Archive for January, 2019

Education panel plan a good idea

Thursday, January 17th, 2019
Pupils celebrating their UPSR results. Public consultation on the setting up of a National Education Policy Committee is a win-win situation for the Education Ministry and the people. – NSTP/File Pic
By TAN CHEE YONG - January 16, 2019 @ 11:26pm

I welcome the Education Ministry’s proposal to establish a National Education Policy Committee to consult the public on improving public education (“Public invites to submit proposals to improve education system” — NST, Jan 12).

Since the introduction of the National Education Blueprint 2015-2025 in 2013 under the previous administration, the implementation of its policies has received mixed results.

Its results on reducing the urban and rural gap on education performance is, nonetheless, remarkable.

The ministry said the gap was reduced by 31.6 per cent based on pupils’ 2016 Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah results compared with that of previous years.

It has allowed more pupils who are socially disadvantaged to perform as good as their urban peers.

However, there was a reverse trend in certain areas, which the Blueprint intends to address. Among them was the effort to improve English language proficiency.

In 2017, the ministry acknowledged the fact that more than 10,000 schools, and even teachers’ command of the language, was not at a standard expected in the Blueprint.

A more comprehensive approach must be adopted to bridge this gap.

Public consultation is a win-win situation for the ministry and the people.

It allows us to voice our concerns about problems and provide suggestions on ways to improve them.

Equally, the ministry can benefit from the expertise and suggestions to boost the education system.


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Innovative teaching at universities

Thursday, January 17th, 2019

ONE of the key purpose of tertiary education today is to generate holistic graduates who can compete globally and be ready take on challenges being brought about by the technological development of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR 4.0) – which is affecting the jobsphere by creating new knowledge and skills requirement.

Hence, student experience at higher education insitutions must facilitate the opportunity for every student to learn in innovative ways that is engaging, enabling them to reach their full potential and develop skills that will help them thrive in the future.

Education Minister Dr Mazlee Malik at the Education Minister’s Special Award Ceremony: Innovative Curriculum Design and Delivery 2018 (AKRI 2018) last month said lecturers should be dynamic and adapt to various changes and yet hold on to the basic concepts of higher education.

And that there must be a culture of innovation in the profession of lecturers to diversify teaching and learning methods.

Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad, a lecturer who has been teaching at the biotechnology and molecular science at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) for the past 11 years and is currently seconded to the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education as the Director of Academic Development Management Division, believes in empowering learners, learning by doing and experiential learning.

“Students nowadays who are from Generation Z (people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s) are different from those in other generations. They want to be involved, and have freedom to speak their own mind in their learning experience.

“As an educator, we need to create that opportunity for them to unleash their creative potential, skills and innovation. We need to design the learning activities so that students able to identify their capabilities, strengths and weaknesses and those will not happen if only learning through lectures in a conventional classroom setting.

Life Skills Facilitators at Taylor’s University pose with Dr Maszlee Malik and Janaronson Nagarajah (left) after being named the winner for the Face-to-Face Immersive Learning Experience category at AKRI 2018.

“We should take the advantages of the great things technology can bring that may not have been possible before,” said the recipient for Teaching award under the Pure Science Cluster category at the 12th National Academic Awards (AAN) last year.

Spurring active learning

SO, what is innovative teaching at university and what shape does it come in?

Associate Professor Dr Fauziah Abdul Rahim – dean of Universiti Utara Malaysia’s (UUM) School of Education and Modern Languages – said essentially

teaching at any level would need to have the same basic ingredient – it has to be learner and learning centered, it needs to be meaningful.

It would also require designing tasks or activities that engages learners to become involved in the thinking and learning process as well as learn in a collaborative way and above all learners can have lots of fun when learning. In her view, this would be the essence of designing for learning to take place at the university level and the innovation would really depend on the creativity of the teacher, considering the needs and learner diversity, in order to achieve their goals.

“So using flipped classroom where learners can do tasks inside and outside of classroom via technology and the use of various learning tools can assist teachers to provide engaging learning experiences among the learners,” she said.

