Archive for the ‘Colleges / Universities - Issues’ Category

SAVE NOW TO SAVE THEIR FUTURE

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020

EIGHTY four percent of Malaysians who claim to save regularly do so only for the immediate term, revealed a senior lecturer.

Citing the findings of the Malaysia National Strategy for Financial Literacy (2019-2023), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Economics and Management Faculty senior lecturer Dr Wye Chung Khain said that these Malaysians (84%) typically withdrawn their savings at the month-end to cover their daily subsistence expenses.

The National Strategy for Financial Literacy’s ultimate aim is to intensify financial education to elevate the financial literacy of Malaysians.

Dr Wye said that 76% of Malaysians have a budget, but two in five people find it difficult to keep to the budget.

He said one in five Malaysian working adults did not save in the previous six months.

Saving for a better future: Chai (third from left) saves for her three children, Anson, 16 (left) Ancore, 10 (centre) and Ashley, 18, for their future tertiary education.Saving for a better future: Chai (third from left) saves for her three children, Anson, 16 (left) Ancore, 10 (centre) and Ashley, 18, for their future tertiary education.

In explaining the report further, he said, that one in 10 Malaysians believes that they are not disciplined in managing their finances.

Moreover, he said that a survey from Bank Negara had disclosed that only six percent of Malaysians have sufficient money to sustain their life for more than six months during an emergency period.

“This is a very serious condition. Malaysians should be disciplined to save for their future, ” said Dr Wye.

On the best practices to adopt for savings, he said this: “They should start to save early as they will have a longer time to accumulate funds. They will have less stress to meet their eventual goals.”

Dr Wye said that National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) would be one of the best options for parents to save for the future tertiary education of their children.

“They can start to save with SSPN to enable them to support their children when they want to study a degree course at the institution of higher learning in Malaysia, and they can save up for a more expensive option for their children’s studies abroad when they enjoy higher salaries, ” he said.

“Education is a form of human capital investment; investing in children’s education is one of the biggest gifts ever rendered by parents to their children.

“The move will also encourage good savings habits among their children for a better future, ” he said, adding that parents could also consult with the banks and insurance companies to know more on the child education fund calculator, which could assist them for early planning of educational savings, such as SSPN.

“We want to give the best of everything for our children, so early SSPN savings will ensure they have sufficient funds for their education. SSPN is a syariah-compliant savings plan for education, which is appealing to a wider community, ” he pointed out.

Encouraging savings

He said parents should leverage on the tax exemption for deposits up to RM8,000 for SSPN savings, and another RM3,000 deductions in insurance premium for education related.

Dr Wye: Save early, save now.Dr Wye: Save early, save now.

“Most economic sectors posted an increase in employed persons since June 2020 as recovery movement control order took effect. According to the Department of Statistics, employment recorded a marginal increase of 0.5 percent month-on-month to 15.15 million persons (employed persons) in August 2020. The unemployment rate is at 4.7%.

“As the economic sector continues reopening, we see Malaysia’s labour situation improve further; we hope this will encourage more savings among the parents and guardians, ” he enthused.

“Although there is macroeconomic uncertainty caused by the spread of Covid-19 may adversely affect savings behaviour among Malaysians, but one’s beliefs in his or her own abilities to accomplish a financial goal – coined as the financial self-efficacy – may encourage savings behaviour among Malaysians, ” he explained.

On the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) recent launch of its SSPN 2020 Savings Month programme with the theme “Superhero” to encourage parents to safeguard their children’s future through early financial planning, he said: “It is a very commendable effort by PTPTN.”

He said the SSPN 2020 Savings Month programme would be beneficial, especially with the challenges posed to the labour market by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Property agent Kevin Leong, 47, from Johor Bahru, said his three stepchildren, aged between 10 and 18, have SSPN savings for their future studies since two years ago.

Leong said his wife, property agent Chai Hsie Yee, 36, saves for the three children, as “It will be easy for them later when they want to further their studies.

“The dividend for SSPN is also higher than other educational saving scheme, ” he highlighted.

He said Chai has also won over RM15,000 during the SSPN prize draw last year.

“We have split equally the cash prize for the three children, as it will be additional cash available for their education. This has motivated us to save more.

