Archive for the ‘Creative and Innovative Education’ Category

Here come the robots; your job is at risk.

Monday, March 13th, 2017

The new automation revolution is going to disrupt both industry and services, and developing countries need to rethink their development strategies.

A NEWS item caught my eye last week, that Uber has obtained permission in California to test two driverless cars, with human drivers inside to make corrections in case something goes wrong.

Presumably, if the tests go well, Uber will roll out a fleet of cars without drivers in that state. It is already doing that in other states in America.

In Malaysia, some cars can already do automatic parking. Is it a matter of time before Uber, taxis and personal vehicles will all be smart enough to bring us from A to B without our having to do anything ourselves?

But in this application of “artificial intelligence”, in which machines can have human cognitive functions built into them, what will happen to the taxi drivers? The owners of taxis and Uber may make more money but their drivers will most likely lose their jobs.

The driverless car is just one example of the technological revolution taking place that is going to drastically transform the world of work and living.

There is concern that the march of automation tied with digital technology will cause dislocation in many factories and offices, and eventually lead to mass unemployment.

This concern is becoming so pervasive that none other than Bill Gates recently proposed that companies using robots should have to pay taxes on the incomes attributed to the use of robotics, similar to the income tax that employees have to pay.

That proposal has caused an uproar, with mainstream economists like Lawrence Summers, a former United States treasury secretary, condemning it for putting brakes on technological advancement. One of them suggested that the first company to pay taxes for causing automation should be Microsoft.

However, the tax on robots idea is one response to growing fears that the automation revolution will cause uncontrollable disruption and increase the inequalities and job insecurities that have already spurred social and political upheaval in the West, leading to the anti-establishment votes for Brexit and Donald Trump.

Recent studies are showing that deepening use of automation will cause widespread disruption in many sectors and even whole economies. Worse, it is the developing countries that are estimated to lose the most, and this will exacerbate the already great global inequalities.

The risks of job automation to developing countries is estimated to range from 55 to 85%, according to a pioneering study in 2016 by Oxford University’s Martin School and Citi.

Major emerging economies will be at high risk, including China (77%) and India (69%). The risk for Malaysia is estimated at 65-70%. The developed OECD countries’ average risk is only 57%.

From the Oxford-Citi report, “The future is not what it used to be”, one gathers there are at least three reasons why the automation revolution will be particularly disruptive in developing countries.

First, there is “premature deindustrialisation” taking place as manufacturing is becoming less labour-intensive and many developing countries have reached the peak of their manufacturing jobs.

Second, recent developments in robotics and additive manufacturing will enable and could thus lead to relocation of foreign firms back to their home countries.

Seventy per cent of clients surveyed believe automation and 3D printing developments will encourage international companies to move their manufacturing close to home. China, Asean and Latin America have the most to lose from this relocation.

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Branson: Get out of your comfort zone.

Monday, March 13th, 2017
Aiming high: Billionaire Branson will be bringing his message of overcoming adversity to achieve ‘impossible’ targets to the upcoming Global Transformation Forum. — Bloomberg

Aiming high: Billionaire Branson will be bringing his message of overcoming adversity to achieve ‘impossible’ targets to the upcoming Global Transformation Forum. — Bloomberg

PETALING JAYA: From his record-breaking hot air balloon feats across the Pacific to donning an air stewardess’ uniform, there seems to be nothing daunting that Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson wouldn’t do.

This included leaving school at 16 to start a magazine Student, his first business.

On his last day of school, his headmaster had told Branson, who has dyslexia and was a poor student, that he would “either end up in prison or become a millionaire”.

Today, he is said to be worth US$5.2bil (RM23.15bil) with the Vir­gin Group controlling over 400 companies, including airlines, music labels and a space travel venture.

In an interview, the British magnate said he owed a great deal to his parents, who had always seen his passion and given him the courage to stand by his decisions, be it right or wrong.

“I was not a great student and though I did not focus on academic subjects, I always had big dreams and ambitions … I liked challenges in life and have always pushed myself out of my comfort zone.