The Anugerah Akademik Negara award winner for Teaching (Applied Arts and Social Science Category), highlighted the current and future generation of university students cannot be separated from technology and have a shorter attention span perhaps due to that though they love to share their experiences, working in a flexible way and they thrive on challenges.

“Thus, in order to get them on board in the classroom, teachers in the university level need to be equipped with the know-how of integrating technology and interactive learning in their classroom,” she said.

She highlighted that the challenges for faculty members at tertiary level occurs when they are required to become involved in research and publication and the emphases that have been given to these activities can sometimes be overwhelming for academicians when designing innovative and meaningful teaching at the university level that sometimes result in traditional lecture becoming inevitable.

“Hopefully make universities understand and place greater emphasis on the importance of ensuring that academicians become motivated to place innovative teaching as central in their teaching and learning processes,” she said.

The UKM Faculty of Medicine E-MERS team discussing the finer details of Immersive Hybrid Simulation session targeted at final-year medical students.

On inovative teaching in the fields of applied literature and social science for example, Fauziah useslearner-centered strategies that require students to take ownership of their learning when solving problems in various ways.

This is especially critical as her students are from the education programmes whom ultimately, she hopes will become innovative teachers in their respective contexts when they graduate from their studies.

“While ensuring that the learning outcomes of the courses are achieved, there is also an effort made to prepare them with the obstacles and challenges that they may face in the real world contexts of teaching.

“This is done through activities like solving cases provided which enable students to relate theory into practice in a meaningful way. That way it helps students to prepare themselves before they set foot into the real world,” she said.

“I am humbled and pleased when getting feedback from past students on how tasks that they did and knowledge as well as skills they have acquired when attending the class as students were relevant and helpful when they became teachers. The received feedbacks motivate me to do more even if it is not easy. After all mediating learning is never easy,” said Fauziah.

Asked about her teaching strategies in teaching pure sciences subject, UPM’s microbiology lecturer Associate Professor Dr Wan Zuhainis Saad said it’s all about curiosity, exploration, and relationship.

“We need to deliver content in a manner that will spike students curiosity, instil their interest and allow them to see things differently. I practice BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Students will come in with their own gadgets, smartphones, laptops, iPads. hey will come in prepared because they know they need to participate in activities prepared for them by me or their classmates. I don’t have to worry about attendance because they won’t miss my classes. It is an active learning environment,” she said.

She believes active learning promotes innovation and creativity.

“I will have activities for each lecture, lots of formative assessment, interaction, participation, engagement and group work. Students have the freedom to throw out ideas and suggestions, interactive and engaged. In the words of Einstein, I don’t teach my students, I just attempt to create the environment in which they can learn,” she said.

Wan Zuhainis practices blended learning using flipped classroom with Web 2.0 tools. The learning materials are prepared earlier with interactive video quizzes using EdPuzzle. The tasks are distributed among the group of students that will prepare the learning materials for a particular topic for the whole class.

“You’ll be amazed on what they can do. I use Project Oriented Based Learning (POBL). A project is designed for the students encompass the content for the whole semester. We will discuss progress, problems, sharing ideas on the project. Usually they are big events such as Mini Showcase of Microbial Ecology where students were the organising Committee. and Virtual Microbes, a virtual peer-learning project to learn microbes with students from eight ifferent universities, including Lafayett College, USA. It not only teaches others, students learn best by doing and experiential learning,” she said.

“As a 21stCentury educator, a learning designer, we have to be ready to learn, unlearn and relearn. Learning takes place in many different circumstances and contexts and learning is process that never ends. Our enthusiasms, passion and excitement for learning should be contagious and infectious, and everyone must be infected,” Wan Zuhainis said.


Taylor’s University Face-to-Face Immersive Learning Experience project, which won an award in the category at the Education Minister’s Special Award Ceremony: Innovative Curriculum Design and Delivery 2018 (AKRI 2018) last December, goes back to 2014 when Taylor’s University launched the Shine Award programme to enable its students to develop their life skills aptitude, which would see them improve on their lifelong life skills and emotional wellbeing capabilities.

It is actually the implementation of two subjects – Life Skills for Success and Well-Being and Millennials in Malaysia: Team Dynamics and Relationship Management – which is targeted to help students to focus on developing themselves to be emotionally intelligent and be able to interact with others.

