Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

Tanjung Aru library opens for business

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2019


Yusof with Wong touring the book shelves at the library.

KOTA KINABALU: The spanking new five-storey Tanjung Aru Sabah State Library is opened for business. The library opens from 9am to 9pm daily.

Minister of Education and Innovation Datuk Dr. Yusof Yacob asserted that the iconic library which is under the purview of the ministry would become a source of knowledge for people of all ages.

With state-of-the-art facilities provided in the library, he hoped it would bring great benefit to the people.

“We hope the facilities here will stimulate the maturity and knowledge-seeking process for people of Sabah, not only adults but children as well.

“This is our target in the ministry – to encourage the public and students, regardless of their age, to make use of the facilities here as a source of knowledge.

“We hope it will be beneficial,” he said when visiting the library yesterday.

The 62,000 sq feet building consists of several sections for children, teenagers and adults, and offers facilities such as a multipurpose room, children play area, music studio, Petrosains makers’ room, and a giant hammock to create fun and easy environment.

It is also equipped with Wi-Fi and can accommodate up to 1,000 visitors at one time, with over 100 parking lots provided.

Set up on a three-acre land, the RM40 million building was developed as part of a corporate social responsibility programme by the Lahad Datu Water Supply Sdn Bhd and Sabah Development Bank which contributed RM20 million each.

The Sabah government had allocated RM8 million for the interiors and RM1.6 million for infrastructures. Also present yesterday were assistant ministers Jenifer Lasimbang and Mohammad Mohamarin, and State Library director Wong Vui Yin.

According to Yusof, the official opening ceremony of the library will be held on April 23, in conjunction with the sabah-level Reading Campaign 2019.


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Kids get free books with their meals

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019
McDonald’s Malaysia Marketing director, Eugene Lee with the Treetop Twins Adventures book at the launch of McDonald’s Happy Meal Readers programme.

KUALA LUMPUR: In an effort to bring families together and foster a reading culture among Malaysians, McDonald’s Malaysia launched its Happy Meal Readers programme today.

Under the programme, customers have the option of choosing a book from the Treetop Twins Adventures series written by Cressida Cowell, author of the bestselling How to Train Your Dragon series instead of a toy.

The book series, exclusive to McDonald’s, will feature 12 standalone stories, with one book set to be released each month throughout the year.

The pint-sized Treetop Twins Adventures series are centred on the world of dinosaurs and are available in both English and Bahasa Malaysia to cater for the Malaysian market.

Using the app, families can read and interact with the stories to bring the book illustrations to life, further amplifying the experience while nurturing valuable family time.

McDonald’s Malaysia Marketing director, Eugene Lee said that the programme is in support of the government’s aspirations in making Malaysia a reading nation under the 10-year National Reading Decade Programme.

“We applaud the Education Ministry for encouraging all Malaysians to read and we are extremely excited that we can do our part in promoting the benefits of reading to parents and children alike,” said Lee.

To make the reading experience more fun and appealing to children, digital versions of the books have also been made available through the Happy Studio App which can be downloaded on both the Android Play Store as well as the Apple Store. Through the app, users can read the stories and interact using the online activities available.

“McDonald’s Malaysia wants to encourage families to spend more time together. The Happy Meal Readers Programme encourages parents to enjoy quality time with their children through reading,” added Lee.

“We hope that this programme will instil a lifelong love of reading among children by making it a fun activity for the whole family.”

by Hanna Sheikh Mokhtar.

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NST Leader: Why do we read and write so little?

Monday, March 18th, 2019
(Stock image for illustration purposes) Because we expend so diminutive an effort to make Malaysians love the written word

IN Malaysia, it is difficult to bring pen to paper. Writing is so very hard to do. Getting people to read serious material is equally difficult.

Maybe it is the clime. Maybe it is just us. But we must overcome this.

Otherwise we will be a nation of neither readers nor writers. Being bookless is death of a national mind.

But there is a paradox here. According to Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar, a man of the pen himself, Malaysians are reading more but not serious literature as such.