“You can make what people believe is impossible possible if you set big enough targets,” he said.

However, Branson puts the success of his first business down to “a stroke of pure luck”, having found out much earlier that banks were not lending to enthusiastic teenage entrepreneurs and that it was almost impossible to secure funding for his ideas.

“My mother found a lost bracelet and when no one claimed it, this was returned to her. She sold it and loaned me the money for the Student magazine.

“If it wasn’t for that moment of chance, I might not be where I am today,” said Branson, who now passionately runs a non-profit Virgin StartUp that helps give new entrepreneurs the best possible opportunity at starting out.

“I’ve always said that the key to success is happiness. If you’re not happy in what you’re doing, move on,” he said.

Far from letting dyslexia get in the way of what he is doing, Branson has achieved a lot, including playing cameos in Hollywood blockbusters Super­man Returns and Casino Royale.

He has learnt to use his reading disabi­lity to his advantage.

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School Co-ops Should Venture Into High-impact Business – Angkasa

Thursday, January 19th, 2017

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 18 (Bernama) — School cooperatives should venture into high-impact business to increase revenue and profit, Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Bhd (Angkasa) President Datuk Abdul Fattah Abdullah said.

He cited retail business as one of the areas as 500 school co-ops nationwide were involved in the sector, with four of them getting more than RM1 million in profit a year.

So far, the total profit obtained by 2,349 school co-ops nationwide rose from RM311 million in 2013 to RM321 million in 2014 and RM338 million in 2015, he told reporters after attending a special programme on the Penang school co-op business development in 2017, here today.

Abdul Fattah said Angkasa targeted the total profit of school co-ops nationwide would increase to RM500 million in 2020, with 50 of them recording more than RM1 million profit a year.

Meanwhile, he urged parent teacher associations to encourage students to be more active in school co-ops to enable them to learn about entrepreneurial skills and business integrity, besides earning dividends.

Parents should also support school co-ops by buying books and stationery from them and invest in their shares, he added.


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Teaching Strategies to Promote Critical Thinking

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Critical thinking has been an important issue in education, and has become quite the buzzword around schools. The Common Core State Standards specifically emphasize a thinking curriculum and thereby requires teachers to elevate their students’ mental workflow beyond just memorization—which is a really good step forward. Critical thinking is a skill that young minds will undeniably need and exercise well beyond their school years. Experts agree that in keeping up with the ever-changing technological advances, students will need to obtain, understand, and analyze information on a much more efficient scale. It is our job as educators to equip our students with the strategies and skills they need to think critically in order to cope with these tech problems and obstacles they face elsewhere.

Fortunately, teachers can use a number of techniques that can help students learn critical thinking, even for children enrolled in kindergarten. Here are some teaching strategies that may prove immediately effective:

Teaching Strategies to Encourage Creativity:

Traditionally, elementary teachers prepare templates for art projects before they give it to their students. By doing so, it levels the creative playing field and can, in some ways, help the classroom run more smoothly if every child’s snowflake looks the same.

I know it may be a bit unnerving to relinquish a bit of control, but rest assured that not having everything prepped in advance is a good thing. Instead, give students all of the supplies needed to create a snowflake, and let them do it on their own. This will allow students to become critical thinkers because they will have to use their prior knowledge to consider what a snowflake looks like, how big it is, what color it is, etc

Do Not Always Jump in to Help:

It’s too easy to always find a solution for a student who needs your help. Kindergarteners especially will get very upset when they can’t find their crayons or scissors. The easy way for a teacher to answer is “It’s OK, you can borrow a pair of scissors from me.” Instead of always readily finding a solution for your students, try responding with “Let’s think about how we can find them.” Then, you can assist the student in figuring out the best possible solution for finding their lost item.

Brainstorm Before everything You Do.

One of the esiest and most effective ways to get young children to think critically is to braistorm. Regardless of subject, have students think about what they’ll be doing, learning or reading – before actually starting each activity. Ask a lot questions. like “What do you think this book will be about?” ot “Tell me three things you will be learning in this lesson about space?” Give students every opportunity you can to be critical thinkers.