“This innovative approach to education was the brainchild of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Professor Dr Pradeep Nair who saw the merit in introducing this after talking to industry leaders who shared about how they also assess emotional intelligence when hiring graduates,” said Janaronson, who is the Associate Director of Integrated Teaching and Life-long Learning Center at Taylor’s (INTELLECT).

A specialised team, called the Life Skills Coaches/Facilitators who come from various backgrounds, was appointed to look into this aspect of the learning. The Life Skills Facilitators, which include certified coaches, clinical psychologist, humanitarian and corporate trainers among others, deliver these life skills modules to all first-year students, providing them the opportunity to enter into a journey of self-discovery, catching foundational life skills, emotional intelligence and tools that will help with emotional well-being.

“While this was first introduced on a voluntary basis, the programme was met with positive response by the students which led to the establishment of a more comprehensive framework that was introduced as part of the Taylor’s Curriculum Framework which was launched last year,” said Janaronson.

“It’s a new approach to learning and all our students in the diploma and degree programmes are enrolled for these two modules in their first year, regardless of their course of study,” he said.

He elaborated by going through the two subjects, at the end of the semester, the students will have the opportunity to go through a self-discovery process and know how to thrive in a team setting and how to give neutral responses and behave with people in teams.

Dichotomie Le Toys

“This is important because research has indicated that the one reality is that those in the workforce in the future will work across different teams, in different sectors and also spanning cultures,” he said.

he highlighted the initiative has been met with positive response, with close to 90 per cent of students involved sharing that they found the two modules helpful and provided them the platform to safely develop their emotional wellbeing in a positive manner. “Our team have also been approached by an industry partner who recognises the impact of this approach and wanted a custom-made 10 week module for their scholars,” shared Janaroson.

As educators, he commented it is necessary to be innovative as it will allow instructors/ lecturers to remain relevant to the needs of students.

“The Life Skills modules provide a platform to the Life Skills Facilitators to constantly enhance the way they engage their students and allow the students to be future ready,” Janaronosn said.


Transformative Teaching Without Lectures effort by UMT biodiversity lecturer Associate Professor

DrFaridah Mohamad a new approach to the teaching of ‘building and using a dichotomous key’ for first year biodiversity students. These skills, she said, are crucial for biodiversity graduates who will end up working in the biodiversity field later where they will be the ones holding the responsibility of exploring and safeguarding the mega-biodiversity. Therefore, she highlighted, skills in classification of organisms which involves building and using dichotomous key is crucial.

The things that triggers me to do this was when we noticed that majority of our final year students failed to demonstrate good knowledge and skill in identification and description of species when they presented their final year project, despite have been taught these lesson and skills during their first year.

“And so I thought of changing the way it is taught, but retaining all the learning outcomes. The only change I tried was the delivery of the course, from lecture based to activity based, where students took charge of their own learning by applying active learning in class,” said Faridah.

The original course involved lecture and practical sessions. What Faridah did was to select the original most basic practical module, where students were taught and required to classify lab apparatus and stationaries into their own classes.

“This is the basic of making organism classification. I expanded this module to become the center of my teaching of the course. But instead of using those materials, I changed them to lovely coloured, cute toys of all sorts. The whole process of remodelling the module and crafting the activities took me quite sometime but it’s all worth it when comments from students were extremely encouraging,” she explained.

Under Dichotomie Le Toys, a 2-3 hour activity was carried out in a group of five without given any prior lecture on the topic. The students further applied their understanding of the practical sessions using real plant and animal specimens and using various published taxonomic keys available.

The whole process of the activity was done on a basis of active learning where students took charge of their own learning through learning-by-doing, peer, collaborative and self-determined learning.

Each group was given a task to classify a set of 12-13 plastic toys of all sorts according to their creativity. While trying to complete the task, they listed the problems they faced, compared and discussed with the whole class facilitated by the lecturer. The importance of having a system to simplify the classification process is highlighted, followed by the introduction of “Dichotomous Key” terminology.

Each member of the group was then instructed to read an article of their choice from the internet, share with others and finally managed to build a correct dichotomous key of their toys.

