up from RM40mil.

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry has allocated a total of RM48mil to address the shortage of teachers at schools across the country, the Dewan Rakyat heard.

Its deputy minister Teo Nie Ching said that the amount was an increase from RM40mil allocated last year for the purpose of hiring replacement teachers.

She said that the problem arose due to the imbalance between the vacancies and the number of graduates from Institute of Teacher Education Malaysia (IPGM).

“For instance, national schools this year needs about 6,000 teachers, but there are only 1,676 graduates from IPGM who will then be placed at various schools across the country by November.

“To address this issue, the ministry has taken the initiative to train interim teachers in February next year and we target that the number will be about 3,000 for national schools and 800 teachers for vernacular schools,” she said in reply to a supplementary question from Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PH-Setiawangsa) during Question Time.

Nik Nazmi had asked the ministry to explain its move to empower interim teachers as an alternative to address the shortage problem.

She said the allocation this year would be used to hire a total of 21,656 replacement teachers.

“The ministry takes note that the hiring of replacement teachers are needed to ensure that learning and education can continue smoothly,” she said.

“If there are other needs for an increase, it will be considered based on the ministry’s financial position,” she said.

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Educators, parents want STPM leavers to get a place at uni

Monday, October 28th, 2019

NABAWAN: Educators and parents have high hopes of seeing their children to get places in the university, said Sabah Education Department School Management Sector Deputy Director, Mohd Zaini Yanin.

He said the parents’ cooperation in supporting the education system contributes to children’s success.

“Students’ success in academics and co-curricular is a result of strong collaboration by caring parents who constantly see educational development as a key driver of a bright future.

“Parents must make sure that no child is uneducated in order not to be left behind in gaining knowledge,” said Mohd Zaini at the Form Six Centre Convocation (PTEM) held at SMK Nabawan here.

He said the role of skilled and capable teachers in competing at the high level has proven success of some of the Sabah teachers at the national level to the students’ success.

“Because our teachers in the interior have proven successful in a series of national-level innovation competitions and have emerged champion in a number of areas. It is a great achievement to be proud of especially in Sabah,” he said

He also recommended Form Six students do their best as their certificates are recognised by international universities and they can further their studies at world-renowned universities.

“However, as we take a step forwards into successful technological breakthroughs especially digital systems and the Science stream, it is important to face the globalisation world, including providing courses for teachers and students,” he said.

Mohd Zaini said Sabah has 99 PTEMs, three main colleges of the Form Six centres, excluding the six primary Form Six classes, namely the one mode category of Kota Kinabalu Bandaraya Form Six College, Form Six Tawau College and Sandakan Galpam Pangiran Form Six College.

Meanwhile, he said the application for the purpose of construction or repair on dilapidated schools especially for Form Six classes will be forwarded to the Education Ministry.

Earlier, SMK Nabawan Principle, Hendry Anandan said a total of 95 students receive pre-university certificates during the ceremony.

He said the objective of the convocation is to honour students who have completed their studies at the pre-university, and to encourage them to continue improving in any field especially in the academic field.

By: Yayasan Dalimpos.

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Never stop learning

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
THE power of knowledge was underlined last week when the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to John Goodenough, Stanley Whittingham and Akira Yoshino for their work in developing lithium-ion batteries.

In the words of the Nobel Prize Committee, the trio “created a rechargeable world”.

While rechargeable batteries were around in the 1970s, they had drawbacks, including the amount of energy they could store

Lithium, it turned out, offered an answer since it is a very light metal and chemically well suited for use in batteries.

However, lithium’s reactivity made it tricky to harness.

The lightweight, rechargeable and powerful lithium-ion battery is now used universally in everything from electric vehicles to mobile phones and laptops, the everyday things that we use to communicate, work, study, listen to music and so much more.

And it can store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, bringing us a step closer to a fossil fuel-free society.

As they say: “Necessity is the mother of invention,” and, according to the Nobel announcement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the origins of the lithium-ion battery can be traced to the oil crisis of the 1970s.

It inspired Whittingham, now 78, a United Kingdom-born scientist working in the United States, to pursue fossil fuel-free energy technologies. He started to research superconductors and discovered an extremely energy-rich material, which he used to create an innovative cathode in a lithium battery.

This was made from titanium disulphide which, at a molecular level, has spaces that can house lithium ions. The battery’s anode was partially made from metallic lithium, which has a strong drive to release electrons.

This resulted in a battery that literally had great potential, just over two volts.

However, metallic lithium is reactive and the battery was too explosive to be viable.

American Goodenough — now 97 and the oldest person ever awarded a Nobel Prize in any field — predicted that the cathode would have even greater potential if it was made using a metal oxide instead of a metal sulphide.

