Archive for March, 2016

MRCS, ICRC to promote health, hygiene in primary school throughout Sabah

Monday, March 28th, 2016

SANDAKAN : The Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are working together to promote key messages on health and hygiene to primary school children throughout Sabah.

ICRC, head of Sabah Office, Mao Sato said they hoped that the children would then bring the key message to their families and help make it their family habit.

The first school in Sandakan selected for the project was SK Bambangan and ICRC would be going to other rural schools with the message in the near future.

The Primary Four to Primary Six students from the school took part in the programme which required them to role play two types of families, one that practiced good hygiene and one that did not.

Role play is important as it will help them remember and hopefully it will inculcate the importance of good hygiene to the children and they, in turn, could relay the message to their respective families so that they could protect themselves.

The good hygiene messages relayed to the students include the importance of washing their hands, being careful when they are near animals and so on.

MRCS and ICRC decided to bring the key messages to the children because they can still be moulded; it is not so easy with adults.

MRCS Sabah Branch Honorary Secretary Elizabeth Sikayun said the programme received the support of the State Education Department with the hope of that MRCS and ICRC could focus on rural areas as they are far from Clinics and the knowledge of hygiene is not so strong.

ICRC role is to provide support and guidance to the local volunteers from the Malaysian Red Crescent Society and at the same time, International Committee of the Red Cross also help design programmes to suit the local environment and community

by James Leong.

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Bullying Cases In Schools Dropped From 4,000 In 2014 To 3,000 Last Year – Kamalanathan

Monday, March 28th, 2016

HULU SELANGOR, March 27 (Bernama) — Bullying cases in schools across the country dropped to about 3,000 cases last year compared to 4,000 recorded in 2014 said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan.

He said the decline was the result of prevention efforts undertaken by many schools, parents and the Ministry of Education.

“The decline is a good sign in our efforts to combat the culture of bullying in schools, and if possible we want to completely eradicate bullying in schools. However, the ministry is still not satisfied and considers it a serious matter,” he told reporters after opening a new building at SJKT Ladang Kalumpang in Hulu Bernam, near here Sunday.

Kamalanathan, who is also Hulu Selangor MP, said he felt disappointed and saddened by the recent bullying case that saw a student cutting his own tongue in Klang, Selangor.

“I’m disappointed, sad and very shocked because I’ve never heard of a bullying case that involved such a serious act, among school children,” he said.

On Thursday a Standard Two pupil was said to have cut his own tongue when bullied by some students who were a year older to him at a school toilet in Klang.

Elaborating further, Kamalanthan said appropriate action would be taken against the students involved in the bullying case after police investigation reports are obtained.

“The students’ disciplinary records should be reviewed, along with their background and environmental factors, in addition to the influence of peers, before action is taken,” he said.

Speaking of the new building for SJKT Ladang Kalumpang at a cost of RM3.2 million, Kamalanathan said it was part of the 12 schools from a total of 37 SJKT involved in the Special Plan Package 2012 identified under a project to upgrade facilities and infrastructure that have been completed.


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‘One School One Silat’ Programme To Begin in April

Monday, March 28th, 2016

IPOH, March 28 (Bernama) — The ‘One School One Silat’ programme is scheduled to be implemented by the Education Ministry next month as part of the effort to introduce the Malay art of self-defence to students.

Malaysian National Silat Federation chairman (Pesaka) Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam said the move would also ensure the art continued to grow in the country.

He said it was also in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s announcement last September in recognising “silat” as the country’s official art of self-defence.

“Today, the silat is getting response from the non-Malays, like we (Malays) are interested in taekwondo and karate,” he said at a silat programme here last night.

Ali said with the recognition given by the government to silat, more universities in the country should make the art of self-defence as part of their co-curriculum activities.

So far, only Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has made the “Seni Silat Cekak Malaysia” as a co-curriculum subject with six credit hours.


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Schools Not Forced To Adopt DLP – Kamalanathan

Monday, March 28th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 (Bernama) — Schools are not forced to adopt the Dual Language Programme but only carried out in schools that fulfilled the criteria, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said the programme to enhance Bahasa Malaysia and the English language will only be implemented in schools that applied for the programme.

“DLP will only be offered to schools that meet three criteria – proper resources, teachers who can teach in English and Bahasa Malaysia, and parents who are supportive of the programme.

“No school will be forced to adopt the programme as feared by some,” said Kamalanathan when answering Siti Mariah Mahmud (PAS-Kota Raja) who wanted the ministry to explain in detail about the DLP programme.

