Archive for June, 2014

Strong values, a priority

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

THE Education Ministry wants to make value-based education a reality in schools in line with Shift Three of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

“It is not enough just to produce students with paper qualifications. What is more important is to produce students with strong moral values,” said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap (pic).

She said this at the recent launch of the inaugural Educare Conference 2014, jointly organised by the Faculty of Education, Universiti Malaya (UM) and the Sathya Sai Academy for Human Values at the varsity’s premises.

Giving priority to value-based education in schools and intensifying teacher training were some of the recommendations made at the Educare Conference.

The other recommendations submitted to the Education Ministry included the appointment of a special officer for value-based education in states and the assignment of specific inspectorates at state and national levels to monitor the quality of value-based education. An increase in the number of teachers in value-based education was also proposed.

“We will discuss and study the execution of these recommendations at the ministry level. We will also invite education-related non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to further collaborate on the implementation of these recommendations once approved,” added Yap.

“Educare is related to the blossoming of human values in the hearts of students and educators alike.”

Yap commended UM and the Sathya Sai Educare Academy (the formal arm of the Sathya Sai Baba Central Council of Malaysia’s education wing), for organising the conference themed ‘Education to Educare: Value-Based Education in the New Millennium’.

“It’s very important to groom and produce well-rounded, educated students who practise integrity, civic behaviour and volunteerism,” she said.

“Value-based education programmes must be aimed at helping humanity to draw out the qualities of goodness inherent in man.”

She emphasised that value-based education should teach students to understand and appreciate nature by striking a balance between material pursuits and the long-term sustainability of society.

Read more @

Relating to autistic kids

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

It is best to reach out to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder through ideas and experiences, not questions and commands, to facilitate communication.

CONVERSATIONS are about an exchange between a speaker with a message and a willing listener. Basically, conversation requires mutual agreement to exchange information.

Developmentally, the ability to communicate with another person develops non-verbally first, before words are acquired.

Most babies would be able to convey their meaning without the use of words. Interestingly, speech can be learnt as a product of thought or as a behaviour independent of thought.

So, children can learn to speak and/or respond on “auto-pilot” without thinking, or being thoughtful about their communication.

Thus, verbal communication can occur without communication intent. This is often prevalent in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), who may say things that have no intentional meaning to themselves or to the listener i.e. repeating a phrase heard on television, repeatedly singing a song verse etc.

In typical development, after the age of two, children begin to communicate with those around them and also begin communicating with themselves. This ability is essential for thinking and for self control.


Basically, it is hard to think without language because language and thinking are inter-dependent.

If the illustrative example is considered normal, it is safe to say that 80% of language function is intended to share experiences, ideas and thoughts with another person.

This type of communication is known as “declarative communication”.

Declarative language is stating what one knows, or thinks, in the form of a comment. Such language may be used to share a comment (“Mangoes are my favourite”); to make a prediction (“I think it will rain”); to announce/celebrate (“We enjoyed the game!”); to observe (“You look tired”); to reflect on past experiences (“the last time I switched it on, the bulb blew”); or to problem solve (“The picture has slipped, we need some glue”).


Read more @

Language taboo

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

While learning English is an obsession with many South Koreans, it is considered a downright betrayal for locals to speak to one another in the global language.

JEONG So-hee, a young professional was surprised when a co-worker complained about “people who speak English when they are fluent in Korean”.

The 26-year-old works at a company which deals with foreign clients daily. Every employee is considerably fluent in the English language, although not everyone has studied abroad.

“I think it’s rude to speak to your co-workers in Korean when you have a foreign client with you,” said Jeong, who is bilingual and spent more than 10 years in the United States (US) as a teenager.

“But after hearing that, I try to be very careful to speak only in Korean to my co-workers, even though they understand English.

“I can speak both English and Korean, but why can’t I speak the language that I’m more comfortable with, especially when my colleagues understand both languages?”

While South Korea is known for spending large amounts of money on mastering the global language, it is quite rare to run into locals who speak in English to each other in public.

And that’s not necessarily because they can’t speak the language, but because it’s almost a social taboo to do so, Jeong said.

“If you are in South Korea and speak English fluently, people think you are a show-off,” she said.

Asia News Network.

Read more @

Boost for Singapore rankings

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

The island’s successful education system can be partly attributed to its culture of accountability, where all stake holders take their tasks seriously.

SINGAPORE’S education system has won another accolade — this time in a cognitive skills and educational attainment index comparing 39 countries and one region, Hong Kong.

