Archive for the ‘Creative and Innovative Education’ Category

Close the innovation gap

Friday, September 4th, 2020
Many youths have minds that can better existing technology, which many older people may even have trouble grasping the concept. - Bloomberg picMany youths have minds that can better existing technology, which many older people may even have trouble grasping the concept. – Bloomberg pic

LETTER: Lately, there have been disputes and comparison of Malaysia with other countries in terms of research and development (R&D).

In the medical field, for instance, we heard about the intention to join in the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, but we are short of resources and infrastructure.

There are three major issues that may be hindering the progress of R&D in this country.

First is the poor integration of higher-learning institutions with ministries. Even though we see so many achievements by local academics, there is very little interaction between the two to maximise the achievements.

For example, we have the Human Resource Ministry and universities. Though both are excellent in their own ways, there might be very little communication between them.

Universities are known to be knowledgeable about the latest careers and human resources that will be required in future, but the ministry may not be aware about this.

Perhaps each ministry should consider having a close working relationship with the Higher Education Ministry by appointing a deputy director-general of academics in their respective fields, so that there will be communication between universities and ministries.

Second, we give little importance to research among our youth. Yes, we groom talents in universities, but as they enter the working world, they are required to work with a set of guidelines, giving them little room to explore something new.

Many youths have minds that can better existing technology, which many older people may even have trouble grasping the concept.

There’s also the relationship between productivity and reward. I remember reading how Google has a reward system for staff for coming up with new ideas even though they may be unsuccessful.

Third, we seem to skew our focus on jobs with a market rather than grooming existing talent.

Often, youths are pressured into undertaking careers that they have little interest in.

This is going to be a problem in future, or perhaps it is already happening now, where we see a number of youths who do not enjoy their work.

Making more job opportunities, especially ones required in the future, can solve this.

But again, with the unawareness of ministries with regard to emerging fields and areas where talent should be groomed, it brings us back to square one.

As we celebrate our 63rd National Day, it is high time that we be brave enough to break away from cliches and venture and invest in the future.

Let’s integrate our ministries with our academic colleagues. Salam Hari Merdeka.


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Help kids express themselves

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020
Kids are miniature adults who encounter positive and negative feelings in their daily lives. --BERNAMA picKids are miniature adults who encounter positive and negative feelings in their daily lives. –BERNAMA pic

ONE of the biggest misconceptions we have as adults is that we think children have no feelings. Just because they can’t say it in words, does not mean they do not experience feelings.

Kids are miniature adults who encounter positive and negative feelings in their daily lives.

However, they usually lack the ability to describe these feelings, and so, they are not able to properly express themselves verbally. Some of these negative feelings are translated into misbehaviour, like throwing tantrums. Some choose to withdraw from others or isolate themselves.

Younger children may have nightmares and sleepless nights. Kids may show some physiological symptoms, like frequent night urinating, vomiting or diarrhoea, which are not due to medical reasons. Their anxieties and worries are expressed in different ways.

Going back to school after Covid-19 can be a challenge for some kids. Covid-19 has been viewed as a “huge, mean ugly monster” by the young that has ruined normal life for all. Everyone has been affected. Parents and siblings take precautions seriously and children are expected to follow.

Observing adults, children may have developed scary thoughts during the Movement Control Order. To be in school after months of absence or quarantine is a totally new experience. And for preschoolers, the new normal will be a new phase.

The first day at school, the young will start the day early. They will go through the process of detachment from the comfort of a home to that of a school setting, full of rules and regulations. Their friends may be seen as strangers. Approaching them directly may not work.

Parents and teachers need to explore such feelings and experiences. Have play therapy techniques to help them express those internal feelings. Their worries, anxieties and fears can interfere in the process of adjusting to the transition from home to school.

Some of the tools can be casual and fun. To begin with, children can be tuned in to the school mood by doing simple dances and movements with lively songs to sing. This helps them set the mood to be in a classroom with teachers and friends.

Some children would know about Covid-19, some may not. So it is good to start with what they know. Parents and teachers must allow children to ask questions and provide them with accurate answers. This is an opportunity to correct misconceptions.

