Archive for October, 2018

Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau Officiated SIDMA College Kadazandusun Language Day

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

SIDMA College Sabah through its Kadazandusun Language Club, organised a SIDMA College Kadazandusun Language Day on 25 October 2018, as a platform for staff and students, especially those from the Kadazandusun community to immerse in the language throughout the day.

Mr Albert Bingkasan, who represented Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau during the officiating of the Semi Final Secondary School Students Kadazandusun Language Speech contest, known as “Pialaan Roisol Doid Boros Kadazandusun” at SIDMA College congratulated Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Founder and Chairman of SIDMA College, for his undivided commitment to strive for the survival and continuity of the language in this modern era. Datuk Seri Panglima Welfred, through his representative, Mr Albert, also expressed his delights by noting the strong linkage and collaboration in existence between the Sabah Education Department and SIDMA College Sabah. He hoped that other colleges and higher learning institutions in this state will follow the way forward set by SIDMA College to complement various efforts taken by the Sabah Government to preserve one of the indigenous languages in the state.

The semi-final witnessed fifteen secondary school students from various districts of Sabah whom were accompanied by their respective teachers and District Education Officers to compete in range of topics, tackling crucial current issues such as language endangerment factors and needed preservation approaches, with relations to the Kadazandusun language.

Only five contestants with the highest marks were selected to contest in the Grand Final, which will be held on 30 November 2018 as a part of the closing ceremony Gala Night Dinner for Kadazandusun Language Day, or known as “Sodop Pisompuruan” at Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa. The finalists are:

  1. Asliana Kaling @ Jainis (SMK Tun Fuad Stephens, Kiulu) – Teacher Pinus
  2. Jessy Ginus (SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin, Penampang) – Teacher Caroline
  3. Da Resty Gundang (SMK Narinang, Kota Belud) – Teacher Kisun Tampuling
  4. Rudolf Yuson (SMK Limbanak, Penampang) – Teacher Anita & Jimoty
  5. Abbylaylena Sitibon (SMK Kemburongoh, Ranau) – Teacher Kamaidah

Earlier Dr Morni in his welcoming address thanked and congratulated Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau for his dedicated supports to SIDMA College Sabah, especially towards SIDMA Kadazandusun Language Club, to continue striving for the future of the language.

He also thanked Y. Bhg. Datuk Hajah Maimunah Hj Suhaibul, Sabah Education Director and respective District Education Officers, Secondary School Principals, Kadazandusun teachers, judges who were specially invited for the event; namely Mr David Tiongin Lumbok, Chairman of SIDMA College’s Board of Governance, Madam Noumi @ Mazlinda Binti Jali, Inspectorate, from The Inspectorate and Quality Assurance of Ministry of Education Malaysia and Mr Victor Baga, a language teacher from Institute of Teacher Education Kent Campus; for the continuous support and all who have contributed in one way or another to support the implementation of the event. In addition, he too conveyed his appreciation to the co-chairperson of the Kadazandusun Language Speech Contest, Madam. Salumah Nain, and Madam Sitiamah Sahat, Kadazandusun Language Officer from Sabah Education Department; and was assisted by the programme coordinator, Ms Brenda Alexius Liaw.

Another activity held at SIDMA College Campus during the SIDMA Kadazandusun Language day was a Mini Funfair. The main aim was to expose to visitors the usage of the language in various settings, particularly while participating any of the activities held. The procedure, rules and regulations of each of the fun activities held was in the Kadazandusun language. In addition, lucky draws, Kadazandusun language songs request and dedication were among the various other activities held throughout the day.

To learn more about the upcoming activities and reserve your spot for the Gala Night Dinner, you may contact the SIDMA College Kadazandusun Language Club at 088 732 000.

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Inclusive economy to boost people’s purchasing power

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the government wanted to achieve that by focusing on increasing workforce productivity, quality investment and innovation. NSTP/ASWADI ALIAS.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government seeks to create an inclusive economy that would boost the people’s purchasing power.

Deputy Economic Affairs Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the government wanted to achieve that by focusing on increasing workforce productivity, quality investment and innovation.

He said the government was confident that economic policy would increase the country’s economic growth and thus boosts the people’s buying power.

