Archive for November, 2018

Fulbright ETAs leave lasting impression

Thursday, November 29th, 2018
(File pix) Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir (third from left) visiting an exhibition booth at the 2018 Fulbright ETA Showcase. Pix by NSTP/Rohanis Shukri

Being a fluent English speaker involves speaking with speed and clarity. There is no better way to improve English communication skills than by engaging in a conversation with native speakers. At the same time, English learners are exposed to the values, customs and cultural nuances of the native speakers.

This is the premise of the Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) programme where college graduates and young professionals from the United States are sent abroad for year-long assignments as teaching assistants in classrooms around the world, including Germany, South Korea, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.

The programme was first established in Malaysia in 2005 as a state-level programme between the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) and the Terengganu government with only 12 ETAs. The programme was expanded by the US Embassy and the Education Ministry in 2012.

This year, 100 ETAs were deployed to 100 schools in Terengganu, Kelantan, Perak, Kedah, Pahang, Perlis, Melaka, Sabah and Sarawak to boost English proficiency and communication skills among students in rural areas.

ETA Nathan Mathai, 23, from Texas, was stationed at SMK Putra in Jerteh, Terengganu.

New to teaching, Mathai said it is a challenging profession, especially when the students are from the rural side of town. “Teachers make a lot of decisions. We are constantly thinking about what’s happening in the classroom, what activities are going to be next and the extra-curricular aspect of the school.

“It was challenging to come up with activities suitable for all students. Lessons should also cater to students’ proficiency level.

“Warming up to the students, I was trying hard to get them not to be afraid of me because they see me as someone who’s coming to test their English. It took them some time to see me as a friend.

“I am a 23 year-old from US trying to figure out what’s cool for teenagers in a foreign country. I had to find ways where they could naturally be comfortable with English and that was probably with music, so my lessons revolved around that.”

The language barrier did not stop Mathai from being committed to his role as a teacher or a mentor to his students.

“We started from nothing. They didn’t speak English at all, even in English class. In Jerteh, they speak the Kelantanese dialect.

“However, when I see my students improving, it makes everything worth it. I am probably going to tear up as I say this now,” he said.

“One of my students decided to participate in a public speaking camp organised by the ETA programme. I am so proud of her.”

Mathai, who graduated with an accounting degree from the Furman University in South Carolina, plans to pursue his master’s degree in the same field once he returns to US.

To some, teaching is one of the most rewarding professions. Despite the everyday challenges, many find great satisfaction in what they do.

This is what ETA Vanessa Avalone, 23, experienced during her 10 months of teaching in SMK Mudzaffar Shah, Perak.

“I love the fact that I am able to share my knowledge. It is a very fulfilling thing to do.

“At the end of the programme, I saw students coming up to me speaking complete English sentences and raising their hands in class. At first, they were too shy to do all. I am proud of them.”

Apart from teaching, all ETAs go through cultural exchange through direct interaction not only in classrooms, but at home and in routine tasks.

“I love community-based programmes. That is something you don’t get to experience when travelling. Here in Malaysia, I have been invited to iftar, visited temples and tasted all kinds of food.

“Being an ETA, I have grown tremendously as a person. It has also improved my confidence as a teacher, and I learnt a lot about religion and culture living in this diverse and multicultural society.”

Avalone, who graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Biology and French, plans to pursue medicine to be a doctor.

After 10 months of teaching and community engagement, the Fulbright ETA programme, involving nine states and 100 secondary schools, came to an end.

At the closing ceremony, students held an exhibition on the activities they have done. Present at the 2018 Fulbright ETA Showcase were US Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, MACEE executive director Suseela Malakolunthu and Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

Lakhdir said: “This year, we have more national and international camps and activities. I think that this year’s ETAs worked very hard to develop more activities and programmes for the students.

By MURNIATI ABU KARIM.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/11/435272/fulbright-etas-leave-lasting-impression

Speak up about cyberbullying: An invisible form on campus

Thursday, November 29th, 2018
(File pix) Jane Teoh (left) and Ruby Faye during the awareness campaign talk on cyberbullying at HELP University. Pix by NSTP/Rosdan Wahid

THERE’S no specific reason why a person is cyberbullied. Even someone as intelligent and beautiful as the reigning Miss Universe Malaysia 2018 Jane Teoh was a target.