Educate them about Covid-19 and other illnesses, health, hygiene and cleanliness, and how they can be affected and infected. Educate them about the importance of washing hands, social distancing and the use of masks and sanitisers. Explain that the procedures are to protect them from getting the disease. Infographics can illustrate the process as small children are more visually oriented in learning.

Teachers can also have sessions for colouring, painting and drawing. They can do bibliotherapy (using books to educate or counselling on certain issues), and share short stories on Covid-19.

Storytelling sessions can help them process the feelings of being at home for three months and coming back. Stories that have such elements can help them relate to Covid-19. It will show that they are “not alone”.

Teachers’ observations are crucial as they can observe changes in the behaviours of children. Children who are in a world of their own or disassociate themselves from others need special attention. Teachers can communicate with parents and refer cases for professional help for further treatment.

By Dr Haniza Rais

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Celebrating a decade of Ideas

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Think tank pledges to provide a voice and a platform for the development of the country according to the principles of Malaysia’s foundations.

AS Ideas celebrates its 10th anniversary, I’ve been asked to highlight five achievements.

First, I am proud of the contributions of the research and advocacy that we have conducted towards policy-making in Malaysia. On a general sense, we can confidently say that we have shaped public debates and injected new ideas among stakeholders and the wider public.

On a more specific level, we can point to certain manifesto promises, pieces of legislation or new policies where we played a role. These include, for example, the repeal of the Fake News Act, the policy of separating the Attorney General’s roles as public prosecutor and legal adviser to the government, and the emerging framework on rare diseases within the Health Ministry.

Second, I continue to be blown away by the impact of our two special education projects: namely the Ideas Autism Centre and Ideas Academy, which now operates independently.

Established as proof of concept projects, the results from students and the satisfaction from parents proves to us that the most disadvantaged in society can receive a high quality of education through NGO cooperation and private philanthropy, significantly boosting their opportunities in life.

Third, I am proud by the recognition in various forms that has been given to Ideas, from being ranked one of the best new think tanks in the world to being favourably quoted by both government and opposition politicians (before and after the 14th General Election), being asked to observe elections not just in Malaysia but in the region as well, and being asked by the media to comment on every imaginable issue pertaining to policy or politics.

Fourth, recognition has also been bestowed upon our members of staff, interns, directors and fellows, many of whom have been selected for prestigious international programmes and scholarships and gone on to senior positions in both the private and public sector.

Fifth is the wider contribution we have made towards strengthening civil society in Malaysia through cooperation. Every healthy democracy needs confident and open debate, in which contrarians need not fear speaking up.

We have been supported not only by activists and campaigners, but also by brave individuals within political parties and the civil service, even when that risked their career advancement.

A combination of individual supporters, like-minded organisations, the corporate sector and diplomatic missions too have enabled us to advocate what we believe to be spirit of Merdeka and values of our Constitution.

Since this year’s guest of honour is the Deputy Prime Minister, I shall depart from usual practice and quote the first Deputy Prime Minister instead of the first Prime Minister.

At a lunch in Singapore in July 1965, he commented on federalism, saying “in a Federal system of Government there must be a spirit of give and take”. He referenced the Tunku’s 1961 concept of Malaysia “to bring together the peoples of the various territories of Singapore, Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and Malaya in political and economic cooperation… [and] all our people – Malays, Chinese and others – to regard themselves as Malaysians”.

He affirmed that “our Constitution provides a place for every Malaysian and protects and guarantees his rights and privileges. There is no question of discrimination or dominance of one race against the other under our Constitution”.

He went on to say, “It is our duty as responsible leaders to sustain and strengthen this harmony and goodwill so that our people will, in due course, feel themselves as one, as one people and not as members of different communities.

This process must necessarily take time because we want to achieve it through ([the] democratic process.”

These words of Tun Abdul Razak still resonate today. We still grapple with federalism, racism, our Constitution and the democratic process. These are also among the many topics that the current government has pledged to tackle. I first encountered Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s speeches during the heydays of reformasi, and 20 years later, I am glad that Ideas has played a part in contributing to the manifesto she is now mandated to deliver.

