Archive for September, 2015

Ringgit sinks to fresh 17-year lows

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian ringgit and Indonesian rupiah slid to fresh 17-year lows on Tuesday (Sept 29), as persistent worries about the health of the Chinese and global economies weighed on risk sentiment and dented emerging Asian currencies.

The ringgit fell for a sixth day and was down 1 per cent at 4.4725 a US dollar as of 12:24 pm. It earlier dropped to 4.4845, the weakest level since at least January 1998, and has plunged about 16 per cent since June 30. The Indonesian rupiah slipped to 14,730 at one point, its lowest level since July 1998. Against the Singapore dollar, the ringgit breached the 3.12 level for the first time, trading at 3.1239 at 12:25 pm, down 0.8 per cent from Monday’s close. It reached a morning low of 3.1260 at 11:44 am.

The Singdollar, meanwhile, touched a six-year low of $1.4335 per US dollar at 9:21 am and was trading at 1.4326 against the greenback at 12:43 pm.

The ringgit is headed for its biggest quarterly loss since 1997 as the relatively low level of import cover afforded by Malaysia’s foreign-exchange reserves makes the currency more vulnerable to an emerging markets selloff. The country’s reserves have declined the most among Southeast Asia’s five biggest economies in 2015 and Moody’s Investors Service said in August that while they are sufficient, their adequacy is the weakest in the region.

The holdings recovered for a second straight fortnight in the first two weeks of September, suggesting the central bank scaled back its intervention. Malaysia’s foreign-exchange reserves rose 0.6 per cent to US$95.3 billion in the two weeks to Sept 15 but are still 18 per cent lower than at the end of last year.

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Sultan: Institutions must stay independent

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

PUTRAJAYA: Education, administration, judiciary, regulatory and enforcement agencies and institutions have been reminded to be independent and strong.

Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Shah said leaders and administrators placed by the public in positions of trust should act as reliable trustees and perform their duty with integrity.

“They should recognise the importance of preserving and strengthening our institutions and maintaining their integrity and independence,” he said in his speech at the World Islamic Countries/University Lea­ders Summit 2015 yesterday.

The Sultan said stress tests for institutions are the truest measures of whether they were able to weather the storm.

“Because once lost, the trustee fails his or her test and it will be difficult to regain the trust, integrity and independence of our institutions, be it in education, administration, the judiciary, regulatory and enforcement agencies, and even the monarchy,” he said.

The Sultan hoped that leaders and administrators would continue to strengthen the country’s institutional quality and not let the capabilities, integrity and independence of national institutions be undermined.

He also said that universities as a humanistic institution should not only produce individuals with broad knowledge and critical intelligence but also those with moral decency and social sensitivity.

“It ought to be an institution that can fundamentally develop and even transform human beings, both materially and spiritually.

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Registration for 90% Sabahan teachers to start Oct 6.

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Jame (seated second from left) and his deputy director, Maimunah Suhaibul (seated, left) at the press conference yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahan graduates with teaching degrees are invited to register with the Education Department from October 6 to 9.

State education director Datuk Jame Alip said the graduates can register at the lobby of Wisma Jabatan Pendidikan Negeri Sabah, Jalan Punai Tanah Likas on October 6.

Graduates from other districts in Sabah can register at the Education District Offices nearest to them from October 7 to Oct 9.

He advised all the registrants to bring along the original copies as well as copies of their identification card, birth certificate and academic certificates (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia, Degree, Masters and/or PhD).

Graduates from private and overseas higher learning institutes will be required to present the recognition letter from the Public Service Department.

He urged those requiring further information to contact the secretariat at 088-537140 (Mohd Idris Haji Puteh); 088-537142 (Mohd Sarizam Matsanit); and 088-537018 (Tham Yun Fook).

Jame said that the registration drive was carried out by the department to achieve the 90 percent target for Sabahan teachers to serve at primary and secondary schools in Sabah.

He said that about 82.2 percent of primary school teachers or 21,201 primary school teachers serving in Sabah were Sabahans.

