Archive for April, 2016

Reshaping the classroom experience

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Local schools are looking at conducive learning spaces and new age methods to engage, challenge and support learners.

THEY dash into the classroom all eager to start their first lesson of the day. There’s a reason for their enthusiasm – it isn’t a regular classroom. Missing are the regular desks and chairs arranged in rows. Instead, what greets the Form One students of SMK Damansara Utama are tables and colourful chairs arranged in a non-conventional way. This is not all, the room is colourful and brightly lit, aimed at turning the classroom into a creative learning hub.

The makeover is also in line with the evolving needs of the current generation – 21st century learners.

In fact, the government has launched a programme on 21st century learning (SPA-21) that is compulsory for all schools in Selangor’s Petaling district.

Instead of the conventional chalk and talk teaching method, SPA-21 emphasises on enabling students to learn in a comfortable and conducive environment to allow for “better absorption” of lessons while enhancing their soft skills at the same time.

Experts in learning spaces have claimed that students learn more effectively and behave better in a “borderless learning” atmosphere when they have freedom to work in smaller groups.

Najah Alyaa Ahmad Mubin Rasydan prefers the current setting compared to the traditional classroom.

“The classes are fun and we learn better because we work with our classmates in a group. It brings out our creativity and boosts our confidence especially when we make presentations before the class,” added the 13-year-old.


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Tips to upskill English teachers

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

Training in progress: English teachers during an upskilling programme.They need to attend courses to constantly hone their skills in teaching the language. - File photo.

Training in progress: English teachers during an upskilling programme.They need to attend courses to constantly hone their skills in teaching the language. – File photo.

Attaining the proficiency of native English language speakers is possible if local teachers employ various tools and methods to continually upgrade themselves.

IT is very disturbing to know that around 15,000 English language teachers are not really proficient enough to teach the global language despite the many initiatives of the Education Ministry. The authorities recognise the importance of teaching English as a second language (ESL) in the country.

The training of future teachers is commendable. It is the language proficiency of the teachers which has to be improved further.

What is required is lifelong teacher development until a teacher retires. The specific areas that ESL teachers need to focus on are the four macroskills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, together with the many subskills associated with them.

These include their pronunciation skills, grammatical and lexical competence.

As non-native speakers and teachers of English, we have to step up our efforts to be of native speaker competence.

Completing a TESL (Teaching of English as a second language)/TEFL (Teaching of English as a foreign language)/TESOL ((Teaching of English to speakers of other languages) programme ought to be considered the commencement of a lifelong quest to improve ourselves to teaching a language, which for many of us is not our dominant language.

The observations here are based on my experience with numerous graduates. It outlines where the weaknesses are and steps that may be taken to rectify the situation.


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SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah 2016 New Students Oath-Taking Ceremony.

Friday, April 29th, 2016

SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah Regional Centre, Kota Kinabalu organised an Oath-taking ceremony on 28 April 2016 to welcome new students joining its 2016 intake. The event was held at the Kadazan Dusun Cultural Association Hongkod Koisaan (Unity) Hall, Penampang.

The ceremonial occasion was organised by Centre for Student Development and the Student Representative Council (SRC) to enable the new (SIDMA, UNITAR and CUCMS Sabah) students formally promised and pledged the oath script to commit to the ethical practices, be active and responsible students of SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah Regional Centre, Kota Kinabalu; and abide by all the rules and regulations of the college and the respective Universities.

Other than instilling a culture of excellence among these students, the ceremony was important and meaningful as it acknowledged these new students as responsible citizens of SIDMA College.

The Oath-taking was led by student Riszman Shah and Esther Augustine, and followed by all the 2016 new students. Their pledge was read before Honourable Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (Chairman, SIDMA Board of Director), Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director), Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), Mr. Lim Chin Tong (Registrar), Mr David Tiongin Lumbok (BOG), Managers, Heads of Departments, lecturers and staff of SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah.

Dr Morni in his keynote speech welcomed and congratulated these students for selecting SIDMA College, UNITAR and CUCMS Sabah as the platform for their tertiary education. SIDMA College has been very focused on its purpose to address the local human capital needs in the 21st century; providing opportunities for students to apply 21st century skills across content areas, as well as the integration of community resources beyond college compound; as it views its responsibility of shaping the minds of the young, the intellectual leaders of tomorrow very seriously.