In 1980 he demonstrated that his idea can produce as much as four volts.

Tun Daim Zainuddin and Dr Nik Serena Nik Zainal (bottom) set the bar very high but they demonstrated how each of us at every age can pursue knowledge and contribute to society in our own way. FILE PIX

This was an important breakthrough and would lead to much more powerful batteries.

With Goodenough’s cathode as a basis, Yoshino, the youngest of the distinguished laureates at 71, created the first commercially viable lithium-ion battery in 1985, a lightweight, long-lasting battery that could be charged hundreds of times before performance deteriorated.

“Lithium-ion batteries have revolutionised our lives since they first entered the market in 1991,” said the Nobel Prize Committee.

“They have laid the foundation of a wireless, fossil fuel-free society and are of the greatest benefit to humankind.”

The achievements of these three Nobel winners illustrate the relevancy of research and development, as well as the power of scientific networking and collaboration among researchers of different nationalities.

They also inspire us in other ways: all three continue to work and contribute well into their elder years.

Even at 97, Prof Goodenough still works in a lab at the University of Texas every day.

At 78, Prof Whittingham continues to teach Chemistry and is director of both the Institute for Materials Research and the Materials Science and Engineering programme at Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York.

And Prof Yoshino is a fellow of Asahi Kasei Corporation and a professor at Meijo University in Nagoya.

Indeed, all three laureates personify the idea that the pursuit of knowledge is lifelong; it has no age barrier.

Here at home, so too does Tun Daim Zainuddin, the former finance minister and former Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) chairman, who obtained his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree last weekend from Universiti Malaya at age 81, after 11 years of work on his thesis.

His failing health and other urgent national duties were part of the reasons for the delay.

Chancellor Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah presided over the presentation of degrees during the first session of the university’s 59th convocation at Dewan Tunku Canselor.

We all extend our congratulations to Daim, who counselled that people should continue to seek knowledge for as long as they live and that “only through knowledge we can achieve success”.

Furthermore, “knowledge must be put to good use. It should not be used for negative things”.

Malaysians last week were also awakened by the wonderful news that Dr Nik Serena Nik Zainal, attached to the University of Cambridge’s Department of Medical Genetics, has been chosen as
the recipient of the Dr Josef Steiner Cancer Research Prize 2019.

The award, commonly dubbed the “Nobel prize in cancer research”, is being presented to her for her work on cancer genome interpretation.

Her research work allows for mutations in cancer tumours to be analysed using new bio-informatics methods, which in turn enables new approaches to targeted therapies.

All these people set the bar very high but demonstrate how each of us at every age can pursue knowledge and contribute to society in our own way.

By Zakri Abdul Hamid.

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Announcement on streaming to be made when time is right, says Maszlee.

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

PONTIAN: The Education Ministry will make a proper announcement on the plan to end streaming subjects from Form Four when the time is right, says minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He stressed that what he mentioned during a town hall session in Germany recently was not a policy announcement, saying the intention was to make sure students were not burdened by streaming in the future.

“But the report seems to make out that the ministry has already announced it as a policy, and we will make the necessary announcement when the time is right.

“Presently, we are taking all the input from stakeholders to improve the system, where it is part of a report made by a policy study committee set up by the Cabinet as requested by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad,” said the Simpang Renggam MP when met after officiating Jom Sekolah 2020 programme at SMK Teluk Kerang here on Sunday (Oct 20).

Prior to this, it had been reported that in an unprecedented move, Maszlee had called for the end of subject streaming for Form Four next year, after students got their Form Three Assessment (PT3) results.

Speaking during a meet-and-greet session with the Malaysian community on Monday (Oct 14), he said the streaming system currently carried out in Form Four was ridiculous, as it resulted in many students who were meant to be scientists ending up in arts, and lots of students who were born to excel in the arts being forced to do science subjects.

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Nasi lemak, boiled eggs, newspapers

Sunday, October 20th, 2019
Education Minister Maszlee Malik handing over meals to schoolchildren in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 26. Don’t give the funds to a food company but give them to schools. This will make teachers and parents more aware of what to feed their children to boost their mental prowess and physical growth. FILE PIC

MANY mornings I meet Hashim at the nasi lemak stall not far from the school gate.

His two daughters are primary school pupils. Hashim normally buys two packets of nasi lemak of RM1 each and two packets of curry puffs of RM2 each.

They are for his daughters. Both Hashim and his wife are working and hardly have time to prepare breakfast for their children.

