Archive for January, 2019

More to Mathematics

Sunday, January 27th, 2019
Woo (standing) shares his ideas with teacheers in a session.

Woo (standing) shares his ideas with teacheers in a session.

MATHEMATICS is more than being logical and knowing how to reason.

It is also about being creative, open and communicative.

Sounds contradictory? Well, not according to famed Australian Mathematics educator Eddie Woo who believes that the reasoning and logical skills developed from learning Mathematics are not exclusively mutual from being creative and artsy.

“Many people think that Mathematics is a tough subject.

“In fact, everyone can embrace and enjoy Mathematics if they learn it in an engaging way,” he says.

Teaching Mathematics should be playful and inquiry-based but should also include rote-learning and textbook exercises, he adds.

Teachers, he adds, often ask students to copy something from their textbooks, solve it and repeat the process again and again when it comes to learning Mathematics.

“Textbooks are wonderful servants but terrible masters,” he says, pointing out that teachers tend to depend on textbooks and workbooks during lessons.

“We teach students a pattern and we want them to recognise and repeat it,” he says, adding that this kills the creativity that can be found in solving Mathematical problems.

“Following patterns is not a way to cultivate creativity. Why not let the students create the patterns on their own?”

Woo, whose family was from Kuala Lumpur, was in Malaysia recently to share his love of Mathematics with about 200 secondary school teachers and students during two engagement sessions at Petrosains, The Discovery Centre.

In his “teaching voice”, he discussed and presented interesting topics such as Dispositions for Mathematical Success, Four Compass Points for Beginning Teachers as well as Reimagining Mathematics and Mathematics Games.

Woo is known for his innovative and personal teaching approach and in 2012, he started posting videos online for a student with cancer, who was missing out on lessons in school.

It wasn’t long before his videos found a global audience and his Youtube channel, “Wootube” now boasts more than 300,000 subscribers with more than 19 million views.

On ways to bring more creativity to the teaching process, Woo says that teachers should work with their peers who teach other subjects, pick their minds and come up with new innovative ways to teach their lessons.

Woo admits that Mathematics was not his favourite subject as a child and that he always pictured himself as a humanities teacher.

“The reason I now love Mathematics so much is that it is a new way to think and look at the entire world.”

He is the head mathematics teacher at Cherrybrook Technology High School, New South Wales in Australia.

“In Australia, we don’t want to just develop (Mathematical) knowledge and skills. We want them to become confident and purposeful mathematicians,” he says during his first engagement talk.

“Can our students take an idea, a solution and not just be able to find it but place it into someone else’s mind so that they can understand it?” he asks the teachers, explaining that this should be their goal when teaching Maths.

Teachers should not be thinking about preparing their students for exams or keeping them busy until they go home. Learning maths is about learning to collaborate, open and creative, he adds.

Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski says Woo’s methods have made Mathematics more interesting and has given him new insight into the value of education.

By Rebecca Rajaendram
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More to sexuality education

Sunday, January 27th, 2019

Countries in the region increasingly acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge, attitudes and skills to make responsible choices in their lives

PICTURE this. A nine-year-old in Malaysia, reading about a character named Amira in a school textbook, is told to take three steps to protect the “modesty of her genitals” and keep social ostracisation and family shame at bay. Imagine. The societal pressure, responsibility and burden on girls to conform. Imagine the victim blaming should they “fail” to do so.

The social media outcry in Malaysia was swift, with the story carried by global news outlets. The textbook in question has not been recalled, however, and it will take much more than a Band-Aid – the Education Ministry has put a sticker to cover the graphic – to enable all children and young people in Malaysia to experience healthy, equitable and respectful relationships as they transition to adulthood.

According to a BBC report dated Jan 16, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching referred to a failure of quality control, pointing out that that “the general understanding on sex education is still low”.

Comprehensive andaccurate

Now picture this. A syllabus for sexuality education in Malaysia that is comprehensive, scientifically accurate; age and developmentally appropriate, taking into account the changing needs and capabilities of a child and young person as they grow; based on gender equality and a human rights approach; and culturally relevant.