SIDMA College has been appointed as UNITAR International University Regional Centre for Sabah since 2002, and has since been working very closely with UNITAR Main Campus, Kelana Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan; an university with its strong and significant network of academic collaborations with both the academic and corporate as well as industrial partners throughout the world to offer challenging study programmes which are professionally aligned with these major industry players both nationally and internationally; and (SIDMA College) has been producing marketable and successful graduates.

He too, reminded the students that to study is never easy; but at SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah is equipped with some of the world class facilities and is one of the first private institutions of higher learning in Sabah to introduce e-learning; a hybrid model that combines the conventional face-to-face meetings with lecturers and tutors, and the internet-based support systems that provide continuous interaction among students, tutors and lecturers. Facilities such as UNIEC (UNITAR Education Core) for UNITAR Sabah students and SLMS (Student Learning Management System) for the SIDMA and CUCMS students is yet to be offered by many institutions of higher learning in Sabah.

Dr Morni urged the students to make full use of the opportunity given to them and gain as much knowledge as possible. They need to fulfil their roles and duties with commitment and sincerity. He also encouraged them to carry out their responsibilities to the best of their ability; and to uphold their principle and philosophy that they too can learn and be successful via SIDMA College, UNITAR and CUCMS Sabah to enable them to excel in their chosen field in the future.

During the oath-taking ceremony, graduate Vivian Ginieve Jusking (Bachelor of Hospitality Management) who excelled during their studies with CGPA of 3.84, received their Academic Excellence Award in the form of certificate and cash from the college. The awards were presented to the recipient by SIDMA Chairman, Dr Morni.

Dr. Mormi, Puan Azlina, Puan Azizah, Managers and Heads of Departments and the new students, on their arrival at Hongkod Koisaan Hall were warmly greeted by Centre for Student Development officials and the Student Representative Council. Later they were entertained by a special dance performance from SIDMA Dance Club, Prima Dansa. The ceremony concluded with a note of thanks by the SRC representative and the singing of the “Keranamu Malaysia” as a whole group, followed by high-tea provided for all.

SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah which prides itself as an outstanding provider of various affordable and accredited academic programmes at Foundation, Diploma, Bachelor, Masters and Doctorate levels; with  diverse discipline of studies including Business Administration, Management, Early Childhood Studies, Education, Communication, Tourism & Hospitality and more. Such programmes are approved by the Malaysian Education Ministry and meeting the high standards required by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

SIDMA College own home-grown academic programme, Diploma in Early Childhood Development, is designed to suit Form Five and Form Six school leavers, as well as Early Childhood Teachers to improve their pedagogical and teaching skills as well as to attain higher academic qualifications in their profession.

SIDMA College also collaborate with Cyberjaya College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) to offer Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health; and Diploma in Paramedic Science.

School leavers with results in the SPM, STPM or its equivalent are invited to pursue tertiary studies at SIDMA CollegeUNITAR SabahSIDMA College UNITAR Sabah June 2016 intake is now in progress (till 13 June 2016), and eligible students are encouraged to take opportunity to enrol with the college.

For more information about courses offered, please clicked on SIDMA College Website. Online registration is available by clicking HERE.

Potential students can also call the college @ 088-732 000 or 732 020 or fax us at 088-732 015 or 732 019.

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Sultan Nazrin: Have good grasp of English

Friday, April 29th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Aspiring lawyers must have a strong command of English for their future role in safeguarding Malaysia’s interests on the world stage, the Sultan of Perak said.

Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah said that as Malaysia pursued a bigger presence in the global marketplace, especially with the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), Malaysians would be further thrust into the limelight.

“The TPPA also brings with it many career opportunities for those in the legal profession since there will be increased flow of deals between nations and lawyers can benefit from advising clients on these complex cross-border deals.

“The level of proficiency in English, using the appropriate legal language and terminology, is an invaluable skill that can play a role in safeguarding and advancing Malaysia’s interests and the interests of Malaysian businesses,” he said in his speech at the 21st Certificate of Legal Profession (CLP) convocation yesterday.

He said that the ability to effectively express knowledge of the law was what separated great lawyers from mediocre ones.

Sultan Nazrin also highlighted the fact that cases interpreting statutes from English Common Law and those of other Commonwealth countries were often identical to Malaysian law, and therefore essential reference for Malaysian legal practitioners.

“The volumes of persuasive case law and international journals are all written in English.

“Without a solid grasp of the English language – including a proficiency in its complex legal phraseology and terminology – lawyers will not be able to understand and apply these references,” he said.