The couple always have breakfast on the go. “Makan dalam kereta je Bang. Takut lambat sampai ofis (We eat in the car on the way to office. We don’t want to be late),” Hashim once told me.

This is quite typical of office workers playing catch-up with time.

Hashim is not alone in this. Another couple in my neighbourhood send their children to a kindergarten nearby.

They, too, buy packed sandwiches for their son and daughter.

I bump into them quite often on my morning walk.

So when Education Minister Maszlee Malik announced that the government would provide breakfast for schoolchildren, this was welcome news to Hashim and others like him.

If and when fully implemented, Hashim would save time, reduce his early morning stress and save some money in the process.

For Hashim, it’s quite a bit of savings — RM30 for a school week.

In a urban environment, RM30 can cover quite a bit of domestic expenses.

This initiative of buying food for schoolchildren is a good idea, but one that needs more thinking.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, after one of his many travels to Japan, had asked the education minister to look into this programme.

The minister has yet to finalise details but the budget allocation is said to be very big.

A pilot project will be undertaken next year to see how this can be fully executed.

Perhaps there is still time to modify the proposed programme a bit to make it more holistic and fulfil a bigger scope.

I thought that an easier way to implement this would be to get the buy-in from school teachers and parent teacher associations. Get them involved.

Localise the implementation but monitor it closely. Proper and clear guidelines need to be introduced so that the children have proper nutrition — a balanced diet.

According to research undertaken by the World Economic Forum, children eat too little of what they need but too much of what they don’t!

Many of them eat processed food which is high in calories, fats, sodium and sugar; but low in vitamins and minerals.

Result? Overweight and obesity which lead to type two diabetes and increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Surely we don’t want our schoolchildren to be exposed to such a dangerous situation at an early age, or at any age for that matter!

A balanced diet is important to a child’s growth, both physically and mentally.

Scientists in Britain can tell you that a proper breakfast helps schoolchildren to concentrate on their studies besides aiding them in memory recall.

This inadequate breakfast for schoolchildren is actually a global problem, said the United Nations Children’s Fund.

Its research showed that five years ago, children below 15 years old in Mexico, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, the United States and the United Kingdom had higher food insecurity problems than many other countries

At the other end, children in the same age group in Japan, Sweden, South Korea, Croatia and Germany had the least food insecurity problems.

In France, one in eight school-children has no daily breakfast.

So a breakfast programme for schoolchildren is also being adopted in that country, but with a slightly different approach.

It targets children from disadvantaged backgrounds and selected poor urban neighbourhoods.

So you see, the proposed breakfast programme is a good one, but requires fine-tuning.

To my mind, it must also embrace the local neighbourhood, with the emphasis on educating parents about what food is good and bad for their children.

So, rather than giving the funds to one big food company, give them to individual schools.

This will make teachers and parents become more aware of what they should feed their children to boost their mental prowess and enhance their physical growth.

By getting schools and PTAs involved, rapport between parents and teachers would improve.

Local food entrepreneurs can get some business, with a balanced diet formula in food preparation.

The project can create a new ecosystem for the food business. Over time, the benefits will be quite obvious.

But there must be strict adherance to quality control of the food to be supplied.

The Health Ministry must be involved, too, as should local councils. A new and much better supply chain can evolve from such a scheme.

Add one more item for these children: throw in some educational books and reading materials such as newspapers and novels.

A child’s formative years need to be fed not just with a balanced diet but with food for the intellect as well.

While we feed our children with proper food, we are also faced with another problem — children (and many adults too) don’t read enough. So let’s feed them with good and cheap reading materials — newspapers for one.

Maszlee may want to sit with corporate leaders, civil societies and non-governmental organisations to get them to embrace this programme.

By Ahmad A Talib.

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NST Leader: Going streamless?

Sunday, October 20th, 2019
Parents and children, too, need to be roped in. A survey would serve well for this, but don’t take too long. – NSTP/SUPIAN AHMAD
October 20, 2019 @ 12:05am

A PhD student in Education, who is a Clarendon-New College scholar of University of Oxford, posed this question in his letter to the editor: “Streamless schools — a seamless transition or half-formed idea?”

He says liberating students from the “shackles of streaming” is laudable, but due to the constraints faced by certain schools in terms of resources, students would continue to be “streamed”.

He adds a range of specialised subjects cannot be offered if there are not enough qualified teachers or good facilities to support going streamless.

The writer’s observation is food for thought. Ever since Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik proposed the transition to “streamless schools”, there have been wide-ranging feedback from various quarters.

The logic is that streaming had resulted in a mismatch, where “science-inclined” students ended up in arts, and the “arts-inclined” were streamed into science. Critics decry streaming as outdated.