Like the video that killed the radio star, the Internet is dwindling Malaysia’s reading public.

The smartphone, too, is playing a role of one which is complicit in ringing the death knell. The hand-held device is making us a nation of touch-and-go readers.

Our attention span is, post-electronic devices, a mere eight seconds. Even a goldfish holds its attention a second more.

Let’s consider the lament of the man of the pen. Malaysia produces 15,000 titles a year, but 70 per cent of them are textbooks.

Not that we are belittling textbooks, but serious literature is not made of these. Picture this. China publishes 440,000 titles, the United States 304,000, Germany 93,000 and India 90,000.

We are palest of the pale. Even indi publishers have thinned over the years. During the heyday, we had 43 independent publishing houses.

Today, there are only nine of them left. A RM6-million market has dwindled to RM1 million. There is an irony as well.

Malaysia’s broiler chicken industry makes more than our book publishing business: RM2.5 billion versus RM1.5 billion, in the words of Johan.

But you cannot just rouse the people to do this thing overnight. They call literature humanities for a reason.

You cannot get a Kennedy to give a put-a-man-on-the-moon kind of speech to push people to pen and paper.

Or do what India did to win many Miss Universe and Miss World titles: get a consultant to train the aspirants. No, this is neither a race to the lunar surface nor a beauty parade. The Nobel prize for literature is no catwalk.

The lack of a Malaysian Nobel laureate in literature is where reading lies buried.

The ways of the old — of serious reading and writing — is gone with the advent of the Internet and its attendant gadgets. Unlike elsewhere in the world — where a book is published every 30 seconds in a US$100 billion business — Malaysia’s written word market is waning.

Johan says parents must keep the gadgets away from their children and start reading to them. We agree. The seed for the love of the word must be planted early.

This will make it easier for the teachers to nurture the reading, and later the writing habit. Being a habit, it can be taught. More importantly, it can be learned.

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Msia pushes reading nation aspiration under National Reading Decade programme

Friday, December 14th, 2018
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik reads a story book after launching the National Reading Decade (DMK) programme in Putrajaya. – —NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry has a long to-do list to promote reading culture in Malaysia under the 10-year National Reading Decade (DMK) 2021-2030 programme.

Its minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the DMK programme, scheduled to be launched early next year, aimed to turn Malaysia into a Reading Nation by 2030.

“Nonetheless, work will start from now until 2020, with focus on the DMK campaign,” he said at the pre-launch of the DMK programme today.

Strategies to implement DMK, he listed, would include establishing strategic networks and mobilising programmes to encourage reading at various places including schools, public interest spots, shopping centres, public transport and hospitals.

“Just imagine, if we can have reading corners at all these places, even at the petrol stations, R&R stops, the mamak shops and fast food chains, where people can access and donate books,” said Maszlee, adding that perhaps consideration should be given to the underprivileged groups, who were qualified to receive tithes and other aid, for their children to be given books.

The minister also said reading ambassadors would be appointed under the #MALAYSIAMEMBACA slogan, which would be popularised nationwide, adding the need to translate more great works to Bahasa Melayu and vice-versa as well as provide special incentives including tax exemption for programmes to encourage reading and contribution given for the development of libraries and the book industry.

He said steps would be taken to have better access to e-books via ubiquitous library, free e-book zone, digital magazines as well as libraries for audio book and braille.

On Malaysians’ reading habit, Maszlee said people read 15 books a year based on an interim report on Malaysian reading habit in 2014 compared to two books a year in 2007.

He also said Malaysians’ literacy rate stood at 94.94 per cent based on the Unesco Institute for Statistics’ Adult and Youth Literacy National Regional and Global Trends 1985-2015.

A study by the Central Connecticut State University entitled “The World’s Most Literate Nation” had ranked Malaysia at the 53rd spot, far behind neighbouring countries including Singapore which had secured 36th place, he said.

“The study has declared the Nordic nations (Finland, Norway, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden) as the most literate nations in the world,” Mazslee said, stressing on the importance of reading by saying that a great nation is a reading nation.