“We started this new approach in 2017, and the students are now in their final year. Spontaneous interview carried by my other colleague on some of them add more proves that they are retaining the knowledge and skills they gained from Dichotomie le Toys, and started applying them to various projects that they are working now for their final year projects including birds, bats, fish and plants.

“This is precisely what we want from them, able to apply these basic skills taught previously during their study into “real job” situation, and was not happening at the rate we want before this,” said Faridah.

Test done on students gave evidence of correct understanding of the concept and indicate their competence in using dichotomous key to identify organisms and building the key to classify them.

“We are working towards better teaching deliveries, especially on topics or subjects that we identify needs to be refreshed. How do we know this? We have their grades as indicators, and we have students’ comments to reflect upon each batch. That will tell us whether the students attain the intended outcomes or not,” she shared.


HAVING introduced Disaster Response Medicine as a submodule under Emergency Medicine to the medical undergraduate curriculum at UKM, lecturers of the Department of Emergency soon found the student contact allocation for final year students for a one hour lecture inadequate to impart the principles of disaster response medicine and information for accompanying field experience.

“We had one hour of lecture followed by a simulation exercise where we put students through role play on the field. The whole affair is labour intensive with 50 students undergoing the simulation physically either in the ward or an open space each time. And there are 280 students in total for the whole batch, meaning we hat to carry out this simulations five to six times each year. While this disrupts our daily operations in the faculty, there is also no guarantee students will come away with complete knowledge on the overall principles of disaster response medicine as they are stuck with only one role on only one aspect of disaster response medicine during the simulation session,” said UKM Medical Centre senior consultant emergency physican Professor Dr Ismail Mohd Saiboon, who is also a healthcare simulationist educator, and deputy dean of Graduate Studies at UKM’s Faculty of Medicine.

So together with six other lecturers, he formed a 7-strong Emergency-Medical Education Research in Simulation (E-MERS) Team to see how can the teaching of the submodule be more effective.

The team came up with a blended immersive learning experience teaching and learning approach using blended learning With multi-modal web-application and immersive hybrid simulation

Before the actual face-to-face interaction, students had to access a lecture video through a screencast application where they can rewind and repeat as they see fit. An online discusssion ensues for students to put forth questions and request from clarifcation from the lecturer via Padlet which is an interactive platform which allows everyone to join in.

Only after that students will have the face-to-face interaction with the lecturer to delve in-depth into the topic after which a post-classroom task is given in preparation for a hands-on experience done through an immersive hybrid simulation (IHS).

For the IHS, students are exposed to a pre-recorded audio-visual trigger of an emergency – a vehicle accident or natural disaster – couple with actual role play by students taken on roles such as victims or medical personnel on stage in a lecture theatre hall. There are also students in the audience observing the whole scene.

“The victims are done up in woulage which is the art of applying mock injuries for the purpose of training emergency response teams and other medical and military personnel. Those taking on the roles of medical officers will then make decision as to what action or treatment is to be taken; they apply treatment principle, apply critical thinking and decision making.

Dr Ismail Mohd Saiboon engaging with finalyear students before a lecture on Disaster Response Medicine.

“When the session is over, we perform formative assessment onsite by having students give their responses to questions on what they have seen through an audience response system. Straight away we can see their answers and interact on why they derived on the answers. Students enjoy the experience and the whole process is a good way to ensure understanding on the topic and clear the doubts straightaway,” said Ismail, adding that the whole approach has proven to be highly effective in terms of teaching the topic.

The E-MERS team is now looking at putting the initiative into the virtual reality (VR) platform and is in discussion with one local vendor to make it happen.

“VR is a good platform to learn procedural medical techniques such as intubation, putting in IV line as the experience will be objective and standard for all medical students. As it is not all medical students get to do the hands-on experience in the wards or surgery, some only get to observe. With VR and simulation this will no longer be an issue,” he said.

Ismail also hopes that the mediccal faculty would one day come up massive open online course for learning medicine that would allow anyone anywhere to do so.