“My wife found out about SSPN from her brother and found it to be a good way to save for education, ” he added.

By M.MAGESWARI

Varsities risking students’ safety by holding physical classes

Monday, October 12th, 2020
Universities, colleges and schools have the ability to care for their students by reverting to online learning instead of physical, face-to-face classes. Universities, colleges and schools have the ability to care for their students by reverting to online learning instead of physical, face-to-face classes.

LETTER: I want to bring attention to how universities, colleges and schools are taking a risk by holding physical classes instead of online classes for students and their staff.

As of Oct 2, my college released a circular stating that online teaching and assessment is mandatory for first year students commencing the Oct 2020 semester. However, students of the Jan 2020 semester (and I am one of them) must continue attending classes on campus. This made no sense to me.

Before my semester on campus restarted on Sept 21, I had already appealed for online learning, but was rejected because there were only two students who wrote in and at least five appeal letters need to be submitted by students/parents in order to be given consideration by the head of division.

On Oct 7 the college re-released the circular with minor changes, stating that “all Foundation and Cambridge A Level teaching and learning activity shall remain in effect (status quo) until further notice” and that final examinations will be conducted online.

On Oct 9, my college offered an option to study online – it is only temporary and comes with shortcomings, because lecturers are expected to hold both online classes and physical classes at the same time.

Before offering this option, our student representative council had conducted a poll on Oct 6 asking if students prefer to conduct studies online or on campus.

The majority voted for physical classes. In my opinion, this is a naive way to approach the situation. It is like asking a child if they prefer a bowl of sweets or a bowl of vegetables. It is obvious which would be chosen.

Many students like myself, take public transport to campus and at times, when classes start early in the morning or end late in the evening, it is impossible to avoid the rush hour crowd where physical distancing is completely ignored.

We continue to risk our lives on a daily basis because we need an 80 per cent attendance rate in order to sit for our final examinations. Students and parents alike do not understand the severity of Covid-19 and how rapidly it can spread. Classes and lecture theatres are the perfect breeding grounds for the virus, especially if they are air-conditioned.

I do not doubt that institutions sanitise the surfaces of furniture, but I doubt that they would disinfect the filters of their air conditioners daily. This is one problem, but the bigger problem institutions face is enforcing SOPs.

Institutions can try to enforce SOPs, but often, they are ignored. Humans by nature are social creatures and to expect children or teenagers to follow SOPs while adults are not even able to, is a little too much. Even I find it difficult to follow SOPs because when I am with my friends, I forget that we are currently facing a pandemic.

We hug, we share food even while being physically distanced – in fact, we walk together in groups. It is impossible not to socialise when you are on campus. There have been many studies pertaining to the spread of Covid-19 in enclosed places and where people congregate. An institution of learning is made for gathering people and thus makes a great spot for Covid-19 to spread.

I live with my mother who is over 60 years old and my niece comes over to our house weekly because both my sister and her husband are working. They are both at high risk and I’m sure many students live with their families too. This would mean if any student were to be infected, it would spread through their families.

Students are the perfect asymptomatic carriers and campuses are perfect breeding grounds for the virus. As asymptomatic carriers, we might not have symptoms of the virus, but it does not mean we are not infected. I know for a fact that many students do not go straight home after classes.

They go out to malls to hang out with friends and any social media site can tell you the same, with pictures of groups of kids taking selfies and drinking boba tea. Students do not only go from home to school, we make stops at malls, cafes and even roadside stalls. We switch trains and busses on the way to our campus and if we are lucky and are wealthy enough, we can take a Grab car to campus.

Universities, colleges and schools have the ability to care for their students by reverting to online learning instead of physical, face-to-face classes. Instead of waiting for the Higher Education Ministry to give instructions for all institutions of education to move their syllabus online, institutions of education should think ahead and petition to the ministry instead.

by JIA YI LEE.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters/2020/10/631622/varsities-risking-students-safety-holding-physical-classes

MoHE: No option but to prevent mass movement of students

Sunday, October 4th, 2020
The Higher Education Ministry had no other option but to postpone the physical registration of new and returning students at their respective campuses to prevent mass movement amidst the rise in positive Covid-19 cases in the country. - NSTP file picThe Higher Education Ministry had no other option but to postpone the physical registration of new and returning students at their respective campuses to prevent mass movement amidst the rise in positive Covid-19 cases in the country. – NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Higher Education Ministry (MoHE) had no other option but to postpone the physical registration of new and returning students at their respective campuses to prevent mass movement amidst the rise in positive Covid-19 cases in the country.