Crowned early this year, the 20-year-old accounting and finance student from Penang beat 16 other hopefuls and was also named Miss Online Personality.

Right after winning the beauty pageant, Jane became a victim of photomontages and viral memes. In one incident, her photo was placed in a collage next to an animal with a caption comparing the similarities and at the same time poking fun at her.

“I became doubtful of myself when I saw the picture and read the comments. It made me feel that I am not good enough and that I have to be perfect as that’s what the public expect of me based on what they say online,” said Jane who will be representing the country at the 67th Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand next month.

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that happens online, which involves harming, harassing, threatening and humiliating a person usually through social networks, messaging apps, chat rooms as well as via e-mail and on websites.

Common forms of cyberbullying that cause distress to the victims include spreading false rumours, posting humiliating photos or videos and stalking on social networks, and creating fake profiles and websites.

Jane said the experience of being bullied online or offline may be different for everyone, but it could affect every part of a person’s life and it could happen to anyone.

“In this day and age, we can’t deny the fact that social media is a big part of our lives. No matter what you look like on the outside, or even inside, anyone in the online sphere can be judged and victimised.

“But the youth today are more vulnerable and they tend to care about what people have to say about them. This needs to stop,” said Jane who recently kicked off #DareToShout, an awareness campaign on cyberbullying.

As a victim of cyberbullying, Jane understands how it feels like to read unpleasant comments on social media platforms. So it is important for her to reach out to the youth and help them to speak up about cyberbullying and, in time, overcome it.

While many studies are conducted to understand and document the negative impact of cyberbullying on schoolchildren, relatively little attention has been paid to the same issue on young adults at tertiary institutions. Typically understood as a teen issue, cyberbullying has trickled its way into the lives of university students and adults.

There is not much research on cyberbullying at higher education institutions to start with.

One research published in 2017 to understand the prevalence of cyberbullying among tertiary students in the country found that most cyber victims experienced emotional changes and became overly sensitive to their surroundings.

Out of 712 students who participated in the research conducted by academicians from Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, 66 per cent reported that they have been cyberbullied. The findings also indicated that seeking assistance from friends and classmates is the most common coping strategy instead of asking help from the counselling centre at university.

HELP University Centre for Psychological and Counselling Services lecturer Sarah Yung said while the negative impact of cyberbullying on youth at schools is well-documented, comparatively less is known about its effects on undergraduates. It may benignly be seen that undergraduates tolerate such actions within the context of a university culture.

“Cyberbullying happens at universities but at a slightly evolved form unlike the bullying we see at schools. It has one dangerous trait — at tertiary level, it is quite invisible.”

“On a university confession page for instance, you can read many negative comments. However, it may not appear as cyberbullying for those aged between 18 and 25 years old.”

Cyberbully, she added, is of a strange trend originating from freedom of speech and speaking one’s mind that is emerging on the Internet and social media— the tool and space for people to express themselves.

The anonymity in social networks makes it easier for people to share their opinions and, in some ways, reflect their thoughts. Bullies know they can hide behind the computer screen and email, and text and post messages that contain hurtful words that are rude and highly defamatory.

“In the case of cyberbullying, there are no details that we can identify such as the face of a victim or the bully.

“Cyberbullying, like bullying, happens for many reasons, but it is certainly easier to bully someone from behind a screen.”

There is an assumption that cyberbully victims in general are helpless, have low self-esteem and lack confidence.

But students who excel academically can be victims of bullies. These are students who are active at universities and communicate well with the staff, faculty and friends.

“If someone posted something mean and we responded by liking that posting, are we also cyberbullies? In other words, am I taking sides with a cyberbully?”

EFFECTS

Cyberbullies can cause mental and physical impact such as depression, anxiety, stress, sleeplessness, weight loss and even suicidal thoughts.

For university students, being on the receiving end of cyberbullying can affect their personal lives, grades and relationships inside and outside the university, including avoidance of certain individuals and places where the cyberbully frequents.