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Have mobile clinics for diabetes education

Monday, January 14th, 2019
(Stock image for illustration purposes) Only a blood test will establish whether people are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

A RECENT study indicates that there are three million diabetics in Malaysia and 16 per cent of the national budget for healthcare goes to treat diabetes and related complications, like kidney failures, limb amputations and blindness due to nerve damage.

Diabetes has no outward symptoms and will silently damage the nerves, which leads to organ failure.

Only a blood test will establish whether people are diabetic or pre-diabetic.

When people are found to be diabetic, medication and counselling on diet and a healthy lifestyle prevent serious complications.

When people are found to be pre-diabetic, counselling on diet and a healthy lifestyle can prevent the onset of the disease.

Singapore has taken measures like having mobile clinics to screen people for diabetes and lessons on diabetes prevention for schoolchildren.

Similarly, we hope that the Health Ministry will have mobile clinics to screen and educate people on diabetes.

Those in rural areas and the poor have poor knowledge of diabetes and its complications.


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Our constitution and human rights

Monday, January 14th, 2019
People reciting the Rukun Negara at a National Day celebration. There must be greater openness to dialogue with mutual respect for views and ideas. NSTP/ SAIRIEN NAFIS

THIS is the second part of my reflective response to Azril Mohd Amin’s article on “The rights are not universal” (NST Dec 14, 2018). In the first article, I had focused more on the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). In this Part Two article, I will address Azril’s reference to the Federal Constitution and the social contract agreed by the different ethnic communities as well as his application to two matters, namely national language and on sexuality.

I have taken the position that the UDHR is not a colonial document.

However, in this part two ,I would like to discuss a matter that Azril has not raised, namely that the Federal Constitution is a colonial document. That does not mean we discard it as a pro-colonialist document but we need to note that the Alliance political party with the endorsement of the Malay sultans made the necessary changes which became acceptable to the Malay sultans and three major communities as a common building document.

At the end of the second world war with the shift in global positions on colonial societies, the British government after the failed Malayan Union plans, the Reid Commission of five persons (all foreigners) was established after the 1956 London conference.

The commission received 131 memoranda and hosted 118 meetings and eventually completed the drafted documents which were accepted by the Malay rulers, British Parliament and the Federal Legislative Council in Malayasia

The Malaysian Federal Constitution’s fundamental liberties section is similar to the UDHR. Article 5 on liberty of person is similar to UDHR Article 3; our Article 6 and UDHR’s article 4 on slavery or servitude are similar too. A significant clause is the one on equality. Our constitution’s Article 8 and UDHR article 7 are also similar: “All are equal before the law.”

On religious freedom, the UDHR provides for clear rights to “freedom of thought, conscience and religion”. In the FC, too, there is freedom, namely as in Article 11: “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion…” The restriction is only on FC Article 11 clause 4 on control or restrictions to propagation. All these are universal principles and values arising not just from Western culture but from our common humanity where we can draw references from other Asian cultures and world religions.

It is also important to note that the Malaysian Parliament formally accepted the UDHR when the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 was passed. The act calls for regard to be had to the UDHR to the extent that it is not inconsistent with the Federal Constitution. This is the strongest formal endorsement on the UDHR by Parliament

We all recognise that there are some specific features of the Federal Constitution which is uniquely Malaysian. One major example is the balancing feature. On religion in Article 3, “Islam is the religion of the Federation but other religions may be practised”; on languages, Article 152, where the national language will be the Malay language but other community languages are not prohibited or prevented. In the case of the special position of the Malays and natives as found in Article 153, it is also the duty of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to protect the legitimate interests of other communities.

Azril draws reference to the Malay language as the sole language of the nation with reference to Article 152 of the Federal Constitution. In his arguments, he goes further by stating that vernacular schools are “the root of segregation” and also indicate that they “have no basis for their existence in Malaysia”. On this matter, Azril has got it totally wrong.

Article 152 (1) states that “the national language shall be the Malay language”. No one in Malaysia disputes this is a principle accepted in the founding of Malaya and Malaysia. However, in Article 152 part (a) and (b), it notes that there is no prohibition or prevention from the teaching or learning of any other language, including the provision of federal and state funds for this.