Higher Education director-general Prof Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Mustafa Ishak said the steady increase of new cases in the past few days had forced the ministry to postpone the physical registration at the very last minute.

“We have universities nationwide, with Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in every state.

“We have 67,406 new students for this intake (October), hence there will be a mass movement of students from Peninsula to Sabah and Sarawak, and vice versa,” he said during Buletin Bernama programme on Bernama TV today.

He said other than the mass movement of students, parents and family members would also come to send the students and subsequently will stop at rest and service areas (R&R), hotels and universities.

Mustafa said the decision was made by the ministry only after its engagement with all universities and the Health Ministry, who opined that such a decision was inevitable due to the current Covid-19 situation in the country.

On Friday, the Higher Education Ministry (MoHE) had called for all institutes of higher learning to postpone physical or face-to-face registration of new and returning students at their campus for the October intake.

The ministry said all student registration exercises could be undertaken online, along with student registration matters, teaching, and learning.

The decision, however, had led to students being stranded at their universities.

Answering the question of why schools and kindergartens were allowed to operate as usual, Mustafa said this as their movement was on a small scale.

“We have to remember that school students move on a small scale within their area, while universities are scattered nationwide, hence the concern.”

Citing the Northumbria University and Newcastle University in the United Kingdom as an example, he said the mass movement of students saw numbers of its students test positive since their return to the universities.

“We want to prevent this from happening,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mustafa said students who have arrived at their universities are allowed to enter their residential colleges.

As for those who have rented accommodation outside campus, he said they should discuss the matter with their respective landlords.

“I believe those who have rented accommodation should have no problem moving in.”

As for students who have purchased their airline, train, or bus tickets, Mustafa said the students can re-schedule their trips.

“The ministry has discussed the matter with the airline companies, and they agreed to allow students to re-schedule and some even agreed until next year.

“The same goes for bus companies and KTM, where the students should contact them to reschedule.”

He said the ministry was trying its best to assist affected students.

“Affected students should also contact their respective universities for assistance.”

During the programme, Mustafa said students who have yet to leave for their universities and facing problems with online learning, especially those from rural areas, were allowed to use the facilities at higher learning institutions near their homes.

“Other than that, we also have 871 rural internet centres under the purview of the Communications and Multimedia Ministry and the Rural Development Ministry that could be used by the students, who have yet to come to their campuses, for their online learning which will begin next week,” he said.

On Saturday, Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad in a statement had apologised for any inconvenience caused and called on higher education institutions nationwide to better manage matters related to student enrolment.

She said the ministry was aware of complaints made by students and their family members following the decision to postpone the return and registration of current and new students.

By Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/10/629528/mohe-no-option-prevent-mass-movement-students

Classes at higher learning institutions go online until further notice

Sunday, October 4th, 2020
UiTM says it will continue with its Open and Distance Learning from Oct 12 until further notice. - NSTP/AZRUL EDHAM MOHD AMINUDDINUiTM says it will continue with its Open and Distance Learning from Oct 12 until further notice. – NSTP/AZRUL EDHAM MOHD AMINUDDIN

KUALA LUMPUR: Public and private higher learning institutions (IPT) are now conducting their classes and registration of students online, following the advisory by Higher Education Ministry (MoHE).

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in a statement said it would continue with its Open and Distance Learning (ODL) from Oct 12 until further notice.

“Face-to-face meetings are to be postponed and all approved activities are advised to be put on hold, including those that had the vice chancellor’s earlier approval.

“This decision was made with everybody’s health and welfare in mind. UiTM will be monitoring the Covid-19 situation closely and update its students and staff from time to time,” it said.

International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM) Kuantan campus said student registration would be conducted online, involving over 803 students.