Sarah, who is also a registered counsellor, said most youngsters care about how others perceive them, usually believing what people say about them while trying hard to please people to accept them for who they are.

“We cannot escape the strange climate on the Internet that gives a sense of control over how one wants to be pictured by others on the web.

For some, accounts and pictures of the better lives of other people can make them feel that life is unfair.”

Very often, Sarah added, victims do not feel the connection with those around them. They go online hoping that netizens will give them the attention.

“Some young people, who are suffering from stress and a low support system, turn to people online for support.

“If they do not receive the support online, the rejection affects their self-worth. At a stage where one is trying to build one’s identity, one tends to be more vulnerable to the perception of others.”

More students today are struggling with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

“It is a very pressing concern that they are struggling to find meaning in what they do and who they are. At 21, which is the age that one is legally an adult, they think others expect that they should have figured out their life.

“Some 20-year-olds cannot find the meaning of life and do not know how to even describe the missing pieces they feel in their lives.

“The irony is while we live in the age of connectivity, many of these young people feel disconnected. Reality is filtered on the Internet but many of us believe and define the world based on what is on the screen.”

This results in some feeling less about themselves, so they struggle with their selfworth, feel anxious and depressed leading to suicidal thoughts.

COPING STRATEGIES

“It is easier to choose not to communicate with anybody nowadays. Just take out my phone, put on my earphones and everyone will leave me alone,” Sarah said.

A lack of physical connection may be one of the reasons why the younger generation born in this digital age feels lost in this world.

Communicating with different age groups creates different connections and develops points of view for the young people.

However, Sarah believes regenerating the sense of connection with people around them, especially with different age groups, is important.

“You see your peers as equals. Peer discussions on certain topics may lead you nowhere.

“Having an older figure who can connect to you and be a mentor can generate ties that you may not get from your peers.

“Youths need mentors and we see this especially at universities when lecturers reach out and connect with students. Lecturers become an important bridge for students to cross over to the next level.

“When there is interaction between these two generations, it builds a sense of connection for both.”

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE CYBERBULLIED:

KEEP THE EVIDENCE

Compile the evidence that you can garner which can include text messages, emails, screenshots, instant message conversations and IP addresses according to dates and times.

TALK IT OUT

Share it with someone you trust who can help you find the courage to make it stop.

BLOCK

Block bullies immediately even when they create new accounts.

GO PRIVATE

Control who can see what you write and post, as many social media accounts allow you to go private.

DON’T RETALIATE

Ignore bullies as retaliating opens up more problems.

Respect civil servants, don’t harm them – Dr Wan Azizah

Thursday, November 29th, 2018
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail arrives to launch the 2018 National Planning Congress organised by the Malaysian institute of Planners. NSTP/ Halimaton Saadiah Sulaiman

KUALA LUMPUR: Civil servants should be respected and not be harmed while performing their duties, said Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

The deputy prime minister said it was the responsibility of everyone to protect public servants including members of the security forces

“We have to protect our civil servants and whoever is working for the public, including firemen,” she told reporters after opening the 2018 National Planning Congress organised by the Malaysian institute of Planners here today.

She was commenting on the case of Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, 24, who was critically injured after he was reportedly beaten during the rioting at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple in USJ 25, Putra Heights.

Adib was believed to have been hit by a group of rioters during a fire-fighting operation near the Hindu temple in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The fireman is now under the care of doctors at the National Heart Institute (IJN) in Kuala Lumpur.

Describing the case as a serious crime, Dr Wan Azizah said she would be visiting Adib at IJN tomorrow.

“This is a real crime and now he is fighting for his life. Insya-Allah (God willing) I will see him tomorrow,” she said.

Roting at the temple early Monday morning and the early following day ,was believed to be linked to dispute over the relocation of the temple.

By Bernama.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/435766/respect-civil-servants-dont-harm-them-dr-wan-aziza

‘Stateless kids in schools won’t affect local pupils’

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Kuala Lumpur: The Education Ministry has assured that the enrolment of stateless children in government schools would not affect the local children’s educational opportunities and access to these schools’ facilities.Its Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic) said the Government had always ensured the provision of adequate educational infrastructure and facilities to meet the needs of students in government schools, including those in the interior areas of Sabah and Sarawak.

