Archive for August, 2014

Islam arrived in Sabah in 10th century

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: The arrival of Islam in Sabah started in the 10th century around the East Coast, influenced by Brunei and the Sulu government, according to a representative from the Sabah Iranun Graduates Association, Milus Abd Wahab.

“Refering to a book written by Muhiddin Yusin in 1990 ‘Islam di Sabah’, someone by the name of Abdullah from Lahad Datu brought the teaching from Sulu to Sabah in 1408 after accepting Islam. However, there is another theory that there is no evidence of Islamization in Sabah and Sarawak, but it is linked to the Brunei Islamization.

“There are three corner categories to explain the arrival of Islam in Sabah, namely at the South West Coast which was influenced by the Brunei government, East Coast namely in Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan and Semporna and also at the Tawau area, where it was influenced by the people from Makasar of Indonesia.

“After that, a number of Iranun small governments emerged in north Borneo in line with the migration of this particular ethnic group around Sabah in the 1760s. The migration focused on areas from Tempasuk to Teluk Marudu and Tunku,” said Milus at a public talk on the history of the advent of Islam in Borneo at Tabung Haji Hotel yesterday.

Referring his facts also from a statement made by writer Baszley Bee b. Basrah Bee in 2006, Milus explained that a small government in Tempasuk had been led by Raja Ismail in 1787 which was taken over by his son Raja Tebuk in the 1830s.

Milus, who is also a historian, said a small government was found in the East Coast of Sabah, particularly in Tunku in the 1830s to 1845, which was said by many people to denounce the western powers in the area.

“There are many references and theories on the history of Islam in Sabah, and names like Datu Miraja Dinda of the Iranun small government, Sharif Osman of Teluk Marudu and also Datu Paduka Mat Salleh in Inanam have been mentioned a number of times as important characters in the development of Islam in Sabah, followed by the colonial resistance.

by Mariah Doksil.

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A Practical Guide to Selecting “Just Right” Books for Independent Reading

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Students choose books for independent reading for many different reasons: “I just saw the movie,” “I like the pictures,” “My friend just finished it.” Students usually choose books that appeal to them visually. The front covers are designed to capture their interest and emotions. However, many students do not choose a book that they can actually read independently and with success (Parks, 2004).

A carefully designed program that includes teaching how to choose a book, monitoring the process, and evaluating can impact reading achievement (Routman, 2003). The teacher can provide feedback by matching the book to the reader. This can be done by having the student read aloud while the teacher listens and records the miscues. At this time the teacher may also pay attention to the phrasing and fluency of the reading. After calculating the percent of miscues for accuracy, the teacher calculates an error rate. An error rate of 1 in 20 words suggests an easy text, an error rate of 1 in 10 suggests an instructional level text and an error rate of greater than 1 in 10 suggests a hard text (Fountas & Pinnell, 1999).

If the book is too difficult, it will lead to frustration; too little of a challenge will lead to boredom (Routman, 2003). So the book needs to be “just right.” A just right book is one that provides a little bit of a challenge for the student. It should be a book that the student finds interesting and can be read with a small amount of assistance with the text. Spending time reading just right books during independent reading time will help students become stronger.

It would be acceptable, occasionally, for a student to choose a slightly difficult book if he or she is interested in a specific subject and finds a difficult book that centers on this subject. However, providing a steady diet of books that are too difficult for the student will cause more harm. The student needs to understand and enjoy the book for reading success. Many students who choose hard books give up on the book out of frustration. Research shows that learning best occurs with many lessons presenting no more than 10% new material and providing many opportunities for practice (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996).

Reading lots of easy books will build confidence and fluency. Pattern books, predictable stories, and familiar books will provide the student with the opportunity to work on building a level of comfort and self-reliance. Reading fluency and comprehension are linked (Armbruster, Lehr, & Osborn, 2001). Students who spend a great deal of energy on decoding lose all meaning of the story. A student who has difficulty with fluency may have been reading at a frustration level for quite some time. Finding the right level of books for this student is essential. Matching the book to the reader will provide an opportunity for the student to read with comprehension and relative ease. Reading is about gaining meaning, so students should be reading manageable texts and understanding what they read.