By Azura Abas.

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Creating a culture of reading

Sunday, December 9th, 2018
Dr Maszlee (middle) is flanked by Prof Hassan on his left and Dr Siti Hamisah (right) as he launches the ReadUni programme at UiTM in Shah Alam. — Bernama

Dr Maszlee (middle) is flanked by Prof Hassan on his left and Dr Siti Hamisah (right) as he launches the ReadUni programme at UiTM in Shah Alam. — Bernama

UNIVERSITY students should be agents of change, take the lead and encourage society to read more.

This is Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s message to all varsity students in order to create an educated and civilised society.

He recently launched the Read@Uni programme at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in conjunction with the National Reading Decade.

The programme is part of efforts to create a society that likes to read and with world-class knowledge.

Themed “With knowledge, we lead”, the programme aims to intensify the current activities to foster a love for reading among the target groups – students, lecturers and the staff at universities.

He said that the onus to spread the love of books does not just fall on the students but on the universities as well.

“I also hope that the libraries in Malaysian higher learning institutions not only target the Read @ Uni programmne to university students but should also go down to the community,” he added.

Dr Maszlee said that universities should conduct more discussions and debates based on books that require a high level of thinking.

“(Universities should) create a vibrant reading environment.

“A developed nation cannot be formed if it doesn’t have a young generation that is (morally) balanced, mature and highly knowledgeable,” he added.

These attributes can only be formed through reading materials that require a high level of thinking.

Dr Maszlee said he hopes to see Malaysians spending more than 10 hours a week reading.

He added that according to the World Culture Index 2017, Malaysia ranks among the countries that spend less than five hours a week reading.

During the launch, UiTM vice-chancellor Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said said libraries are the main drivers to intensify efforts to create a reading culture among Malaysians by 2030.

“Libraries should play a role in promoting and implementing campaigns from time to time to ensure the reading culture will always be a close friend of university students,” he added.

“Besides encouraging lifelong learning and a love of learning, especially among university students, such initiatives can create a society rich in knowledge and knowledgeable in various fields.”

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A better read with meaning-making

Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
Pupils participating in a reading programme in Kota Baru. Literacy for life will place meaning-making above the plane of simple decoding. FILE PIC

AS we race towards becoming a developed nation, many have been made aware that a well-informed and critical citizenry is crucial for the survival of a democracy. One way in which a citizenry becomes well-informed is by possessing a strong reading culture. Yet, although Malaysia’s literacy levels are known to be considerably high, with the youth’s literacy rates being reported by Unesco to be at 98 per cent, Malaysians are not known for being ardent readers.

We believe there are at least three reasons for this finding.

FIRST , literacy, which is generally understood as reading and writing, is subsumed under language education in the Malaysian context. This has significant implications for how school literacy is perceived and treated.

Our own research has shown that Malaysians who are schooled to be literate in multiple languages often also fail to be encultured with the broader, deeper practice of reading for pleasure. While it is understandable that Malaysia’s education policies are, and indeed must be, historically and socioculturally shaped by the country’s identification with language instruction due largely to its multilingually-rich context, it is the reticence in literacy matters that needs voicing. This silence, if nationally not addressed, will result in perpetuating the already uneven development of literacy culture, where those largely from privileged backgrounds continue to benefit from growing up in literacy-rich homes.

SECOND, literacy research in the Malaysian context is still scarce. In contrast with research in language education, literacy research has not received sufficient attention. This is also a reflection of research in literacy education in the Southeast Asian region where new efforts must be made for charting trajectories and initiating conversations. These conversations must be located in local communities and must account for how our post-colonial past collides with our current developing-nation, socioeconomically-driven status that go on to shape education, language and literacy policies.

THIRD , Malaysian educationists tend to define literacy in narrow terms. To view reading and writing as being largely about decoding serves to reduce the experience of “meaning-making”. This view impacts the way reading and writing are rigidly assessed in school contexts. Standardised tests that assume all children read and comprehend texts in the same way can shortchange actual readers’ genuine efforts in making sense of non-mainstream texts.