“I am aware of the concern voiced by the people over this (government) initiative but I wish to clarify that they (stateless children) do not possess (identity) documents but are the children of Malaysian citizens or one of their parents is a Malaysian,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.

Maszlee was replying to a question from Ma’mun Sulaiman (Warisan-Kalabakan) on whether the Government’s move of allowing stateless children to enrol in schools beginning 2019 would affect local students’ access to the school facilities and their learning process, particularly in Sabah.”The Education Ministry accepts children who have no important documents like the birth certificate or identity card required to enrol in national schools, on the condition that the father or mother submit a confirmation letter from the village head that the child is his/hers,” he said.

Maszlee said the parents or guardians of such children should also make a serious effort to obtain the necessary identity documents before going to the Education Department to sort out their enrolment in school.

He said his ministry was also holding engagement sessions with various government agencies, including the National Registration Department, Immigration Department and the National Security Council for their feedback on matters pertaining to the initiative.

He added that the ministry would also analyse the information and data obtained through the engagement sessions as a strong basis and justification for resolving the issue of access to education for stateless children without adversely affecting the needs of young Malaysian citizens studying at government and government-aided schools.
BERNAMA

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=129002

Dealing with inequalities in the Asia-Pacific

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
(File pix) The elderly shopping in Tokyo’s Sugamo district. The Asia-Pacific region is an ageing population — the proportion of people above the age of 60 is expected to more than double by 2050. Reuters Photo

MINISTERS and senior policymakers across Asia and the Pacific are gathered in Bangkok this week to focus on population dynamics at a crucial time for the region.

Their goal: to keep people and rights at the heart of the region’s push for sustainable development.

They will be considering how successful we have been in balancing economic growth with social imperatives, underpinned by rights and choices for all as enshrined in the landmark Programme of Action (POA) stemming from the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development, or ICPD.

In the POA, diverse views on population, gender equality, sexual and reproductive health, and sustainable development are merged into a global consensus that placed individual dignity and human rights at the heart of development.

Truly revolutionary at the time, ICPD remains all the more urgent and relevant a quarter-century later, in this era of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its Sustainable Development Goals.

Without ICPD we would not have the SDGs — they go hand in hand. The ICPD is a dedicated vehicle through which we can, and will address, achieve and fulfill the SDGs.

How well have we responded to trends such as population ageing and international migration? How successful have we been in ensuring optimal sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights for all, including the right to choose when or whether to get married and when or whether to have children, and how many? How well have we done in strengthening gender equality and women’s empowerment, and upholding the rights of the most vulnerable among us? Where should our efforts be refocused to leave no one behind?

Asia and the Pacific has much to celebrate. The region remains the engine of global growth and at the forefront of the global fight against poverty. It is now home to half the world’s middle class. The share of the population living in poverty has dropped considerably, although it is still unacceptably high. People are living longer and healthier lives. Rights-based family planning has contributed to considerable economic success and women’s empowerment.

And we are on track to achieve universal education by 2030.

Yet for all this growth, considerable injustices remain. On its current trajectory, the region will fall short of achieving the 2030 Agenda. In several areas we are heading in altogether the wrong direction.

Inequalities within and between countries are widening.

Some 1.2 billion people live in poverty, of which 400 million live in extreme poverty. Lack of decent job opportunities and access to essential services are perpetuating injustice across generations.

At the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), we are keen to shine the spotlight on three key issues where regional commitment is vital.

FIRST, we need to respond to the unprecedented population changes unfolding across the Asia-Pacific region. Many countries are facing a rapidly ageing population. The proportion of people above the age of 60 is expected to more than double by 2050. Effectively meeting the needs of an ageing society and ensuring healthy and productive lives must be a priority.

This requires a life cycle approach — from pregnancy and childbirth, through adolescence and adulthood, to old age — ensuring that all people are allowed to fulfil their socioeconomic potential, underpinned by individual rights and choices;

Equally, there is a strong case for strengthening Asia-Pacific’s response to international migration.