“The government policy focuses on balancing the objective of strengthening fiscal position and emphasise economic growth to address market and investor sentiment.

“The government will give specific focus on boosting the people’s confidence on economic prospects via increase in workers’ compensation to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and thus increase the people’s purchasing power,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat today.

He was answering a question from Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-UMNO-Kinabatangan) on plans and efforts by the government to ensure Malaysia’s economic stability and boost the people’s buying power as a whole.

By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid .

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Maszlee: Abolishing exams for Years One to Three next year aims to restore true spirit of PBS.

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018
Education Minister, Dr Maszlee Malik. Pic by NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

PUTRAJAYA: The decision to abolish examinations for pupils in Years One, Two and Three from next year is aimed at restoring the spirit and principles of the School-Based Assessment system (PBS).

Education Minister, Dr Maszlee Malik, said the original aim of the PBS, which was implemented since 2011, was to evaluate pupils, but not through achievement in examinations.

“Many people were surprised when it was announced that Year One, Two and Three pupils will not be sitting for examinations. PBS was implemented in 2011 but unfortunately, it didn’t achieve its goals.

“The spirit of PBS is gone. Today, teachers are still leaning towards exams as a yardstick for student performance,” he said in a special interview with NSTP at his office here today.

He was commenting on his post in Twitter today about the abolishment of examinations for Year One, Two and Three pupils. He said examinations would be replaced with a more objective assessment from next year.

Elaborating further, Maszlee said that with the abolition of examinations, the ministry hoped that teachers would focus more on identifying potential students through cheerful and fun learning

By Manirajan Ramasamy and Mohd Anwar Patho Rohman.

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Sued for refusing to teach English

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: A former student of a secondary school in Kota Belud is suing the Government, Education Minister and six others for refusing to teach the English Language subject to her and her Form Four classmates three years ago.

It is understood to be the first such case where students are suing the school authorities for denying them their right to learn English.

She said this was a violation of their rights as students and was against the Federal Constitution, more so as it was their duty to teach but were absent from class nearly throughout the year.

They subsequently failed the subject in SPM examination, placing their hopes for a bright future in jeopardy.

Siti Nafirah Siman, 19, named Mohd Jainal Jamrin (a teacher), Hj Suid Hj Hanapi (in his capacity as Principal of SMK Taun Gusi), SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud District Education Officer, Sabah Education Director, Director General of Education Malaysia, Minister of Education Malaysia and Government of Malaysia as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendant, respectively

In her statement of claim, Siti Nafirah said that the first defendant was a teacher at the school and at all material times was assigned to teach the English language subject to students at the 4 Perdagangan class (4PD), in which the plaintiff was in.

She claimed that on or about February, 2015, the first defendant stopped entering 4PD and another class for his assigned English classes and was absent right until November save for a week in October 2015.

On March 30, 2015, the fourth, fifth, sixth and seven defendants, through their officers were notified that English teachers of the said school were absent from their classes during their assigned teaching hours.

This notice was made in a WhatsApp chat group (known as ‘the Fulbright WhatsApp Group’) and it was made by one Ibrahim Jadoon, a US State Department Fulbright Senior English Teaching Assistant Grantee to Malaysia, who was assigned to the third defendant for the 2015/2016 academic year, said Siti Nafirah.

She said on April 28, the same year, the fifth defendant through his two officers, were notified by Ibrahim that: As of date, the first defendant has been absent from his designated duty to teach the English subject to 4PD since February 2015; the second defendant has not taken any action regarding the first defendant’s absenteeism despite being notified of the same since April 2015; The affected students have made their grievances known to Ibrahim.

On June 17, 2015, the fourth defendant was given further notice of the absence of the first defendant when Ibrahim contacted one Bees Satoh, who was at the material time District English Language Officer (DELO), regarding the lack of action taken by the fourth defendant, despite having notice of the first defendant’s failure to attend the 4PD classes for five months.

On July 29, 2015, during a meeting called by the officers of the fifth defendant, the first defendant’s absenteeism was brought up by Head of English Department in the said school and that an officer of the fifth defendant, admitted that he was aware of absent English teachers at the said third defendant school

Siti Nafirah further claimed that sometime in July 2015, the other class was assigned a new English teacher and she, together with other students of 4PD, after noticing this, requested someone to speak with school administrators to assign them a new English teacher.