In a statement today, its Kuantan campus director Professor Dr. Kamaruzzaman Yunus said the university would conduct online classes until further notice.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia vice chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor said the university would allow students who arrived at their residential colleges from yesterday, to stay put.

“However, they have to comply to the standard operating procedures (SOP) strictly.

“We will also help arrange the accommodations for our new intake students, who have arrived at the campus or are on their way.

It also said the orientation programme for new students, Minggu Mesra Mahasiswa (MMM), from Oct 3 to 7 would be conducted online.

“As for our teaching and learning (PdP) programme for existing students, they will be conducted online starting Oct 12. Any programmes or activities that involve gathering of people on campus will be postponed until further notice,” he said in a statement today.

For a private learning institution Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, classes will also be conducted online.

In a statement posted on their official Facebook page today, it said online classes will be conducted for the next two weeks.

“The university has decided that effective Monday, 5 Oct 2020, all classes will be conducted online, only for the next 2 weeks, until Oct 18.

“We are taking this precautionary measure in the interest of our students’ and staff members’ health and safety.

“With responsive blended learning (RBL) in place, you will already have access to the online resources on the Virtual Learning Environment. Your school will provide you with the necessary instructions,” it said.

Universiti Malaya also issued a statement to inform that student registration and orientation for the new intake students would be conducted online.

It said students who have checked in to their residential colleges or were on their way to register for their rooms were allowed to remain on campus.

“However, we advise that those who have yet to return to the campus to stay at home until further notice,” it said.

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan will also be conducting their October intake students registration online, while Universiti Kuala Lumpur will inform its students on its plans in due time.

By Farah Solhi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/10/629351/classes-higher-learning-institutions-go-online-until-further-notice

UMP students from Sabah, red zones to register online

Friday, October 2nd, 2020
Students are required to complete their registration process online between Oct 5 and Oct 9 to activate their UMP student status. - NSTP/File picStudents are required to complete their registration process online between Oct 5 and Oct 9 to activate their UMP student status. – NSTP/File pic

KUANTAN: All Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) students from Sabah and other Covid-19 red zone states will not be required to be physically present to register for the new semester.

UMP deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs and Alumni) Professor Datuk Dr Yuserrie Zainuddin said the students would instead complete their registration process online between Oct 5 and Oct 9 to activate their UMP student status.

He said students with a travel history to Sabah had been told to delay their arrival to the Pekan and Gambang campus 14 days after their return (after quarantine).

“All students from Sabah and other Covid-19 red zone states will not undergo the face-to-face registration scheduled in stages at the Pekan and Gambang campuses between Oct 12 and Oct 14. They will complete the registration process online and follow the required procedures once the situation improves in Sabah and the other red zones.

“The online registration involves all categories of UMP students. Once they have activated the online registration, the respective student can attend virtual classes,” he said in a statement today.

Yuserrie said the registration for new students, with the exception from Sabah and Covid-19 red zone areas, would remain normal but they must adhere to the administrative guidelines and standard operating procedure (SOP) set by UMP.

“This is in line with the statement issued by the Higher Education Ministry urging all higher learning institutions to postpone the physical registration for new and old students from red zone states for the new semester this month. UMP is concerned with the recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

“All response centre heads and UMP students are reminded to take the necessary precautions to curb the Covid-19 outbreak in the campus and always priotise their health, and safety. Students should always be aware with the latest directives and updates concerning the pandemic,” he said.

By T.N Alagesh.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/10/628886/ump-students-sabah-red-zones-register-online

Is university ranking part of discriminatory systems?

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020
According to Alex Carp’s Slavery and the American University, from their inception, “the American university and American slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply”. According to Alex Carp’s Slavery and the American University, from their inception, “the American university and American slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply”.

BEFORE we turn to the latest result of The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education (THE) College Rankings 2021 (focusing only on the US) released last week, it might be instructive to have a glance at the list of nine “Big Name Colleges” that was published by Atlanta Black Star (ABS), posted by Taylor Gordon (December 2014).

It may seem a little dated, but it matters given the context with respect to the current protests involving the youth of university-going age. The ABS listed big university names that “Benefited From Slavery” — an issue that is very much alive despite some of the sordid history that is well camouflaged and gone unnoticed until today. In other words, it will still be relevant for a long time to come as the cry of ‘Black Lives Matter’ gets louder day by day.