The school system here has been ranked third after South Korea and Japan, and one place above Hong Kong in the index, according to The Learning Curve report published by education firm Pearson.

The last study two years ago placed Singapore fifth behind Finland, South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

The global study, carried out by the forecasting service Economist Intelligence Unit, draws on existing data from international organisations, as well as figures on literacy rates, school attendance, and university graduation rates.

Britain held steady in the sixth position as a result of improvement in its international tests scores and a rise in its tertiary graduation rate.

Canada and the Netherlands are also in the top 10.

Three of the world’s biggest emerging economies — Brazil, Mexico and Indonesia — are at the bottom of the list.

The study concluded that successful education systems are partly due to a “culture of accountability” in which teachers, students and parents take responsibility for education.

It also noted that in these countries, teachers are highly valued.

Countries and their governments must place importance on the role of teachers, and treat the profession with respect, the study noted.

The Straits Times/Asia News Network.

Read more @

Back to tests to assess

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

It is a system that will gauge students on their higher order thinking skills, but apart from the increased levels of stress caused to all parties, not much has been gained from PT3.

PENTAKSIRAN Tingkatan 3 (PT3 or Form Three Assessment) is being used to assess Form Three students from this year.

However with the assessment literally just days away, students, their parents and teachers are no clearer on what it really entails.

What has been revealed to them is the examination will consist of case study instrument assessment, oral and written tests.

Natasha, whose daughter is about to “face” PT3, says a briefing was held in May by the school for parents but with little information revealed during the session.

The only response she had from teachers when questions were raised was: Ini arahan dari Lembaga Peperiksaan. Kita pun tidak tahu apa formatnya. Nanti. (These are instructions from the Examinations Syndicate. We also do not know the format. Wait)

“Many parents are simply tired of the frequent changes (made by the Education Ministry) that they have stopped asking questions. They know they’ve come up against a brick wall,” she says.


Read more @

Building the base for creative industry

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

IN line with the long-term aim to make the country a regional hub for digital content, the government will introduce 3D design and software to be made accessible to all national schools for free.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said the move was to help enhance the level of creativity and innovation in students, thereby building the foundation for Malaysia’s creative industry.

The ministry had collaborated with Prestariang Berhad and Autodesk Malaysia for the initiative in all primary and secondary schools.

It was in line with producing world-class creative content and putting Malaysia on the map for digital content, he said at the launch of the 2014 Autodesk Malaysia Design Competition in Putrajaya recently.

Also present at the event were Prestariang Group chief executive officer Dr Abu Hasan Ismail, Universiti Teknologi Mara vice-chancellor Prof Tan Sri Dr Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar, Universiti Malaya vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaluddin and Universiti Putra Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Dr Mohd Azmi Mohd Lila.

“I urge all schools to take the opportunity to integrate Autodesk technology in their classrooms.

“It will be rolled out in stages. The aim is to first provide access to the software and then integrate it into the school curriculum,” added Idris.

The software, he added, was already available to tertiary students at all higher learning institutions in the country where they could download it for free and use for three years.

The range of the software offered were priced between RM30,000 and RM40,000.

The competition, which is open to all full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students, is open for registration until Sept 15.


Read more @

‘Passengers suffocated’

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

SYDNEY: PASSENGERS and crew of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 most likely died of suffocation and coasted lifelessly into the ocean on autopilot, a new report released by Australian officials said on Thursday.

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft on the tarmac at Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang. Reuters pic

Reuters quoted the 55-page report by the Australian Transport Safety Board (ATSB), which outlined how investigators arrived at the conclusion after comparing conditions on the flight with previous disasters, although it contained no new evidence from within the jetliner.

The report narrowed down the possible final resting place from thousands of possible routes, while noting the absence of communications, the steady flight path and a number of other key abnormalities in the course of the ill-fated flight.

“Given these observations, the final stages of the unresponsive crew/hypoxia event type appeared to best fit the available evidence for the final period of MH370’s flight when it was heading in a generally southerly direction,” the ATSB report said.

All of that suggested the plane most likely crashed further south into the Indian Ocean than previously thought, Australian officials said, leading them to announce a shift further south within the prior search area.

The new analysis comes more than 100 days after the Boeing 777-200ER carrying 239 passengers and crew, disappeared on March 8 after taking off from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport en route to Beijing.

Investigators have said that the little evidence they have to work with suggests the plane was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its flight path before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean.