We argue that being able to read must mean more than being able to comprehend alphabetic texts which are often prescribed by a powerful other. We urge educators and policymakers to take on a paradigm shift and acknowledge how reading and writing is changing in the 21st century. Particularly, the sociocultural perspective of literacy and education has been found to be a powerful means that speaks to matters of inequality, marginalisation and social injustice as they relate to Malaysians sustaining literacy practices.

Some of our cross-continent research demonstrate how a perspective that takes into account the context, background and even geography of the individual reader is able to rationalise and localise literacy challenges which marginalised communities face.

More importantly, this broad perspective that considers multiple forms of meaning-making is able to address how reading can mean differently to different communities. Armed with such consideration, new dimensions of what it means to read and to make meaning from symbols surrounding that community can be created so that being literate can be understood from inclusive positions. This inclusivity not only accounts for technological advancements which have altered the way young Malaysians negotiate web content but recognises as-yet undiscovered ways through which communities make meaning in their day-to-day living.


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Successful people are great readers

Thursday, January 11th, 2018
Visitors at the Kuala Lumpur International Book Fair last year. Reading can only happen if we create the time and space for it. FILE PIC

READING is a good habit to inculcate, but not many of us read as much as we should. Many resort to reading materials on social media, but not as many spend time reading good books for knowledge.

Experts urge us to read regularly for a number of reasons, one of which is to increase our knowledge. Studies, too, highlight the importance of reading in enhancing one’s memory and empathy, as well as reducing stress.

Reading is always beneficial. Successful people are known to be great readers. They read widely to expand their knowledge, skills and competencies.

A reading journey is a real challenge. For many access to books, magazines and other reading materials is a challenge. E-books and e-magazines may solve this problem.

Reading is a skill and, like any other skill, it must be practised on a regular basis. For a start, one can spend a fixed time per day reading materials of one’s choice. The idea is to learn something new. The more we read, the more we will learn. The trick to success in reading is to keep to a regular schedule every day.

Granted, most of us are busy as we have tight work schedules and many family errands to run. But, no matter how busy we are, we must make time to read if we want to be successful. Reading can only happen if we create the time and space for it.

Reading is not just the number of books we read; it is about the quality of the reading material. We should know by the first 10 pages of the book if it is worth the time. Time is precious, so we need to spend it on good books.


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Parents: Can teachers cope with new standards?

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Stakeholders welcome the use of imported textbooks, but are sceptical about whether teachers will be able to cope with the foreign standards.

Parent Action Group for Educa­tion Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said having the “right” textbooks was vital.

“There are many English textbooks that are better than the ones published specifically for our schools,” she said.

“The problem lies not with the books but the quality of teachers.

She added that while the nation was moving towards the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages-centric (CEFR) syllabus, which was a good move, the parents’ group had reservations, noting that having these books required time and effort to ensure its benefits.

“Textbooks can change, but everything has to follow suit,” she said.

Noor Azimah also said teachers needed to change their ways to adapt to the new curriculum to improve the quality of English language teaching.

“The problem will also come from designing test papers, which teachers are tasked with,” she said.

Parent Choo Yen Li agreed that the switch to imported textbooks was a good move.

However, she said it was important that any problems be identified during the roll-out and be solved immediately.

This would lessen the pressure on students, teachers and parents, she added.

“Our education system and its direction constantly changes,” said the mother of two primary school pupils.

Secondary school English teacher Mohd Sirhajwan Idek said what mattered most was the approach teachers adopted in using the materials effectively.

The National Teacher Icon Award winner added that it was essential for teachers to keep improving themselves and upgrading their skills through the Continuing Professional Development programme.

Educationist Devinder Raj ex­­press­ed scepticism about the fo­­reign textbooks
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Imported books will improve language skills, say experts.

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Experts believe that imported English books will lead to better usage of the language among schoolchildren.