What is more, it is claimed that “the US table, which is fuelled by data from THE, measures institutions’ student engagement, student outcomes and learning environments”. So, what about the role of slavery at US colleges and universities as an indicator whose time has come to be “reconciled”, academically speaking. It is significant that the top five are all implicated in slavery.

According to Alex Carp’s Slavery and the American University, from their inception, “the American university and American slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply”. Some are promoting “scientific racism”. Indeed, The New York Review of Books, in one sweep, highlighted how rampant the situation was based on surviving records.

“The first enslaved African in Massachusetts was the property of the schoolmaster of Harvard. Yale funded its first graduate-level courses and its first scholarship with the rents from a small slave plantation it owned in Rhode Island (the estate, in a stroke of historical irony, was named Whitehall). The scholarship’s first recipient went on to found Dartmouth, and a later grantee co-founded the College of New Jersey, known today as Princeton.

“Georgetown’s founders, prohibited by the rules of their faith from charging students tuition, planned to underwrite school operations in large part with slave sales and plantation profits, to which there was apparently no ecclesiastical objection. Columbia, when it was still King’s College, subsidised slave traders with below-market loans.”

Still, this is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak, with the 90 per cent submerged below the water yet to surface. And this is not going to be plain sailing as illustrated by the case of Princeton in defence of the 28th US president, Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921), who is closely associated with the university until lately.

According to historian Martha Sandweiss, Princeton epitomises “the paradox at the heart of American history: from the very start, liberty and slavery were intimately intertwined”. To this a ABS newsletter noted Princeton raised money and recruited students for the school through rich families, who owned enslaved people in the South and throughout the Caribbean.

Wilson, who has come to be regarded as having a racist view and a history of bigotry, is honoured by having campus buildings named after him, despite protests from the campus community. As late as 2016, the so-called Wilson Legacy Review Committee — charged with deciding what to do with Wilson — while agreeing with protesters, refused to remove the name from the buildings.

The Black Justice League of Princeton University, however, vowed not to stop trying to get the name removed. It took another four years on June 28, before Princeton announced the removal of the name of the former US president from a building on its campus “because of his racist beliefs and policies”.

It took the death of “I can’t breathe” George Floyd to bring about the much- needed change. Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber said in a statement that “Wilson’s racism was significant and consequential even by the standards of his own time”.

He went on to say: “Princeton is part of an America that has too often disregarded, ignored, or excused racism, allowing the persistence of systems that discriminate against black people.”

One begins to wonder, is not ranking part of the same system, thus equally guilty of the same? And is it not time for it to go for good?

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/628064/university-ranking-part-discriminatory-systems

Varsities will bloom online

Monday, September 28th, 2020
Campuses of the future may resemble Apple Stores. - NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes onlyCampuses of the future may resemble Apple Stores. – NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes only

THROUGHOUT the world, the decision to reopen university campuses has been a source of fierce controversy.

The University of Notre Dame, University of North Carolina and Michigan State University in the United States have been forced to suspend in-person classes following a surge in Covid-19 cases on campus.

At the same time, opposing arguments, such as that of Brown University president Christina Paxson, emphasise a host of issues that students and universities will face if campuses remain closed, highlighting the difficulties remote learning presents for less privileged students.

What does all this mean from the educational point of view? Just like the impact of earlier technological novelties, higher education will adapt and come out stronger with virtual learning. Rather than being disrupted, the institutions that survive this crisis will be augmented by the new technology.

Getting there, however, will entail a radical rethink of the university campus as we have known it for generations. The legacy model of higher education has worked so well because it balances two complementary ways of learning: vertical (top-down), and horizontal (social).

Vertical learning is what happens in a lecture hall. Students take notes or discuss the material with an expert. This is the formal part of education. Horizontal learning usually occurs between the students themselves, often informal, uncontrollable and indifferent to our daily schedules. No doubt, virtual classrooms have their drawbacks.