Kamalanathan said the Education Ministry was always monitoring the progress of the DLP programme in schools and are ready to accept views and recommendations from various parties.

He said the programme had thus far been able to improve the command of Bahasa Malaysia and English among students.

Under DLP, schools will be given the option to teach Science, Mathematics, information Technology and Communication, and Design and Technology in English or Bahasa Malaysia.


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‘Finance industry will hurt’

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The financial industry is facing a perfect storm as the industry is revolving on a slower economic growth coupled with countries being mired in high debt levels, said CIMB group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Tun Razak.

“The world has high debts and it was going to take some time and some pain to get through.

“It’s going to be a number of years to recover and in that term, the winners are going to be which economies that were structurally reformed,” he said.

“Malaysia is a bit behind, busy with too many other things.

We actually need strong leadership to push important reforms to improve productivity and do many other things.

“If you look at Malaysia today, we can sit here for the next two days and go through the list of things that can be improved and things that need to be done, short term, medium term, long term and the most pressing thing, education,” he said.

On the banking industry, Nazir who is a seasoned banker, said one of the reasons why the margins of banks were compressed was because of the advance of Financial Technology (FinTech), that connects lenders with borrowers on a much lower cost.

“FinTech is disrupting banking. Technology has distrupted the media, taxis and all sorts of businesses so they have to come to banking and bankers must respond to this challenge,” he said at the Star Power Talks: Business Series in Menara Star here yesterday.

Nazir added that Silicon Valley had identified banking as the industry that was most ripe or juiciest to disrupt and “people are going to see attacks in terms of payment systems and all parts of banking that can be attacked”.

He related the situation to Uber and how taxi drivers complained about the ridesharing app but consumers had spoken otherwise.

“Your response is not to complain about Uber but to copy Uber.

“Now that you already have a network of taxis and when you have the same technology as Uber, you beat them,” he said.

Nazir also advised fresh graduates to pick the right career based on the future and not just the cool things of the past.

He also told them to work hard when they get in to their careers and put in the hours as there is no short cut to working hard.

Nazir, 50, has served CIMB for 25 years; 15 as the group’s chief executive officer (CEO). He was made the group’s chairman since 2014.

He joined the firm in 1989, then known as the Commerce International Merchant Banks as a corporate advisory executive.


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Be proud of our diversity

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

CONTROVERSIAL columnist Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, who has created a name for himself with his outrageous racist rantings ­rather than his academic achievements, found himself denied entry into Singapore recently.

He complained that he was “treated like a terrorist” and whined that his photograph and thumbprint were taken by the Singapore immigration authorities.

If he expected sympathy, he can be assured he is not getting any. Even those individuals and groups who would normally see this as an opportunity to take a dig at Singapore were silent. Only his misguided fans who share his fanaticism cried for him.

The incident took place at Singapore’s Woodlands immigration checkpoint, where Ridhuan said he was questioned for more than two hours and subsequently given a ­letter saying he would not be allowed to enter.

He seemed surprised at the action taken against him, saying “there was no reason given” but added that “I am confident that it was due to my comments on the ‘ultra kiasu’”.

Ridhuan has obviously chosen to forget that three years ago, he wrote in a Bahasa Malaysia newspaper, that “it is fortunate that I was not the PM when solving the dispute over Pulau Batu Puteh. If I were, I would definitely have not brought it to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).The only resolution to the dispute over the island is to wage war.”

If he expects the island republic to give him the red carpet welcome, then he really needs to see a shrink. If he complains about being treated like a terrorist, he has to look up the English language dictionary to find out the definition of someone who preaches the use of violence.

If he feels he can get any sympathy from moderate Malaysians with this latest incident, we think he is trying too hard.

Through his writings and public speeches, he has carved a reputation for himself to prove that he is more Malay than Malay and more Muslim than Muslim.

Ridhuan may want to think and dream like a Malay but he is still a Chinese. As I have said before, the fact remains that Ridhuan was given the name of Tee Chuan Seng by his parents at birth.

We do feel sorry for him sometimes, because he seems to suffer from an identity crisis problem. No matter how much he tries, the reality is that one cannot change one’s ethnicity. Even his religion does not require him to do so.

I am sure he understands that we are only here temporarily in this world. We will return to our Maker at some point.

We want to be remembered for our good deeds, regardless of our religion and race. Nobody wants to be remembered for making damaging, presumptuous and racist remarks.