A month after that speech, Singapore left Malaysia. Four years later, tragic race riots occurred in Kuala Lumpur and a year after that, Tun Razak replaced Tunku Abdul Rahman as Prime Minister.

In recent decades, scholarship has investigated the relationship between the two men: their loyalty to each other, their ideological differences and their policy divergences.

Whatever the future of the leadership of this country in the coming years, I hope that Ideas, with support from sponsors and supporters from a wide variety of backgrounds, will continue to provide a voice and a platform for the development of our beloved country according to the timeless principles of Malaysia’s foundations.

By Tunku Zain Al-Abidin.

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A respectable place

Friday, February 14th, 2020

MALAYSIA’S performance in the recently-released Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index 2019 is our best ever, ranking 43rd out of 167 countries and territories, and scoring 7.16 points out of 10, with individual scores of 9.17 for Electoral Process and Pluralism, 7.86 for Functioning of Government, 6.67 for Political Participation, 6.25 for Political Culture, and 5.88 for Civil Liberties.

The first edition of the index in 2006 placed us 81st with an overall score of 5.98.

Moving up from 52nd place in 2018, the upgrade ranking is significant, although we are still categorised as a “flawed democracy”.

In a press statement, the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0) congratulated “the people, the Election Commission and the Malaysian government for achieving the highest score in the Election Process category”, before adding a reminder that “there is a lot to do to achieve the status of a full democracy”, and called for including further institutional reform, ensuring freedom of speech, re-introducing local government elections, reducing the power of the Prime Minister, and increasing political participation by women.

There are, of course, areas in which many civil society organisations, including Ideas, have worked over the years, often in partnership with each other.

Still, I could not help but notice that this Democracy Index 2019 result was not greeted with as widespread jubilation as it might have done in the past.

On the contrary, some people I spoke to found it bittersweet, since it would enable the government to trumpet the achievement while not addressing ongoing shortcomings, even reversals, that afflict our democracy today.

These comprise, as I have written before, the halting of some promised reforms, and mounting uncertainty about the future leadership of the country amid talk of deals between erstwhile foes and splits within parties.

No doubt there is a lag between the data being gathered and the index being published; and this is important when considering some individuals, cautiously welcomed to serve in key institutions, who have perhaps not lived up to the initial optimism surrounding their appointment. And as is inevitably the case with any country comparisons, there are intangible or country-specific aspects that the data might not be able to capture.

In Malaysia’s case, the durability of reforms is difficult to assess, since a new Prime Minister and a different set of political alliances could quickly discard what was previously accomplished.

That is why it is important for civil society to work together with the relevant parts of government, parliament and other stakeholders to ensure democratisation is not derailed.

In the long-term this must include civic education, so that citizens understand the relationship between different institutions and can hold the government to account according to their promises, particularly those explicitly stated in election manifestoes.

Indeed, one of our current quagmires stems from a promise of which there is no written record. There has been no end of theories concerning possible new political configurations, the secret signing of letters and statutory declarations, and the interpretations of what political leaders say in public versus what they might be doing behind the scenes.

None of this, alas, can be captured in a democracy index, and the impacts of such politicking –including promises made in secret between political elites – risks undoing what was promised to voters in public, with years before another election is due.

At the creation of our country it was openly stated that we were aiming to be “a nation of liberty and justice” with our parliament “a shining beacon of democracy”.

Yet we must not forget that many Malaysians do not care for this history, and by extension, see initiatives like the Democracy Index as worthless, or worse, tools of Western propaganda and domination.

In short, we must present the democratic agenda as one that belongs to us, that is right for Malaysia, and a result of our own sovereign will.

So while we might be happy to lead the rankings among Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and Asean countries (though Timor-Leste outranks us at 41st), we should benchmark ourselves against other countries with similar attributes that dominate the top of the rankings.

These include federations like Canada, Australia, Switzerland and Germany (7th, 9th, 10th and 13th) while constitutional monarchies make up half of the top 20 countries (even though constitutional monarchies form a minority of countries overall).