The Constitution makes it clear that while the Malay language is the national and official language, there is no objections to community languages. While it does not state what the other languages are, one can make a clear reference to Mandarin, Tamil, sub-ethnic languages and other languages of the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

Azril also does not write that part of the historical educational development is the position not just of vernacular schools but also religious Islamic schools and schools run by Christian churches. Both the Razak Education Committee’s Report (1956) and the Rahman Talib Report (1960) sought to strengthen the national character of the education institutions with the Malay language as the medium of instruction. They also recognised the place of vernacular schools. It is therefore wrong to conclude that the vernacular language schools “have no basis for existence in Malaysia”. These vernacular schools are also our national heritage and reflective of multicultural Malaysia.

There is a need for more public discussions on these human rights themes in Malaysian society. Often we all seem to be in polarised sides holding on to our convictions. However, as Malay-sia is a multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual and multireligious society, there must be greater openness to dialogue with mutual respect for views and ideas. We can agree to disagree but in so doing we cannot dismiss or throw out human rights altogether.

By Prof Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria.

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Put down phones and start talking

Monday, January 14th, 2019
(Stock image for illustration purposes) Entire businesses can be run on a smartphone.

TRAVELLING on the train to and from work every day, I notice that at least nine out of 10 people are glued to their smartphone screens.

Families are not talking to each other but are looking at their phones when dining at home or restaurants.

If you asked, “What would you do if you didn’t have your phone for a day?” a reply would be, “I’ll probably die without my phone.”

Age is no barrier to becoming hooked to the handphone. People want to communicate virtually rather than physically.

Smartphones have many advantages. They are one of the greatest innovations of the 21st century. Almost anything can be done with it. Entire businesses could be run on a smartphone.

If you are stranded in an unknown place, all you need to do is use the Grab app and a driver will pick you up.

You can get food delivered through the handphone, book cinema tickets, make online payments, manage your fitness and health, and learn a new language.

And not forgetting video calls, which are a lifesaver for those living abroad and far from family and loved ones.

This is unlike 10 years ago where a five-minute call from abroad would cost you a bomb.

Apps such as WhatsApp have made communication and the spread of information limitless.

However, with every technological innovation, there is a downside.

People are so hooked to their phones that they become anti-social.

Some families spend their “family time” by looking at their smartphones.

Smartphones have also led to health problems.

Over-exposure, especially in dark places, leads to eyestrain and other ophthalmological problems.

Recent studies published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology have shown a correlation between the time spent on social media and the level of depression, loneliness and anxiety among youth.

This is because social media gives a false impression of people’s lives.

One tends to look at the lives of others and think that theirs is cooler or happier than their own.

Smartphones pose a parenting challenge to those with young children. Most children are exposed to smartphones at an early age.

Parents resort to smartphones to pacify their children and keep them quiet.

Board games, such as Mono-poly, snakes and ladders and chess, have become boring, old-fashioned activities given that virtual games can be played on smartphones.

If not monitored, kids may be exposed to pornography and get used to violence.

There is a fine line between children’s over-exposure and under-exposure to technology.

By not exposing them to technology, kids may run the risk of being left out.

Expose them too much and they may be at risk of health problems, addiction and the influence of the “dark side” of the Internet.

Therefore, parents need to strike a balance between the amount of time they allow their children to spend on technology and the time spent on other activities.

Smartphones should not be used as an easy way out when it comes to distracting children.

Parents should find outdoor activities such as sports to keep their kids occupied instead of cooping them up indoors.

We have to acknowledge the fact that we cannot live without smartphones.

However, we need to be mature in the way we use smartphones and it remains in our own hands not to allow them to take over our lives.

By Rueben Ananthan Santhana Dass.

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Teachers’ burden to be cut by 1/4, says Maszlee

Monday, January 14th, 2019
Five initiatives and nine interventions will be introduced under Education Mandate 2019 to reduce teachers’ burden by 25 per cent, says Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik. (NSTP/ROSELA ISMAIL)

SERDANG: Five initiatives and nine interventions will be introduced under Education Mandate 2019 to reduce teachers’ burden by 25 per cent, says Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

“The first initiative will ease filing and documentation, where three interventions will be applied to ease the textbook borrowing scheme, committee files, and recording of classroom assessment,” he said at Universiti Putra Malaysia, here, today.

