Archive for April, 2014

Adenan Wants Environment Concern To Be Included In Curriculum

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

KUCHING:  Environment care and concern should be included in the education curriculum as one of the aspects that need to be looked upon to tackle such issues, said Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

He said there was a need to urgently review the curriculum so that the growth of environmental-economic based strategies would be apt with the changing times.

“We have to move from the traditional and static structure of our environment policy and guidelines to accommodate changes that will bring in more dynamism to the economic and environmental growth,” he said at the launch of the International Federation of Landscape Architects Asia-Pacific Region (IFLA-APR) Conference here today.

His text of speech was read by State Local Government and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh.

Adenan said the development in economy and technology, which had resulted in the emergence of new knowledge and working approaches, had also raised the importance of environment protection.


Read more @

Embrace diversity and grow stronger, says Obama

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

PUTRAJAYA: US President Barack Obama says Malaysia has the potential to unleash a new era of growth.

President Barack Obama speaks to Asian youth leaders at the Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall, at the University of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

President Barack Obama speaks to Asian youth leaders at the Young South East Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall, at the University of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“This is by virtue of the economic progress that is evident to all who visit here for the first time and by virtue of Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib’s (Tun Razak) goal of making the economy more competitive,” the President told a joint press conference with Najib here.

Obama said Malaysia should draw strength from its people from different ethnic groups, backgrounds, faiths and holding different political beliefs.

“In the US, embracing that diversity and upholding the rights and dignity of all our citizens had always been strong and I believe it can make Malaysia even stronger as well.”

Obama said both leaders had agreed to heighten US-Malaysia ties when he welcomed Najib to Washington four years ago and that there’s been closer cooperation every since, saying: “Today, we’re formalising our efforts in a comprehensive partnership.”

He pointed out that this cooperation could be seen in their response to the disappearance of flight MH370, adding that he had also discussed with Najib the lessons to be learnt from the tragedy. Obama also acknowledged Malaysia’s leadership role in the world stage.

“As a founding member of Asean and the East Asia Summit (EAS), Malaysia is already a critical leader in building institutions that can enhance regional prosperity and security,” he said.

Read more @

Do more to curb water wastage, say experts.

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

CRITICAL: Industry must institute good housekeeping or situation will get worse.

KUALA LUMPUR: ONE of the main factors adversely affecting water supply in Selangor is the high rate of non-revenue water, said secretary-general of the Water and Energy Consumer Association of Malaysia, Foon Weng Lian.

He said the long neglected high rate of non-revenue water (NRW) in past years, between 33 and 36 per cent, had impacted the supply of water in the state.

NRW is water that has been produced and is “lost” before it reaches the customer, such as through leaks, burst pipes, theft and inaccurate metering. For instance, a leakage could occur when heavy vehicles use roads that are not designed to take the extra load, thus, fracturing underground pipes.

The current rate of NRW means that for every 100 litres of water produced, 33 to 36 litres never reach consumers.

“The reduction of NRW must become a top priority when it comes to water management and planning,” said Foon, adding that replacing old pipes alone would not be enough to tackle the problem.

“The water industry has to play its role. It has to institute good housekeeping and capacity-building for all water sector staff. Even the public must be made more aware so that they can act quickly by alerting water operators when there is a leakage, burst pipe or water theft.”

Foon believes that the current dire water supply situation could have been prevented and that it was allowed to get to such a critical stage because of politics.

Other experts also called for steps to be taken to curb water wastage.

“Malaysia’s NRW is high compared with other countries. Aside from efforts to ensure continuous water supply, we need to take drastic measures to reduce NRW to save treated water for consumption,” International Islamic University Malaysia’s water quality and modelling associate professor, Dr Zaki Zainudin Ibrahim, said.

In 2012, the national average of NRW was 36.4 per cent of the 5,474 trillion litres of piped water produced, while the figures for Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya stood at 33.1 per cent.

“The water condition is indeed critical in Malaysia, especially the Klang Valley. If we continue to neglect our water resources and take it for granted, our situation will get worse,” said Zaki, adding it was integral to establish an Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) system to promote the coordinated development and management of water, land and related resources.