Easy books allow students to focus on the meaning and think deeper about characters and plot. However, too much easy reading will not promote growth in reading. This is when teacher input is vital. Observing the students closely and monitoring their progress will give the teacher the information to move the student gently to more difficult books. As the student moves to just right books, he or she will continue to develop reading skills. The text should be challenging enough to allow the student to work out problems or learn a new strategy.

Tools for students to use when choosing books.

Children need to learn how to choose a book. Giving them the opportunity to choose from a small group of books is a beginning. Modeling how to look through a book–looking at the cover, flipping through the pages, and scanning the illustrations–will provide students with an excellent example. Many teachers explain the five-finger rule to their students. This rule reminds students to count on their fingers every time they miss a word in a particular book. If they miss five words, the book may be too hard. If they miss three words or fewer, it might be “just right” (, n.d.).

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‘Weed out extremism from young’

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: The right culture inculcated in schools will go a long way in preventing extremism from taking root among the young, says renowned educationist Datuk Brother Charles O’Leary.

Stressing that hate and extremism were interrelated, Bro Charles, as he is fondly referred to said: “We must teach the young how to love, how to respect each other, how to respect nature, how to respect our environment.

The former principal of the La Salle secondary school here who served between 1969 and 1986 said educational institutions must do more to instil moderation into the nation’s mainstream.

He said as teachers had a vital and influential role, they should deepen their awareness about the values they should teach.

“If we pour out hate, revenge, murder, then, of course, there will be no peace. This is the great responsibility for our leaders, parents and teachers,” he said

Bro Charles, who is the last surviving member of the pioneer group of La Salle Brothers who came to Borneo in the 1950s, said any teacher who does not impart these values should not be a teacher in the school.

Many of his former students have gone on to become leaders in politics, government and business.

Among them are Sabah’s former Yang Di-Pertua Negri Tun Ahmad Shah Abdullah and former Chief Ministers Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

He had also taught Sarawak’s ex-Chief Minister Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, who is now head of state, when he was posted to St Joseph’s school in Kuching for seven years before coming to Sabah in the 1960s.

Quoting the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, Bro Charles said: “People must learn to hate and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Pointing out that there were extremists in most religions, Bro Charles said it was sad that they used God and religion for their own ends.

“They don’t respect other people’s beliefs and religions. They take their scriptures literally or wrongly interpret them,” he said, adding that there should be mutual respect for moderation to take root.

“Leaders are preaching unity but no one seems to be paying heed. We need to practise moderation. The concept of 1Malaysia means nothing if we don’t do that,” Bro Charles said.

He said the 1Malaysia concept was a wonderful idea but people needed to sit down as a community to reflect and have dialogues.

by Ruben Sario.

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President-elect Joko Widodo talks of the new democracy in Indonesia

Monday, August 25th, 2014

All smiles: Jokowi posing with Wong Chun Wai at his office in Jakarta. - AZMAN GHANI / The Star

All smiles: Jokowi posing with Wong Chun Wai at his office in Jakarta. – AZMAN GHANI / The Star

JAKARTA: Joko Widodo, the man who will be the next Indonesian president, has a directive for his officials – end the time consuming ceremonies, lengthy speeches and protocol, which have long been the mark of the Indonesian political elites.

“When I arrived in Jakarta, I was provided with countless security officers but I have cut the number to four. I hate protocol. I don’t want protocol to manage me. I don’t want it to be difficult for the people to reach me,” he said. Neither does he care for an entourage of political leaders and officials, saying bluntly that they should be doing their work.

“This is an era of horizontal leadership; this is the new democracy in Indonesia,” he said repeatedly to describe a working relationship that links people across organisational boundaries instead of a vertical relationship that promotes feudal silos.

The hugely populist politician popularly known as Jokowi enjoys megastar status in Jakarta where he is literally mobbed wherever he goes, especially during his “blusukans” or walkabouts to the squatter slums located at river banks.

“It allows me to understand the people’s problems. It also helps them understand that I am working to better their lives,” he said, adding that he enjoyed listening and talking to the people.

He has made surprise visits to villages, sometimes at midnight, catching villagers by surprise but the effect has been electrifying, with news of such visits quickly spreading to other villages.

Jokowi, 53, is fond of telling listeners that his father was a small-time wood collector and that his family lived in shacks on flood-prone banks of a river.

“I know what it is like being poor. Helping the poor, especially in their health and education needs, would be my priority,” said the president-elect who will take office in October. He spoke of families who have to queue up daily to draw water from a single well that they share.