“Secondly, the online system and data management, where all data compiling must be taken from data sources in the ministry’s system. “Student attendance will be recorded online. So, teachers will no longer need to record it manually.”

He said schools would be given autonomy to administer their own Literacy and Numeration (Linus) programme.

“The Linus programme will be done according to the school’s system and taking into account students’ needs since examinations have been abolished for Years 1, 2, and 3.

“Another initiative is to streamline the monitoring process to ensure that teachers are no longer burdened with filing forms on cleanliness, safety and rating of the school canteen.”

Maszlee said the final initiative was to streamline the formation of school committees to ensure that all non-academic related positions are abolished.


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Hot weather, less rain in Sabah

Monday, January 14th, 2019

Azemi Daud

KOTA KINABALU: The hot weather and minimal rain Sabah is experiencing now is expected to prolong for a week but the temperature remains normal, according to the Sabah Meteorological Department.

Its director, Azemi Daud, said yesterday the maximum temperature in the state currently was 33 degrees Celsius, which he pointed out was normal.

“The department will continue to monitor the temperature and issue a warning should a heat wave phenomenon occur,” he told Bernama.

Azemi said that based on the survey of international climate models, there was a 90 per cent probability of the El Nino phenomenon occurring in Sabah up to March and a 60 per cent probability of it prolonging until May.

As such, he advised the people to refrain from open burning and to save water.

The MetMalaysia website has forecast minimum temperatures of 22 degrees Celsius and maximum temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius as well as scattered rainfall in the state up to Jan 19.


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Future of thought

Sunday, January 13th, 2019
In future, technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and other digital algorithms will aid in man’s thought process. Pix source:

MAN’S thought process is the result of a combination of his biological, hereditary neuro mechanism, the environment, belief system, educative process and technology.

The biological neuro mechanism refers to the human DNA, which at its inception is made up of the parents’ chromosomes, thus inheriting their behavioural traits and known as the genotype.

When the genotype interacts with the environment it becomes known as phenotype. Its DNA would mutate for the organism (Man) to survive in the specific environment.

The environment, both natural and man-made, plays an important part in shaping man’s thought process which manifests in his behavioural pattern.

The natural environment was the dominant determinant of man’s thinking process and thought patterns in the early stages of human evolution.

His thinking was developed through experiential learning by way of interacting with the natural forces. Initially, his reactions were determined by the dictates of the forces for he was ignorant of their working mechanisms.

In reacting to the physical environment, man thought of ways, consciously or intuitively to adapt or to surmount the challenges.

Whether he was at the mercy of these environmental challenges or able to cope with them depended on his level of thought process and thinking capacity.

Thus, to rationalise his existence he ascribed spiritual supernatural powers to these natural phenomena.

As his main preoccupation was with survival, he had to create the ecosystem to enable him to exist and bring meaning to his life.

He did this by developing a matrix of harmonious interaction between himself, his surroundings (environment) and his animistic belief to create a conducive lifestyle using the basic primitive technology at his disposal.

Besides the physical and cerebral aspects of his ecosystem, man’s thought process is also influenced by his belief system, values and knowledge.

The interplay of these factors formulates his organisational set-up.

Depending on the prowess of his thought process, his organisational set-up ranges from the rudimentary to the complex.

Through time, man improves his thought process from cumulative experiential learning that provides him with the thinking to develop mechanical technology to utilise the natural resources for his benefit.

From the original thinking for survival, man creates and develops scientific and conceptual thinking aided by the technological tools he created.

Such tools or technology have become a crucial and integral part of his ingenuity to create a conducive living environment.

The level of man’s ingenuity as an expression of his thought process creates his tangible and intangible ecosystem.

With this he engages in the process of discovery and rediscovery to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct the ecosystem to advance the comfort of his existence.

Once man become organised in a societal matrix his man-made ecosystem influences his cerebral dynamics.

He places priority in utilising environmental natural resources to serve his needs.

