Archive for November, 2013

Abandoned children find themselves without a state

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

PETALING JAYA: Most orphaned or abandoned children who live in welfare homes are considered stateless because they don’t have citizenship.

Vijayakumari Pillai, who was formerly attached to the Social Welfare Department (JKM) explained that Malaysia is very strict when it comes to citizenship as it is based on the nationality of their biological parents.
She, however, pointed out that it was almost impossible for abandoned children to know who their parents were.
“It would be quite difficult to prove their parents were Malaysian and they will not get citizenship. Legally, they are stateless as they don’t belong to this country or any other country,” she said.
She said they could keep appealing the decisions if the National Registration Department (NRD) turned down their applications for citizenship.
She said that the children could get a MyKad when they turned 12, although it would be without a citizenship status (blue IC).
This made it difficult for them, as there were certain things they could not do such as apply for bank loans or a passport, said Vijayakumari.
“I know one 36-year-old lady who is doing well but can’t get a loan to buy a house because she can’t get citizenship,” she said.
She also said that they would have to pay a fee every time they went to a government hospital, whereas citizens paid a nominal fee at the most.
Having worked on such cases for 33 years, Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam is frustrated that the issue has not been resolved.
He said that even abandoned babies brought up in government welfare homes don’t get citizenship.

UNPF report: Number of young mothers in Malaysia alarming

Friday, November 29th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The increasing number of young mothers in Malaysia is a cause for concern among local and international bodies on family development.

Last year, over 18,000 teen births were recorded, with 75% involving married teenagers and the rest from out-of-wedlock.

United Nations Population Fund’s (UNPF) Malaysian representative, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough said the increasing number of young mothers meant more women were being left out from achieving their full potential in life.

She said this could lead to increase in poverty and have a direct impact on the country’s economy.

“When a young girl gets married, it will create a web of issues from an abrupt end to her education, affecting future job opportunities and a fulfilling career, bringing her down to poverty, and limiting her ability in contributing to the country,” she said.

Gyles-McDonnough said this at the launch of the UNPF Report, The State of The World Population 2013, Motherhood in Childhood: Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy here on Thursday.

She said there was a need for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education to empower girls and educate the community on preventing young marriages and sexual activities.

“The ability to manage a relationship, or make a decision whether to be married, get pregnant or have sex, is a life skill that must be instilled in our children.

“Blaming a young child for her pregnancy is far from solving the matter. Instead, the community must work together with law makers to educate these girls, and give them the opportunity to live their lives to full potential,” she said.


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DPM: Value racial harmony

Friday, November 29th, 2013

MUAR: Malaysians should be proud of the racial harmony in the country as it forms the foundation for stability and peace, which allows for greater economic development, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“It is a blessing that we can sit together comfortably for a celebration. We would not be able to enjoy what we have today without respecting each other’s way of life,” he said during his speech at a Deepavali celebration in Pagoh yesterday.

He said that while many developed nations including those in Europe were facing an economic slowdown, Malaysia had managed to achieve economic growth of 4.5% last year.

He added that Malaysia has plenty of job opportunities but many employers are forced to take in foreign workers.

“There are lots of jobs available and our issue now is our workers are choosy, preferring to work in offices than plantations or factories.

“Our income per capita is at US$10,000 (RM32,305) now and is expected to grow to US$15,000 (RM48,457) by 2020,” he said.

Muhyiddin added that people also get to enjoy good healthcare and education in the country.

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Books through e-parcel and courier service

Friday, November 29th, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: Sabahans will no longer be confined to within the four walls of a library as books can now be easily accessed through e-parcel and courier services, said Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman, Dato’ Mohamed Sharil Tarmizi.

Apart from that, Sabahans now have access to book drops (Gelongsor Buku) which would enable them to return books within the U-Pustaka consortium without going to a library counter and is an alternative to the e-parcel and courier services, he added. “There are now two U-Pustaka machines in Sabah and since its first launch at the Penampang library on April 16, 2013, about 100,236 U-Pustaka members have been recorded.”

Head officer of support and services unit from MCMC, Tengku Zaib Raja Ahmad read his speech at the second U-Pustaka launch which took place at the State library, here.

Recently, at the Connect Asia Pacific 2013 which was held in Bangkok, a seaweed entrepreneur from Kunak, Sabah – Kabilah Hassan won an award for her achievements in acquiring more customers through online business.

This is proof that the Internet is capable of changing people’s lives economically and assisting them in entering the global market, he said.

