Archive for September, 2015

Schools To Close If Visibility Below 500 Metres – Mahdzir

Monday, September 28th, 2015

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 27 (Bernama) — Starting tomorrow, school managements and the district education offices (PPD) are given the authority to decide on the school closure if visibility drops to less than 500 metres.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said previously, schools in areas affected by the haze would only be closed if the air pollutant index (API) readings reached 200, which were very unhealthy.

“I have discussed with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry yesterday and decided that besides the API, visibility can also be taken into account in determining the closure of schools.

“This means, even if the API is still between 100 and 120, but the visibility in the area is below 500 metres, we allow the PPD and headmaster to close the affected school,” he told a press conference here Sunday.

All schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negeri Sembilan, Sri Aman, Kuching and Samarahan in Sarawak had been ordered closed tomorrow following a deterioration in the API reading.

Mahdzir said the ministry had also decided that announcement on whether schools would be closed or operated as usual the next day would be made at 2pm every day.

On parents’ request that schools should be closed in three or four consecutive days, he said the proposal was logic but the ministry must take into account various factors, including the possibility of changes in the API reading.


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English Language Paper To Be Broken Into Two Grades Starting 2016

Monday, September 28th, 2015

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 28 (Bernama) — The Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) English Language (BI) paper for comprehension and assessment will be broken into two grades starting next year.

Malaysian Examinations Board (MEB) director Datin Nawal Salleh 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 told a press conference on the 2016 UPSR examination format here, Monday.

With the break-up of the BI test paper, UPSR candidates for national schools (SK) would have six grades from next year compared to only five grades while candidates from national type (SJK) Chinese and Tamil schools would have eight grades instead of seven at present.

Currently, UPSR candidates in SK were given five grades based on BM (comprehension and assessment), BI; Mathematics and Science while SJK candidates were given seven grades based on BM (comprehension and evaluation); BI; Mathematics; Science and Chinese or Tamil language.

Nawal said starting next year, the UPSR papers for BM, BI, Chinese and Tamil for comprehension test would have questions in subjective and objective forms.

This was to test the candidates’ knowledge and understanding of the system, skills in applying information and their creative skills and appreciation of the languages.



Haze: Schools in several states to close on Monday

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Schools in several states will be closed again due to the worsening haze.

The Education Ministry said that schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and several parts of Sarawak will be closed on Monday.

The schools affected in Sarawak are located in Kuching, Sri Aman and Kota Semarahan.

On Sunday, the Ministry said in a statement that the closure was because the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in these areas reached unhealthy and very unhealthy levels.

As of 11am Sunday, the API readings for Port Klang was 252, Shah Alam (281), Petaling Jaya (232), Putrajaya (206) and Batu Muda (256).

In Sarawak, Sri Aman recorded an API reading of 188, Kuching (139) and Samarahan (145).

Earlier, Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said an announcement would be made whether schools would be closed.

He said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had requested the ministry to monitor the haze situation.

“YBDS @MahdzirKhalid have requested @KemPendidikan to make an early announcement with regards to the current haze situation. Will update soon,” Kamalanathan had tweeted Sunday morning.


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Regrets for values not learnt

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

ARE we aware that the subject Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) has died a natural death in all Malaysian primary schools?

When the subject was first reintroduced in 2004, the Education Minister then announced its implementation and reasons for giving Citizenship Education a fresh curriculum.

The focus was on knowledge, skills and values.

Teachers who were teaching Moral Education complained that both the subjects were very similar.

However in reality it was not.

Moral Education was taught to only non-Muslim students, but CCE was taught to all students in school.

Moral Education focused on moral thinking, moral feeling and moral action. CCE focused on knowledge, skills and values.

Thus the overlapping aspect here was on values, But values in CCE focused on nationhood and civic consciousness.

I was personally involved in the structuring of the CCE curriculum in early 2000, and saw great hope in students learning knowledge, skills and values as one collective group.

Currently subjects like Islamic Studies and Moral Education are studied separately by Muslim and non-Muslim students.

So when Citizenship Education was rebranded as CCE, there was hope that this subject would bring together children of different ethnicities and religions to sit together and be educated based on the philosophy of CCE.

CCE was a core subject which was introduced in all primary and secondary schools from Year Four to Form Five.