The preservation of the natural environment becomes secondary to his need to create the infrastructure to suit his lifestyle that invariably results in the depletion of the natural resources.

Man’s material greed factors prominently in this destructive equation, sacrificing his moral and ethical integrity.

With an advanced thought process, the result of having accumulated knowledge that allows man to be creative and innovative in using the environment for his physical needs as well as creating expressions for his spiritual and aesthetic needs, the nature of his organisation becomes sophisticated and civilised.

His civilisational progress and advancement parallels his development of technology, which services his needs and creates new ones.

His thought process creates the technology which forms the basis of new technology, which constructs his ever-changing existence.

Currently, the scientific thought process is given prominence by way of computational and innovative thinking for they develop the technology that generates man’s materialistic lifestyle.

Literary, creative and abstract thinking that are the domain of the fine arts, humanities and social science, though pertinent, are only given secondary emphasis.

For they could not produce the kind of technology that could produce man’s material needs. What would man’s thinking process be in the future and how will it affect his existence?

In future, technology such as artificial intelligence, robotics and other digital algorithms will aid in man’s thought process.

It enhances the thinking process by taking over mundane tasks and even computational and conceptual thinking allowing man to be more innovative and to explore the quantum and the metaphysical realm.

However, these technological advancements will also adversely affect man’s traditional skills as well as subvert his imaginative capabilities as in the case of virtual reality.

Further, most housework, transportation, manufacturing and service industries, educational and health services employ a range of semi-automated or fully automated digital and/or robotic appliances.

What is the prognosis of man’s future thinking ability and thought process?

Will it regress to a level of subservience to machines or will it evolve into a higher level of cerebral conception and perception beyond the normal physical conscious confines in which the mind expands the thought process exploring the uncharted recesses of man’s creative and innovative dimensions.


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Sultan Abdullah’s eldest son in line to be named Tengku Mahkota

Sunday, January 13th, 2019
Sultan Pahang, Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah observing the preparations for his proclamation ceremony as the state’s 6th sultan which will take place Tuesday at Istana Abu Bakar, Pekan. NSTP/ MUHD ASYRAF SAWAL

KUANTAN: Tengku Panglima Besar Pahang Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah Sultan Abdullah could possibly be made the Tengku Mahkota Pahang in place of his father.

Sources said this was because it was tradition for the sultan’s eldest son to be made Tengku Mahkota of Pahang.

Tengku Hassanal Ibrahim Alam Shah was born on Sept 17, 1995, at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital.

He is the third child of Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

“According to tradition, the Tengku Panglima Besar is usually appointed Tengku Mahkota Pahang, but an official announcement will only be made by Sultan Abdullah after the process of his installation (as sultan) is completed on Tuesday.

“If there are special circumstances (such as Sultan Abdullah later being elected Yang di-Pertuan Agong, meaning the Tengku Mahkota would have to be appointed regent of Pahang), then Sultan Abdullah may choose to appoint a special council as the Tengku Panglima Besar is currently furthering his studies at the Sandhurst Royal Military Academy in the United Kingdom for a year.

“Such a council may be put in place for between a year and five years, depending on what Sultan Abdullah wishes. Its members will be determined by Sultan Abdullah,” said one source.

Tengku Muda Pahang, Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah had on Saturday announced that the Pahang Royal Council had proclaimed Sultan Abdullah the sixth Sultan of Pahang.


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Minister urges for public practice of good hygiene habits

Friday, January 11th, 2019

The letter that has been made viral.

KOTA KINABALU: Health and People’s wellbeing minister, Datuk Stephen Wong has urged the public not to consume outside food that is unhygenic.

He also urges them to drink water that has been boiled and use clean water for their food preparations.

Additionally, people should also wash their hands before eating and practice good hygeine habits, he said.

His advice came in the wake of a cholera information letter issued by the Health office here that has been made viral over the social media.

Stephen said there was only one isolated case detected and urged the public not to make a huge issue out of it.

“The alert circular is only for our internal circulation to all members of the Health department in preparation for any eventualities,” he explained to the Borneo Post.

Nevertheless, he urged the public to not be lackadaisical in matters related to hygeine and their health.

by Jenne Lajiun.

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