On Aug 6, the same year, the second defendant was once again notified of the first defendant’s absenteeism. This time, the second defendant sighted copies of class attendance records which showed the first defendant’s absenteeism.

On Aug 7, the fourth defendant through his officer, received a report from the Head of English Department of the said school regarding the first defendant’s absenteeism, but no action was taken against the first defendant.

On Aug, the sixth and seventh defendants, though their officer was notified of the first defendant’s absenteeism through an email and was also notified of the apparent lack of action by the second, fourth and fifth defendants regarding the said Absenteeism. On Aug 10, the fifth defendant through his officer, again received notice of the first defendant’s absenteeism through the Head of English Department’s Fulbright monthly report and as of date, the plaintiff has had no English teacher for seven months.

On Aug 17, the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh defendants, through their officers visited the third defendant school and met with the second defendant but they failed to address the first defendant’s absenteeism and this visit prompted the first defendant to enter the plaintiff’s class for one week. After which, he continued his absenteeism.

he plaintiff also claimed that she was informed by someone that officials from the fourth, fifth and sixth defendant were at school and she expressed her desire to talk to the officials regarding the impact of the absenteeism of the first defendant but the officials refused to meet with her.

On Aug 18, the second defendant had a meeting attended by all English teachers in the said school including the first defendant and during the meeting, the first defendant failed to explain his absenteeism when confronted by the Head of English Department and that the second defendant also refused to discuss the issue of absent teachers during the meeting, despite the same being brought up for discussion.

On Aug 24, a meeting was held at the office of the fourth defendant and was attended by, among others, the first, second defendants and officers of the fourth defendants.

During the meeting, the second defendant claimed that he was only notified of the first defendant’s absenteeism two weeks prior to the meeting and that the fourth defendant also denied knowledge of the first defendant’s absenteeism.

The fourth defendant instructed that a two-week self-observation of English teachers be conducted at the third defendant school.

The plaintiff further claimed that on Sept 9, the same year officers of the fourth defendants visited the said school and once again refused to discuss the issue of teacher absenteeism despite the same being brought up for discussion by someone

On or about October 2015, the second defendant met with the 4PD students including the plaintiff, in which during the meeting, the second defendant intimidatingly questions the students regarding first defendant.

After hearing the response from the students, the second defendant then proposed a deal, where he will arrange for an English teacher to teach their class for the remaining academic year, in exchange for them to write favourable words about the first defendant and also to claim responsibility for the lack of an English teacher during the year.

The plaintiff claimed that, out of fear and the desperate want for an English teacher, the students of 4PD, including her, accepted the second defendant’s offer.

On or about October 2015, the first defendant fabricated his attendance record under the instruction of the second defendant. Consequently, the attendance records then showed that the first defendant was only absent for two months.

The plaintiff claimed that the first defendant continued to be absent from 4PD which were at the material time was without a teacher for seven months.

The first defendant entered 4PD for a duration of one week in October 2015 after the visit by officials of the fourth, fifth and sixth defendant on Aug 17 and then refused to teach them again.

The plaintiff claimed that the first defendant was in breach of Regulations 3A and 23 of Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 for his absence during the said Absenteeism and his failure to perform his duty as the English Language teacher for 4PD.

She also claimed, among others that the second, fourth and fifth defendants had known or ought to have known that they are duty bound under Regulation 3C(1) Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993 to take appropriate action upon being notified of the first defendant absence during the said Absenteeism.

Accordingly, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eights defendants are in breach of their statutory duty under Regulation 3C(2) Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1993.

She also claimed that the first, second, fourth, fifth, sixth, seven and eight defendants was at all material times under a duty to ensure that the students of 4PD, including her are to receive quality education, a right protected by Article 5 read together with Article 12 of the Federal Constitution.

The plaintiff also claimed that at all material times the defendants were aware that their acts were unlawful and would cause the injury and losses to her and also have violated her constitutional right to education.

She said the defendants, except the third defendant, were negligently and/or in breach of their Statutory Duty and/or committed misfeasance in public office.

