Archive for November, 2013

Let students think out of the box

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

An experience as a boarding school teacher exposed limitations to a system that spouts impressive numbers but little thought.

There are many benefits of Malaysian education. For one thing, we generally do well in exams.

The high number of Malaysians getting A’s in national exams is a testament to this.

In our 11 primary and secondary years, apart from the standard curriculum, we are inculcated with morals and ethics. Students are always reminded to maintain discipline, respect elders, and give to the community. Reminded every time we open a Pendidikan Moral textbook and during Monday assembly and in weekly Kelab Pencegah Jenayah meetings.

Malaysian students have it pretty good, I thought. We are encouraged to be the best, with good support from the system.

After leaving school, we are then provided with various opportunities for tertiary studies. Better yet for those in more established secondary institutions who have the chance to build valuable networking connections with the world’s future movers and shakers. In my final year of university, feeling particularly nostalgic (and also in dire financial straits), I decided to venture back into our school system and landed a part-time teaching position at a Malaysian boarding school. It was one of Malaysia’s ‘elite’ educational establishments. Not RMC, MCKK or TKC, but elite enough to be able to command stringent entry requirements.

I witnessed something unsettling while I was there: our schools were draining the creativity out of children. Not lacking in the anyaman and lukisan pemandangan sort of creativity, but in inquisitiveness and expression of individuality.

by Dina Murad.

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Transformation in motion

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

The Education Ministry in an effort to create a conducive environment in schools, is embarking on a programme that will see teachers acting as facilitators and children maximising their potential through group work and peer learning.

YUVERAAj Kalidasan, Sahmeeha Poongan and R. Lashman Ravi are three children with two things in common.

First, they have their heads in the clouds. Or more accurately, above the clouds.

“I want to be an astronomer. I want to find out what’s on the moon and on the other planets and what’s in outer space,” says Yuveraaj.

Sahmeeha shares the same ambition, adding without hesitation that she would like to go up to space.

“Space is so interesting. If you look at the Milky Way, one dot is the sun. And the Earth is just one of many planets. Imagine, there are trillions of dots, all waiting to be explored.”

R. Lashman is also interested in the solar system but harbours an ambition to be a robotic scientist.

“I like to invent things. The other day I invented a catapult using ice-cream sticks and bottle caps,” he says.

Second, and much closer to terra firma, the 11-year olds are all pupils of SJK (T) Kangkar Pulai, Johor Baru, Johor, a school that, all things considered, is taking its place among the stars.

Trust in quality

Since 2011, SJK (T) Kangkar Pulai has been enrolled in the Yayasan Amir Trust Schools Programme, an initiative aimed at improving accessibility to quality and holistic education in Malaysian government schools with a long-term goal of transforming the education delivery system.

by Luwita Hana Randhawa.

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Time to reflect

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Teachers need to take stock of their achievements and setbacks, now that the academic year has come to an end.

THE SCHOOL academic year has ended almost as quickly as it had begun. And before there is time for even this to sink in, before you actually fully grasp that another whole year of teaching has passed, you are already assailed with brand new lists of what duties to expect in the new year.

Just as you are checking the list that is handed out at the end of the year to ensure you have completed your teaching record, class attendance registers, subject files, handed over receipt books and the many other things that are expected, the list of duties for 2014 is already making its rounds.

Meetings to prepare for the new academic year have also begun.

Somehow it does seem to you that the gaps between ending and beginning are getting so narrow that there is hardly time to exhale, and you wonder if one period in time has overlapped into another.

Perhaps this is some people’s idea of efficiency — that there should be no time to waste and that being continuously busy equals being productive.

While there is no doubt that many people who are busy do produce wonderful things, being perpetually busy whether out of necessity or choice could at times be an unconscious way to avoid another probably more important issue — to reflect on all you have done or not done, achieved or not achieved.

Perhaps it has always been this way but in the past few years things in school have become so busy and urgent that hardly any time is left for some form of personal reflection.

Time to pause for a while, reflect on the school year that has passed, the things that we have been so busy doing in the name of education and decide which of the many things we did when put through a fine sieve would actually pass the test of credibility or sustainability.

Which of the innumerable things we have done this academic year had the capacity, even if it was in a very small way, to impact education positively?

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Malaysian duo shine at Taiwan film fest

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

On cloud nine: Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann is all smiles after having done the country proud. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak congratulated her and Malaysian film director Tsai Ming Liang for having bagged awards at Taiwan’s prestigious 50th Golden Horse Awards.

On cloud nine: Malaysian actress Yeo Yann Yann is all smiles after having done the country proud. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak congratulated her and Malaysian film director Tsai Ming Liang for having bagged awards at Taiwan’s prestigious 50th Golden Horse Awards.