Making English fun and exciting

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

AN adrenaline-filled session kick-started a Star-NiE (Newspaper-in-Education) workshop for some 60 trainee teachers at the Tuanku Bainun Teachers Training Institute in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

It was conducted by Star-NiE trainer Lucille Dass.

Participants rustled through copies of The Star for clues in a race against time during the question-and-answer session.

“There are many different methods to teach English in a fun way.

“Newspapers are an excellent resource for teaching and learning,” she explained.

She said this during the two-and-a-half-hour workshop at the institute on Tues-day.

The question-and-answer session was followed by the ‘Listen and Do’ activity.

The activity saw two participants being enlisted to simulate an action as shown in a photograph from a newspaper article.

“Stand up and lift your left leg. Then, turn 90 degrees to your right and clasp your hands together under your lifted left thigh,” one of them read out the action while her male counterpart demonstrated the act.

Laughter and cheers ensued in support of the sporting male participant who managed to put up the exact pose.

A participant Norsuhaiza Mazlan, 21, who is a third semester student of Teaching English as Second Language, said the workshop was an eye-opener for her.

She said it shed a different light on the various elements of a newspaper layout such as the headline, blurb and sub-headline.

V. Dineswaren, 22, who is undergoing his practicum, said some students were uncomfortable speaking English due to minimal exposure.

“Using newspaper in classrooms can help overcome this problem,” he said during the workshop.

Read more @

Right attitude to safety

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

EARLIER this week, Year Four pupil Huguan Isaac of SK Sacred Heart, Kota Kinabalu, was involved in a freak accident in which his right cheek was pierced by a 1.5m-long metal rod.

The young pupil was said to be waiting for his school bus in the grounds of the nearby Sacred Heart Cathedral on Monday when he stepped on an unstable drain cover.

The loosened 1.5m-long rod attached to the drain cover then pierced Huguan’s cheek in the 12.30pm incident.

In another incident, a Year Five pupil from SK Kampung Jawa (2), Klang, suffered bruises on his eye and face after falling into an uncovered 0.3m-drain in the school.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said break-ins were not the only concern in the matters of school security.

Cases of students injured from damaged facilities in schools brought home the importance of occupational safety in schools, he added.

SJK (C) Ladang Harcroft Parent-Teacher Association chairman Yap Bau Sang said his school conducted a routine audit on the facilities in the school.

“Teachers are asked to report if there are any broken facilities in the classroom; it is easier for them to check since they enter the classroom regularly.

“Maintenance of infrastructure is extremely important because the broken items pose a serious safety risk to the pupils and teachers in the school,” said Yap.

The school compound can be a huge safety trap for young schoolchildren with open, deep drains and broken window panes that can grievously injure pupils.

The Education Ministry recently launched an occupational safety and health campaign in schools under a collaboration between the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) and DuPont.

by Kang Soon Chen.

Read more @

Reforms must have substance

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

A FEW weeks ago, I attended a public event where a representative from the Education Ministry gave a powerful and passionate speech about the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

One statement really caught my attention: the fact that globally, 70% of countries embarking on education reform, fail miserably.

What I personally find interesting about the recent wave of global reforms is that the strategies being used by the majority of the reforming countries (both successful and unsuccessful reformers alike) are remarkably similar.

They involve rolling out a standardised set of education policies related to teacher training; curriculum reform; uniform and regular student assessment; teacher accountability measures; and decentralisation. Malaysia’s education blueprint has drawn heavily from this playbook.

At first sight, it seems like many countries are adopting the same education policies and that some are achieving a lift-off while others are crashing.

We obviously need to look at this carefully to ensure that ours is a success story.

Back in 1974, the Nobel Prize winning physicist Richard Feynman told the story of Tanna Island in the Pacific, during World War II. A small population of indigenous islanders witnessed thousands of US troops land en-mass with vast amounts of military equipment and supplies.

When the war ended, the military abandoned the airbases and stopped dropping the cargo. The islanders were utterly distraught and longed for the now missing supplies.