They claim it benefits teachers more as it makes classroom management easier. Students also risk being labelled “smart” or “dumb”, depending on the class they’ve been streamed into.

Doing away with streaming would put Malaysian schools on a par with other countries that are moving towards 21st century learning.

Students have the choice to mix their subjects based on their interests, and they would not be seen as lesser just because they wish to study non-science subjects.

Education is a right and, therefore, all children should have the right to it. Education, as Dr Maszlee puts it, “should not be compartmentalised, but integrated”.

This Leader believes there is more to it than just streaming students according to the subjects they favour. A thorough discussion among stakeholders is needed.

Parents and children, too, need to be roped in. A survey would serve well for this, but don’t take too long.

Granted, going streamless would not require an overhaul of the current system. Still, a studied look at streamless and seamless systems in other countries would be instructional.

Finland’s education system, for instance, is considered one of the best in the world. Japan’s too is billed “incredibly cool”.

Both do not have streaming. Finland doesn’t divide its basic education into elementary and junior highs. Instead, it offers single-structure education for nine years.

Similarly, children in Japanese schools do not take exams until Grade Four or 10 years old.

The first three years is to establish good manners and develop character. Children are taught moral values and qualities like grit, self-control and justice.

Some of these features can be incorporated in our education system. An education structure that strives for wider and wholesome learning would produce students of character, respectful of others, compassionate and empathetic.

Presently, some of our youths are infuriatingly polarised. This has been precipitated by cursory reading, insufficient thinking, plus spontaneous reactions at furious speed and tone.

It is a given that education planners should unlock the true potential of our children, but they should not derail them by foisting on them premature tracks.

Above all, our education system must produce children who want to be Malaysians. To celebrate their diversity.

To not rush to Facebook and savage either the vice-chancellor or the boisterous and overzealous graduands.

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Producing well-rounded students

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

Teachers often compare notes on how well their students have done in public exams. — File photo

THEY had been talking about their students’ performance in public examinations, comparing notes on whose had scored the most number of As, when one of the teachers in the group suddenly said: “To me, it’s a lose-lose situation most of the time”

The others turned to look at her in surprise. They had just been regaling each other with tales of their own, mostly significant sounding roles in their students’ achievements. One of them had just started yet another sentence with: “I don’t mean to boast but…..” when the first teacher had cut in.

“I have gone through this many times, ” the teacher went on. “Each year I try to give my best to my students, in the midst of all the other duties. I spend so much time and energy…practically teach my lungs out… past year exam exercises, extra classes, notes. The whole works. And then when the results are announced and they get the As, who do they give credit to? Their tuition teacher. But when they fail to get their As. Who gets the blame? Yes, it is us the subject teacher in school. So you see, it’s lose-lose either way.”

There was some murmurs of agreement all round and then someone else said: “You know, that is why we must make it a point to praise ourselves when our students do well in exams. What’s wrong in taking credit for their achievements and success? After all, we invest so much of ourselves in them.”

Taking credit

Regardless of the extent to which it is deserved, as teachers, there is a definite sense of pride and ownership when our students display outstanding achievements. Whether it is vicarious, shared or reflected pride, we all to some degree, want to feel or believe that we had some significant part to play in our students’ success.

Some teachers are sincerely modest about this and prefer to take a step back from the accolades poured in their direction, while pointing out the role of other factors that may have made an equally or even more significant contribution to the success of their students. Others have no qualms about claiming all the credit, expounding at great lengths how they almost single-handedly managed to produce so many As from the classes they teach. Never mind that the students were already on the high-achieving scale to begin with. Never mind that they had full parental support, were self-motivated and exceptionally bright or gifted even.

While the role of the teacher may have made that crucial difference in the final step towards achieving that standard of high excellence or raised the bar to record breaking heights, it would be unfair to magnify this role to such heights that other contributing factors in their students’ success are eclipsed.

What would perhaps be even more unfair to teachers themselves is to measure their role or effectiveness chiefly by their students’ academic achievements. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, teachers are so much more than just enablers of examination success. Our role is closely tied with students’ outcomes, that is true, but outcomes need to viewed with wider lenses that capture so much more than just the number of As in examinations. Or when you think about it, even more than the number of medals or awards won for co-curriculum pursuits.

It was really refreshing therefore, when in a recent conversation with a principal of a local secondary school, she turned to me and said.

“Do you know what the greatest success of this school is?”

I had not asked her the question so I was a little unprepared for that remark.

“It is the way we have helped to build student character, ” she went on. “No, our school is not famed for its number of students with strings of As. Even our co-curriculum achievements are not among the top achieving schools. Occasionally we do have students with outstanding results or teams who win major competitions. We are all thrilled of course when that happens. But like I said, those are not our chief triumphs.”