Classify and Categorize:

Classification plays an important role in critical thinking because it requires students to understand and apply a set of rules. Give students a variety of objects and ask them to identify each object, then sort it into a category. This is a great activity to help students think and self-question what object should go where, and why.

Compare and Contrast:

Much like classifying, students will need to look closely at each topic or object they are comparing and really think about the significance of each one. You can have students compare and contrast just about anything—try this out with the book your class is reading now. Compare and contrast the weather forecast for today and yesterday. Compare the shape and color of a pumpkin to another vegetable. Compare and contrast today’s math lesson with last week’s—the ideas are endless.

Make Connections

Encouraging students to make connections to a real-life situation and identify patterns is a great way to practice their critical thinking skills. Ask students to always be on the look for these connections, and when they find one to make sure they tell you.

Provide Group Opportunities:

When children are around their classmates working together, they get exposed to the thought processes of their peers. They learn how to understand how other people think and that their way is not the only route to explore.

When this valuable skill is introduced to students early on in the education process, students will be capable of having complex thoughts and become better problem solvers when presented with difficulty. It’s important for students to possess a variety of skills, but it’s just as important for them to understand the skills and how, and when to use them.

How do you teach critical thinking in your classroom? Do you have any teaching strategies that can help students learn this important life skill? Feel free to share with us in the comment section below. We would love to hear your ideas.

Improve your Back to School ideas with’s Ultimate 5-Week Prep Guide! Each week, you’ll get tips, tricks, and ideas that will enhance your classroom!

by Janelle Cox.

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Making music from trash

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016

They are students and members of the Recycled Orchestra who play instruments made out of discarded items from Paraguay’s largest dump.

FESTERING alongside mountains of stinking trash under the sweltering South American sun, Cateura is a long way from the conservatories of Prague or Vienna.

Yet the township which grew out of Paraguay’s largest dump is gaining an unlikely reputation as a hothouse for musical talent – and for its youth orchestra that plays instruments made from discarded rubbish.

“The world sends us garbage. We send back music,” said Favio Chavez, leader of the “Recycled Orchestra,” during the group’s recent visit to Los Angeles.

Chavez hit upon the idea of using trash to make music 10 years ago.

Orchestra members, mostly impoverished children from Cateura, play violins fashioned from oven trays and guitars made from dessert dishes.

One cello is made from an oil barrel with wooden spoons and a stiletto heel for tuning pegs, while a discarded x-ray serves as the skin for a drum.

Isaac Tobias Armoa Ortiz and Alejandro Melgarejo both from Cateura, are now promising musicians. – AFP

Isaac Tobias Armoa Ortiz and Alejandro Melgarejo both from Cateura, are now promising musicians. – AFP

The orchestra provides the youngsters an outlet and an escape, a chance to transcend the squalor of their slum through the music of Mozart, Vivaldi and even Sinatra.

“In the beginning, it was difficult to play, but Favio helped me learn over time. From Favio, I have learnt to be more responsible and value the things I have,” said 10-year-old violinist Celeste Fleitas.

Cateura, a shantytown of 40,000 people on the outskirts of Paraguay’s capital Asuncion, is one of the poorest communities in South America.

It is where more than 1,500 tonnes of waste is dumped each day. There is no safe drinking water and little access to electricity or sanitation, so disease is rife in the area. Impoverished slum-dwellers – many just children themselves – rummage through the dump on the floodplains of the Paraguay River for scraps they can sell. Illiteracy is rampant, and the children of the township often fall into the hands of drug gangs, gangsters and violence.


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A free hand to settle classroom issues

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

TEACHERS in 1,178 primary and secondary schools across the nation will have more leeway in solving teaching and learning problems.

They will act as “problem solvers” when they are faced with issues pertaining to the subjects they teach in the classroom. The Education Ministry has said that it will take a step back and be content to remain just as “support provider”.

Deputy education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said the plan under the Profess-ional Learning Course (PLC) 2.0  will enable teachers to come up with solutions and take the best route when dealing with difficult topics in Mathematics, Science, History and English.

