Archive for July, 2013

SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah Farewell, Appreciation and Iftar Dinner

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

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SIDMA College’s Appreciation, Farewell and Iftar Dinner held on 26 July 2013 at Sabah Oriental Hotel, Karamunsing, Kota Kinabalu was an evening of mixed feelings for the staff as well as the management.

The special gathering was organized especially to congratulate, thank and appreciate SIDMA’s most senior staff, Ms. Mary Monica Jiony (Chairperson, Board of Governance) and Ms. Daria Gom (Manager, Human Resource) who are leaving the college for new career opportunities and also to pursue for their Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) at University Sabah Malaysia (UMS). The appreciation and thanks also was intended for Mr. Heri Ruthwiryo (Coordinator), who is also leaving in August.

However, despite the fact that the staff were very excited for both Ms Mary and Ms. Daria, they were all saddened by the bare fact that SIDMA College is going to lose two of SIDMA’s most eminent key persons, who are also good friends and mentors to many.

Emotions began to fill the warm atmosphere when Dr. Morni, in his welcoming address, began to describe Ms. Mary’s greatest contributions to SIDMA College way back in the early years of the its establishment in 2002. She assisted in the recruitment of students for SIDMA College (previously known as the Institut Pengurusan Dynamic Seminar (IPD) College Sabah which was then the newly appointed Regional Centre for UNITAR, Sabah Regional Centre. Dr Morni also described Ms. Mary as a matured leader who always works with great wisdom, love and great patience; always shows professionalism in her work.

Ms. Daria was better known for her Human Resource expertise, she developed a comprehensive Human Resource system and procedures for the college.

Teardrops were seen dripping from the eyes of the staff when slide show and video clips (produced by the IT Department) of memories via photos of all three staff in various company functions attended since day one in the college. The situation became more intense when Dr. Morni with his favorite mini violin played an instrumental, sentimental tune, and later sang and very sentimental song entitled “you are beautiful” especially dedicated to the two ladies.

Ms. Mary and Ms. Daria, during their farewell speech thanked Prof Dr. Morni and SIDMA Board of Management for the wonderful appreciation, farewell and Iftar dinner which was held especially for them; they also expressed gratitude and thanks to everyone for their attendance and support.Both of them were very saddened by fact that they have to leave all of their very supportive colleagues and good friends behind as they felt that there were too many wonderful memories, experiences and moments to be cherished.

Ms. Mary who had served 11th years in SIDMA and for Ms. Daria (9th years) both deeply praised Dr. Morni for being a visionary and capable leader, and is very thankful for the opportunity to serve the college. They acknowledged Dr. Morni for being very supportive, understanding and an easy person to work with no matter how challenging or tough the situation is. They both wished Dr. Morni, the management team and all staff the very best in propelling SIDMA College to greater heights and hope to meet again in the very near future.

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Imparting HOT skills to pupils

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

PRIORITY: Digital learning tool to draw pupils’ interests.

SEREMBAN: COME next year, pupils nationwide will be equipped with Higher Order Thinking (HOT) skills, to be imparted to them via classroom teaching, co-curricular activities and examinations.

The implementation, under the National Education Blueprint, aims to produce pupils with HOT skills who can compete with the best internationally.

Deputy director-general of Education (policy and development) Datuk Amin Senin said: “HOT skills refer to more than just the ability to read, write and count, but also to think and analyse a situation critically.

“In today’s competitive world, pupils need to do more than just memorise or retell the facts. By executing the HOT skills, they will be taught how to learn and reason, and apply what they think as solutions to problems in their work environment in the future,” he said at a press conference in a hotel here.

Unveiled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the National Education Blueprint is a result of a year of extensive research and public engagement.

Amin said the application of HOT skills have long existed in the education system but it has not been fully implemented in classroom teachings.

“When the skills were applied in classroom teachings, they were not focused or executed holistically. This caused the ministry to come up with the idea of integrating the skills in all aspects of education, including integrating them in examination questions.”