In relation to this, Sharil hoped more Sabahans would be able to benefit from this. Through this realisation, MCMC came up with the U-Pustaka initiative with the assistance of eight libraries in Malaysia under a consortium called “Penyedia Perkhidmatan Maklumat (Information Service Providers) and adapted seven public and non public organisations as their strategic partners.

“About 1.8 million books were collected from these eight libraries.

So far, U-Pustaka has carried out more than 16,000 book transactions for Malaysians in rural and urban areas.” Since its launch on March 31, 2011, its members have reached more than 300,000. Visitors from 127 countries have surfed the U-Pustaka portal which involves 1,157 cities.

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Higher education a pathway to success

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

ABUNDANT STUDY OPTIONS: Malaysians have access to quality, affordable higher education.

Higher education has grown by leaps and bounds in the country in the last two decades.

EVERYONE feels that higher education is important and absolutely necessary for success in today’s economy.

It could be regarded as a ticket to a high quality job. In the eyes of most people, pursuing higher education is vital.

Vital in the sense that education enables one to be able to get a good job and earn a decent salary. Apart from that, higher education offers graduates more jobs to choose from than that are open to those who don’t pursue higher education. Moreover a graduate earns a lot more than a person who does not have a degree.

Higher education in our country is provided by both public and private universities.

Both public and private education providers play important roles in the provision of higher education.

Together, the public and private sectors provide abundant study options.

Higher education providers in Malaysia can be grouped into two major categories.

Public higher education institutions consist of:

Public universities offering bachelor degrees and postgraduate programmes, with some offering programmes at diploma level and university foundation programmes; and,

Polytechnics and community colleges offering certificate and diploma programmes.

There are altogether 20 public universities in the country that are government funded.

Science a key tool in nation-building

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

INVEST EARLY: Education must be geared towards generating interest in the subject among youth.

IT is no coincidence that the nation is now a leader among the developing economies of world. This has come about through shrewd planning by the country’s leaders.

The country is what it is now because of decisions made decades ago. But, what was the most critical decision then?

Very few would dispute the fact that it was our investment in education that has made the nation what it is today. The prosperity that the country enjoys would not have materialised if not for that stroke of wisdom to commit to education.

If education was the key ingredient then, many believe education will continue to be the instrument to shape the country’s future in the coming decades. This was the consensus reached at a recent forum titled “Future of Science in Nation-Building: The Role of Youths”, organised by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia.

Each year, the academy hosts two general assemblies to deliberate on issues of science and nation-building. This time around, the focus was on the role of youth. The four panellists, who hailed from across the country’s political divide, gave powerful insight and thoughts on the topic at hand.

They agreed on the importance of investing in education to drive the future of the nation. But they also agreed that the education system of today has to be different from the past, in terms of content and approach. It must take into account today’s realities. What are the realities?

FIRST, society is generally more educated. They want to have more say in the way the education system is designed; and,

SECOND, the world is more interconnected.

The Internet has revolutionised knowledge. It has allowed everyone access to information globally, something unthinkable in the past.

Some are saying that even universities may soon become a thing of the past. One can eventually achieve lifelong learning online.

But while information and communications technology has changed many facets of life and business, the forum was also concerned that there were forces at work that could derail global progress and sustainability in the long run.

Climate change, for example, is a reality we can no longer ignore. Despite earlier apprehension about the United Nations’ climate predictions, the world is now convinced about the science of global warming.

More worrying is the fact that it is man who contributes the most. So, only man can provide solutions to the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Many agree that most of the solutions lie in the smart deployment of science. This is why investment in science education is crucial.

The unfortunate part is that many of the country’s youth do not have much interest in science. They view science as complicated and are not encouraged by the less lucrative job prospects. This explains why only 30 per cent of students are taking up science, which is way below the country’s 60 per cent target. How can we reverse this trend?

Get message across in plain English

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

HIGHLY EFFECTIVE: Local SME’s should use simple language to tap into global markets.

SMALL- and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of the Malaysian economy. More than 90 per cent of all business establishments in Malaysia are SMEs. However, exports only make up 19 per cent of the total revenue generated by SMEs. The Malaysian SME Masterplan targets to increase this figure to 25 per cent by 2020. But  I see a potential problem.

Malaysia has been my home for more than 20 years. My job is helping companies with their written information and producing manuals for them.

But, over the years, I have noticed an alarming decline in the standard of English in companies. And, unfortunately, English happens to be the global language of business. It is the de facto language of communication between people who don’t share a common native language.

So, for Malaysian SMEs to do better in the international arena, their standard of English needs to improve. Fortunately, I think there is a way to do this.

Business is about communicating with one another and about making the other party understand your value proposition. It is also about building relationships. And, in an age of market clutter, an ever-increasing challenge is to be heard.

