Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

Forum on current issues kicks off

Friday, January 25th, 2019
Dr Welsh speaks on the podium while seated (from left) are Prof Zakaria, Tay, Prof Chan, Redzuan, Mohd Sheriff and Tawfik.

Dr Welsh speaks on the podium while seated (from left) are Prof Zakaria, Tay, Prof Chan, Redzuan, Mohd Sheriff and Tawfik.

ALBERT Einstein once said: “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”.

But what makes a good education system?

For moderation advocate Tawfik Tun Ismail, a good education system is one that is “secular”.

“A more secular education system (from what we have now) is needed, to put in place the thinking among the young that the world is a much wider place than what they are told by their parents or taught in schools.

Its theme was “Building a New Malaysia: Agendas and Aspirations” and featured a panel of prominent political and economic specialists from various industries.

It provided a platform to about 200 invited guests from the government, embassies and high commissions, non-governmental organisations, members of the public and students to share ideas about three critical issues.

These are what the Malaysian nation means to us; how we build an enterprising economy that has an equitable sharing of prosperity; and how we define our foreign diplomacy and security in the global and Asian context.

The panel of speakers at this conference are each specialised in politics, economics and foreign policy. They are HELP University and John Cabot University visiting senior research fellow Dr Bridget Welsh, Pricewaterhouse Coopers partner Patrick Tay, former ambassador and member of G25 Datuk Redzuan Kushairi, former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, former Umno MP Tawfik Tun Ismail and HELP University deputy vice-chancellor (Research) Prof Datuk Dr Zakaria Ahmad.

Issues that matter

Dr Welsh shared her views on Malaysian politics and political scenarios ahead, elaborating on leadership and legacy,

She noted there is a power struggle between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and added that Dr Mahathir has put too much focus on his legacy.

“His focus on the legacy has always been largely on the past as opposed to the future. One of his weakest points during his tenure was not grooming young people. GE14 was a result predominantly of young people embracing a different future.

“Now it is not to look at Dr Mahathir or to Anwar as the leadership of the future, but look to the second generation and the lessons they are going to have in government,” she noted.

It is vital, she added, for Malaysia to groom younger leaders with skills.

Dr Welsh also elaborated on reform and resistance, adding that for Malaysia to move forward, individuals in power from the previous administration need to be changed.

Tay touched on economy outlook, government priorities, and key challenges the Malaysian economy will face, while Redzuan gave a run down on the key points of foreign policy framework in the new Malaysia – which include direction of the policies, empowering the Foreign Affairs Ministry, enhancing inter-agency collaboration and increasing public participation.

Describing the current foreign policy framework as “a work in progress”, Redzuan noted that the Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah intends to engage academicians on the formulation and discussions on foreign policies and its issues.

“The world has changed. It is now an emerging complex, multi polar world with multi hub and multi partnership structures in international relations. There is a clear power shift from the West to the East, and Southeast Asia will be the focal point of the rivalry between the United States and China,” he said.

Malaysia, said Redzuan, should have a more balanced position.

“Malaysia needs to keep on building and strengthening a cobweb of bilateral and regional relationships, and work with like minded countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco and more,” he said.

An interactive discussion was held after the Conversation on National Issues. This featured Prof Zakaria, Tawfik as well as Mohd Sheriff.

Prof Zakaria spoke more on foreign policies and pointed out that there is a great need to reassess Malaysia’s representation abroad and upgrade the English proficiency of diplomats.

“They do not dare to go out to meet people when they are abroad and often opt out of events when they hear that alcohol will be served,” he said.

Besides elaborating on some points the panelists made, Mohd Sheriff also noted that the new government needs to pay more attention to education and human resource development.

“If we build a strong highly-skilled workforce, we can do a lot in the high-technology industry.

“We do have many opportunities in Malaysia and we should capitalise on the potential to enter frontier industries, which will provide high paying jobs to youths in the future,” said Mohd Sheriff.

He noted that something must also be done to raise productivity levels of the labour force in the country.The audience also asked questions.

HELP University vice-chancellor and president Prof Datuk Dr Paul Chan noted that Malaysia is facing global and national complex challenges.

“Institutions like HELP University can play a meaningful role and contribute constructive ideas to help the government.

By Lee Chonghui
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Maszlee: Student-based learning the way forward

Friday, January 25th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Social and emotional learning play an important role in the classroom.

“Findings have shown that when social and emotional learning is promoted as part of the daily classroom life, it fosters positive working relationships, increases student engagement, and models constructive behaviours, all pertinent elements for students to thrive in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said.

Dr Maszlee said Malaysia is now moving towards more growth-based learning where the whole development of a child is at the centre of our policies.