He said previous examination questions only integrated 10 per cent of the HOT skills.

“However, starting 2014, almost all questions will be applying the skills. Accordingly, there are levels of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation which pupils need to master and they will all be revised with higher order thinking questions.”

The co-curricular activities in schools would also involve more project-based assignments, quizzes and outdoor activities which require higher order thinking skills.

“Initially, the ministry was contemplating making HOT skills a subject, and making it compulsory for pupils to learn a critical thinking subject in the classroom.”

Arrest declining interest in Science

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

IBSE OPTION: Time to consider new methods and learning tools for science aducation in the country.

THE Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) welcomes a recent announcement of new measures by the government to increase the number of students taking up science in schools. Kudos to the   Education Ministry for this milestone decision.

Though the task ahead is challenging, it is not insurmountable. The issue is not just confined to Malaysia. It is global.

Many developed nations including the United States and European Union grapple with the issue. All have undertaken rigorous analysis of the dilemma. The EU has come out with some recommendations. So has the US. All have designed and embarked on aggressive programmes to reignite interest among students in science.

The K12 programmes is one such initiative in the US. It has received strong push from no less than the president himself.

In France, its own approach in Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE) has begun to have positive impact on schools there. China has also implemented its own brand of IBSE. It has been reported to be fast gaining in popularity.

In Malaysia, ASM has long worked with the Education Ministry to promote IBSE adoption in schools. Unfortunately, the take-up has been rather lukewarm.

With the recent announcement, things may be about to change. We expect IBSE to soon become a norm in Malaysian schools. ASM’s pilot project with schools in the Klang Valley has shown positive results.

What is IBSE? Why is there interest in the technique as a way to teach science?

IBSE is actually a learning process. According to experts, the technique aims to enhance learning based on increased student involvement. They argue that by using student-derived investigations knowledge is more meaningful and relevant.

by Dr Ahmad Ibrahim

Put kids together to instil unity

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

POLARISATION: Nation – building must be the top-most priority of our education policy, higher than academic aspirations.

OUR national education landscape is like a bazaar — you can get anything that you fancy. There are now national schools, Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools, religious schools, private schools, international schools and a growing number of children are also home-schooled.

Yet, while variety is the spice of life, it may not necessarily be a good thing.

For instance, a phenomenon that started just more than a decade ago has now become the norm — Malay children predominantly go to national schools, Chinese children, especially for primary schools, are almost exclusively attending Chinese schools. Indian children vacillate between national and vernacular schools.

In fact, national schools have been referred by many as Malay schools, and that some Chinese schools are more national in outlook than national schools.

The consequence of this ethnic-based schooling is poorer race relations and greater polarisation.

I am an optimist, but I get rather distraught when I think of what we have become as a nation. For example, discourse can no longer be carried out soberly. Instead, name-calling, race-baiting and just plain meanness dominate.

While the majority of us continue to practise common sense, more and more people are being sucked into this quagmire of racial distrust.

I believe the answer is rather obvious — the best way for us to take care of this situation is in schools, where children are young and can be moulded into not looking at things through race-coloured lenses.

We are a multiracial, multireligious nation, and as such harmony and understanding should be one of the key objectives of our education policy. I believe nation-building and unity must be the top-most priorities of our education policy, higher than academic aspirations.

by Zainul Arifin Md Isa .

Need to open all schools to persons with disabilities.

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

KOTA KINABALU: Education must be made accessible to the disabled. In other words, if the disabled cannot come to school to attend classes, then it must be brought to them.

Young Voices founder Fariz A. Rani pointed this out during the question and answer session of the National Roadshow for Persons with Disability (OKU) held at Wisma Perkeso near here yesterday.

He opined that although opportunities were given to OKUs to fill up positions in the civil service, many will not be able to take advantage of the situation because they have not completed their secondary and tertiary education.

“In Sabah, there are many OKUs with this predicament. They have not even finished their UPSR, do how can they fill up the quota provided to them if they don’t have the necessary qualification?” he queried.