Already, a segment of anti-reformists are gloating, claiming that they were right: that the last election was never about democracy.

Yet, enough promises were secured, and enough reforms were enacted that at least one respected assessor of democracy has measured significant progress in a year when the worldwide trend was towards authoritarianism.

by Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin.

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Work Matters! Learn to be more mindful

Friday, February 7th, 2020
Mindfulness is a very effective tool to help you flourish in all areas of your life.

This week, I conducted a three-day “Leadership and Integrity Immersion” programme for Prolintas, one of Malaysia’s premier highway builders and operators.

The focus of my programme was to share with the 35 managers who attended the session on how vital self-awareness is in their quest for leadership growth.

In fact, it is crucial at work as well as in every aspect of life.

Having an understanding of yourself as a person and how you are able to relate to the world in which you live in makes you a much better leader.

This type of awareness ensures that you are cognisant to your own strengths and weaknesses, which then allows you to manage and leverage them at the workplace.

But most importantly, it helps you be mindful as you ply your trade.

Mindfulness is a very effective tool to help you flourish in all areas of your life and gives you the power to live to your fullest potential.

For many, work-life generates tremendous anxiety and people consequently allow themselves to be stressed. Mindfulness helps mitigate this. In fact, it is for this reason that quite a number of top global corporations, including Google, have started to teach mindfulness at the workplace.

Mindfulness is when you pay attention to the present moment and manage your reactions in an accepting and open-minded way. This is a reliable method for reducing stress, especially at work.

Dan Harris, journalist and news anchor, in his book “10 Percent Happier” argues that mindfulness in essence is when you can stop yourself from being tugged around by your own emotions.

Life often throws you curve-balls and your career is usually fraught with multiple complexities, so often, you will find that your focus and efficacy are adversely affected. This reduces your leadership capacity.

As you deal with the hassles of life and work, it is necessary to have the requisite self-awareness to know that you are going through an emotional rollercoaster, and to work at recalibrating yourself.

Mindfulness will help you get back focus and find your inner balance.

One of the primary feedback I received from the managers attending my programme this week was that their work stress was becoming all too consuming.

Many, for example, struggled with the perceived need to always be connected to work via constant email accessibility, intra-office chat groups as well as through the various internal tools that require their attention.

In reality, this eats into the time that you traditionally use as a break from your work-life.

Personal growth is founded on your ability to focus, have vision, be creative and be compassionate to the people around you. When you are being bombarded with information continuously, it can overwhelm you to the point of disconnection.

Mindfulness helps you improve your focus and connect with yourself.

When you regularly dart between one task and another due to many things competing for your attention, your work suffers terribly. But when you embrace the practice of mindfulness, you force yourself to come back to the present moment. This in turn, trains your mind to become focused again.

The goal of mindfulness is not to empty your mind.

Rather, it is to pay close attention to thoughts and emotions to see them more clearly. This ensures that you become more self-aware.

Daniel Goleman, internationally renowned psychologist and author, says elevated levels of self-awareness have been linked with personal development, healthy relationships and effective leadership.

In his bestselling book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More than IQ”, he argues that “…emotional self-awareness is a leadership competency that shows up in model after model. These are the leaders attuned to their inner signals, recognising how their feelings affect them and their job performance”.

You can benefit from taking a closer look at your own thought patterns, emotions and behaviours.

In my work, I come in contact with many entrepreneurs.

Quite often, they are focused and driven to the point of only having tunnel-vision. But, the health of their organisation is predicated on how self-aware they are as the leader.

Even having great vision, some of these entrepreneurs breed toxic organisations.

Conversely, the most successful business owners and leaders I have worked with exhibit a phenomenal understanding of their own strengths, weaknesses, blind spots, and biases.

This makes them better equipped to improve upon themselves and their teams.

The American Management Association published a study recently establishing that a high self-awareness score is the strongest predictor of overall success. The primary reason for this is that executives who are aware of their weaknesses often hire subordinates who perform well in those areas they are lacking in.