ETALING JAYA: Actress Yeo Yann Yann and film director Tsai Ming Liang made Malaysians proud with their wins at Taiwan’s prestigious 50th Golden Horse Awards held in Taipei on Saturday night.

Yeo, 36, clinched the Best Sup­porting Actress award for her role as a pregnant mother in Singaporean flick Ilo Ilo, which also walked away with the best feature film, as well as best new director and best original screenplay awards for Singaporean first-time filmmaker Anthony Chen.

In a message posted on his Face­book page Ah Jib Gor yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak congratulated Yeo and Tsai.

“There are a lot of capable people in Malaysia’s entertainment industry. Many artistes have gained international fame and many of those who work behind the scenes have also received awards in other parts of the world,” he said.

He said the Government always encouraged the creative industry, adding that he hoped Malaysian artistes and movie makers would continue to shine overseas.

At the award presentation, cradling her trophy presented to her by Hong Kong artiste Aaron Kwok and Taiwan’s Sylvia Chang, Yeo pointed to it ecstatically and said, “This is real,” before expressing her gratitude to Ilo Ilo’s cast and crew as well as her family members in her emotional thank-you speech.

by Seto Kit Yan and Ng Si Hooi.

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Pearl Harbour lessons on intel

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

FOREIGN INTRUSION: No system can completely shore up porous things, such as a country’s borders.

EXACTLY 72 years ago tomorrow, the United States Navy’s chief of operations Admiral Harold R. Stark warned the commander of the US Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbour, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel that war with Japan was imminent.

Stark told Kimmel that both President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull thought the Japanese would spring a surprise attack.

Roosevelt was reported to have told his cabinet that: “We are likely to be attacked next Monday, for the Japs are notorious for attacking without warning.”

He also telegraphed British Prime Minister Winston Churchill the following: “We must all prepare for trouble, possibly soon.”

This followed in the wake of an intercepted Japanese diplomatic message which warned that if diplomacy failed to convince the Americans to lift economic sanctions against Japan by Nov 25, then “things would automatically begin to happen”.

In fact, the very next day, the Japanese First Air Fleet, an aircraft carrier task force, began steaming towards Pearl Harbour from Japan.

The task force’s orders were to strike the US Pacific Fleet base in Hawaii should negotiations fail, and to turn back if a pact was sealed.

As it turned out, the US refused to budge from its stand that Japan should withdraw from the Axis Pact with Germany and Italy and the Asian country refused to do so.

The breakdown in negotiations meant the attack on Pearl Harbour went through, drawing the US into World War 2 on Dec 7, 1941.

But the surprising thing was that, well, the attack came as a surprise.

Waves of carrier-launched Japanese planes swooped in on American land and sea forces, vessels and installations, causing death, destruction and general mayhem.

Most of the Americans were caught literally sleeping on that infamous Sunday.

In fact, American radar installations were said to have seen the aircraft arriving but the controllers thought it was a flight of US Army Air Force planes which was scheduled to arrive from that general direction that morning.

It is absolutely amazing how a powerful armed forces, such as that of the Americans, could be caught so totally off guard.

Fast forward more than 70 years and those same questions were asked of Malaysian military and police intelligence when gunmen from southern Philippines intruded in Lahad Datu earlier this year, and again more recently, when other gunmen shot dead a Taiwanese man and kidnapped his partner in an island off Semporna.

Make no mistake. Those questions need to be asked.

Mental health centres needed

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: The country needs more community mental health care centres and trained therapists in schools and institutions of higher learning to help students and young adults menage stress.

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) president Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the increase in stress levels in schools, higher learning institutions, colleges and at workplaces is a major factor in the rise in mental disorder cases.

“School children have been detected to have severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression. These children should be given appropriate intervention in the form of counseling and mental health coping skills.

‘Disabled need better support plan’

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

PRIORITY: First disabled woman senator to help revamp support system for disabled.

KUALA LUMPUR: IN 1975, Universiti Malaya student Bathmavathi Krishnan’s world was thrown into chaos when she was mowed down by a vehicle while on campus grounds.

The accident damaged her spinal cord and left her paralysed from the waist down.

However, far from letting it affect her, she overcame great odds and is now a senator.

Bathmavathi, 59, is the first disabled woman to be appointed senator and only the second disabled individual to become a member of the senate after late Prof Datuk Dr Ismail Md Salleh.

Recalling the difficult times, Bathmavathi said her early years after the accident taught her to be independent.

“I did not socialise much (in university) as I felt inadequate, but I gradually gained confidence and eventually started to drive myself. I was not afraid to ask for help but I would only ask when I really needed to.”

She said her experience as a disabled person also made her realise that changes were needed to make life better for the disabled.