There are a total of 26,425 primary school teachers in Sabah. About 4,539 were from Peninsular Malaysia, 654 were from Sarawak and 31 were from Labuan.

Meanwhile, there are 14,645 secondary school teachers in Sabah.

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Invite to Sabahan education grads

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: The State Education Department is calling on all Sabahan education graduates who have yet to be offered teaching positions to register with the department through their respective education offices from Oct. 6 to 9.

A total of 5,210 local teachers – an average of 1,735 a year for the next three years – will be needed to increase the percentage of local teachers in Sabah to 90 per cent as promised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Of these, 2,589 would be primary school teachers while the other 2,621 secondary school teachers.

State Education Director Datuk Jame Alip (pic) said the department is taking its own initiative to conduct the State-Level 90:10 Data Collection Programme for education graduates which will kick off on Oct. 6 at 9am at the department’s headquarters in Wisma Pendidikan here.

“Education graduates from Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Papar and Tuaran are encouraged to register. This is open to all education graduates from public, private or overseas universities, as long as their degrees are recognised by the Public Service Department. “Education graduates from other districts can start registering on Oct 7 to 9 at their respective education offices,” he said during a press conference here, Tuesday.

All applicants are required to bring with them original copies of their identity cards, birth certificates, academic certificates including SPM, STPM, Bachelor degree certificate, Masters degree and PhD certificate, if any. Education graduates from private universities and overseas universities will be required to submit a certificate of recognition from the Public Service Department together with their degrees.

Jame said currently 80.2 per cent of the 26,425 primary school teachers in Sabah are locals while at secondary school level, the percentage is lower at 72.1 per cent.

“For now, this is only open to those with education degrees. We will send their data to the Education Ministry’s Human Resource Department and the candidates will be interviewed by the Education Service Commission. This will be a direct appointment because they are all trained teachers,” he said.

He added that in the event the number was not enough to fill the positions, the offer will be extended to unemployed graduates from other disciplines such as social science graduates where they will be recommended for a year’s training to become trained teachers. However, he said, the offer is only open to those under 35 years. Further information regarding the programme can be obtained by contacting the secretariat at 088-537140 (Mohd Idris Puteh), 088-537142 (Mohd Sarizam Matsanit) or 088-537018 (Tham Yun Fook).

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PIBGN Urges Education Ministry To Postpone New UPSR Format

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The Education Ministry has been urged to postpone the new format of the Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR), scheduled for implementation next year, to give ample time to teachers and students to make preparations.

National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council (PIBGN) president Associate Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali said such a drastic change in a short time would adversly affect the performance of the pupils.

“The UPSR English paper will be separated into comprehension and writing from next year under the new format.

“I am of the opinion the new UPSR format is set to repeat what had happened to the Form Three Assessment Test (PT3) when the number of students obtaining A dropped compared to the Lower Secondary assessment examination (PMR),” he said when contacted by Bernama here.

He was commenting on the statement by Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof on Tuesday that the ministry would maintain its decision to separate the UPSR English paper into comprehension and writing from next year despite calls by the National Union of Teaching Profession to postpone it.

Mohamad Ali said teachers and students would surely face difficulties to make preparation in a short time although it was aimed at empowering the English Language.

“The new format will impact on rural students because they don’t fully master English compared to urban students. The latter communicate in English with their parents and friends,” he said.

The ministry should hold briefings and detailed explanations on the new UPSR examination format to teachers nationwide to ensure it went smoothly later, said Mohamad Ali.


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Honesty is better than all policies

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

Islam emphasises not only the duty to be honest, truthful and trustworthy, but also the social obligation to always support truthful people, to associate with the truthful ones and to keep their company.

THE Prophet Muhammad cautioned: “O people, if any of you is put in an administrative post on our behalf and conceals from us a needle or more, it would be misappropriation (of public funds) and he will have to produce it on the Day of Judgment” (recorded by Muslim and Abu Dawud).