“This new approach requires teachers to identify problems faced by their students and find ways to deal with them using their own unique methods,” said Dr Amin.

“The ministry will no longer be spoonfeeding teachers on how they should conduct their lessons.

This, he pointed out, is a departure from the norm where teachers rely on the ministry to solve their problems.

However, Dr Amin maintain-ed that this approach will not burden teachers too much.

“This approach does not need any sophisticated teaching method, but only the commit-ment and initiative from teachers towards their students.

“The ministry will only step in for big issues such as those that touch on policies or involving senior school authorities,” he said.

Dr Amin also emphasised that the ministry will no longer monitor pedagogical aspects or resolve issues involving students, but will instead, focus on the school’s growth and results.


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Rural schools can spring a surprise

Monday, June 27th, 2016

MENGGATAL: Never underestimate the abilities of rural schools. Unlike in previous competitions, SMK Tenghilan, a rural school, sprang a surprise in the just-concluded 10th Sindex (Sabah Invention and Design Exhibition) by beating city schools to emerge as Sindex Overall Winner 2016 and to clinch the Best Presentation prize.

The winning trio, Group Leader Cerolintina Soimin, 17, Florrenna Elip, 17, and Hezron Aideno, 17, of the Form Five Class (Vocational Education Stream) received a trophy and RM500 cash from the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti), Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau at the 10th Sindex Awards Night on Saturday.

The team’s invention dubbed “Easy Tugal” (Easy Dibbler) won the hearts of the judges at the finals which entailed one-minute video presentation and two-minute oral presentation.

Another team from the same school bagged the Best Presentation prize (RM200 and trophy) for its Palm Fronds (PF) Multi-Product Invention, thus sweeping two of the top four prizes in the contest.

The Rotarians’ Choice Award (RM200 and trophy) went to Maktab Sabah with its “Soniceye” entry, an invention to facilitate the mobility of blind persons, while SM St Michael, Penampang walked away with the Best Exhibition prize (RM200 and trophy) for its “Colour Petals” invention whereby it is an eco-friendly water colour that is made from biological pigments extracted from flowers.

The four winning teams were among the top one to 10 gold medallists (shortlisted from 20 semi-finalists), the others being Kolej Vokesyenal Keningau (Tiles Installer), SMK Limbanak (Anti-Ant Gel), SM Tshung Tsin (Climaxcool), Kolej Vokesyenal Keningau (Grip Battery Charger), SM St Michael, Penampang (2 in 1 Pitcher) and SM St Michael, Penampang (2 in 1 Supply Companion).

The top 11 to 20 (who did not make it to the finals) were rated as silver medallists, namely KK High School (Multi Hook), SMK Tenghilan (D’mon 21), SM Tshung Tsin (Bambae), SM Tshung Tsin (Spectalistic), SM St Michael (Simple Slide Peg), SMK Tenghilan (Watering Bottle), SMK Kundasang (Multifunction Whiteboard Cleaner), SMK St John (Phone Speaker), SMK St John (Kind Heart Tag) and SM Sanzac (Brush Slippers).

Altogether 152 entries were received from various secondary schools, involving about 600 students, and shortlisted to 20 semi-finalists and then 10 finalists.

A three-member judging panel, comprising Chief Judge Prof Tam Hwa Yaw, a Sabahan inventor now based in Hong Kong, Frankie Fu (Past President of Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu) and Datuk Margaret Fung (Past President of Rotary Club of Tanjung Aru), was impressed with the entries submitted by the various schools.

The judges were looking at aspects of originality, creativity and practicability when carrying out their task.

“At their secondary school level, the standard is good. I also look at the process. Is there a need for the invention?

Are you inventing something for yourself or the benefit of the community at large? There are new ideas on how to help the community though some of these may not necessarily be the best ideas,” said Prof Tam who is Chair Professor of Photonics at the Department of Electrical Engineering, and Director of the Photonic Research Centre at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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Idris: Teachers need to embrace changes quickly

Sunday, June 5th, 2016

EDUCATORS need to enhance their teaching techniques in line with the changes in technology.