Fariz also said that it was wrong to group the OKUs and force them to follow the footsteps of their successful peers because every OKU has different types of disabilities.

“We cannot force all the OKUs to follow the footsteps of others who have succeeded. For some, attending school may not take so much effort, but what about our peers who are bedridden and want to continue their schooling? For them, going to school is not a 100 percent effort but instead, is a 200 percent effort or more.”

“I know of an OKU who has to be carried by her father to school everyday. But her dad laments that he can no longer do it because he is getting old … home-base education must be introduced for our peers who have problems travelling but have big dreams and ambitions,” he explained.

Fariz also stressed that all schools must be able to accept students with disabilities.

Education Department’s sector head in special education, Ahmad Sabari, said that the present education system only accepts students who are capable of caring for themselves.

“We need to amend this, but I have to say that it is also due to the lack of our capabilities,” he said.

Ahmad added that only 72 schools in Sabah were able to take in disabled students now and one of the newest updates in the provision of education for the disabled in the country was that now politechnics in the country have begun admitting students with hearing disabilities into their programmes.

At the same time, he also shared that six primary schools and six secondary schools in Sabah have constructed OKU friendly toilets for their disabled students.

“These are some of the efforts that have been introduced by the Education Department for our OKUs,” he said.

The Instructor’s Challenge: Moving Students beyond Opinions to Critical Thinking

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Critical thinking is defined as a reflective and reasonable thought process embodying depth, accuracy, and astute judgment to determine the merit of a decision, an object, or a theory (Alwehaibi, 2012). Creative thinking involves analysis, evaluation, and a synthesizing of facts, ideas, opinions, and theories. Possessing the capacity to logically and creatively exercise in-depth judgment and reflection to work effectively in the realm of complex ideas exemplifies a critical thinker (Carmichael & Farrell, 2012).

Mere thinking might lead a student to engage in the offering personal opinions or life experiences to address a topic, yet the challenge for an instructor is to move students beyond offering personal opinions. Gaining additional thinking skills prompts a student to research the existing body of topical knowledge and respond by repeating the ideas and theories of experts in the subject matter. Quoting scholarly authors is a step above proffering personal beliefs and perceptions, yet regurgitating the thoughts of others does not equate to critical thinking.

As instructors, the goal should be to create a learning environment that causes students to engage in critical reflection and evaluation of the existing literature to render judgment based on a compilation of synthesized evidence. Although a student’s opinion might be relevant and provide a bridge for additional discussion, the challenge is to prompt students to provide justifications and founded explanations of their views. What does a student learn if the only criteria for the assignment is read the textbook and tell me what the author said? An effective method for beginning to teach the critical thinking process is for the instructor to respond to students with research-supported replies. By the instructor setting the example, students at least have the opportunity to view a reflective, evaluative response.


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Don’t burn money, use it wisely

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

It is time to learn from our past and put our skills and resources into positive value creation.

NEXT month will be 68 years since the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings in Japan.

To some, it is just another month at work. Some may celebrate their birthday, some become parents and for some, it may coincide with festive celebrations. Certainly few of us are old enough to remember the impact of the devastating events.

Being an avid reader, this date reminds me that the real tragedy of war is that it uses man’s best skills to do man’s worst work.

The creativity and perseverance that led to the discovery of the power of atoms, which could light up the world and potentially solve our energy issue, was used to create hell on earth.

The discovery of neutron by James Chadwick in February 1932, Niels Bohr’s discovery of fission and ultimately, Leo Szilard’s method of producing a nuclear chain reaction or a nuclear explosion, of which he even filed a patent, would lead to the creation of what was euphemistically called Little Boy.

Hardly little at all, for the bomb had the power of more than 20,000 tonnes of TNT, which destroyed most of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 130,000 people on Aug 6, 1945. Three days later, a second bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, was dropped on Nagasaki, killing between 60,000 and 70,000 people.

by Lim Wing Hooi,

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The many benefits of serving

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

I WRITE to express my disappointment of many people who shy away from serving on civic, community service and professional bodies.