The Prophet was conforming to God’s warning in the Quran, “he who is false to his trust (including by misappropriating public property) shall be faced with his fraud on the Day of Resurrection, when every human being shall be repaid in full for whatever he has done (in the world), and none shall be dealt with unjustly” (Ali ‘Imran 3:161).

Universal political wisdom is at home with such a cautious attitude. As Anglo-Irish statesman, Edmund Burke put it beautifully: “All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust: and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.”

Tried ethical virtues are called probity, while adherence to moral principles is termed integrity. Interpreted according to the world view of Islam, integrity and probity are discussed in Islamic ethics under the rubric of sidq.

Integrity and probity are so significant in reality that in a passage of Abu Bakr’s speech when he was elected caliph after the Prophet’s demise, he declared that “the essence of sidq is amanah (being trustworthy), while the essence of kadhib (corruption) iskhiyanah (perfidy).”

It is indeed important to remember that Islam emphasises not only the duty to be honest, truthful and trustworthy and hence not to be dishonest, deceitful or untruthful at the individual level; but also, the social obligation to always support truthful people, to associate with the truthful ones and to keep their company.

This is evident in the following Quranic verse: “O believers, fear God, and be among those who are the truthful ones” (al-Tawbah 9:119).

“Truthfulness” – as aptly observed by al-Qushayri – “is the supporting pillar of any state of affair, by it comes the perfection of the affair, and through it comes its order.” Well known as a theologian and Sufi, Abu al-Qasim al-Qushayri (d. 465/1072) used to teach traditions of the Prophet in the palace of caliph al-Qa’im in Baghdad.

It should be borne in mind that “honesty” already refers to comprehensive moral traits, covering being truthful in speech, fairness in dealing with others, keeping one’s promises, being trustworthy, duly repaying one’s debt, being responsible, and so on. Such is the conclusion made by Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren in their study of important statements on man and his institutions by the great thinkers in western history. (See their Great Treasury of Western Thought, page 668).

A moral requirement of rectitude in intention, speech and action is arguably more emphatically coached by the term “integrity”.

Derived from the Latin integer, meaning entire or untouched, integrity implies moral “incorruptibility to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility or pledge”.


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Six-paper minimum for UPSR

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

PUTRAJAYA: Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) candidates in national schools will sit for a minimum of six papers from next year.

Malaysian Examinations Syndi­cate (MES) director Datin Nawal Salleh said the English Language paper would be split into two papers – comprehension and written.

She said this was the same format being used for the Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese Language and Tamil Language papers.

She said one of the reasons for giving two grades for English Language was to help improve student proficiency.

Nawal said the new format was in line with the Standard Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR), School-Based Assessment (PBS) and the usage of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS).

Under the new system, pupils in national schools would sit for six papers with a second paper for English while those in vernacular schools would sit for eight papers.

Nawal said the comprehension papers of the language examinations would now include various forms of objective questions, including fill-in-the-blank questions and fewer multiple-choice questions.

“The various forms of questions will require the candidates to apply HOTS as well as their literacy and numeracy skills,” she said.

In previous years, the comprehension questions were based on multiple-choice questions.

Nawal said KSSR was first implemented in 2011, starting with Year One pupils, so this means next year’s UPSR candidates would be the first under the KSSR curriculum.

“The UPSR will remain a 100% written centralised examination as in previous years,” she said, adding that MES, which is under the Education Ministry, would still be responsible for conducting the examinations nationwide.

According to Nawal, it is estimated that between 450,000 and 500,000 students will sit for the UPSR next year.


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Malaysian Teachers Welcome New English Language UPSR Format

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

KUANTAN, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The Malaysian Congress of Teachers Unions in the Education Service welcomed the enhancement on the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) format involving the English Language paper.

Its president Datuk Mohamed Sabri Mohd Arsad said the move next year to grade comprehension and writing separately would effectively gauge the pupils’ proficiency in the subject.

“This is the best form of assessment for the pupils after six years of learning the English language in school and to hopefully improve their proficiency,” he told reporters at a parent-teachers function at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) St Thomas here today.