The revised International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (ITGSE) released by Unesco in 2018 was developed to assist education, health and other stakeholders in the development and implementation of school-based and out-of-school comprehensive sexuality education programmes and materials.

Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is defined by the guidance as a “curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality.

CSE aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realise their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and, understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.”

A 2016 review of available evidence on the effectiveness of CSE concludes that sexuality education has positive effects, including increasing knowledge about different aspects of sexuality, behaviours and risks of pregnancy or HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Strong evidence also concludes that sexuality education improves attitudes related to sexual and reproductive health and increases communication with parents about sex and relationships. Studies also show that CSE is effective in preventing and reducing early and unintended pregnancies in different contexts.

Provided in or out of schools, CSE does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour or STI/HIV infection rates, a common concern expressed by education stakeholders.

Equally important is the finding that abstinence-only programmes have been found to be ineffective in delaying sexual initiation, reducing the frequency of sex or reducing the number of sexual partners. Due to the gender transformative approach of CSE, the evolving understanding of CSE recognises that this kind of education can also contribute to wider outcomes such as gender equitable attitudes, confidence and self-identity.

Countries in the region increasingly acknowledge the importance of equipping young people with the knowledge, attitudes and skills to make responsible choices in their lives, particularly in contexts where they are exposed to a range of information sources, which may not always be accurate or age appropriate. A recent UNESCO campaign on CSE “A foundation for life and love” captures the voices of young people and their families from around the world, reflecting on their experiences of sexuality education, and what they wish they had learned.

In a 2011 study by the Centre for General Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), an overwhelming majority of respondents were of the view that sex education had not been taught in Malaysian schools. In another 2011 study by Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social Administration and Justice on the effectiveness of a school-based sexual abuse prevention curriculum, only 40 percent of nine-year-old respondents knew what to do in instances of an adult stranger touching them in an inappropriate manner. This strongly indicates that the sexuality education curriculum needs to provide the knowledge, attitudes and skills to enable children to protect themselves.

Malaysia is committed to the 2030 Agenda and its global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that calls for action to leave no one behind, and for the realisation of human rights and gender equality for all.

Data from 2017 from the Unesco Institute for Statistics (UIS) shows that Malaysia held the distinction of being part of a handful of countries from the region that reported on SDG indicator 4.7.2, which captures data on the proportion of primary schools that provide life skills-based HIV and sexuality education. Malaysia reported 100% coverage in primary schools.

This provides Malaysia with an opportunity to take a leadership role, to mobilise political commitment and to promote meaningful youth engagement, to review, strengthen and scale-up existing sexuality education programmes and materials in line with the latest evidence. This is essential to provide all children and young people in Malaysia with a foundation for life and love, in a world where gender-based violence, gender inequality, early and unintended pregnancies, and HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) still pose serious risks to their health and well-being.

The writer is the Regional Advisor (HIV and Health), Section for Inclusive Quality Education at Unesco Bangkok.

Note: An immediate revision has been ordered on a Year Three textbook critics say told girls they would be ostracised and bring disrepute to their families if they did not protect their modesty.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said she met with the department in charge of national school textbooks following outrage over the content in the Pendidikan Jasmani dan Kesihatan textbook.

By Kabir Singh
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More than a second chance

Sunday, January 27th, 2019
There are many opportunies for school-leavers but they need to take the initiative to find them. —

There are many opportunies for school-leavers but they need to take the initiative to find them. —

It is not the end of the road if students get disappointing results as there are other options to consider

WE are Asian, not “Bsian”. This is a meme that many youngsters laugh at and can relate to.

There is also a joke whereby if a Malaysian student were to score A in an exam, it means its average; B is below average; C is can’t have dinner; D for don’t come home; and F for find a new family.

While one may chuckle upon reading it, try to imagine this.

A disappointed school-leaver trudged towards the parent, saying, “I didn’t do well in SPM” and receives a curt, disdainful, “Didn’t I tell you to study harder? Without good results, you have no future!” response.

Many people believe that the ultimate stepping stone to a bright future is to obtain strings of As during public examinations.