“What this means are three things – to move learning from teacher-based to student-based, an emphasis on values-based education in which values like love, happiness and mutual respect are at the core of our education system and a more holistic evaluation of students’ achievements beyond content knowledge.

“Moving away from an exam-oriented system not only pushes us to focus on critical thinking and creativity, but can help put the spotlight on how we develop positive values and ideas of an individual who is balanced intellectually and socially,” he said when speaking on “Social and Emotional Learning and New Developments in Pedagogies” at the Education World Forum in London.

In short, he added that, Malaysia aspires to strengthen its education system by emphasising a more humanistic and values-driven education, with the internalisation of the culture of happiness, love and mutual respect.

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‘Teachers still asked to do unrelated school tasks’.

Friday, January 25th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry has eased the workload of teachers so that they can focus on teaching, but the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) has received complaints that members are still being asked to fill out documents and other irrelevant tasks.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan said this should not be happening and urged school administrators to take heed of the ministry’s circular on the matter.

“We urge teachers to forward their complaints backed with evidence to the union via e-mail,” he said in a statement.

Teachers can forward their complaints to or

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced last week that teachers will no longer have to prepare and file multiple copies of doc­uments such as classroom attendance and subject committee records from this year onwards.

The ministry, he added, had identified clerical tasks, which are no longer relevant and must be abolished, that interfere with the primary task of teachers.

He said five initiatives consisting of nine interventions would start this month.

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Teachers’ burden to be cut by 1/4, says Maszlee

Monday, January 14th, 2019
Five initiatives and nine interventions will be introduced under Education Mandate 2019 to reduce teachers’ burden by 25 per cent, says Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik. (NSTP/ROSELA ISMAIL)

SERDANG: Five initiatives and nine interventions will be introduced under Education Mandate 2019 to reduce teachers’ burden by 25 per cent, says Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

“The first initiative will ease filing and documentation, where three interventions will be applied to ease the textbook borrowing scheme, committee files, and recording of classroom assessment,” he said at Universiti Putra Malaysia, here, today.

“Secondly, the online system and data management, where all data compiling must be taken from data sources in the ministry’s system. “Student attendance will be recorded online. So, teachers will no longer need to record it manually.”

He said schools would be given autonomy to administer their own Literacy and Numeration (Linus) programme.

“The Linus programme will be done according to the school’s system and taking into account students’ needs since examinations have been abolished for Years 1, 2, and 3.

“Another initiative is to streamline the monitoring process to ensure that teachers are no longer burdened with filing forms on cleanliness, safety and rating of the school canteen.”

Maszlee said the final initiative was to streamline the formation of school committees to ensure that all non-academic related positions are abolished.


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On a mission to reduce inequalities

Wednesday, January 9th, 2019
Teaching children about hygiene in Myanmar

THERE are those who anguish and harbour the ambition to reduce the inequalities in society — income, education, health, and nutrition, for example — but not many has the grit to do something about it.

Loh Rachel, 21, a final-year psychology bachelor’s degree student at HELP university, is one of the few determined to make a difference.

Having had the privilege of attending REAL International School for her highschool education and HELP International School for A-levels, Loh has often sought ways to give back to those who have had lesser opportunities in education and in life.

“It was also a way to develop myself, finding ways to push myself out of my comfort zone,” she said.

One of the key moments that kicked off her cause was when she joined the Asean Youth Volunteer Programme, organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, which was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2015.

Selected from 2,000 youths Asean-wide to join a group of 50, Loh participated in a four-week intensive climate change and environmental education leadership programme that focused on project management and environmental sustainability in Krakor Village, Cambodia.

“The programme focused on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), and key areas were hygiene and sanitation. Among the activities we had was to teach the particular village community in Cambodia to use hygiene products. It was my first time meeting children who didn’t even know what soap was.

It gave me the realisation that not everybody has the same opportunities or exposure.”

This led on to her involvement in various organisations. These included The International Council of Malaysian Scholars and Associates (ICMS) where she was the executive director of external outreach and publicity, spearheading marketing campaigns for over 10 student-led initiatives aimed at professional development and preparing them for the working world.

Loh is also involved in the United Nations Association of Malaysia (UNAM) Youth looking into the UN Sustainable Development Goal which is addressing inequality through health.

While focusing on volunteerism, Loh also has an interest to develop her business skills. Last year, she was named Maybank Go Ahead Challenge 2017 global champion out of 40,000 participants in the international business case competition.

From her passion in volunteerism and business, she formed an international social enterprise Rise Inc with her friends whom she met through the International Council of Malaysian Scholar and Associates.