The search was narrowed in April after a series of acoustic pings thought to be from the plane’s black box recorders were heard along a final arc where analysis of satellite data put its last location.

Read more @

Scientists explain link between stress and heart attack

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Doctors have long known that chronic stress leads to cardiovascular disease, but have not understood the mechanism.

Last weekend, scientists said that they may have unravelled how chronic stress leads to heart attack and stroke – by triggering overproduction of disease-fighting white blood cells which can be harmful in excess.

Surplus cells clump together on the inner walls of arteries, restricting blood flow and encouraging the formation of clots that block circulation or break off and travel to another part of the body.

White blood cells “are important to fight infection and healing, but if you have too many of them, or they are in the wrong place, they can be harmful,” said study co-author Matthias Nahrendorf of the Harvard Medical School in Boston.

Doctors have long known that chronic stress leads to cardiovascular disease, but have not understood the mechanism. To find the link, Nahrendorf and a team studied 29 medical residents working in an intensive care unit.

Their work environment is considered a model for chronic stress exposure given the fast pace and heavy responsibility they carry for life-and-death decisions.

Comparing blood samples taken during work hours and off duty, as well as the results of stress perception questionnaires, the researchers found a link between stress and the immune system.

Particularly, they noticed stress activate bone marrow stem cells, which in turn triggered overproduction of white blood cells, also called leukocytes.

White blood cells, crucial in wound healing and fighting off infection, can turn against their host, with devastating consequences for people with diseases like atherosclerosis – a thickening of artery walls caused by a plaque buildup.

AFP Relaxnews.

Read more @

A fit mind: How to prevent serious ARCD

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

When there’s no cure, prevention is as good as gold.

Age Related Cognitive Decline (ARCD), has received much more study in the past decade, because the world’s population of folks over 50 is literally booming.

Nearly everyone who reaches the half-century mark suffers from some degree of ARCD.

It can be as mild as “Why did I come in this room?” or “Where did I put my keys?” Or it can be more serious, turning into a pre-dementia state by age 65.

A few drugs have been developed that can lower the degree of mental decline or even help delay some of the symptoms, but there is no current cure.

There are, however, numerous methods of prevention. If you value your brain, it’s important to start protecting it.

No matter how old you are, here’s information that’s been learned from hundreds of scientific studies.

First, know that your brain uses a huge amount of energy, a disproportionate amount compared to other parts of your body.

To repeat an old cliche, it takes energy to make energy. You’ve certainly heard that exercise increases blood circulation, improves the heart and respiratory systems, and helps work off fat. All four of those exercise benefits help prevent or lessen the symptoms of ARCD.

Studies have shown that people who get little activity or who are obese suffer more from mental decline as they age than those who are fit and active. Personal habits also affect the onset of symptoms. One big discovery is that chronic brain inflammation is a big marker for the condition.

Chronic low-level brain inflammation can be caused by such habits as cigarette smoking, eating a non-nutritious diet dependent on fast or processed foods, poor sleep patterns and obesity. In fact, brain inflammation is now believed to be associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.


Read more @

Let’s be more positive

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

The World Cup can teach us Malaysians (and our politicians) why it’s better to avoid negative and destructive playing styles.

WHEN I realised an article was due right in the middle of the World Cup, I thought I knew what I was going to write: A story of how a team who is outclassed in every way gets lucky and scores a winning goal. In football parlance, it would be a smash-and-grab, and it was to be a piece on how commentators focus on the results and not necessarily how it was achieved…

However, something unusual happened in Brazil this year. Almost every team looked to play every game to win. Nobody just sat back and defended.

Consequently, every result so far in this tournament has been hard-fought and well-earned, and almost all who lost did so with their heads up high (for the exception, I’m looking at you, Honduras).

Look at the stats: More than three goals per game in the first round – the highest for a World Cup tournament since 1958. Even the highly-exciting Premier League only averages about 2.8 goals per game.

More to the point, the attitude carried by the teams has been exemplary. They’ve looked to create goals, not to destroy chances. In the game between England and Italy – where many had feared a dour draw in the heat of the Amazonian jungle, or a take-no-prisoners game of fouls both real and simulated – what we instead got was a game that flowed with great goals and slick inter-play. The pass completion rate for England and Italy were 92% and 95% respectively, the highest for each nation in a World Cup tournament for nearly half a century.

The exceptions to the rule have stood out in stark contrast: The fall of Brazil’s Fred in the penalty box when nobody touched him, and the “skill” of Palacios from Honduras in leaving his stud marks on opposing players.


Read more :