They need to do so as only then can they nurture students who excel, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

He said there is an urgent need for both teachers and lecturers to keep abreast with the many digital advancements and embrace them quickly.

“The changes taking place in this day and age are not the same as it was in the past. With the Internet and smart phones and new applications that are easily available, there is no reason for educators to be left behind,” said Idris when launching the Teachers Day celebration recently in Besut, Terengganu.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had stated that Unesco’s recognition of Malaysia’s achievements in various fields proves that Malaysia is on the right track in providing inclusive education to the people.

Bernama quoted him as saying that inclusive education in science, technology and innovation will always be the country’s main agenda in creating a society that is competitive, progressive and scientific.

Commitment and proactive measures have been taken to improve and enhance the country’s efforts to achieve developed nation status by 2020, he added at the closing ceremony of the Malaysian-level Unesco Day celebration last week.


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Risky not to take risks, says mayor

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Entrepreneurs who are willing to take risks are more likely to succeed in a changing global business environment.

According to Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, the global economy has demonstrated that it is risky not to take risks.

“If you just continue doing what you did in the past, then you will not be able to progress because taking calculated risks allows you to learn, whether you will succeed or not,” he said when sharing his thoughts on career success and personal achievement during the European University (EU) Asia Commencement Ceremony 2016 at a resort here yesterday.

“You must be willing to put your reputation on the line to make things happen,” he added.

Yeo said to face change and achieve success, one must take responsibility to be a stakeholder and understand how one’s job practices affect the corporation, its workers and surrounding communities.

“You must be committed to sustainable environmental practices because it is good business. You can help save money and reduce environmental footprints by encouraging waste reduction, energy conservation and maintaining environmentally safe business processes,” said Yeo.

He said success clearly depends significantly on making money and the ability to work harmoniously in both social and environmental settings.

“For this reason, you must consider the costs of pollution, worker displacement and other factors in your profit calculations,” said Yeo, who also received the “King Fellow Award” from the university.

It was for his contribution to the development of Kota Kinabalu City and in recognition of his leadership qualities as reflected in his appointment as mayor.

He also called on the people to look at the concept of sustainability to help reduce the effects of climate change which had now become a real inconvenient reality.

“We have to be responsible for our own waste and not rely entirely on City Hall. We don’t inherit the environment but borrowed it, so we must maintain and give it back to our children in good condition,” he said.

Yeo advised the graduates to think of their future as a series of experiences and encouraged them to become lifelong learners in order to make an impact, success and feel accomplished.


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SM St. Michael’s innovative pots win medals at Inventions Fair.

Friday, March 11th, 2016
From left to right: Judith Fidelis Donsia (senior assistant students affairs), Achilles, Sharulneezam, Mariatul, Jennifer, Christian and Claris Hee (senior assistant extra-curricular).

From left to right: Judith Fidelis Donsia (senior assistant students affairs), Achilles, Sharulneezam, Mariatul, Jennifer, Christian and Claris Hee (senior assistant extra-curricular).

PENAMPANG: SM St. Michael’s Penampang, competing in the 1st Istanbul International Inventions Fair at Istanbul, Turkey from March 3-6, did the state proud when it won medals, an award and due recognition for its three innovative pot products.

The Istanbul International Inventions Fair (ISIF) is an exhibition show on commercialization patent inventions, new products and technical ideas organised under the patronage of the International Federation of Inventors Association (IFIA). Participated by 25 countries such as China, Brazil, Portugal, Turkey and Malaysia, the fair took place at the Istanbul Congress Centre.

Representing SM St. Michael’s Penampang were Form Five students Achilles Bernard Logijin, Christian Isaac Stephen, and Sharulneezam Aediee.

Guided by school principal Jennifer Asing, and teacher Mariatul Hanis Abdullah, the team collaborated to invent three amazing products to be judged at the fair, namely the GoGreen Pot, the Vetta Potest (self-watering pot) and the Easy Pouring Set.
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