In the fierce battle for time and attention, speed, clear communication and information to relate to is essential. Above the noise and din in the market, you need to get your message across quickly and understood easily.

I believe the answer to this challenge is plain English. Plain English is a different way of communicating, particularly in writing things like emails and proposals.

Plain English is easier to write, read and understand. It ensures your target audience understands your message the first time they read it or hear it. Plain English reduces the complexity of the English language. In traditional or academic English, like we learn in school, there are hundreds of rules and almost as many exceptions to those rules. But, in plain English, you only have 14 basic rules to remember.

by  Geoff Webb

Education Ministry does not promise placement for graduates – Mary Yap

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The education ministry does not promise placement for graduates in Bachelor of Teaching from public higher institutions of learning (IPTA).

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kian Ching said this was because most of them were neither sponsored by, nor had ties with the ministry.

“Placement for graduates is based on vacancies in existing posts. When there is supply, placements are made, according to job vacancies and optional needs,” she said.

She was replying to Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad (BN-Lipis) at a question-and- answer session in the Dewan Rakyat here, yesterday.

Abdul Rahman had enquired on the ministry’s mechanism in overcoming the delay in the placement of graduates in Bachelor of Teaching, of late.

Yap said since last year, the appointment and placement of graduates of IPTA and Teacher Training Institute (IPG) was no longer automatic, as appointments were permanent and no more designated as back-ups.

“The education ministry is of the view that a delay does not arise in the placement of new teachers, seeing that all teaching graduates must undergo the established appointment and placement procedure,” she added.

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Islam and higher order thinking

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

In religious tradition, there is a strong connection between knowledge and way signs.

THE Malaysia Education Blue-print 2013–2025 has made it clear that the Ministry of Education is serious about equipping students with higher-order thinking skills.

In so doing, emphasis has been placed on subjects of scientific and technological nature.

Unfortunately, while one can easily find such emphasis being clearly stated regarding subjects of that nature, one cannot do so in regard to subjects of religious and ethical nature.

The aforementioned ambiguity, if not utter neglect, also applies to such subjects dealing with Islam as are expected to be covered under Islamic education.

Hence, serious and thinking Muslims might ponder: what does Islam have to do with scientific subjects which require such thinking skills?

Or, perhaps, what do such subjects requiring such skills have to do with Islam?

Yet, to properly address the above question(s) requires that they at least understand three inter-related items as delineated in the religious, intellectual, and scientific tradition of Islam: the nature of knowledge; the World-of-Nature as the object-of-knowledge; and thinking as an important channel of knowledge.

The term ‘ilm (Malay: ilmu), the most commonly used term in Arabic referring to knowledge, stems from a root comprising three letters, ‘ayn-lam-mim, giving rise to ‘alam whose basic meaning is that of ‘alamah (Malay: alamat), meaning “way sign” or “a trace (or a mark) by which something is known.”

The relation between knowledge (‘ilm) and way sign (‘alam) is particularly telling given the Arabian context in which the Quran was revealed.

In the desert especially, knowledge of way signs guides one on one’s travels and in the execution of one’s daily tasks.

In addition, ‘ayn-lam-mim is also the root for another widely used term, ‘alam (Malay: alam), which refers to the entire universe comprising not only all that is around us, but also whatever is in us, which can be studied and known.

by Dr Mohd Zaidi Ismail.

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Four million students across M’sia read books together

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: For 33 minutes and 33 seconds (or 2013 seconds), approximately four million students in Malaysian schools read books together as part of ‘Scholastic Malaysia’s READ 2013: One Nation Reading Together’ reading campaign to inculcate the healthy habit of recreational reading.

This literacy milestone, a four-fold increase from last year’s figure of one million students was achieved with the immense drive from the Ministry of Education’s recently concluded 1Malaysia Reading Camp (Kem Membaca 1Malaysia) which involved the participation of schools across the country.

“Four million students is a resounding triumph for literacy in Malaysia. Better reading habits will ensure these children become more knowledgeable and imaginative in their outlook of life,” said Selina Lee, director of Scholastic Asia.

She said they have been working alongside the Ministry of Education since 2008 and the partnership has been invaluable.

“We would not have achieved this milestone together without their unwavering dedication to the cause,” she added.

READ 2013 is the sixth instalment of the reading campaign in Malaysia, organised by Scholastic Malaysia, a subsidiary of Scholastic Inc. – the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books.

The one-day event encourages schools to get teachers and students to read a book for half-an hour.

For each participating school, Scholastic Malaysia donated 50 books to upgrade their libraries. More than 125,000 books were supplied to Malaysian schools this year.

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