Migrants can, when allowed, contribute significantly to development.

However, we know that migrants are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. So our ambition is for discussions this week to build further momentum in support of safe, orderly and regular migration to fully harness its development benefits;

SECOND, there is clear evidence the region must spend more on social protection, as well as on healthcare and education. Today, social protection is the preserve of a few, rather than a right for all.

As a result, 60 per cent of our population are at risk of being trapped in vulnerability or pushed into poverty by sickness, disability, unemployment or old age, often underpinned by gender inequality.

The “Social Outlook for Asia and the Pacific: Poorly Protected”, which ESCAP will publish later this week, sets out why expanding social protection is the most effective means of reducing poverty, strengthening rights and making vulnerable groups less exposed.

Many women, migrants, older persons and rural communities would also benefit. Our evidence suggests it could even end extreme poverty in several countries by 2030; and,

THIRD, we need to invest in generating disaggregated data to tell us who is being left behind to ensure our response to population dynamics is targeted and credible. Availability of data on social and demographic issues lag far behind anything related to the economy.

Millions of births remain unregistered, leading to the denial of many basic rights, particularly to women and girls. Of the 43 countries which conducted a census between 2005 and 2014, only 16 have reliable data on international migration. With the 2020 round of censuses upon us, we will be redoubling our efforts to close these data gaps by strengthening new partnerships for data capacity and working with governments and other partners to translate data into policy and action.

By Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana and Natalia Kanem.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/11/435238/dealing-inequalities-asia-pacific

Boost automation for workplace safety compliance, says Lee

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye says Niosh is ready to provide workers with exposure to the latest technology related to occupational safety and health.

PUTRAJAYA: Employers in all sectors should boost automation applications for safety compliance, including in the use of safety equipment in line with the fourth industrial revolution ( Industry 4.0).

National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said employers should invest in the latest facilities and equipment related to safety and health at the workplace.

“I hope employers will equip their workers with new technology and sophisticated equipment on top of a safe and healthy environment,” Lee said at the fifth Scientific Conference on Occupational Safety and Health (SciCOSH) 2018.

He adding that adopting the latest technology could boost their competitive edge.

He listed some of the technologies that could be applied, including personal protective equipment which had sensors or radio-frequency identification tags, which could collect data accurately and effectively.

He said Niosh was ready to provide exposure to workers regarding the latest technology related to occupational safety and health.

By Siti A’isyah Sukaimi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/435402/boost-automation-workplace-safety-compliance-says-lee

Undocumented children allowed to study – Maszlee

Wednesday, November 28th, 2018

Dr Maszlee Malik

KUALA LUMPUR: Undocumented children are now allowed to enter Sekolah-sekolah Aliran Kebangsaan (national schools) as long as one of their parents is a Malaysian citizen, the Federal Education Ministry announced.

Its minister, Dr Maszlee Malik, said the parent must submit a confirmation letter or a certificate approved by the village chief to prove that his or her child is a Malaysian citizen.

“The parent or guardian of these children must work hard to compile the required identification documents,” Maszlee said in answering Kalabakan member of parliament Ma’mun Sulaiman at the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday.

In light of the recently-announced ‘Undocumented Children Can Enter Schools 2019’ initiative, Maszlee gave his assurance that the initiative would not affect the current opportunities and facilities enjoyed by the local children throughout the country.

“The ministry is responsible for providing an education infrastructure that is adequate in fulfilling the needs of the students of government schools.

“As of now, the ministry is actively conducting engagement sessions and discussion with the various government agencies, including the National Registration Department and the Immigration Department.

“This is to obtain feedback and opinions from the related agencies, in line with their respective policies and allocations,” he disclosed.

Maszlee explained that he would also be engaging with the Immigration Departments of Sabah, Sarawak and the other states to get more feedback on the said initiative.

He said that his ministry expects to obtain more information on the issue of education access among the undocumented children in the affected states.