The first defendant, she claimed failed to attend and teach English classes during the said Absenteeism and also claimed that the second defendant failed to take any reasonable steps to ensure that the first defendant taught the 4PD students and that with the knowledge that such failure would result the 4PD students not being prepared for the examination as prescribed by or under the Education Act.

The plaintiff is therefore, seeking among others a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants are in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act by failing to; ensure that she is taught the English language during the period of February 2015 to Oct 2015; prepare her for examinations as prescribed under the Education Act

She also seeking a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants are in breach of their duty under Regulation 3C, 25, 26 Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1913; a declaration that the act complained off by the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants amounted to misfeasance in public office;

by Jo Ann Mool.

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‘I am doing this for all students’

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The former student who is suing her ex-English teacher for refusing to teach the English subject in her Form Four class for seven months said she did it to stop a “culture of fear and silence in schools and intimidation by the education authorities”

Stressing that it is time to end this unhealthy culture, Siti Nafirah Siman, 19, said: “I want every school to give the best education to students. If there is any teacher who did not enter a classroom this matter should be settled immediately. Teachers lose nothing if they do not teach. But we students lose everything if we do not get to learn.”

“The culture of fear for speaking up must end. Psychopathy culture with blackmailing and intimidating us must also be stopped,” Siti Nafirah told a press conference, Tuesday. It is the first time in Malaysia that a student is suing the education authorities from the teacher right up to the Minister for failing to ensure that the student’s constitutional right to education is fulfilled

“Without teachers, we cannot succeed, we fail to achieve our goals. Without teachers, we lose direction, we lose education. Without education, our lives are despicable and meaningless. For the sake of our generation’s future, what is more important than a teacher in a teaching class?” she said.

Siti Nafirah named former teacher Mohd Jainal Jamrin, a local, Hj Suid Hj Hanapi (in his capacity as principal of the SMK Taun Gusi), SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud District Education Officer, Sabah Education Director, Director General of Education Malaysia, Minister of Education Malaysia and Government of Malaysia as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendant, respectively.

She filed the writ of summons at the High Court Registry through counsel Roxana Jamaludin on Oct. 16 and the first hearing is fixed for Nov. 19. Siti Nafirah said she was one of the 34 students in the Form Four Perdagangan class in 2015 in SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud who suffered because their English teacher refused to teach them from February to October.

“We were very stressed at that point because we feared we would fail our exam. We wanted to learn. We always looked forward to the presence of our English teacher in our classroom. Once in desperation, we tried to find a replacement teacher. The teacher only entered our class after months of abandonment, which was before the final examination for that year. “We all failed in the English subject in our final year examination that year because we did not know how to answer the questions,” she said.

“Today, I raise the voice of our generation who had been left alone. I represent the generation of students calling on all students in Malaysia to dare to defend their education rights.

“At the national level, I hope the education right of every student throughout Malaysia will be prioritised. Never again must they be subjected to this kind of persecution. When a teacher does not go to class, it destroys our education and our future.

She stressed that she appreciated the teachers’ sacrifices and work hard in giving them the best education but would not tolerate teachers who deny their rights until they fail in the examination.

“Even worse if the teachers are protected by the school because no action is taken. The teacher is still working at the same school and will still not go to the class to teach.

“Why did the school silence the case? Where is the accountability? Why did the principal not take action? Why did the District Education Office ignore us? Why did the State Education Department remain,” she said, adding these are questions she wants to see addressed in court when the trial starts.

“Quality education is our hope to change poverty. At SMK Taun Gusi, most of the students came from a difficult family. In that school too, most teachers have experienced misery and poverty as they become students like us. Now they are all successful and their lives are easier because they received good education,” she said.

Meanwhile, Roxana who was present in the event assisted by law intern Jubili Anilik, made a correction to an earlier news report regarding the Dual Language Programme (DLP) by stating that the said school was not under the DLP and that this case had nothing to do with the DLP but the right of students to learn being denied.

by Jo Ann Mool.

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Siti Nafirah is seeking, among others, a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants are in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act by failing to; ensure that she is taught the English language during the period of Feb 2015 to Oct 2015; prepare her for examinations as prescribed under the Education Act.