According to Inside Indonesia, Jokowi was born in Solo (Surakarta), Central Java, in 1961; he was the oldest of four children and the only son. His family struggled to assist him through school and he eventually graduated with a degree in forestry from Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, in 1986.

Jokowi joined the forestry service of a state enterprise in Aceh before returning to Solo in 1989 to work with his uncle and learn the furniture business from design to delivery. Then he branched out on his own. He was the beneficiary of a small furniture business.

by Wong Chun Wai.

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Special needs learners face obstacles

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

It is time for the authorities to look into a segment of society that needs to get an equal and inclusive education.

SPECIAL needs education in Malaysia still has a long way to go if it is to prepare young people afflicted with various disabilities for life beyond school.

Parents with special needs children have pointed out that one of the shifts in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 stipulates that equal access to quality education of an international standard must be available to all. Yet many remain sceptical.

The Blueprint acknowledges that, although this group has access to different schooling options, the quality of education for them is not without its shortcomings.

The shortage of qualified teachers, speech and occupational therapists is but one. The limited support and funding for those with autism, dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are among the others.

In line with current education policies, special needs students can enrol in special education schools for students with different disabilities.

Thinking caps on: Special needs teens working on puzzles as their teachers watch them.

They also have the choice of enrolling in a special education integrated programme in which there are dedicated classes for such students, or in inclusive education programmes where they are integrated into mainstream classes.

These options are available at national schools.


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Holding hands for safety

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

DO you remember your first day at preschool? A strange environment, new faces, a different routine, exciting discoveries to make … there would have been so much to deal with, and, surely, safety would have been the last thing on your mind.

Preschool children are usually impulsive, inquisitive and excitable, whether at home or at school. Within the controlled and familiar home environment, danger levels tend to be substantially lower especially with parents or caregivers in charge.

At preschool, however, things may not be the same. With over a hundred children running around, school teachers are easily outnumbered and overwhelmed.

This is why many preschool centres have strict pick-up and drop-off protocols for parents. Teachers will escort a child to the parents’ car only when they have arrived at the preschool’s gates. Unfortunately, this creates a massive traffic jam outside the preschool building at the start and end of the school day.

“We applaud the care and attention provided by preschool centre staff to prevent traffic accidents before and after school. However, this needs to be supplemented by basic knowledge and strict rules, which will serve the children well even after they leave preschool,” says Datuk Ismet Suki, UMW Toyota Motor president.

Many children go through “culture shock” when they transit from preschool to primary school, he explains. At primary school, children suddenly find they are required to be much more independent than they were in preschool. “Equipping them with the right safety knowledge will keep them safe before and after school hours, and also whenever they are on the road, as passengers in a motor vehicle, and as pedestrians on a street.”

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Turning history lesson for the future: Muhyiddin

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

ALOR STAR: History lesson will no longer be the subject of the “past”.

The Education Ministry has asked local universities to find ways for students to understand and appreciate more of the country’s history.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pointed out that very often, historians teach history subject as a subject of the ‘past’, about the ‘past’ and for the ‘past’.

Consequently, he said, history is perceived as not to have values in the current fast moving, dynamic and vibrant society and students do not see the ‘future’ of the subject.

“For this reason, there is a need to review and reorient the pedagogy of the subject into a ‘live’ subject with an approach that emphasises on ‘the future lies in the past’,” Muhyiddin said in his speech at the opening ceremony of the 23rd International Conference of Historians of Asia (IAHA 2014) at TH Hotel and Convention Centre here.


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History Of The Country Should Become Inspiration For Development: Muhyiddin

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

ALOR SETAR, Aug 24 (Bernama) — Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin o0n Sunday said the history of the country should be well researched and its content should be the inspiration for development in all fields, such as architecture, arts, education, sports, science and engineering.

Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister and Malaysian Historical Society vice-president, said the subject that the modernisation should be leveraged as a push factor to ensure ‘history’ as a discipline remained to be relevant, if not increased in values and demand.

He said there was a need for reviewing and reorienting the pedagogy of the subject into a live ’subject’ with an approach that emphasized on the grand statement that ‘the future lies in the past’.

“While history is already a compulsory subject for students of social science, very often historians teach the subject as a subject of the ‘past’, about the ‘past’ and for the ‘past’.