I am glad that The Star had recently launched, and continues to promote, a programme that extols the virtues, satisfaction and joys of serving voluntarily in such worthy bodies.

My disappointment is also because many people do not see the point of serving in PTAs, temple, church or even neighbourhood associations.

The majority of these people are quite prepared to let this task be shouldered by a few, caring, responsible and committed individuals who sometimes serve on not one but a few such committees.

Why is there this reluctance to render voluntary service on an altruistic basis?

There are various reasons. For some, it is considered a sheer waste of their valuable time and effort; for others, they do not have the time to spare!

The irony here is that it is the busy person who is best suited to serve because he really knows how to manage his time and priorities.

For a few others, they feel that such voluntary service do not in any way help in their career or business progress. This is plain fallacy!

The important point to remember is that in serving voluntarily in such bodies, and for the right reasons too, we actually gain quite a bit!

We get to really improve and hone our social, business and professional skills in such settings.

by Victor Thomas, Petaling Jaya.

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Time For A Common University Entrance Exam?

Monday, July 29th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR:  Is it time for the Ministry of Education to seriously consider having a common university entrance exam as a long term solution to the problem of top scorers not obtaining places in local universities?

Gerakan Education Bureau chairman Lau Chin Hoon certainly thinks so on the basis that the present dual system for entry, namely the STPM and matriculation, has become a source of discontentment for some despite a more merit based intake.

“A 4.0 CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) in matriculation and a 4.0 CGPA in STPM is simply not on the same level. In terms of parameter procedure they are two entirely different examinations. That is why, we should standardise to a single entrance exam,” he explained.

This is due to the fact that the STPM is affiliated with the Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate while the matriculation is based on a combination of coursework, examination and lecturer evaluation.

He said without a unified entrance exam people would always perceive there to be a lack of transparency in the selection process as there were no immediately available percentages of intake from each system.

“If there is a unified entrance examination, people can accept the rejection of their applications. There is no doubt that certain places should be reserved for those with socio-economic disadvantage but such an exam will ensure greater transparency,” added Lau.

Common entrance exams are the norm globally. In the US, it is called the Standard Assessment Test (SAT), in China, The National Higher Education Entrance Examination or Gaokao while South Korea has the College Scholastic Ability Test otherwise known as Suneung.

He said even though efforts have been made to improve the STPM format this year it still cannot resolve the issue of top scorers being denied places in public universities.

The old format STPM examination was last held in 2012, as three years ago the Education Ministry had decided to revamp the format from one final exam to include school-based and end of semester assessments in order to encourage more students to sit for it.

A total of 51,673 students sat for the examination last year of which 442 scored perfect 4.0 CGPA.

“In Malaysia, as is the case in most Asian countries, we tend to study to pass rather than focus on ambition or career placing,” he said.

by Alan Ting.


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Making Academic Advising an Institutional Priority

Monday, July 29th, 2013

If some faculty do not fully embrace their role as academic advisor, don’t assume that they are indifferent to students’ needs or feel that advising is strictly a student affairs function. More likely, this reluctance is due to a lack of preparation and support.

This was the case at LaGuardia Community College. “Once we started peeling back the layers, we found it was all about faculty needing more information, knowledge, confidence, and support about how to engage students. They weren’t against doing advisement, and I’m sure that’s the case in most institutions,” says Bernard Polnariev, executive associate to the dean of academic affairs at LaGuardia Community College.

More than course selection
Polnariev and his colleague Mitchell Levy, executive director of LaGuardia Community College’s Center for Counseling, Advising & Academic Support, have implemented a faculty development program—the Art of Advisement Faculty Development Workshop Series—that goes beyond the informational elements that comprise most advising preparation programs. This program, which won the NASPA 2011 Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs (SAPAA) Promising Practices award, consists of three parts. In addition to the informational elements (course selection, institutional policies), this program includes conceptual (student development theory) and relational (building rapport) elements.


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