The primary objective of CCE was to develop students to become patriotic citizens, who can co-operate and collaborate towards working as a team. It was also aimed at resolving conflicts without violence, protecting nature and the environment and progressively contributing towards the development of citizenship and the nation.

The teaching and learning was focused on student-centredness and hands-on activities.

CCE was a great stepping stone towards the construction of soft skills among students especially those at primary school.


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Last chance to save and earn rewards

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

THE National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) serves as a body providing funding services for higher education. But not many are aware of the savings scheme for higher education provided by PTPTN.

“It is not easy for an individual to make saving a natural habit. It is a practice that needs to be encouraged, as many Malaysians have not implemented good financial planning, especially for future education,” said PTPTN chairman Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah.

“With the SSPN-i scheme from PTPTN, parents can start saving for their children while they are still infants, as soon as their birth has been registered,” he added.

As an extra incentive, PTPTN decided to have the Simpanan Bonanza! quarterly draw,X-Tra Bonanza! yearly draw and Simpanan Vaganza prize draw according to zones. “The SSPN-i scheme is to encourage the people to save consistently,” said Shamsul Anuar, when speaking at the prize presentation ceremony for 2015’s first series of theSimpanan Bonanza! dan Vaganza SSPN-i.

“It also enables them to be able to open an account with a small amount that entitles them to PTPTN’s education funding services when the child is offered a place at a public or private university.”

He urged members of the public to take the opportunity to open an SSPN-i account or top up their deposit so they can qualify to win a variety of attractive prizes in theSimpanan Bonanza! and X-Tra Bonanza! lucky draws. The promotion deadline is Sept 30.

For the SSPN-i draw this year, PTPTN is offering luxury prizes such as BMW 320i Sport Edition and Honda HR-V, as well as Proton Iriz, motorcycles, television and various gadgets. The prizes are valued at RM2.1mil in total.

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Anti-bullying workshop for teens

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

SMK Damansara Utama (SMKDU) in Petaling Jaya, recently held an anti-bullying workshop for its students in Forms One and Two.

The workshop covered a range of issues which were relevant to teenagers today. Incorporating fun activities on individuals and team work, counsellor Dr Anasuya J Jegathesan addressed self-esteem, self-concept and self-image in the workshops.

She then deftly made her way into bullying behaviours and ended by exploring choices teenagers had in choosing the right behaviour for themselves as well as when relating to others.

SMKDU principal Zulaika A. Rahman said she was pleased with the initiative of the parents in organising the workshop. Many parents were present at the session.

While acknowledging that bullying was prevalent in schools and elsewhere, Zulaika added that all schoolchildren had a right to a safe and supportive environment that was free from violence and aggression. She added that children had to be safeguarded from emotional distress and physical injuries, and had to be treated fairly.

Initiatives like the workshop, she said may also increase willingness among teenagers to report bullying behaviour when they are given a safe environment to do so.

Sherin Kunhibava, a parent, said that students were in need of activities that promoted self-esteem. Such activities would help them navigate their way through adolescence, a particularly challenging time in their lives, she added.

Appreciative of the fun activities used to effectively present serious topics to the 13 and 14 -year-olds, Rekha Dutt said she hoped that there would be follow-up sessions.


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Gender equality vital for progress

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day is celebrated every March 8, but today may well be equally significant for women all over the world.

UN Women, an offshoot of the United Nations, and China are co-hosting in New York a meeting of global leaders that will discuss gender equality and the empowerment of women.

This event coincides with the UN Sustainable Development Summit. It is also part of the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the product of the fourth World Conference on Women in 1995.

At today’s meeting, says UN Women, over 70 world leaders are expected to make “concrete commitments and firm pledges to overcome gender equality gaps”.

“It is a historic and a unique opportunity; for the first time at the UN, commitments to women and girls will be made at the level of heads of state and government,” it adds.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be among those delivering the commitment statements. It will be a window into the Government’s thinking on what more it should do to eliminate gender inequality and discrimination against women.

There is indeed a lot at stake.

For one thing, the UN Sustainable Development Summit will end with the formal adoption of a new sustainable development agenda that will serve as “the launch pad for action by the international community and by national governments to promote shared prosperity and well-being for all over the next 15 years”.

UN Women sees this as a chance to place gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment at the centre of the global agenda.

Consider this conviction expressed in the Beijing Declaration: “Women’s empowerment and their full participation on the basis of equality in all spheres of society, including participation in the decision-making process and access to power, are fundamental for the achievement of equality, development and peace.”