They undertook their own in-house strategies and concluded that if they could replicate the conditions that existed when the Americans were on the island, the cargo would be air-dropped again.

They set about creating runways, picked their strongest men to march up and down the “airbases”’ and fashioned radio headphones from coconuts.

One islander donned the “headphones” and played the role of air traffic controller, guiding the planes in.

The Tanna islanders successfully replicated most of the features of island life during the American occupation, but unsurprisingly the planes still didn’t come back!

Feynman called the phenomenon Cargo Cult Science which has become a widely-used term to describe situations where organisations try to make improvements by copying the features of another successful reference group but they get it spectacularly wrong — by focusing only on the irrelevant features.

New policies

I think there are some education reforms that have gone down the path of the cargo cult phenomenon.

It would explain why so many countries adopt similar reform policies but with varying degrees of success — because there is some other hidden “wiring” in the strategies of successful reformers that seriously gets lost in translation. It’s really important that Malaysia avoids this.

In CfBT, a not-for-profit organisation that I work for, one of the common reasons for failure in cargo cult education is that the reforms stop at the classroom door.

Everything gets reformed, except the micro interactions between the student and teacher inside the classroom. But it’s easy to understand why policy-makers focus their reform efforts outside the classroom.

Things like changing class sizes, the content of exams, the written curriculum, school facilities or the terms and conditions of teachers are a lot easier to achieve than the mindset shift of a single teacher.

by Dr Arran Hamilton.

Read more @

Questions unanswered

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

THERE must have been at least a time in your teaching career when a student has come to you with a question you were not able to answer and there could have been a few reasons for this.

Perhaps you really didn’t know the answer or perhaps you did, but you wanted the students to figure it out themselves.

The third possibility is that there really was no answer for the question asked.

Whatever it is, a situation like this can be quite unnerving especially if you are a recently qualified teacher in your first posting, or if it is the first time you are teaching a particular subject.

All of a sudden you seem to be surrounded by a group of eager teenagers keen to discover your weakest spots.

If you feel at times that their innocent and keen expressions when they ask you questions — which although relevant to your subject are way beyond the syllabus — may not be totally innocent, your hunch may be right.

My friend Dilla believes there are whole groups of them (students) out there, “nerdy types who spend entire evenings thinking up questions on quantum physics or comparative history just to rattle your nerves, when they should be on Facebook or watching movies or something.”

So what do you do when you don’t have the answers?

“Just tell them it’s not in the syllabus,” said one teacher in a clipped tone that suggested the issue was a no-brainer.

“Tell them to focus on what they need to know for the exam. They can learn about the other things once they finish school.”

“I pretend I am suddenly very busy,” said another teacher.

“I look at my watch or phone then suddenly remember I have this very important meeting and tell my students I will get back to them on the topic later.

“Usually I do some research when I get back and the next time I meet them, I do give them the answers as if I had known them all along,” added the teacher

“Saving face is very important in the profession. You can’t let students go off thinking the teacher’s not so smart and that he doesn’t know the answers.”

But students often have an uncanny knack of knowing when teachers are being real and when they are putting it on.

by Mallika Yasugi.

Read more @

Trees are vital in the circle of life

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

Their towering importance literally is reflected in what they signify in our lives figuratively. It is the trees lining our roads, which grew from little seeds, that give us shade.

FOR the past seven years or so, I have not had to pay for my water usage since it never exceeded the 20 cubic metres of free water a month courtesy of the Selangor government.

Frankly, I think water is too precious a commodity to be given away free. It encourages wastage and does not help the consumer to be more environmentally-conscious.

Ironically, whether I am Mr Green or Mr Must-Wash-My-Cars-Daily, I am subjected to the same inconveniences brought about by the water rationing exercise in the Klang Valley.

The skies have really opened up of late, which means that our prayers have been answered. But until very recently, our taps still ran dry because the dams were not filling up. Hmm … excuse me, God, can you please make it rain over our catchment areas?