She is also seeking a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants are in breach of their duty under Regulation 3C, 25, 26 Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1913; a declaration that the act complained off by the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants amounted to misfeasance in public office;

A centralised research management agency

Monday, October 29th, 2018
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad presented the mid-term review of the 11MP in Parliament on Oct 18. He had confirmed the setting up of a centralised research management agency. (NSTP Archive)

EASILY overlooked but enthusiastically greeted by the country’s research and scientific community was the confirmation of a “centralised research management agency”, announced on Oct 18, by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in a mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).

Long overdue, such a mechanism is widely seen in scientific circles as a key to spurring the innovative research and development (R&D) needed to enhance our national prosperity. Countries that spend too little, or unwisely, in these areas can find themselves in the economic backwaters.

Malaysia’s public investments in research, including at universities and research institutes, began during British colonial days in 1900 with the establishment of the Institute of Medical Research. Since then, more and more Public Research Assets (PRA) have been established, and they are critical to bringing new products and services to market.

Establishing a central agency to spearhead, facilitate and oversee R&D was an idea in the original 11MP, launched in 2016, but it failed to launch due to a tug of war resulting from the competing interests of ministries and numerous stakeholders.

For instance, the then-Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation took a strong position that such an agency should fall under its purview. They had a compelling case, but the complex, multi-sector nature of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) today touches on the portfolios of many other ministries, such as agriculture, health and environment, to name but a few.

Among several feasibility studies for a centralised research management agency was a 2011 assessment by the National Science and Research Council. Co-chaired by Senior Prof Datuk Dr Khalid Yusoff and Emeritus Prof Dr Jalani Sukaimi, and supported by the New York Academy of Sciences and a stellar international advisory panel, the study took stock of the productivity and efficiency of PRAs, identified gaps between expectations and performance, and benchmarked PRAs against those of countries of comparable means.

It also noted that since at least 1986, when Malaysia introduced its first national STI strategy in the 5th Malaysia Plan, R&D has been critical to the country’s development.

The 9th Malaysia Plan in 2006 greatly increased funding for new programmes to build R&D capabilities and improve development and commercialisation of new technologies.

In the 10th MP, policymakers introduced a number of priority changes, including partnerships with leading global research institutions, a focus on areas where Malaysia holds a competitive advantage, incentives for multi-national corporations (MNCs) to establish research centres, and support for high-tech small and medium enterprises.

None of the national plans, however, articulated specific operational roles for PRAs. Rather, the study found, such institutions were simply expected to align with and contribute in our key economic areas. The study underlined the absence of a coordinating body that can effectively implement the R&D priorities by funding, managing, coordinating, monitoring and evaluating investments.

The challenge is largely rooted in a somewhat chaotic multitude of plans and institutions related to R&D funding, programmes and policies. Each new Malaysia plan has typically created new funding and commercialisation programmes, just as new national strategies have often created new PRAs (for example, the National Biotechnology Policy led to the creation of the Malaysian Genome Institute, Agro- Biotechnology Institute, and the Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Nutraceuticals).

The constant spawning of new programmes and PRAs resulted in competition for resources, influence and control and, in some cases, overlapping and conflicting direction from different ministries. Furthermore, many PRA officials complain that they must continuously respond to changing R&D priorities, which makes it difficult to build and maintain core R&D capabilities in areas of strategic importance. Add to this, is the complaint that the PRAs are not catering to the needs of industry.

The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) is charged with disbursing and tracking Malaysia’s R&D investments. It long used expenditure as a primary metric to evaluate PRA “performance”. To better reflect the true performance of a PRA, EPU evaluations now include publications, patents, and, among universities, numbers of PhD students/graduates. Unfortunately, these short-term outputs fail to recognise important long-term benefits and other impacts among Malaysian stakeholders.

Malaysia needs more effective systems for the awarding of funds, for tracking the technical progress and performance of funded projects, to identify problems and take corrective action, and to monitor long-term impact.