At the same time, Sultan Nazrin said it was every Malaysian’s duty to respect and uphold Bahasa Malaysia as the national language, especially when hosting official events.

“When I choose to remind legal practitioners about the importance of mastering the English language, this does not mean the patriotic spirit towards the country is waning.

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Survey: Gen Y mostly not race conscious

Friday, April 29th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Young Malaysians are mostly “colour-blind”, according to a national survey.

The survey, commissioned by the Centre for A Better Tomorrow and conducted by Anderson Market Analytics, showed that Generation Y was less race-conscious compared to the older generation.

The survey, which polled 1,056 peninsular Malaysians from diverse backgrounds, found that 63% of those in the 18-25 age bracket would consider voting for a candidate from a different race, compared with 54% among those aged over 56.

The survey also showed that the younger group believed that merits trumped race when it came to matters such as awarding a project, hiring new staff, or even choosing service providers or sales assistants.

Another indication pointing towards this was the finding that those between the ages of 18 and 25 were comfortable if a close relative were to bring home a partner from a different race.

Along with this, younger Malays, especially Generation Y, were open to the idea of having a non-Malay prime minister.

An overall 20% of Malays accepted the idea of a non-Malay prime minister, while 26% of respondents from Generation Y were more open to having a prime minister who is not Malay.

Nearly half (48%) of the participants believed that race-based policies were irrelevant although proportionately, more Malays supported the policy.

However, despite this, some 40% of those in the 18-25 years age group admitted to either being “racist” or “have shades of racism”.

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How to tackle snakes in schools

Friday, April 29th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry is finalising a specific set of guides following the recent cases of snakes found slithering into school compounds (see graphic).

Its director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said the ministry was “preparing and finalising” the guides to tackle the increasing sightings of snakes or other animals in schools by referring to existing directives and guidelines that were already in place in schools.

“You will be informed about the guides, which will be out soon,” he said yesterday.

He said the latest would be based on two current directives: a circular on Pengurusan Keselamatan Murid (pupils’ safety management) and the 2008 School Emergency Preparedness Res­ponse Manual.

Dr Khair said teachers were informed about the basics of handling such emergency situations through the circulars and guides and those posted on the schools’ information boards and classrooms.

“As for first aid, training has been given to the key resource persons of the school who will cascade it to the other teachers.

“Equally important to the teaching and training here are the actions by schools and teachers

“We are focusing now on comprehensive, simple and easy-to-remember steps,” he added.

In Johor Baru, swift action by teachers possibly saved a Year One pupil who was bitten by a snake while he was answering the call of nature at the toilet of SK Kota Masai.

Seven-year-old Muhammad Ar Rayyan Nazhan Mohd Nasrul was in the toilet on the third floor of the school when the uninvited guest bit his left hand at about 3pm on Wednesday.


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Get a better education and draw a higher salary

Friday, April 29th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: Want a bigger paycheck? Then, consider going back to school.

A better education, said Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap, could lead to a higher salary.

Speaking at the Open University Malaysia (OUM) main campus here yesterday after launching myINSPIRE – OUM’s online self learning platform – she said Malaysians needed to move away from the idea that education ended once one received a paycheck.

“This mindset has to change as statistics have shown that higher education levels lead to higher incomes,” she said.

“If the people want to improve their income and livelihood, there needs to be a paradigm shift,” she added as she underlined the importance of embracing the concept of lifelong learning so that Malaysia can move forward.

“The 11th Malaysia Plan – from 2016 to 2020 – states that the Government will strengthen lifelong learning for skills enhancement,” said Yap, who nonetheless acknowledged that lifelong learning may be tough to juggle for those with families and who were working full time.

However, she believed online learning platforms such as myINSPIRE would encourage more people to pursue lifelong learning.

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Villagers want help to protect mangrove swamps in Pitas

Friday, April 29th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: A group of villagers from Pitas has come forward to appeal to the tate government to immediately intervene to protect the last remaining 1,000 acres of mangrove swamp in their area.

The area comprises the rivers Gumpa, Lompaki, Pongandalan, Togonok, Datong, Ontoh and Eloi.

Speaking at a news conference held here yesterday, their spokesperson Mastupang Somoi claimed that they were recently approached by a group of people claiming to be officials from Environment Protection Department (EPD), or a private NGO or consultants, depending on whom they were interviewing, to inform them that there was to be an expansion of the existing prawn farm (of 2,300 acres) that involve the remaining 1,000 acres of mangrove area, which would be cleared for development in the next 3 to 5 weeks, whether or not they agreed.