For example, it’s much easier to read the room when teaching face to face: Are the students engaged, bored or confused? There’s also the reality of “Zoom fatigue”. Professors’ energies may wane over the course of days and weeks of wrestling with the myriad challenges associated with teaching online. And students, too, have reported that online learning lacks the intimacy and interactivity of real world classrooms.

Pre-Covid-19 research found that students learn less in online classes than they do in-person. However, after a period of adjustment, teaching online may become second nature, and offerings may improve as a result. Within Zoom, the ease of creating virtual breakout rooms removes those hurdles, making it easy to dispel the prolonged passivity of listening to a lecture with interactive sessions.

This is arguably a more effective approach that compensates for the depersonalising tendencies of technology and also reaffirms students’ active involvement in their own learning. However, without a vibrant campus — a physical platform for unplanned interactions — the spontaneity of horizontal learning would mostly disappear.

Because horizontal learning can’t be mandated, it still happens more easily in spaces that are designed for social interactions.

Research suggests the disappearance of the campus would be a massive loss to students. For example, a 2018 study found that students who taught a lesson — without the benefit of notes—based on what they had just learned in class retained as much knowledge a week later as peers who wrote down the information instead of teaching it.

This suggests students may learn better overall when they can teach one another as a complement to official instruction.

Without a physical environment built for mutual learning, valuable opportunities will be lost. An expanded learning model that combines online classes, some in-person lectures, and social interactions on campus will produce even better outcomes than the existing legacy model.

Similarly, the rise of online tools will make universities even stronger if they find a way to provide the right environment for social learning. The current wave is not a disruption. It’s a reconstruction of learning with an incredible number of content delivery options. Horizontal learning opportunities will become even more important within this dual system.

When schools opt for augmentation, the campus of the future will pivot toward less structured education. If you strolled through this future campus, you’d notice fewer people rushing to their next classes and more groups engaging in hours-long passionate conversations.

The physical campus would become a dynamic hub, rather than a singular point where learning takes place. It would also be a source of support (technical and otherwise) for the vulnerable students of whom Paxson rightly reminded us.

Over time, the general campus atmosphere may come to resemble something like an Apple Store, where students gather to test out ideas as well as technology, and recharge their social batteries before diving back into coursework at home.

Most importantly, it would uphold the notion of higher education as the best vehicle for students to learn both from one another and from experts.

They will become more competent, connected and agile. It’s a promise that the future educational institutions must fulfil.

By Ilian Mihov.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/627750/varsities-will-bloom-online

Penjana KPT-CAP to boost graduates’ employability

Friday, September 25th, 2020

Graduates can no longer merely rely on their certificates, diploma or bachelor degrees should they wish to gain employment. -- NSTP FILE PIXGraduates can no longer merely rely on their certificates, diploma or bachelor degrees should they wish to gain employment. — NSTP FILE PIX

SEARCHING for a job seems to be an age-long challenge. Competition among graduates with the same type of qualifications vying for similar positions, lack of ability in crafting outstanding resumes and scarce network from within the industry upon graduation are common obstacles, which are synonymous with it.

Although challenging, local higher education institutions (HEIs) have managed this issue well by achieving beyond 80 per cent of graduate employability. This year, however, the job search challenges are amplified with fewer-than-usual job openings due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Numerous companies are downsizing, leaving many jobless. Considering this, graduates can no longer merely rely on their certificates, diploma or bachelor degrees should they wish to gain employment.

For the past seven months, we have witnessed changes in many areas of our lives, such as the increased levels of dependency on information communication technologies for work, entertainment and socialising. We also experienced an increased reliance on gig economy service providers, such as Grab Food.

While some struggled to find jobs, others created their own by using social media.

Some YouTubers who once treated their postings as a favoured pastime found themselves catapulted into stardom, which now draw in handsome pay cheques. This brings about the realisation that we must do things differently.

To help graduates attune themselves to the new job market demands, the government has allocated RM100 million for the Higher Education Ministry to conduct a career advancement programme known as “Penjana KPT-CAP”. It aims to reskill and upskill participating graduates by boosting their existing abilities and knowledge.

The Penjana KPT-CAP consists of three sub-programmes — Place and Train, Entrepreneurship and Gig Economy. The Place and Train sub-programme provides competency training by industry players to its participants. Upon its completion, some participants will stand a chance at securing a job in the participating industries.