A centralised research management agency was strongly endorsed by other studies, including that by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2016 and one by the EPU in 2017. The agency could be parked at the EPU or it can be a stand-alone organisation like the highly successful National Science Foundation in the United States

Seven years after the idea for such an agency in Malaysia was first advanced and embraced is a long time to wait. The time for action is now, and we look forward to seeing this new partner flourish on the scientific scene, sooner rather than later.

by  Zakri Abdul Hamid

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Childcare centres: Minding their business

Monday, October 29th, 2018
The Welfare Department, too, needs to play a proactive role. It must work with other government authorities to think through strategies to increase childcare centres to the national requirement of at least 38,000. (NSTP Archive)

THERE is irony in their name. Many childcare centres, it appears, don’t really “care” about the children sent there. Unscrupulous operators of such centres see opportunities in parents’ desperate search for minders.

And home-based babysitters, too, are joining the rush for the ringgit by taking in more children than they can mind.

The end result is often tragic: deaths or injuries that change the lives of the children forever. And the lives of parents too. Like in many other things, issues related to childcare cannot and must not be solved on a piecemeal basis as we are prone to do.

Approaching the childcare issue from the national perspective is the best way forward. Picture this. Malaysia has 2.3 million children aged 4 and below, which means there is a need for 38,333 childcare centres.

But the Welfare Department statistics tell us a dismal story: there are only 4,302 registered childcare centres throughout the country. Perhaps it is time to get companies with a certain manpower strength to set up childcare centres. Companies with a good bottom line may want to consider subsidies as part of their remuneration package.

If the government can do this, most certainly companies can. There is a role here for the community too.

Residents in housing areas can through the residents’ association set up childcare centres to cater to their needs. Most often, national problems are best handled locally. Better still, housing developers should be required by law to build childcare centres, the number being dependent on the size of the housing estate. A law on minimum standards for housing and amenities will help.

The Welfare Department, too, needs to play a proactive role. It must work with other government authorities to think through strategies to increase childcare centres to the national requirement of at least 38,000. This may appear as a task beyond the Welfare Department’s remit. Not so. Minding the business of the nation’s children is after all part of the business chain of welfare services. The department must also seek to understand why childcare centres and home-based babysitters are not registering. A few of the unregistered centres do face genuine problems, such as meeting the minimum legal wage of RM1,050 with the RM300 fees per child paid by parents. Such centres cut corners by hiring untrained childminders for much less, thus breaking the law in the process.


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Parents can teach sex education

Sunday, October 28th, 2018
(File pix) As parents, we need to talk to our children to ensure that they get the right information. Archive image for illustration purposes only.

RECENTLY, when asked to comment on cases of abandoned babies, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh touched on the importance of providing sex education to children. She said sex education should start from young, as early as 4 years old and by parents.

Over the last two decades, sex education has been taboo for the young, and parents avoid discussing it. There are several reasons for this:

FIRST, the negative perception that people have of the word “sex”; and,

SECOND, the misunderstanding about the meaning and content of sex education.

Many equate sex education with teaching children how to have sex.

Avoiding sex discussions with children will not help as they are discussing it with their friends. Information about sex and pornographic videos are available.

As parents, we need to talk to our children to ensure that they get the right information.

The important thing to remember is that it must be the right information about sex education that is taught, for example, the reproductive system and how babies are conceived.

Children should be taught about modesty and how to protect their bodies and why.

As Yeoh says, a 4-year-old child needs to know the difference between a “good” and “bad” touch to prevent them from becoming victims of sexual crimes, which normally are committed by adults related to them.

Dr Abdullah Nasih Ulwan, an Islamic scholar who specialises in education and tarbiyah (nurturing), in his book, Child Education in Islam, wrote that parents are responsible for teaching their children faith education, ethical education, physical education, mental education, psychological education, social education and sexual education.

Clearly, one of the parental responsibilities is to teach sex education to children. But how many parents are aware of this? How many know the content of sex education from an Islamic perspective? Do they know how to impart the knowledge to children?

In Islam, sex education is about teaching children from an early age what is lawful and unlawful for them when they reach puberty so that they are not driven by desires or led by debauchery.