The study shows that at work, leaders can better support the development of their teams and colleagues can help one another be more effective when they have such self-awareness.

The reality is that the more self-aware you are, the more you will gain from your work. I recommend you start with learning the techniques of mindfulness, right away.

By Shankar R. Santhiram

Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”

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Innovation must to stay relevant: Shafie

Friday, February 7th, 2020

KOTA KINABLU: Innovation allows organisations to stay relevant in the competitive market and it also plays an important role in economic growth, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

He said with the right information from research and input from various parties, innovators can play an important role to industries, society and the government in the process towards sustainable development.

He stated that those involved in the education sector be it schools, secondary and higher institutions are inevitably entrusted to be the leading think tank to produce solutions which will eventually make a differenc
“Besides innovation, research also plays a crucial role in the development of a nation in this era of progressive transformation and endless challenges.

“Hence, it is imperative that they adopt a mindset that encourages exploration of novel ideas and out of the box thinking skills when conducting research and innovations,” he said when officiating the Sabah International Virtual Innovation and Invention Competition (Siviic 2019/2020) at the Pacific Sutera Harbour Hotel here, Thursday. His speech was read by  Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.

State Education and Innovation Minister, Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob and Sabah Branch UiTM Rector, Datuk Dr. Abdul Kadir Rosline were also present.

Siviic is jointly organised by the Education and Innovation Ministry and Sabah Branch of Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM). The programme begun October last year.

Shafie said such reputable event is a sign of unity and togetherness by the State Government, educational institutions and business entities in providing a more intellectual, creative, remarkable and outstanding platform for important and meaningful changes to take place, especially here in Sabah.

“I was made to understand that Siviic’s theme is aptly named ‘Bridging Research, Industry and Society for Sustainable Development’ and it is meant to address the innovation and invention issues that connect these three parties in creating a liveable environment and creative ambience for the future generations,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yusof said such programme is the first to be organised in Sabah and aimed to encourage not only locals but also participation from various backgrounds to be creative and innovative in contributing to the development of the country by providing solutions to the industries and improving the quality of lives of the community.

He said Siviic has managed to gather more than 90 projects not only from Sabah but also Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia and Indonesia.

He hopes that those potential projects will be able to market and commercialise their products or ideas.

“We can promote Sabah as an innovation hub and show how the State Government is serious in supporting innovative projects for sustainable development. This is not only convenient for the participants but also facilities the projects to get visibilities.

“I was informed during the evaluation process that there are several projects captured the attention of industries and potential investors to invest in their projects. This is in line with our objectives as we want innovative ideas that can be turned into products or services that can bring benefits to the industries and communities,” he said.

Abdul Kadir said in response to Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), the university took the initiative to digitalised the competition which required participants to submit their videos in compact-discs.

Eventually in 2019, UiTM took progressive steps by utilising the Internet-of-Things (IoT) where YouTube was incorporated as a channel to showcase the participants’ projects.

“This not only benefited us but also the participants as YouTube is accessible, free of charge and the projects’ link can be shared to other social media platforms with a few clicks of the mouse. This enriches the digital society as a whole,” he said

By: Ottey Peter

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Tadika Hwa Shiong Putatan celebrates Chinese New Year with a bang

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

PUTATAN: Well known as a Chinese kindergarten where most of the pupils are Bumiputeras, Tadika Hwa Shiong Putatan never failed to celebrate its annual Chinese New Year celebration with a bang.

On Saturday, beautiful handcrafted red lanterns, dragon and lion heads decorated the Basketball Court of SJK (C) Hwa Shiong during the Tadika Hwa Shiong Putatan’s Chinese New Year 2020 celebration.

These were the recycled material handiwork of the kindergarten pupils and their parents to mark the auspicious event which is held once a year.

During the event, parents and pupils also got together to make “Tang Yuan”. Tang Yuan is a popular sweet Chinese dessert made from glutinous rice flour mixed with a small amount of water to form balls and then either cooked and served in boiling water with fermented glutinous rice, or sweet syrup (sweet ginger syrup, for example), or deep fried.

There were also dance performances by the pupils as well as the customary lion dance performance, which added colours and fun to the event.