The Entrepreneurship sub-programme offers participants insight on the know-hows of kick-starting a company including methods to secure funding. The Gig Economy sub-programme provides competency training that will aid participants to generate income through engagements in the gig economy via freelancing.

The Penjana KPT-CAP programme lasts between four and six weeks.

It will be conducted by academics, practitioners and industry players at selected HEIs. At the end of the programme, participants will be given a certificate of competency from participating agencies. Obtaining it will beef up their resumes and function as an indicator of their enhanced capabilities to industry players looking to hire.

Graduates who did not manage to secure a job last year, as well as those who graduated this year are eligible to participate in the programme. Each participant will be fully funded to undergo one of the three sub-programmes, which is valued at between RM4,000 and RM5,000 per person.

Should there be any participant interested in undergoing two or all three sub-programmes, they may do so by paying the additional costs independently.

Those who wish to sign up for the programme can visit http://great.mohe.gov.my/.

The Penjana KPT-CAP programme will be launched by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday at the Dewan Canselor Tun Abdul Razak, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The programme will begin next month.

It is hoped that participating graduates will secure job placements in the first quarter of next year, if not earlier.

While there is no instant remedy for the challenges faced, nevertheless, the ministry is diligently working to alleviate some obstacles for graduates in search of their first jobs.

Having said that, it is hoped that graduates will not allow the waves of change to knock them off their feet, but instead learn and ride them.

By Datuk Dr. Noraini Ahmad.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/627036/penjana-kpt-cap-boost-graduates-employability

Universities should hold Volunteering Day, give out awards

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

Universities could do a much better job starting with a  step-by-step scalable approach. It is a matter of fact that very few universities in the country have a dedicated centre or unit for the promotion of volunteerism among  students. -  NSTP/EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

Universities could do a much better job starting with a step-by-step scalable approach. It is a matter of fact that very few universities in the country have a dedicated centre or unit for the promotion of volunteerism among students. – NSTP/EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

IN a recent programme organised by the Asia-Pacific University-Community Engagement Network (APUCEN), I had the chance to reflect on the role higher education institutions have to emerge better and stronger from the pandemic.

The concept of “build back better” is a nice slogan that can help policymakers, educators and members of civil society focus on what really matters and come up with strategies and approaches that transform local communities into engines of sustainable development.

Universities not only are powerhouses for applied research that could be used on the ground through a new commons approach to commercialisation, but they are also, at least theoretically, engines for community engagement as they are in a unique position to support transformative changes locally.

Student societies and clubs are often at the forefront of community efforts, but they are often left without much support and guidance. Volunteerism is an essential tool for Malaysia to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). People who think of the SDGs as a gimmick or a nice branding exercise are dead wrong

Even more conscious and well-intentioned citizens who believe in the importance of the goals but act as if the obligation to pursue them lies only with the government are dead wrong. It’s everybody’s responsibility to work to achieve them.

Universities could do a much better job starting with a step-by-step scalable approach. It is a matter of fact that very few universities in the country have a dedicated centre or unit for the promotion of volunteerism among students.

This is a common feature in the best universities in the world, especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries that happen to host also the best higher learning institutions.

It’s not that universities in Malaysia are not carrying out service learning programmes. They do, but the point being made here is that they are not leveraging enough the potential of the students already committed to social causes nor are they doing enough to involve and engage the vast majority of students not yet interested in volunteering.

To be fair, one of the main concerns emerging from the APUCEN talk was the universities’ lack of resources to scale up
their work in the field of community engagement through volunteerism. My proposal is to start small through doable actions that won’t bankrupt the institution.

Actually, my challenge is to be as creative as possible in using the few resources available and here we can learn from the spirit of ingenuity of the same clubs and associations that so far are taking the lion’s share of most of the community engagement activities.

The universities can start updating their strategies to enlist volunteerism as a key asset. If such an endeavour is too complicated, the department of student affairs can start giving more time to supporting these clubs and associations.

Ideally, a desk office could be set up to give time and advice to the same groups.