Sex education in Islam encompasses the teaching of manners in asking permission to enter the parents’ bedroom; the teaching of manners in looking at the opposite sex; keeping children away from objects that can arouse them sexually; educating children on hukm , or legal ruling governing puberty and maturity; explaining to them Islam’s stand on marriage; teaching children about abstinence in situations where they cannot get married; and talking to children about sex .

Dr Ulwan says parents are the best persons to impart sex knowledge to children.

Moreover, Islam has outlined that the teaching be done in phases, that is, according to the children’s ages. It is a continuous process starting from preschool.

In the United States, for example, the involvement of parents in providing sex education to children began more than a decade ago through parent intervention programmes. These programmes have reduced risky sexual behaviours in adolescents.

The programmes have restored the function of teaching sex education to parents. Perhaps this could be emulated in our education system? Have sex education for parents, engage them in discussions and forums to raise awareness ab out the subject

By Siti Fatimah Abdul Rahman .

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Protect girls, end child marriages

Sunday, October 28th, 2018
(Stock image for illustration purposes) In July, the media reported the marriage of an 11-year-old girl to a 41-year-old man. Reason for marriage? To “protect and provide”, as she was uneducated and came from a poor family. Similar reasons were cited for the marriage of a 15-year-girl to a 44-year-old father of two last month.

WHAT a historic year this has been for women and girls. The international #MeToo movement catalysed the long-awaited reckoning of powerful male figures guilty of sexual crimes.

At home, this coincided with the election of a new government in May, and the country’s first woman deputy prime minister, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Her stewardship of the Women, Family, and Community Development Ministry signals the present government’s determination to prioritise issues about women.

But the initial optimism waned with a spate of reports on underage marriages. In July, the media reported the marriage of an 11-year-old girl to a 41-year-old man. Reason for marriage? To “protect and provide”, as she was uneducated and came from a poor family. Similar reasons were cited for the marriage of a 15-year-girl to a 44-year-old father of two last month.

Although these may seem like isolated incidents, approximately 82,000 child marriages have been recorded in Malaysia up to 2010. The reasons for the prevalence of the practice are unclear.

Malaysians are unequivocal in their disapproval of the practice. The issue has been the subject of intense debate on all platforms. The public wants a firm response from lawmakers.

But what do Malaysian youth think about child marriages? In a recent survey conducted with hundreds of Form 4 students in 10 schools in Taiping and Kuala Lumpur, most of the male and female respondents disagreed that it was acceptable for girls to be married before the age of 18.

Female respondents said marriage would “prevent them from achieving their full potential” — an opinion echoed by their male counterparts.

In the same study, respondents agreed that delaying marriage for the sake of career advancement was acceptable. This shows that the respondents reject child marriages and are aware that it limits their life choices.

Policymakers, activists and concerned citizens have renewed their call to raise the minimum age of marriage across all states, especially for Muslims. For Muslims, marriages with persons under 16 years old are permitted with approval from the syariah court. For non-Muslims, the consent of the chief minister of the state is required, except in cases of customary marriages conducted within the indigenous communities.

Opponents of the move to raise the minimum age argue that such reforms would contravene religious teachings. Such an interpretation is dangerous and misleading. Compounding the problem, Malaysia’s dual legislative system (civil and syariah) places Muslim family and marriage laws under the purview of each state. A uniform amendment to each state syariah enactment would require the consent of each of the country’s nine sultans, as well as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

The minimum age of marriage is different under the civil and syariah laws, with the age for males set at 18 and females at 16. Why does such disparity exist? Is it for the benefit of males over females, from the standpoint of education and labour markets? These are questions that merit further scrutiny alongside solutions to the issue.

In this historic year for Malaysia, this practice has blighted the country’s goal to become a global example for women’s empowerment.

By M. Niaz AsadullahWan Farihah Ahmad Fahmy.

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Reorientating public administrators

Sunday, October 28th, 2018
Administrative and Diplomatic Service personnel at a townhall with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Putrajaya in August. Alternative views for participation, speech, interaction and creativity have emerged in post-May 9 Malaysia. Hence, thinking about space (and place), scale and ratio is a fundamental ingredient in PTD training and orientation. FILE PIC

THE bureaucracy continues the administration of a nation regardless of political change. At least, that is the observation in theorising on political and social revolutions in the modern world.