Alas, that’s the problem when we tamper with nature. Developers zero in on the best spots and convince the state authorities that degazetting some parts of our protected forest reserves is okay.

They promise that their projects will be very green because they will replant trees. The reality is that row upon row of the same species of trees, oftentimes so ornamental that birds do not want to nest in them, will never have the same effect as forests in their virgin state.

The catchment areas are where the trees have a sponge-like effect, gathering the rain waters as they fall and channelling them through streams and rivers to the dams.

In that respect, trees are a vital link in the circle of life. Their towering importance literally is reflected in what they signify in our lives figuratively.

In life, very often we get to enjoy what others have sown before us. The trees lining our roads that give us shade grew from little seeds. They had to be watered and nurtured with tender loving care for years, before they reached their full height.

How often we take things for granted, never stopping to give thanks for the fruit of another person’s labour.

When the Tiger of Jelutong passed away so suddenly, there was a massive outpouring of public support and everyone talked about Karpal Singh’s legacy.

I believe his legacy will live on, not through the name of a road or a memorial, but in how we each continue to live out the principles of justice that he stood for.

by Soo Ewe Jin.

Read more @

Obama: Draw strength from ethnic, religious diversity for better future

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: The US and Malaysia can draw strength from their ethnic and religious diversity and hope from history to carve a brighter future for the next generation, President Barack Obama said.

Obama delivering his speech at the banquet

Obama delivering his speech at the banquet

In his remarks at a state banquet hosted at Istana Negara in conjunction with his three-day state visit to Malaysia, Obama noted that while the US and Malaysia may be different as nations, their people shared similar hopes and aspirations.

“I believe that whether we come from a remote village or a big city, whether we live in the United States or in Malaysia, we all share basic human aspirations – to live in dignity and peace.

“(We want) to shape our own destiny, to be able to make a living and to work hard and support a family. And most of all, to leave the next generation something better than what was left to us,” he said.

At the banquet graced by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, Obama said these were the aspirations that can illuminate a new era of partnership between the US and Malaysia. The American leader sprinkled his remarks with a few Malay words, a gesture that was well received by the audience, as shown by their appreciative applause.

At the start of the speech, he wished those present “selamat petang” (good evening) and ended it with “terima kasih banyak” (thank you very much).

In between, he used the word “bekerjasama” when touching on the partnership between the US and Malaysia, as well as “boleh spirit” in reference to the “Malaysia Boleh” mantra which loosely translates as “Malaysia Can Do It”.

Obama flew into Kuala Lumpur at about 5pm Saturday for the visit to Malaysia as part of his four-nation tour of Asia that started in Japan followed by South Korea while his final stop is the Philippines.

Read more @

Get children keen on science while they are still young, parents urged

Sunday, April 27th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: An interest in science should be instilled in children while they are still young, says Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

“Parents can be involved with their children in the Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning process by taking them to science exhibitions,” he said.

Idris said there really needed to be an increase in the number of science students in the country as Stem studies were fundamental to a nation whose economy was based on knowledge and innovation.

“If we look at developed countries, like the United States, Germany, South Korea and Japan, many of the people had basics in Stem as they had been exposed to science since young,” he told reporters after opening the Kuala Lumpur Science Fair (KLSEF) 2014 at the National Science Centre (NSC) here yesterday.

Idris lamented that only 37% of students in the country had elected to enter the science stream, a figure far below the Government’s target of a 60:40 ratio in the Technical Science and Literature Policy.

“The effort to increase the number of science stream students needs the cooperation of parents, the community and the private sector.

“At present, the role of the teacher is to teach in the classroom and ensure knowledge is transferred to the students.

“But what is more effective is the students learning by themselves in school and the teacher’s role is only as a facilitator to ensure a smooth learning process,” Idris said.

Present at the event were science advisor to the Prime Minister Prof Emeritus Datuk Seri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Asean Academy of Engineering and Technology (AAET) president Datuk Hong Lee Pee, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar) president Prof Datuk Chuah Hean Teik and NSC director Assoc Prof Dr Irmawati Ramli.

Read more @