And not to forget the tradition of giving out ‘ang pow’ which definitely made the pupils grin happily.

Speaking at the event, the president of the Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI), Datuk Michael Lui, stressed that strong support from parents towards Tadika Hwa Shiong is key to the future development of the school.

Vice president of Putatan Council, Juria Datuk Uda Sulai, attended the event, representing the Assistant Law and Native Affairs Minister cum Petagas Assemblyman, Datuk Uda Sulai, as guest of honor.

Also present were the chairperson of Tadika Hwa Shiong, Datuk Mary Ling; the kindergarten headmistress, Phang Siew Khim, and members of the kindergarten’s board of governors.


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Teaching benefits of recycling through craft making

Wednesday, February 5th, 2020

PUTATAN: Creating recycled crafts with preschoolers is not only fun, but also teaches kids about the benefits of recycling.

In conjunction with the Chinese New Year Celebration, Tadika Hwa Shiong Putatan held competitions to showcase the pupils’ creativity in making handcrafted red lanterns, dragon and lion heads from recycled material.

And of course, the competitions were assigned for the pupils and their parents to complete together.

By doing this, parents get to spend quality time bonding with their children and at the same time, create lifelong memories to cherish while they were making the craftworks together.

Moreover, the kids learned the importance of recycling, not only from their teachers but also parents.

Kudos to Tadika Hwa Shiong Putatan for reinforcing this message, helping everyone to realise that they too can make a difference in the community – that we care about our environment.

By Ersie Chell Anjumin

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Tapping our grey matter for Word Power 2.0

Sunday, February 2nd, 2020

Morning all. First I would like to apologise if my paragraphs run into each other, which makes reading my column often a bit confusing.  I will separate the sections by putting in spaces and hope it works. If you carry on reading – and I am told people do – then thank you very much!

I have been thinking about that word ‘banter’, of which I have always felt a healthy mistrust. It is so often used as an excuse for bullying, and if people are challenged, the challenger is made to feel that they don’t have a sense of humour and can’t take a joke. Sometimes this might be true but so often it is absolutely not. It is in fact a sort of cowardly meanness, to hide behind, without acknowledging what is really going on.  Like not being allowed  to be in a group of friends at school, or being teased for having spots or being a slow runner on sports day… As we grow older, we need to be kinder. Kindness, I think, is one of the most important qualities, and makes everything else so much more bearable.

Something that follows on from the above is so many people’s lack of courage to say what they think, if they disagree with something.  It can be said gently and respectfully – in fact, what is more respectful than treating people as intelligent enough to accept comment without falling apart? You don’t have to be rude when you are being truthful, but so often people smile and say ‘oh it’s great’ to one’s face, and then winge behind your back. It’s what people do on Facebook, Twitter and similar, because it is so much easier to be horrid or contradictory when the person aint there. I have stopped reading many a conversation because of the torrent of abuse, none of which the authors would have the nerve to say out loud. My husband’s teacher told him: ‘If it’s nice, write it, but if it’s horrid, say it’ and this something we should all live by, I think.

Yesterday I had lunch at TooJou, a hotel, café and co-working space in Bandaran Berjaya which I thought was great!!  Clean and fresh with good food (and real salads – very hard to find in KK). There is a working level on the first floor with coffee and snacks on tap and fast internet connection – you pay RM 30 a day.  Well worth it – a really comfortable place to work, meet and relax.

Re working, I am a little concerned that there will be too much noise as people gather for lunch and/or supper etc, and I learn there are events and parties in the evenings, so that kyboshes silent thought. Bring on the noise cancelling earphones.

The bar on the top floor is open in the evenings – we will try that another time. Mostly young (ish – I brought up the average age quite considerably) people, so I fear that as the hour grows later it too will challenge my tolerance for noise, but in the daytime, it’s a good place to be constructive. There are plenty of these in Europe and they work very well.  Good luck in KK – I hope it is a real success and I shall definitely go again.