Recently, I engaged with a group of Administrative and Diplomatic Service (Perkhidmatan Tadbir dan Diplomatik) cadets in talking about the nation at the National Institute of Public Administration (INTAN). The title of my lecture was “Malaysia: engaging with History, State and Society”.

In the session, I touched on a number of areas deemed to be useful to the orientation of members of the nation’s elite civil service. These included managing representations of discourse, history and historiography; colonialism; “Malaysia” as rantau/region and as nation-state; phases of independence, nation-crafting, ethnicity and identity; the New Economic Policy, the Iranian Revolution, Islamisation and Globalisation; and, Technology, new media and new history, as well as decolonisation. I also touched on the current discourse on the origins of the Malays, and the contestations on their history and narrative in recent times. Public debates and subsequent policies have to be informed on the nature of the discourse and how it influences the nation.

In that regard, civil servants, especially those at the policy level, must be informed of the different levels of discourse permeating in our midst. What is popularly known as public perception is actually crafted and informed by these discourses, their levels and interactions.

Policy, academic and popular levels of discourses and feed are informed by each other. PTD cadets, in taking on the role of policymakers, must be engaged as to the origins of the discourses and how they affect public sentiments. What is important here is to hold in abeyance what happens on the ground through formulating an objectivised knowledge of the national society.

The civil service serves the government of the day. Like any major national institutions, it cannot be partisan. At the policymaking level, civil servants serve as social scientists. They should develop such an orientation in structuring practice as produced by knowledge — that of the concrete and of the abstract. They have to forge paths in understanding society and constantly engage in its renewal on how and why the nation comes to be what it is now.

The orientation of the cadets must allow for epistemological diversity, cultural and scientific pluralism. There is a variety of ways of knowing and policy formulation in sustaining social, cultural and political relations among members of the nation. In this regard, the cadets need to know how history is related to attitudes and policy. I gave the case of the kampung in Penang which are conceived as slums or as residues of the past and, therefore, must be uprooted in the name of “development” by the authorities.

Public attitudes towards places, peoples and names, as well as institutions, inform policymakers, and vice versa. Being alert to what is absent or present is critical in their orientation. Being alert also means what has been produced by one’s own society, and that of others, of the world. And there has been a tremendous propensity for new narratives of the nation over the last two decades. PTD cadets would have to know what these are and how they are represented and in what form.

The new media has given a
plurality of meanings to history, ethnicity and identity. In the Malaysian context, any form of civil service training must not only expose participants to present policies and procedures, the Federal Constitution and national institutions, but also notions of history and who we are, and why we are what we are.

Digital technologies and new media have been instrumental in inducing these notions. If everyone can fly, as an airline slogan says, now everyone can write and express himself or herself. This is the new challenge for civil servants now. The new media enables the manifestation — construction or deconstruction (perhaps destruction too) of nationhood and nation building. We have become at the same time, users/producers of the new media, immersed in a complex media ecology of divides, diversities and literacy.

PTD cadets must be aware of the ongoing cycle of subversion and reconfiguration then pitting the more-concentrated mainstream of a national “centre” against diffuse, but increasingly, interactive and participatory “edges”. That still continues in the post-May 9 condition. Unlike much of the nation before the 1990s, there are now alternative views for participation, speech, interaction and creativity. There is the growth of oppositional and activist new media. The dust has yet to settle.

Even the name “Malaysia” has not been unaffected. We know that it is the name of the nation-state. But there is a revival to that name — historically and geographically — in response to a complex host of forces permeating our midst. Thinking about space (and place), scale and ratio is a fundamental ingredient in PTD training and orientation. What is also critical is how this can facilitate Malaysia’s new engagement in foreign policy and international relations — the nation’s image and ideas through public diplomacy.

Coming back to a non-partisan civil service, the INTAN module has to factor in political ideology in Malaysia/Malaya over the different phases of the nation’s history before and after 1957, after 1969 and certainly after May 9, 2018. With 61 years of serving only one government, certainly the training of the civil service and its PTD echelons must see a reorientation and a re-understanding of neutrality, viz., the political culture and ideology of the nation.

By Datuk Dr. A Murad Merican.

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