“These mangroves are our life source, and we have always depended on it,” he said.

He claimed that ever since the implementation of the much-objected controversial prawn farm, a joint-venture project between a private firm and a State-owned agency, back in 2014, the local community there has now become poorer due to rapid depletion of the natural habitats for the marine resources there.

“Majority of us in this region are in the hardcore poverty brackets and rely heavily on the surrounding mangroves for our food supplies and livelihood.

“There has been a drastic drop in fish, clams, crabs and other protein sources for our families, due to the major clearance of mangrove habitat. We are not against development, but we need a balanced and sustainable development,” he said.

He further claimed that the development of the prawn ponds there has affected the rights of the indigenous communities, and that the remaining 1,000 acres is a sensitive area that houses traditional sacred sites and must be preserved.

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Pan Borneo: Acem wants fair distribution of work

Friday, April 29th, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Consulting engineering works for the Pan Borneo Highway project should be well distributed among local firms, said the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (Acem) Sabah Branch.

Acem Sabah Chairman Paul Yap (pic) said this will benefit local firms in terms of hands-on experience to design and implement a major road project in the State, he said.

“Such benefit and experience should not be confined to a chosen few engineering firms in the State which can be detrimental to the engineering community as a whole.

“We believe that members of our association, without doubt, are capable of providing their services,” he said during a press conference, here, on Wednesday.

He said, the Federal government has also appointed a local entity, Borneo Highway PDP Sdn Bhd (BHP) as the Project Delivery Partner (PDP).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was previously reported as saying that the Pan Borneo Highway Project is ‘a real game changer for Sabah’ and he wanted the project to be the most democratic and inclusive ever undertaken by the government with quarters being given their rights fairly in numerous aspects of the project.

According to Najib, he did not want the project to be given only to large contractors but small F Class contractors should also be given a slice of the cake.

Acem Deputy Chairman Amirul Hisham Ismail said well distributed works will also be in line with one of the association’s main objectives which is to promote the competency of its members, in terms of work ethics, professionalism and skills, among others.

“This is the best opportunity for Sabah consulting engineers to participate and gain knowledge as well as experience from this project.

“And we want to be part of it, rather than being a spectator but it was already mentioned by the Prime Minister that the works will be well distributed and we fully support it,” he said.

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SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah English Week.

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah English Club held its annualEnglish Week from 18 till 22 April 2016 at SIDMA College, Kota Kinabalu.“We Speak to make a Difference” was adopted as this year’s themeto help students of the college to feel at ease and confident when using the language. Proficiency in English is key to the student’s success both in their studies at the college and their future careers.

Each year English Week at SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah seems to get bigger and bigger in terms of support and participation. For this year, the club organised various fun activities such as Scrabble, Treasure Hunt, Spelling Bee, Poetry Recitation, Story Telling, Speech Contest and heaps of other activities,as separate arenas for staff and students to celebrate the joy of speaking English outside the formal classroom setting. These activities were also designed; by the club; to help improve the students confidence, communication and acting skills and more important – to have fun speaking the language together. The event was participated by SIDMA College, UNITAR and CUCMS Sabah students.

English Club President, Corinth Richard Lim, in her remarks whileclosing the week-long event, thanked Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (SIDMA Chairman), Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), Managers and Heads of Departments, lecturers and staff of SIDMA College for their encouragement, empowerment, collaboration and corporation to ensure the smooth running of the event.

She, too thanked her English Club Advisers and Committee Members for their continuous support and loyalty throughout the organisation of the event. She was also very touched by the keenness of the club members and students to participate in the various activities held, and she really appreciated and admired their effort to communicate in English throughout the week.

Both, Ms Florence Ajadap (English lecturer) and Mr. Thai Hoa Le (English Language Fellow (ELF) from US Embassy, Kuala Lumpur) are advisers to SIDMA English Club

Mr Thai,on behalf of the club advisers, congratulated the club president and her committee members, as well as the participants of the various activities for their excellent ability in expressing themselves in English; despite the fact that most of these students,more often than not, tends to speak in their own mother tongue, outside the formal classroom setting. He too advised students who are not that fluent in the language to practice speaking English frequently, or joining the English Club where they can use the language to communicate with their friends, and enjoy using the language in order to improve their proficiency in the language.

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