Susan (my co-director, which I am sure you all know by now) and I have been thinking hard about WordPower this year.  It has such scope, and we have decided that instead of having it over a set three days we will spread out the events and seek various venues to hold a number of sessions about drama, poetry, creative writing, presentation skills and business,  and music, all under the banner of storytelling.

Everything is storytelling, let’s face it. Tony Fernandez’s Air Asia story is pretty compelling, as are indigenous tales from Sabah, and indeed so is business branding, aimed at giving life to a product and making it appealingly recognisable.  Are you there, Tony? Would you like to come and be a guest of honour at WPS 2020, and tell your success story to keen participants. Aw, go on!!

In the meantime – we are making lists of ideas, subjects, people and places – if you would like to be involved please let us know on If what you offer fits our (pretty wide) vision,you would be welcome.

It feels like the start of a new movement in Sabah, one that encompasses the creative arts and links them to business and both to people. Watch out for updates of our website (in progress: www. and social media. Work with us to keep up the momentum – and have fun!.

By: Sylvia Howe

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Engaging students with an authentic resource

Sunday, January 5th, 2020

MOST teachers would have experienced this: 20 minutes into a lesson and you catch some students staring blankly into space or worse, sleeping.

Some may not feel that boredom in the classroom is much of a problem. But if students are not paying attention, they are not absorbing the lesson at hand.

While we cannot expect students to step into school inspired and raring to learn, there are ways teachers can make the class more engaging.

One tried-and-tested method used all over the world is to incorporate the newspapers.

Entering its 23rd year, the Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) programme by The Star has been turning the newspaper into a quality classroom resource.

The Star, as a major English daily in the country, is poised to provide authentic material for language lessons.

By including the newspaper in your lesson, students are indirectly exposed to news on what’s happening in the world. The pullout helps students make the connection between what they are learning and issues in the real world.

In 2020, the NiE pullout, which comes with a copy of The Star, has 16 pages per issue. It organises its activities into elementary, intermediate and advanced levels to help teachers get the most out of the newspaper as a teaching resource.

Published bi-monthly on Wednesdays, the colourful pullout is written by a team of experienced English language teachers and specialists, and is packed with engaging hands-on NiE activities for the classroom.

Students are given a comprehensive and structured learning framework that focuses on three major segments – the English language, literature and character building. These three segments are titled NiE English, NiE Literature and NiE Life, respectively.

The pullout follows themes in the national syllabus and is endorsed by the Education Ministry.

The current buzzwords in education – Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS), creative thinking and cooperative learning – are no strangers to NiE.

The pullout includes key indicators that signal the various types of 21st century skills practised in each activity.

With 20 issues per year, the pullout also includes two sections – BRATs and Earn Your Band 6.

Students will be able to read articles written by their peers in The Star’s BRATs Young Journalist Programme.

This section is dedicated to all things that make teens tick, which include current affairs, pop culture and short stories. It is designed for teens with a passion for writing and an instinct for journalism.

Teachers, too, get a corner where they share inspiring stories.

Earn Your Band 6 is aimed at improving the English proficiency of those taking the Malaysian University English Test (MUET).

Students will have access to tips and activities designed by teachers and specialist writers to hone their reading, writing, listening and speaking skills.

MUET candidates also stand a chance to have their essays published, and win cash prizes.

Meanwhile, another pullout called Step Up caters to pupils in Years Four, Five and Six. It is a workbook-cum-activity pullout aimed at helping pupils improve their vocabulary, grammar, writing and conversational skills while preparing for the UPSR.

The pullout features Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese translations of difficult English words, while its last two pages features NiE activities.

The colourful 32-page pullout is syllabus-based and is endorsed by the Education Ministry.

Teachers, expect to go beyond the textbook with mind-stimulating questions that help prepare your students for the most important test of all: life.

Incorporating NiE need not be a hassle. When your school subscribes to The Star’s NiE or Step Up programme, you will obtain a copy of our 2020 planner to help you seamlessly integrate the activities into your lesson plans.

For more information, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1-300-88-7827 from Monday to Friday (9am-5pm), or get in touch with the marketing representative closest to you (from Monday to Friday between 8.30am to 7.30pm).


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