The new format which also involved the Bahasa Melayu, Chinese Language, Tamil Language and Science subjects was revealed by Malaysian Examinations Board (MEB) director Nawal Salleh yesterday.

In this regard, UPSR candidates in SK will get six grades compared to the current five, while those in national type (SJK) Chinese and Tamil schools will get eight grades instead of seven.

Mohamed Sabri also hoped the Education Ministry would familiarise the relevant teachers with the new format and allow them sufficient time to explain it to the candidates.


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Decision To Split UPSR English Exam Stays – Education DG

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

News Pic

PORT KLANG, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The Education Ministry will go ahead with its decision to split the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) English examination paper into comprehension and assessment starting next year despite calls from National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) to defer the implementation.

Director-General of Education, Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof, said the department had informed the public since 2010 that changes would be made into the UPSR English examination format by 2016.

He disclosed this at a press conference after launching the World’s Largest Lesson programme at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Port Klang here today.

Dr Khair was commenting on the statement made by NUTP president Hashim Adnan that the decision to split UPSR English Language (BI) paper for comprehension and assessment into two grades starting next year should be deferred as the timeframe before implementation was just one year and it would be too short for both students and teachers to adjust to the new system.

He was reported to have said that a suitable time frame of two years would be more favourable to implement the new format.

Malaysian Examinations Board (MEB) director Datin Nawal Salleh had said previously, the BI test for comprehension and assessment was combined as one grade and only the Bahasa Melayu (BM) paper had two grades.

“The move to separate the grades for BI comprehension and assessment test is in line with efforts to improve English proficiency among the students,” she said.

Dr Khair however said the new ruling would not affect the Key Performance Index of the teachers as it was measured based on teaching and learning process and not the students’ performance in UPSR.

Commenting on the launching of World’s Largest Lesson programme at SK Port Klang, Dr Khair said the initiative highlights the importance of global citizens engaging in sustainable living and working together to achieve the Global Goals.


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Trapped by haze – how long more?

Monday, September 28th, 2015

THE agony of being trapped in the all-enveloping haze, which should be more accurately called smog, continues with no end in sight.

It is no longer a transient irritation that can be “tolerated” because it will soon go away.

“The number of forest fires and land fires could rise until end-November,” according to a spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency on Sept 23.

Part of the reason is the El Nino which causes dry weather that causes peat lands to burn faster.

The burning of peat lands and the forest fires caused by plantations and farmers in Sumatra and Kalimantan are the sources of the haze in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

It is incredible that after so many years of the annual haze affair, after so many promises of action, and after so many meetings and agreements in the context of the three countries and of Asean cooperation, there is still a severe and prolonged haze this year.

Especially if the haze is to continue another two months, solving this problem should be the highest priority for the leaders of Asean – or at least of the three countries.

Asean leaders have given priority to forging trade and investment agreements, and launching an Asean Community by the end of this year.

But the most visible and urgent issue – how to end the haze which is affecting the health of millions of citizens in the three countries – has yet to receive the full attention it deserves.

Health of the people and the environment we live in are surely more basic and important than expanding trade.

Some people may treat the haze as just an inconvenience that will soon go away.

It is immensely frustrating to have to breathe in the polluted air, especially for people who are vulnerable.

Those who have the means can close the windows in their homes, put on the air conditioner in every room, and buy air purifying machines to catch the haze particles.

But most Malaysians don’t have air-conditioners or air purifiers.

They have to open their windows and tolerate the smog-filled air for the whole day and especially night.

People whose health will be most affected include those living near the epicentres of the forest and peat fires, especially residents of Sarawak and Sabah, and those in the southern and central states of the peninsula.

For them, the Air Pollutant Index may often or continuously be in the unhealthy range (101-200), very unhealthy range (201-300) or even hazardous range (more than 300).

Note that the API reading exceeded 1,000 and even 2,000 in parts of Indonesian Kalimantan on some days last week.


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