And if that is not your idea of a winning argument, a report published this week by the McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of consulting firm McKinsey & Co, may drive home the point instead.

The Star Says.

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API readings worsen throughout Malaysia

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: People choked as the air quality in the Klang Valley, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and parts of Sarawak deteriorated.

Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and nearly all of Selangor were covered in thick haze, with a rapid rise in Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

In Kuantan, the air quality also remained at an unhealthy level.

In Petaling Jaya, the API doubled from 61 at noon to 123 at 7pm, while in Shah Alam it rose from 62 to 128 over the same period.

A reading of 100 to 200 indicates unhealthy air quality, while 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and above 300 hazardous. A reading of 51 to 100 is moderate.

Other areas with unhealthy air quality as at 7pm yesterday were Putrajaya (121); Cheras (110); Kemaman (119); Port Klang (125); Banting (119); Sri Aman (118); Kuching (112); Indera Mahkota in Kuantan (105); and Balok Baru in Kuantan (122).

Also in the unhealthy range were Seremban (115); Port Dickson (115); Nilai (114); Bukit Rambai (108); and Malacca City (136).

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement that the haze caused by land and forest fires in Indonesia was currently being blown by winds from Kalimantan to West Sarawak.

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Learn to sell yourself

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

AWARD-winning singer-songwriter Resh feels that the performers themselves must be proactive. Go regional – or even international, urges the artist formerly known as Reshmonu.

“Music is a business. Use social media to reach out to listeners. Get the buying market to embrace you.”

Anugerah Industri Muzik 2013 Best New Artiste Alex Subryn agrees.

Subryn, an independent artist who does everything from marketing his music and scoring endorsements to the album artwork himself, describes his self-titled debut album as a “business card” rather than a money-making project.

Musicians have to be hardworking extroverts, he feels. He takes his CDs to gigs to sell them, and always calls on the audience to show their support for local musicians.

“Although my CDs are available online, I sell more during my live shows. When I go for meetings, I always have my latest profile with me. It helps secure a good deal.”

From composing in his home studio to doing the Power Point presentations to secure government grants for his music videos, Subryn, 35, does it all himself, calling in the occasional favour from family and friends.

Without a manager, he has to be bold and outspoken.

“I work very hard to put myself out there – meeting people, creating an online presence, bonding with fans on social media and convincing fashion brands to sponsor my clothing.”

He tells up and coming musicians that even with industry recognition, reminding the public of your presence is an ongoing process.

Secure a side income so that you have peace of mind to create and perform, he advises.

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Upskilling ‛new era’ teachers

Saturday, September 26th, 2015

Educators need to integrate technology into the classrooms to stay relevant and move ahead.

CAMBRIDGE English For Life (CEFL) will be organising its first teaching and learning symposium next month, in conjunction with the group’s 15th-anniversary celebration.

Scheduled for Oct 11 at Holiday Inn Kuala Lumpur Glenmarie, Shah Alam, the event is part of CEFL’s professional development series to upskill its teachers’ teaching methods.

The symposium, themed Transforming Teaching and Improving Learning in the 21st Century, aims to highlight the importance of being a forward-thinking teacher in a 21st-century classroom.

It features the following speakers – CEFL chief executive officer Dr Elsie Chin, Universiti Putra Malaysia Department of English associate professor Datin Dr Mardziah Hayati Abdullah, English language and literature solutions provider and former magazine editor Datin Merina Hew, and Nobel International School head of English Mark Wright.

There will also be a panel of speakers from Google Malaysia, Taylor’s University and Star Media Group Berhad, who will be discussing the importance of the English language in today’s world and how English language teachers can bring a positive impact while teaching in a 21st century classroom.

“The education system is an engine for innovation, but without the right input to transform teaching and informed learning, there won’t be any reform,” said Dr Chin, when speaking at an interview on the symposium.

“Our education system must keep pace with the transformation in technology if we are to prepare our students for success in the 21st century.

“Success depends on one’s ability to adapt to new tools and circumstances, to innovate, to think critically and creatively, and discover new solutions to the problems facing society.”

Quoting Marc Prensky, Dr Chin said: “Students today are ‘digital natives’ who have grown up only knowing the presence of social and information tools that enable them to collaborate and communicate with an audience beyond physical and geographical limitations.

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