Loh is the chief operating officer at Rice Inc which aims to tackle food insecurity and farmers poverty. They are currently running a pilot project in Myanmar which looks into ensuring farmers are not shortchanged and are able to use the existing technology provided by Rice Inc to eradicate poverty where they can.

“What Rice Inc does is to create a supply chain solution, where farmers are provided access to the rice dryers at an affordable cost and enabling them to sell rice at a higher price.

“We are partnering with International Rice Research Institute who have been conducting a lot of work in Myanmar. They are able to identify certain villagers that need this solution.

“We are currently deploying this solution which is in operations during the harvest season.

We are working on a five-year plan to expand to more villagers in Myanmar. We are also looking at farmer communities in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam to expand,” Loh said.

With all the achievements under her belt, Loh was selected as one of the two participants representing Malaysia in the Telenor Youth Forum (TYF) 2018 in Oslo, Norway.

Loh joined other accomplished young leaders from seven of Telenor’s markets across the world for the sixth installment of TYF, a six month-long global programme designed and hosted by Telenor Group and the Nobel Peace Centre. This year’s delegation is challenged to address inequalities in health through the use of digital technology.

“I am really passionate about reducing inequalities, and for me, to gain exposure to international ideas at the forum, to work with them and connect with industry experts to tackle these social issues are some of the things I am most excited about.”

Along with co-founder of social enterprise Arus Education, Felicia Yoon, 28, Loh edged out of 90 other participants and recently headed for Oslo on Dec 8-11 to work with their assigned teams. Yoon and Loh are among the 16 youths, aged 20 to 28 selected from a pool of 5,000 applicants from Bangladesh, Denmark, Malaysia, Myanmar, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden and Thailand to represent their countries at TYF.

Loh already has plans beyond her graduation early next year. The full scholarship student is aiming for a first class honours degree.

“I am exploring opportunities through Rice Inc and what the Telenor experience would bring.Iwould like to work in the corporate environment first to gain experience but ultimately I would like to positively contribute to the community in various ways,” she said.


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Ministry ready to help

Sunday, January 6th, 2019

THE Education Ministry has set up a help desk at the respective State Education Departments to assist parents who require more information pertaining to the 2019 schooling session.

The ministry in a statement, said parents could seek clarification from the help desk on issues such as the abolition of examinations for pupils in Level One (Years One to Three), textbooks, school aid and school enrolment for Malaysian children without documents.

“The help desk will operate from Jan 2 during office hours,” said the ministry.

Parents in Perlis may contact 04-9737693, Kedah (04-7404000), Penang (04-6521012), Perak (05-5015109), Selangor (03-55108711 ), Kuala Lumpur (03-62046145/46) and Putrajaya (03-88890000).

In Negri Sembilan the help desk telephone number is 06-7653192, Melaka (06-2325542), Johor (07-2310000), Pahang (09-5715741), Kelantan (09-7418082/8092), Terengganu (09-6213003), Sabah (088-537111), Sarawak (082-473712/082-473742) and Labuan (087-583360). — Bernama

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‘More than just a paper chase’

Sunday, January 6th, 2019
Taste of the future: Quest International University Perak School of Business and Management lecturer Asma Amirah Ahmad (centre) offering fair visitors the galaxy lemonade mocktail at the university’s booth at the Star Education Fair 2019 at the KL Convention Centre.

Taste of the future: Quest International University Perak School of Business and Management lecturer Asma Amirah Ahmad (centre) offering fair visitors the galaxy lemonade mocktail at the university’s booth at the Star Education Fair 2019 at the KL Convention Centre.

KUALA LUMPUR: Education is not just about paper chase but a meaningful journey in charting a career path, says Higher Education Department director-general Datin Paduka Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir.

Dr Siti Hamisah, who is from the Education Ministry, said students should explore new boundaries in order to take charge of their future.

“It (higher education) should be an experience that will set the tone for their future,” she said when opening the Star Education Fair 2019 at the KL Convention Centre.

Dr Siti Hamisah said that deciding on the most suitable course after completing secondary education was a big step.

“It sets the tone of the career pathways that school-leavers will embark on.”

Dr Siti Hamisah said she was glad to see the Star Education Fair having a section where students could do a career interest test to help steer them towards courses that would suit them.

There are about 5,000 courses available in public institutions of higher learning and another 8,000 courses offered by the private sector, she said.

Events such as the Star Education Fair, she said, encourages partnerships not just between educational institutions but among parents, the community and the private sector.

Dr Siti Hamisah congratulated Star Media Group for organising 32 successful years of education fairs.