“Not many were aware of the needs of the disabled at the time, so I had to adapt to my new environment. It was often a struggle,” she said, adding that she received invaluable support from her family and close friends.

As a senator, Bathmavathi aims to make full use of the opportunity to push for a revamp of the support system for the disabled.

The current system, she said, dates back to the “British colonial era” and needs to be overhauled to support the current reality.

“We can refer to Japan and India, where programmes for the disabled are complete and comprehensive yet do not incur large costs, compared with developed Western countries.”

She said cash handouts alone were insufficient and a comprehensive plan plus proper allocation of funds ought to be made for the disabled community.

These, she said, involved making old and new buildings, especially schools and universities, disabled-friendly.

Bathmavathi also believed that a government-funded “caregiver system” needed to be implemented to provide support services for aging disabled individuals and families with disabilities.

by Haikal Badrul Hisam.

A trip through time with ‘Pages from my Past’

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR: “Memories are borrowed time, so we must spend them well. That is why I am sharing this book today, as these are the memories we shared,” said author Kamaruddin Abdullah to his family and friends during the launch of his book.

The book, titled Pages from my Past, was launched by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Pro-Chancellor Tan Sri Arshad Ayub yesterday at Don’s Warong in Plaza Damas, here.

Among the 300 distinguished guests present were former Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman, former Muar member of parliament Datuk Dr Malek Munip and Media Prima chairman Datuk Johan Jaaffar, who also wrote the foreword for the book.

The 304-page book comprises five sections, where Kamaruddin takes the reader on a journey back to the 1950s and 1960s in Muar, Johor, where he was born and raised.

Kamaruddin said the book focuses on the values of society, something he rarely sees now, especially when it comes to neighbourly conduct and closeness in a family.

Arshad, who also hails from Muar, said it was important to recollect stories from the past to allow the younger generation to make comparisons between themselves and life in the old days.

Kamaruddin’s youngest daughter, Alisha, said she was eagerly anticipating the launch of her father’s book after reading some of his Facebook postings and blog entries.

Education the way forward

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

BETTER FUTURE: Penan folk believe it will improve their children’s lives.

Sarawak Energy Bhd employees with the Penan community at the Tegulang resettlement site in Murum, Sarawak, recently. File pic

MURUM: EDUCATION is the only way to progress in the modern world, regardless of race and creed.

Lingok Nyipa, a Penan from Long Wat, believes his nomadic way of life cannot sustain his family in the face of development in Sarawak.

“I want my children to have a better future.

“I want them to be educated. I used to walk for days or even weeks just to reach the nearest town for supplies.

“I feel we are far behind because of a lack of education.

Lingok is a member of one of the 89 households from Long Wat who were relocated to the Tegulang resettlement site recently.

His community was one of the seven affected by the Murum hydroelectric dam project.

The others are Long Malim and Long Malim Kenyah Badeng. Communities from Long Menapa, Long Luar, Long Tangau and Long Singu will be relocated to another site in Mentalun.

At Tegulang, the affected communities are given 15ha of land for longhouse and agriculture, as well as access to 19,500ha of forests for roaming, hunting and food gathering.

“There is a school in front of the longhouse and a clinic. I do not know my real age.

“I want my children to know their age.”

A recent survey by Sarawak Energy Bhd (SEB) showed that out of 550 Penans, aged between 7 and 12, only 33 attended school.

by Dennis Wong.

TYT tells grads: Prepare to face the real world

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Kota Kinabalu: The over 4,000 latest batch of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) graduates have been advised to transform their old “life script” ways to a new one by equipping themselves with the latest skills and knowledge.

Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin said the new ‘life script’ includes learning to enhance their interpersonal skills, communicating skills and personality in preparing themselves for the real world.

He said it is never too late to learn anything new as there is availability of Information Technology Centres (ICT) where the sources of knowledge are just at their finger tips.

“Consciously, the challenges are for the graduates to discard the feeling of complacency and not being over confident.

“An important aspect that these graduates must pay extra attention is to enhance their soft skills which I believe is among the main issues that must be acquired in any local universities either directly or indirectly,” he said, in his keynote address at the 15th UMS Convocation at its Chancellory Hall, Saturday.

He also presented Honorary PhD. (Management) to former and first UMS Board of Directors Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Egoh, awarded Professor Emeritus Award to Vice-Chancellor Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin in Physics from School of Science and Technology and Professor Dr Sabihah Osman in History from School of Social Sciences.

A total of 4,533 graduates would be receiving their degrees, master degrees and PhD scrolls in a three-day convocation beginning Saturday. Of these, 3,604 were degree holders including those completing their diplomas and the remaining PhD holders in various fields.

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