“Consequently, history is not perceived as having values in the current fast moving, dynamic and vibrant society. Thus, students for example, do not see the ‘future’ of the subject,” he said at the opening of the 23rd Conference of the International Association of Historian of Asia (IAHA 2014) here today.


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Top Students, Too, Aren’t Always Ready for College

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

One recent morning over coffee, I was talking with a colleague about a rising source of frustration for him and his fellow faculty members: how unprepared for college-level coursework so many incoming students are, even at our highly selective university.

“They have the grades and the test scores to be here,” said my colleague, director of undergraduate studies in math at the Johns Hopkins University. “What they don’t have is a deep understanding of why the techniques they’ve been taught work, the actual underlying mathematical relationships. They walk into to my classroom in September and don’t have the study habits or proper foundation to do the work.”

His concerns don’t come as a complete surprise. As a former college professor, provost, and president, I’ve been hearing faculty and administrators at top undergraduate institutions quietly complain for more than three decades about the declining quality of student preparation.

What’s changed is that today, college readiness is more often a hot topic for educators and policy makers focused on at-risk students. The data driving their laudable work are alarming: Only one in four high-school seniors meets the four benchmarks designed to show readiness for a successful freshman year of college, according to the 2012 ACT college-readiness test.

Many groups are working to improve college readiness, including the Bill & Melinda Gates and the Lumina Foundations and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. But there are two key questions few are openly asking.

First, what do we know about the college readiness of not just the bottom high-school performers but also the top students? The truth is that not all of the smartest kids who have jumped through the hoops required for selective college admissions are ready for the demands of college-level work. Second, what are faculty doing about the problem? Unfortunately, at most colleges, even teachers devoted to undergraduate success aren’t convinced that it’s their problem, nor do they know how to solve it.

My interest in trying to answer those questions is part of the reason I recently left a long career in higher education to run the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, a program for academically advanced pre-college students. From this perspective, here’s what I think needs to be added to today’s conversation about college readiness.

by Elaine Tuttle Hansen.

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Parents Should Be Allowed to Choose Their Kids’ Teacher

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

The most important decision you will make about your children’s education is picking their school, right? That’s the conventional wisdom, but it’s actually wrong — or at best it’s only half-correct. Teacher effectiveness varies a lot within schools, even within good schools, which means that just choosing the right school for your kid is not a proxy for choosing great teachers. So while “school choice” is hotly debated (next week is National School Choice Week, complete with Bill Cosby’s blessing and events galore,) there are few rallies being held for giving parents the right to choose a particular teacher. That’s because the whole system is stacked against empowering families in this way. In fact, because of how seniority rules generally work, it’s a lot more common for teachers to choose their students than for students to choose their teachers.

Just how much individual teachers matter is the big implication of an analysis of 2.5 million students and their instructors that was released in December and highlighted recently in the New York Times. The long-term, large-scale study by economists at Columbia and Harvard used two decades of data to examine differences in student outcomes (including such categories as teen pregnancy and college enrollment) and link those differences with how effective their teachers were at improving student scores on achievement tests. The headline-grabbing finding was that replacing an ineffective teacher with one of average quality would boost a single classroom’s lifetime earnings by a quarter-million dollars. And that’s just from one year of assigning that group of kids to an average teacher instead of a lousy one. A second study, released January 12 by the Education Trust-West, an education advocacy group in California, examined three years of data on teachers from the Los Angeles public school system and noted that low-income and minority students are twice as likely to have teachers in the bottom 25% of effectiveness. The Ed Trust study did not get as much attention as the one by the Ivy League economists, but it reached the same obvious conclusion: more effective teachers boost learning for students.

The data are sufficiently compelling that these days it’s only education’s flat-earthers who continue to argue that teachers don’t matter a great deal and that efforts to retain and reward the best ones and remove the worst onesaren’t essential to improving schools. But for parents there is a more immediate issue: research shows that differences in teacher effectiveness are generally greater within schools than between schools. For instance, when analysts at the National Center for Analysis of Longitudinal Data in Education Research (CALDER) compared teacher quality at high- and low-poverty schools, they found relatively small differences between schools but substantial differences among teachers working in the same schools — especially in high-poverty schools where some really low-performing teachers created an extra drag on the averages. The researchers found that the best teachers in high-poverty schools were as good as the best teachers elsewhere. On the flip side, even “good” schools have lemons.

by @arotherham.

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