In a supplementary question, Ma’mun had also asked on the case involving 700 local students who are currently ‘terapung’ (floating) as the Education Ministry had previously allowed undocumented children to register in national schools.

Maszlee stressed that under the new Malaysian government, there would no longer be any ‘floating’ students. He stressed that the government would be working hard to prevent this from happening again.

“The ministry will not neglect any schools and it will give its highest commitment to ensure that all the dilapidated schools in the state will be promptly fixed or reconstructed,” he added.

He asserted that the cooperation between the Federal Education Ministry and the Sabah Ministry of Education and Innovation would continue.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2018/11/28/undocumented-children-allowed-to-study-maszlee/

Don’t just fix repayments

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
Higher education institutions pitching their offerings at an education fair at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. FILE PIC

THE government’s strategy to reform student loans through the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is now finally becoming clearer.

After much reflection, the emphasis is on improving the repayment rates from borrowers rather than reforming the system as a whole. As always, the weight of the problem will fall on the students.

The introduction of tiered repayments between two per cent and 15 per cent based on income of more than RM1,000 per month angered many people who argued that this is a breach of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) election manifesto to limit repayments to those earning more than RM4,000 per month.

On reflection, it may be too early to be so harsh. Perhaps the new policy is better viewed as a sensible mechanism for the government to stabilise the system and then raise the threshold from RM1,000 to RM4,000 before GE15

The real disappointment in the PTPTN reform announced in the 2019 Budget is that it fails to address the substantial structural issues underlying the use of PTPTN funds, particularly in private universities. Just fixing the repayments will not settle the PTPTN problem — we need to know how the universities are spending the billions in PTPTN funds that they receive each year.

Our research on private university finances, to be presented at a public lecture at Monash University today shows, shows that billions of ringgit are transferred out of the private universities each year.

Based on audited financial accounts from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) for 75 out of 96 private universities, we estimated that in 2016 transfers out in the form of dividends, taxes, marketing and senior manager salaries amounted to around RM838 million. This is equivalent to 41 per cent of the PTPTN loans allocated to the institutions in our sample in that year.

From 2010-2016, we estimated that at least RM4.7 billion has been transferred out of the private higher education institutions (HEIs) in our sample. This is equivalent to 29 per cent of the PTPTN loans over the same period.

The biggest share of these transfers-out goes to pay the owners of the companies that run the private universities. Between 2010 and 2016, RM1.98 billion was transferred out of the private HEIs as dividends to owners. This is equivalent to nine per cent of the PTPTN loans transferred into the system.

Ironically, this means that students are borrowing large amounts of money to pay shareholders rather than to pay for their own education. In 2016, the amount of dividends paid was enough to retire 21 per cent of the PTPTN debt allocated to students at the private universities in our sample in that year.

Another drag on resources for the private universities is the government itself. SSM data shows that RM781 million in taxes was paid between 2010 and 2016. In another irony, to save money, PTPTN reduced the maximum loan for private students by 15 per cent in 2014 but this cost the government RM90 million in lost taxes due to the negative impact on private HEI profits.

Despite falling profits and an increasingly unstable financial environment for private universities, their senior managers are very well paid. Over the period 2010-2016 we estimated that RM672 million was paid to vice-chancellors and chief executives across the underperforming private higher education sector. This is despite worsening profits and rising financial instability.

The intense competition for students among private universities leads to high spending on marketing, advertising and recruitment agents. Our conservative estimate is that RM204 million per year or RM1.43 billion between 2010 and 2016 has been spent on marketing.

This is enough to build one new private university per year or to fund the income of three average-sized private universities for the same period. Actually, anecdotal evidence suggests that as much as RM700 million to RM800 million may be wasted on marketing, advertising and recruitment each year across the almost 100 private HEIs.

It goes without saying that all of this money lost to the system from dividends, taxes, marketing and salaries could be better spent on improving the financial stability of the universities and raising the quality of education for the students. It would also go some way to improving the pay and conditions of academics and staff.

The solutions must include a combination of efforts from the government and the private universities themselves. For the government, solving the tax problem is a simple matter of giving tax relief, on specific terms, to private universities that show they are investing profits back into their stakeholders.