She also commended it for providing scholarships through the Star Education Fund, which has helped more than 3,900 students pursue their tertiary studies.

The Star Education Fund is offering 285 scholarships worth RM15.1mil from 32 institutions.

No easy task: (From left) RCSI and UCD Malaysia Campus head, RUMC surgery Prof Dr Premnath N watching as Dr Siti Hamisah uses the laparoscopic stack which trains doctors in keyhole surgery. Looking on are I.Star Events chief executive officer Datuk Adriana Law, Ng and RUMC president and CEO Prof Stephen Doughty.

No easy task: (From left) RCSI and UCD Malaysia Campus head, RUMC surgery Prof Dr Premnath N watching as Dr Siti Hamisah uses the laparoscopic stack which trains doctors in keyhole surgery. Looking on are I.Star Events chief executive officer Datuk Adriana Law, Ng and RUMC president and CEO Prof Stephen Doughty.

These scholarships cover a wide range of disciplines, from entry-level courses to undergraduate education and professional studies, and are all bond-free.

Star Education Fund manager Susanna Kuan said 28 partners presented their scholarship pledges to Dr Siti Hamisah and Star Media Group chief content officer Esther Ng during the opening ceremony.

Kuan said the other four partners are from the northern region and will present their pledges at the Star Education Fair in Penang in March.

Ng said education had been a focus of the group since day one.

“For over three decades, the fair – an independent platform featuring reputable learning institutions, has been a go-to event for parents, and students,” she said.

“On our part, we make sure that the exhibitors who come on board are not fly by night operators because quality education is not something we can ever compromise on.

by christina chinrebecca rajaendramsandhya menon,  and lee chonghui
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Give teachers more say in classrooms

Monday, December 31st, 2018
Penang Free School students sitting their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination last month. Education systems are a result of collaborative efforts between the government and the people. FILE PIC

There is a six-century BC fable that tells the story of a boy, his father and a donkey walking towards a market.

While they were walking, people ridiculed them for not riding the donkey. When the father let his son ride the donkey, people were annoyed with the boy for insulting his father.

When the father rode the donkey, the people were displeased with him and accused him of abusing his child.

When they were both riding the donkey, people booed and jeered at them for overloading and mistreating the donkey.

This could express the current status of our education system. Almost every initiative of the government is criticised.

The government, on the other hand, with all good intention, keeps changing the course of our educational system.

Almost instantly after a new government comes to power, leaders start to experiment with the educational system.

Today, the Pakatan Harapan government is looking to overhaul our education system.

Most recently Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed his desire to overhaul our education system focusing more on career-based subject matters.

Obviously, the government had expended much effort trying to improve our educational system.

More initiatives do not necessarily mean a better system.

No education system in the world is totally and solely dependent on government initiatives. In fact, they are a result of collaborative efforts of the government and the people.

The government should not expect its efforts, however well planned and properly executed, to achieve success if supporting systems are not in place.

Leadership of the teachers, for instance, is among the most critical success factors of every educational reformation.

By Dr Hussain Othman.

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No thanks for all the education

Monday, December 31st, 2018
(File pix) The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Pix by NSTP/Rosela Ismail

MOVING from the school bench to the workstation may have been a smooth transition for Malaysian baby boomers. Not so for our young Malaysians aged between 15 and 29, according to Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) School-To-Work Transition Survey 2017/2018 (SWTS) released yesterday.

KRI’s survey talks of “a number of difficulties young Malaysian men and women encounter in their transition from school to work.” To put it bluntly, many of our young lads and ladies just cannot make the transition. This shouldn’t surprise us. The Malaysian Employers Federation’s laments of yore prepared us for this. So did the capacious comments of academics and NGOs. In fact, KRI’s Inception Note to SWTS quotes employers as saying that Malaysian universities are not producing “employable” graduates with the skills, industrial training and soft skills, such as the ability to think critically and creatively, to communicate effectively and work independently. Others too have shared similar stories. A 2014 study conducted by the World Bank in collaboration with the Institute for Labour Market Information and Analysis, Ministry of Human Resources, too came to similar conclusion, ending with a call to revamp Malaysia’s education and training system. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Economic Assessment of Malaysia 2016 added to the chorus of voices calling for the re-purposing of our education system.

There was plenty of evidence on the ground, too. Quoting the Higher Education Ministry’s Graduate Tracer Study of 2016, KRI said that 23 per cent of Malaysian graduates were out of a job six months after graduating. Of the 57 per cent employed, 15 per cent were in part-time jobs. Even PhD graduates faced a similar fate: 16 per cent of them were unemployed in 2016. The decline apparently has an earlier history. In 2014, there were 450,000 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certificate holders, but only 250,000 of them continued with some form of tertiary education. It is not just the universities that are ailing; schools, too, are hit with the blight.