For example, their work and achievements should be celebrated and recognised with stories and interviews of them published in official media channels, especially social media.

Would it be impossible to organise, to start with, a university volunteering day where all volunteering efforts carried out by students are celebrated?

Is it too easy and too simple? Then you could step up and organise an annual volunteering week in which awareness programmes and onsite visits are organised to better understand the impact of volunteerism.

What about organising a volunteering award within a university? If you reflect well, this is a doable and actionable idea that does not require financial resources but just a commitment from the university to work hard, no matter the financial constraints, on the promotion of volunteerism.

In addition, teachers from all backgrounds and expertise should be encouraged to embed a spirit of true service in their lesson plans. Networks like APUCEN can be useful platforms to share experiences and learning where each university could have a peer institution as a partner to carry out new joint service initiatives.

Commitment to volunteerism and civic engagement comes before investing in them. Let’s not forget that if we really want to achieve the SDGs, doing and promoting volunteerism is one of the smartest things to do.

Universities should not shy away from such a responsibility and opportunity.

By Simone Galimberti.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/624816/universities-should-hold-volunteering-day-give-out-awards

Bring back education with a ’soul’

Tuesday, September 15th, 2020
Good governance in education is deemed by experts to have failed if  there is a decline in institutional integrity and capacity, aggravated by arbitrary actions and  compromised by conflict of interests. - NSTP file picGood governance in education is deemed by experts to have failed if there is a decline in institutional integrity and capacity, aggravated by arbitrary actions and compromised by conflict of interests. – NSTP file pic

UNDER the influence of Covid-19 where things are more fluid and uncertain, good governance becomes even more important to understand and practise. Although more frequently addressed from the corporate sector viewpoint, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

Hence, when forced on the education sector, it falls terribly short like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. It damages and distorts education, including higher education.

Attempts to hijack education subtly in this way by “corporatising” (read: commercialising) it has not met with much success. It explains the bastardised version as it is today — an education without soul.

The concept of governance, according to the International Bureau of Education, a Unesco-based organisation, refers to “structures and processes that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment and broad-based participation”.

Rule of law is one of many that make up the vistas of education, where governance is more subtle and may not be easily observable. This include the process of decision-making and mechanisms for holding governments accountable, especially in the context of public affairs where education is deemed a public good.

It, therefore, encompasses the various aspects of “how power is distributed and shared, how policies are formulated, priorities set and stakeholders made accountable”. Arguably, it is also in tandem with the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, 2016-2030).

Good governance in education is deemed by experts to have failed if there is a decline in institutional integrity and capacity, aggravated by arbitrary actions and compromised by conflict of interests.

Political interference and patronage appointments are among the dominant examples undermining the institutional autonomy and integrity of education institutions worldwide, including in Malaysia. Such actions have increasingly been reported to dominate and distort well-thought-out policies and procedures by weakening the leadership capacity of the institution.

Especially when the processes and decisions are shrouded in ‘intelligence’ (read: rumours) that is unsubstantiated with no disclosure of the reasons and evidence associated with the said actions. On several occasions this opens wide the window of corruption and self-interest in manipulating the academic sector. Most affected are those at the bottom of the economic pyramid.

In other words, it tolerates the practices of bad governance by turning the education ecosystem into a marketplace to commoditise learning and schooling for the purposes of “improving” the livelihood (economy), at the expense of promoting life and living (sustainability).

To this end, good governance goes beyond the casual understanding where the stakeholders are prioritised over the rest.

This is increasingly apparent today where educational disparities and divides are widening. Traits that are inherently egocentric, selfish, exploitative and discriminatory are being exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic in virtually all sectors.

In this context, Education for Sustainable Development introduced in the early 2000s and the more recent SDGs are the transformative platforms to shape a more sustainable tomorrow through good governance.

Under the Covid-19 lockdowns, positive values of selflessness are manifested across the globe whereby humanity has a chance to undergo self-healing in such a way that nature gradually can self-repair, overturning the long-term impact of human harm and abuse.

The overall target is to move against the negative values and practice so that education begins to align itself in a balanced co-existence with Mother Nature. An education with soul.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Read more @
https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2020/09/624530/bring-back-education-soul