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Stress and demands of teaching

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

I have been a teacher for more than a decade and I must sat that the workload for those in the profession has increased tremendously over the years.

Gone are the days of teaching and imparting knowledge. These days, we need to equip ourselves wth the latest teaching methods, knowledge and skills.

The expectations are rather high. For example, teachers are required to practise 21st century teaching styles which allow students freedom to discover and learn differenttly in class.

The teacher’s role is to facilitiate the process.

Teachers are required to expose the Hots (Higher Order Thinking Skills) questions in order to make students think out of the box. They have to be creative and critical thinkers too.

It is about the ability to create change – think about ideas or situations in order to fully understand their implications.

Critical thinking includes skills such as questioning, predicting, investigating, analysing, reflecting, revising, comparing, evaluating and forming opinions.

It involves an inquiry process of exploring issues that may not be clearly defined and for which there are no clear-cut answers.

Critical thinking also includes the process of thinking which will enable us to reflect on our own learning as we develop knowledge and skills.

Teachers are also expected to be involved in the Professional Learning Community (PLC) programme, which requires them to meet on a regular basis to share their best teaching practices.

In a nutshell, the demands of teaching are becoming more evident now. This also includes the amount of clerical work that we have to do on a daily basis.

Apart from teaching, we have to conduct programmes and work on documentation.

If there are upcoming competitions at zone and district levels, we will have to prepare our students for the events too.

We have so many roles to play: caretaker, babysitter, educator, disciplinarian, counsellor and confidante too.

On top of that, we have to put up with over-protective parents who confront us when we tick off or reprimand their children.

Are we supposed to condone the behaviour of our charges when they are wrong, downright rude or even violent?

Shouldn’t we as teachers, have the right to correct such errant students?

Is it okay to spare the rod and spoil the child?

Yes, teachers seem to complain more than before, but that’s because we are at times helpless and frustrated.

However, that does does not mean that we are not doing our job. In fact, many of us take our work home – to mark books and exam papers.

So, it hurts us when comments are made that teachers should stop griping since we work only half a day.

Such statements are unfair.

After school, we still have to oversee co-curricular activities and attend meetings. There have been many instances when teachers have been told to attend courses or, to help out during the term break.

Apart from carrying out non-teaching chores, we must make sure that our lesson plan is in place for the following day.

Officers from the inspectorate do come unannounced to observe us while we teach.


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Developing digital strategies in teaching

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

Teachers come up with solutions to build 21st century skills among students at a recent global gathering for educators.

FOR a teacher, conducting a technology-infused lesson is not as easy as teaching from the board and telling students to submit homework in the traditional form – the exercise book.

It means familiarising oneself with technology tools, turning textbook content into interactive lessons online and making a requirement for students to complete their homework electronically.

Sometimes, it also means carrying a laptop and an LCD projector to class, setting up the devices and ensuring that the Internet connection works.

One needs to prepare a backup plan, too, such as downloading videos or preparing handouts, in case a technical glitch occurs.

These are some of the extra efforts innovative teachers like Nur Riza Alias, Hemawathi Gopinathan, Mohd Norhafeez Jusoh and Azizul Othman have taken upon themselves.

Their reward is in seeing students excited, engaged and encouraged.

Their undertakings have proven to be worthwhile. They have not only been recognised as Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) experts, but have also won a spot at the 2016 Microsoft Global Educator Exchange (E2) held in Budapest, Hungary, recently.

The three-day event saw the Malaysian teachers banding together with 300 of their counterparts from around the world to exchange ideas, collaborate and find good solutions to use in the classroom.

In addition, their keen desire to qualify as a Microsoft Certified Educator (MCE) was fulfilled when they sat for exams to gain certification in Budapest and passed.

According to Microsoft, the MCE certification validates that educators have the technology literacy competencies to provide a rich, custom learning experience for students.

“Passing the MCE exam is very important to us. It gives us the assurance that we have the skill set to integrate technology in the classroom and to assist students and other teachers in developing 21st century skills,” said Hemawathi, an English and Moral Studies teacher at SMK Yam Tuan Radin, Negri Sembilan.

Clear winners

The awards were the culmination of their group efforts in designing classroom “hacks” using Office Mix, a free extension to PowerPoint with interactive features like audio and video narration.

In their respective teams, the teachers worked to identify a common problem they all shared in the classroom, and proposed a “hack” or innovative solution that matched their assigned “hacker personas”.

Their teams were among 15 top three winners selected across five “hacker persona” categories.