Moulding character

Her gaze turned towards a framed photograph of her school staff on the wall.

“Our chief goal is the moulding of student character.” There was a different expression on her face as she went on. “Many of the students who come to us are from broken homes, single parents, attitude problems…you know. The teenage or adolescent phase is challenging enough by itself for them. The changes they are dealing with. The seeking for identity, the conflicts, the questions. Dealing with difficult family situations makes it so much worse for these kids. It affects them on so many levels.”

She paused for a moment as if trying to remember something and then went on. “ Above all else I tell my teachers this. As important as their academic results are, it is not the most important reason why they or we are in school. School is about education and education is about getting them ready for the real world out there. Teach the students under you, I tell them. But teach them more than just your academic content. Teach them about their own value as human beings and the value of others who are around them. Teach them to be honest, responsible and caring. To look out for others as much as themselves. And teach them to see themselves as people with a bright future. There are many who come with serious behavioural problems…you won’t believe what we have had to deal with. “But over the years we have seen them change. Not overnight, but slowly. My teachers are reminded to always appreciate every success, change, step forward, no matter how small it may seem. These are our achievements and successes, ” she said looking out of the window as a group of girls gathered round the basketball court.

“Ah, the girls are early today for their session, ” she said. “These are the ones who have volunteered under the ‘Help to Help’ programme”, she said. “Can you believe it, they came up with the idea themselves, these girls. They have each taken one junior student under their wing. Someone with learning problems, slow learners, those with language difficulty or just anyone who needs someone to look out for them. Maybe it’s because they themselves were once like the ones they coach. Challenging family backgrounds, low opportunities, difficulty making friends. And you know what, none of these volunteers are particularly high academic achievers. Average performance mostly. It is very likely that they may not score any As in the final exam. But there are different ways of getting As right, ” she said, as we left the principal’s room.

Dr G Mallika Vasugi who currently teaches in a local university, provides insights on the teaching profession. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Star.

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Delivering Malaysian education to the world

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

Mohd Gazali calls everyone to work together so that Malaysia can meet its target of getting 200,000 international students by 2020.

THE country’s efforts to offer Malaysian education to the world, has paid off.

Over 30,000 international students have been arriving here annually over the past few years, creating an international learning environment for local students.

And, led by its five research universities namely Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, our universities are also acing international rankings, said Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), a wholly-owned company of the Education Ministry, in a press release.

EMGS will lead a delegation of local institutions to the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE) expo next year, giving our institutions access to some 40,000 students who throng the expo yearly.

“Students from China are already the largest international group here today with over 10,000 students.

“However, there are more untapped opportunities, especially in non-traditional markets outside the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, ” EMGS CEO Shahinuddin Shariff, who is attending the China Annual Conference for International Education from Oct 15 to 21 in Beijing, said.

He was joined by representatives from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, UCSI University, Sunway University, Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation, City Harbour International School and EMS Language Centre.

On Friday, Malaysia accepted the baton from Japan, to be the ‘country of honour’ during the China Annual Conference for International Education and Expo (CACIE) 2020.

The country of honour will be given its own national pavilion.

Now in its 20th year, the conference provides opportunities for business-to-business networking and forums for policy discussions. It is the largest education expo in China for international players to meet Chinese students and parents.

“We are going to bring over 30 Malaysian higher education institutions there next year to showcase our excellent education services, from schools to universities and beyond, ” he said, adding that the philosophy of lifelong learning is embedded in the country’s approach to education.

Education secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas recently called on everyone to work together so that Malaysia can meet its target of getting 200,000 international students here by 2020.

He was responding to concerns raised by industry players that there are only some 170,000 foreign students in the country currently.

Anxiety also remains high over the influx of foreigners coming to Malaysia, including for education. Among primary concerns are those who may use student visas as a backdoor to cross into Malaysia for other reasons, mainly economic ones.

“Nothing comes with zero risk. We recognise the challenges that come with opening our borders.

“However, I have total faith in our Immigration Department which has rigorous procedures in place to prevent fake students from abusing the system, ” he said.

Among the many measures instituted by the government is the i-Kad, a biometric residence permit issued to all foreign nationals.

Made mandatory in 2017, the i-Kad must be renewed regularly to ensure that the register of foreign nationals is updated.

“International students must renew their i-Kad annually using their academic results. This provides much assurance for us of the genuineness of our students.

“We are also cleaning up our data to ensure that our target is not artificially inflated by bogus students who enter the country for less-than-honest intentions.”

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