Welcoming the move, Prof Dr Zuraidah Mohd Don from Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Languages and Linguistics said the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) had become the de facto international standard for language education because it incorporated the best of current knowledge based on more than 40 years of research and had benefited from contributions from scholars all over the world.

In adopting the CEFR, the Education Ministry was providing the children with the best material available, she said.

“It’s essential for all stakeholders to support the changes being introduced to ensure that our children get the material they need to learn English effectively,” Prof Dr Zuraidah added.

Teachers, she added, must be given appropriate training and needed to have confidence in the new material.

“This means that the textbooks used for teaching English must be aligned with the CEFR and the knowledge it incorporates about language teaching.

“International publishers have been working on the CEFR for many years, so they have a head start.

“The challenge for local writers and publishers of English textbooks is to produce quality textbooks for use in Malaysian classroom,” Prof Dr Zuraidah said.

Describing the move as significant, the faculty’s senior lecturer Dr Surinderpal Kaur said it showed that the ministry was committed to improving English proficiency.

But she warned that the books were merely resource materials.

To improve proficiency levels, other factors such as the proficiency and aptitude of the teachers, their mode of delivery, continuity and sustainability of the prog­ram­me, and attitude of the students themselves must come into play, she said.

“It’s too early to predict with certainty, but there will be improvements for sure as the new books are well written,” she added.

While acknowledging that the textbooks were expensive, Dr Surinderpal pointed out that they were of good quality.

“It’s a necessary short-term start for the programme as we currently do not have adequate local resource materials,” she said.

“But the exchange rate and price of the books are things to be concerned about in the long term.
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Only imported English textbooks from next year.

Saturday, October 7th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Starting next year, imported English textbooks will be used in schools instead of locally produced ones.

This is part of the Education Ministry’s move to implement the new Common European Frame­work of Reference for Languages (CEFR) aligned curriculum.

The CEFR is a guide developed by the Council of Europe to gauge fo­­reign language proficiency.

From next year, preschoolers, Year One and Two pupils, and Form One and Two students will start off with the curriculum, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kama­lanathan told The Star.

“The ministry will buy off-the-shelf books to cater to schools be­cause locally produced textbooks are not able meet the new CEFR levels,” he said.

Primary school pupils will use Super Minds from Cambridge Uni­versity Press, while secondary students will read MacMillan’s Pulse 2.

According to the Mac­Millan website, Pulse 2 provides an integrated approach to skills so that students can develop receptive and productive skills while perfecting their communication competence.

Super Minds comprises a seven-­level course that enhances young learners’ thinking skills, memory and language skills, as described on the Cambridge website.

A check online showed that the books are priced between RM78 and RM135.

Teachers, said Kamalanathan, were being trained and the books were already available in all schools.

“This is part of the ministry’s English reform to ensure students achieve proficiency levels aligned to international standards,” he said.

In August last year, the Education Ministry launched a roadmap to continue enhancing English proficiency among teachers and students.

Focused on the country’s 40,000 English teachers, the English Language Roadmap 2015-2025 is part of the implementation of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to reform English Language education in the country.

The roadmap to upskill teachers uses the CEFR and was produced by the English Language Standards and Quality Council.

The CEFR lists six grades, with C2 – or “specialist English Language teachers” – being the highest and A1 the lowest.

English teachers need to achieve a minimum C1 grade to teach lessons based on the CEFR, said Edu­cation Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

C1 and C2 grades mean that the person is a competent user of the language and is able to participate fully in both professional and academic life.

While welcoming any effort by the ministry to improve the teaching of English in schools, National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said the “bigger issue” of non-optionists in schools must also be addressed.

Currently, many English teachers are not trained in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), but were chosen by school heads to teach because they know “a little more English” than their colleagues.

“It would be counterproductive to force these teachers to do the CEFR training because English is not their forte to begin with,” said Tan.

However, he said using imported instead of locally produced textbooks was more current and cost-efficient.

“This means the schools can have new books every year or every few years, unlike the current practice where the textbooks are only replaced when there is a change in the syllabus.

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