“It was a big night for us. We were in three different teams but to our surprise, all three teams won the challenge. It was amazing and we just couldn’t believe it.

“The competition was tough as there were a total of 50 groups. My team worked really hard for the project and up to the point of submission, we were still having discussions,” said Nur Riza.

An English teacher at SMK Tanjung Datuk, Johor, she was recently transferred to SMK Subang Bestari, Selangor.

Her team focused on getting students to be attentive during the first five minutes of a lesson, deemed the most crucial part.

Their project submission earned them the third place in the Gamify Category. It focused on “gamifying’ the initial five minutes. Gamify in this context means challenging students to complete a task and incorporating game elements like competition and reward, to get them interested.


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Engineering modern agriculture

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

OUR world population is growing. We will need more food, fibre, water, energy and other essentials.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department head Dr Samsuzana Abd Aziz said there is a need to have solutions that create a cleaner, safer, sustainable and better planet.

“We need watershed restoration, practice of efficient, low-impact technologies, biodegradable products, innovative food production systems, better handling of precious harvests and improved waste water treatment and reused systems,” she said.

Sound like science fiction? Are these things even possible? Yes! It is possible through the work of agricultural engineers.

Initially man used the hoe, the plough and the beast in farming. Eventually, the need to increase productivity and making farm work less arduous and more attractive made man observe more closely plant materials, land, water and air in order to improve the performance of the equipment used. This then led to an engineering discipline especially for agriculture known as agricultural engineering.

“Today, agricultural engineering reaches far into every activity of agriculture and modernises farming so that quality food can be produced sufficiently and continuously.

“Everyone needs food to live on,” said the lecturer who has spent the last eight years at UPM producing Agricultural and Biosystems Engineers.

My job involves

• in line with the aspiration of the country to empower agriculture in order to ensure the sustainability of food supply and the generation of high income, my job is to ensure that the programme in UPM runs smoothly in the course of producing agricultural engineers. My research activities mainly focus on agricultural and biosystems instrumentation, computational intelligence and geographic information system. More specifically, it is the integration of artificial intelligence with geospatial system through programming, the application of which, among others, are in the accurate placement and metering of fertilisers and in the automatic control of agricultural inputs for efficient farming.

To qualify, you need

• to become an agricultural engineer. You need at least a bachelor’s degree. Students can apply to do a Bachelor of Engineering (Agricultural and Biosystems) in UPM (the only university in Malaysia that offers the degree) or overseas. A master’s programme focuses on research, allowing the student to develop an advanced understanding of a particular aspect of agricultural engineering, which may allow for greater employment opportunities within that specialty. A master’s degree presents more opportunities for an individual to work in more research-related positions in the field of agricultural engineering.

Prospects for the future

• at the heart of modern farming is the agricultural engineer whose roles are many and varied. Farmers employ farm machinery, equipment and modern farming methods developed by agricultural engineers. The global demand for more sufficient and healthier foods, utilisation of bio-based energy and cleaner environments have only reinforced the importance of agricultural engineering.

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Write judgments in simple English, says CJ of Malaya

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Judges should provide judgments in all cases, in simple English, to help the public understand the mind of the court, said the Chief Judge of Malaya.

Judgments must be understood by laymen not just lawyers, as those mounting the cases were often not themselves legally trained, said Tan Sri Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin.

He emphasised the need for grounds of judgement to be provided even if no appeal was filed, so that the losing party be given a chance to understand why they lost.

While it was mandatory for judges to provide grounds of judgment should the decision be challenged in an appeal, there have been cases where no judgment was written if a case was not pursued.

“We advise and respect them to deliver a judgment, not just ‘I allow your case’, but to give a few lines to explain their reasoning,” he told The Star.

Zulkefli, earlier speaking at Lexis Nexis’ Author Appreciation Day, said for judges and legal writers there were two trains of thought: on whether to write in simple language or technical detail.

The judiciary held that judgements should be written in plain language, and legal jargons be used only as necessary.

“Judges are encouraged to write a speaking judgment… and the reasons for the decision be in plain language so the public can understand and appreciate the message it brings,” said Zulkefli, in his speech yesterday.

He applauded the role of legal writers in aiding the development and use of local case authorities by reporting and analysing judgments laid down by the court.

“This would enlighten the students, practitioners and even judges,” he said, adding that judges sometimes did not have the luxury of going too in-depth in convoluted cases.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru, who was also at the event, said the Bar was still engaging judges to provide written judgments even when no appeal was made.


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