Cutting marketing expenditure requires a mature collaboration between private universities to create a new centralised system for recruitment of students. This would cut the need for intense head-on competition and the high, wasted costs that this creates.

Sadly, I fear that we will wait a long time for this to happen if left to the universities themselves — so the government may have to lead on this as well.

Dealing with salaries requires that senior managers in private universities and their public counterparts for that matter, follow the example of listed companies and now even ministers in the government, and publish their pay and bonuses. This would help to ensure that they can be held to account by shareholders, students and staff alike.

By Geoffrey Williams.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/11/434887/dont-just-fix-repayments

Zero Reject Policy will not affect Malaysian students’ access to education

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
(File pix) Photo shows parents registering their children at a school. The Zero Reject Policy to allow pupils with no proper documentation to have access to education will not jeopardise the opportunity for other Malaysian children to obtain education. Archive image for illustration purposes only. Pix by NSTP/Muhd Asyraf Sawal

KUALA LUMPUR: The Zero Reject Policy to allow pupils with no proper documentation to have access to education will not jeopardise the opportunity for other Malaysian children to obtain education.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said this is because the planned policy will only be for prospective pupils from Malaysian parents or where at least one of the parents is a citizen.

“The requirements for entry (into national schools) is that one of the children’s parent is a Malaysian citizen. The parents need to get a confirmation letter from their village chief…

“After the letter is issued, then the children would be allowed to go to school. Later, they would need to go to the state National Registration Department (NRD),” Maszlee said.

“I wish to give my guarantee that this initiative does not jeopardise the schooling opportunities and facilities for local students nationwide, including in Sabah.

“The Ministry is responsible in providing sufficient education facility to support the needs of pupils of government schools.

“As I have mentioned many times in the Dewan (Rakyat), the Education Ministry will from time to time make sure that facilities in Sabah, Sarawak and rural areas are not neglected,” he said during the Minister’s Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat today.

He was answering a question from Ma’mun Sulaiman (Warisan-Kalabakan) over whether the initiative to enrol children with insufficient documentation next year would affect the learning and placement of existing students in schools.

On Oct 30, Maszlee was reported to have said that the ministry would implement the Zero Reject policy in stages next year to ensure special needs students and children without proper documentation to have access to education.

Meanwhile in response to a supplementary question from Ma’mun, Maszlee said that the ministry would make sure that cases of “floating students” would not happen following the entry of students with no proper documentation into schools.

The minister said that the ministry is in the process of repairing and upgrading school facilities to ensure there are no “floating students.”

“We will ensure that students remain in their classes and no longer ‘floating’,” Maszlee said.

By Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/government-public-policy/2018/11/434944/zero-reject-policy-will-not-affect-malaysian-students

Accident-free workplace achievable – DOSH

Tuesday, November 27th, 2018
Johor DOSH director Dasuki Mohd Heak (two, left) said it was not impossible to achieve this, as previously shown by companies and developers. (NSTP/MOHD FAHMI MOHD YUSOF)

ISKANDAR PUTERI: Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) today urged employers to be more proactive in implementing initiatives to achieve zero-accident rate at the workplace.

Johor DOSH director Dasuki Mohd Heak said it was not impossible to achieve this, as previously shown by companies and developers.

“Firstly, employers must have the will; if you (employers) wish to achieve (zero-accident record), you must be willing to do it wholeheartedly.

“Secondly, the companies must be willing to spend in order to ensure a safer working environment, and at the same time safeguard the welfare of their employees.

“Thirdly and most importantly, (there must be) excellent management because only the employers are capable of ensuring that a safe workplace could be achieved,” he said after launching Giant Leap Construction Sdn Bhd’s ‘Three million hours without Loss Time Injury (LTI)’ at Forest City’s Plot 4 construction site on Tuesday.

Dasuki said DOSH encouraged the involvement of employers, safety and health practitioners; as well as employees, in the Accident-free Workplace Week; and Employees’ Safety and Health Meeting to increase awareness on the importance of practising preventive measures.

By MOHD FAHMI MOHD YUSOF

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/435046/accident-free-workplace-achievable-dosh