We cannot, of course, blame all our ailments on our education system. But that is a very good place to look for a cure. And we must begin at the beginning. What really is the purpose of education? Some argue that an education system’s aim should be to produce intellectuals. Martin Luther King Jr. thought not.

We agree. “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but no morals. We must remember that intelligence is not enough.

Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”


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Flexibility and mobility in studying online degrees

Sunday, December 30th, 2018
(File pix) Nur Azrina Azizi said online degree programmes allow her to study anywhere and at any time.

WHEN Nur Azrina Azizi, 23, was contemplating tertiary education, she had a few criteria in mind: reputation of the university, on-campus or off, and cost.

Working for her family’s natural skin and hair care product business that operates both in Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Nur Azrina shuttles between the two countries and wanted a degree programme that allows flexibility and mobility.

She selected the fully online Bachelor of Science in Business and Management programme at the University of Derby near where she resides in the UK and is looking forward to graduating next year.

“The programme is fully accredited by professional bodies such as the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and The British Psychology Society.

“The degree course is awarded a CMI Level5in Management and Leadership.

“University of Derby has stated that the credit value of the online programme is the same for students who pursue it on-campus. Online students are under the same intense scrutiny in validation and assessment as students on-campus,” she said, adding that course materials as well as academic journals are accessible via the University Online Library.

The structure of the online degree programme is the same as the one on-campus except that you log into lectures on the student portal.

Each module is 10 weeks long, and students are provided with course materials, time of lectures, and online academic journals and textbooks.

“I tend to buy textbooks because I like to highlight facts for easy reference.

“The business management degree course is 100 per cent coursework with timed online tests for some modules.

“For regular group work, we have Skype sessions and Whatsapp groups to discuss the assignments. Group work is assessed for the final module grade.

“The university provides technology tools and we have daily contact with lecturers. We can call, text, video chat and email them, and they reply in a timely fashion.

“You have to communicate with your lecturer if you need help or guidance. Most lecturers are informative, supportive and engaging.

“We use Blackboard and Turnitin software for coursework, assessments and presentations. A laptop and good Internet connection are crucial.”

Time management and keeping tabs on deadlines is important.

“I allocate most hours for studies to the first six weeks of a module. I study four to five hours per day with breaks in between. Sometimes I spend more hours on studies, especially when assignments are due.

“Typically, a unit in a module takes a week to complete — the university recommends 20 hours per week for a 20-credit module so you have to be diligent and allocate time properly to keep up with the lecturer and the readings.

“On some days I am in front of my laptop all day so it really depends on the module.”

Self-discipline is key for those considering online degrees, cautioned Nur Azrina.

“You have to be organised and meticulous in keeping up to date with assignments and course readings to ensure that you don’t fall behind.

“I have a designated study area at home. But I study in libraries and cafés for a change of environment.

“I tend to work well at a desk and I like to work on assignments at coworking spaces or quiet cafés. Coworking space offers the opportunity to work alongside other people.”

She feels online degree programmes may not be suitable for all studies.

“For example, if you want to read law, medicine or engineering, I wouldn’t recommend an online mode of study as you need practical training.

“And it does get lonely pursuing an online degree course.”

Alan Liau Chen Kiong, 42, who resides in Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, is pursuing a business management bachelor’s degree at Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia through the institution’s online platform, Swinburne Online.

Expecting to graduate in 2021, Liau took up the programme as he can both study and continue in his current job at the same time.

Liau studied in Australia in 1993 but, due to budget constraints, he had to return to Malaysia. Now married with one daughter and another daughter on the way, and with an established money services business, he feels it is timely to get a degree that will enable him to lead the company.

“The university provides a weekly schedule to track our studies which I find extremely helpful. Assessments, assignments and tests to be completed online are stated in the schedule.

“It also provides an online textbook and library access. The only hardware

requirement is a PC with Internet access. But I also use my phone or tablet to do readings and follow up on my studies,” he said.

The university suggests online degree students spend at least four hours a day on studies.

“I normally study at night after I’ve settled down my daughter and finished helping out my wife with the housework.

“We do have a schedule to meet up with our lecturers online to understand the requirement of an assignment or test. We can also reach them through email or the online chat portal. We separate into smaller groups for some subjects to gather virtually to discuss an assignment.”

Liau believes anyone can pursue an online degree, provided they meet the entry requirement.

“It offers the efficiency of location and time. Everyone can study anywhere at any time without difficulty. Hardware and internet access is crucial.


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