However, times have changed and formal education isn’t the only way to carve out a career, unlike others at a different time.

If one fails to get good grades or satisfying scores in SPM, there are other options that students can consider.

A second chance

Clutching his SPM result slip, Ravichandran Marimuthu was at a loss over what he could do next.

Having passed only three subjects and failed all others in the 2015 SPM, the forlorn lad believed he had nowhere else to go and that he couldn’t do anything about it.

After working odd jobs to earn a living for over a year, Ravichandran was introduced by a relative to a hospitality practical course where the prerequsites did not focus on his previous exam results.

Thanks to his hospitality course, Ravichandran, 21, has gained much industrial experience in housekeeping – the operational department in a hotel responsible for cleanliness, maintenance, aesthetic upkeep of rooms, public areas, back areas and surroundings – after being trained in a hotel in Singapore for about six months.

“I felt like I was given a second chance when I took up the hospitality course,” he said, adding that he would be able to find better jobs as his experience widens.

His advice to school-leavers or dropouts is not to give up hope.

“If you don’t do well, use practical courses to arm yourself with some qualifications so you can build a better life. All is not lost.

“Parents must also believe that there are other ways forward besides entering university right after completing school,” said Ravichandran who was living and working in Singapore.

He added that he has come across parents who doubted the existence of these practical programmes and questioned if they were scams.

Ravichandran, who is an only child, resigned from his job recently to return to Malaysia to care for his elderly parents who are ill.

He plans to go back to his career in the hospitality industry once his parents’ health have improved.

He completed his studies at DHS Hospitality Academy Sdn Bhd (DHS) – a smart partner of the Universiti Malaya Centre for Continuing Education (UMCCed) – that offers a platform for those who want to enter the hospitality field.

Mohd Zaki says learning is a lifelong process.

Mohd Zaki

UMCCed skills and education enhancement division manager Mohd Zaki Mohd Yaacob said youngsters should always keep in mind the philosophy of lifelong learning.

“Even though you completed or haven’t completed formal education or you fail in between, there are places such as UMCCed where you can continue pursuing your studies.

“There is always a light at the end of tunnel,” he said.

The institution, he added, also offers practical courses for those interested in the oil and gas industry, among others.

He said that parents need to counsel their children, to make sure they do not give up hope even when they fail or do not do as well as expected.

DHS human resources and training group director Dr Sri Kumar Sivakumaran said UMCCed would provide the certificate of completion when the students successfully graduate from its programme, which gives students the opportunity to train in Singapore’s hotel industry.

“The programme offers various courses such as management, hospitality and skills. They will study theory for a month in Malaysia and start a six-month stint in Singapore where they are provided with meals, accommodation and an allowance of RM1,500,” he said.

He stressed that graduates from practical programmes are as capable as others who have gone through the traditional routes, to make a good living. He added that practical programmes are able to produce industry ready employees.

An unconventional choice

Nur Syafiqah says practical trainees are exposed to the real working world where they can develop further skills.

Nur Syafiqah

While enrolling into college or university is still the go-to choice for young Malaysians, Nur Syafiqah Alias from Taiping, Perak, chose the “practical” route and took up the German Dual Vocational Training (GDVT) in 2015, before her STPM results were released.

Combining 70% practical and 30% theoretical training, GDVT provides a platform for school-leavers to have access to on-the-job training as well as post employment training.

The programme is linked to the Malaysian National Dual Training System (SLDN) and is coordinated by the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCC) together with the Malaysian Department of Skills Development (JPK).

After three years of training with Hauni Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Nur Syafiqah is now into her seventh month as a full time staff at the German company’s Malaysian human resource department.

The lass who scored quite well in SPM and STPM said people, in particular parents, need to stop thinking that practical training is only for “weaker” students.

“Going through such practical programmes is like taking an advanced diploma. It isn’t easy, but trainees are exposed to the real working world where they can develop their career, communication skills, build self confidence, and become more mature.

“It also saves time as I’m exactly where I want to be at this juncture, while getting first hand industrial experience,“ said the 23-year-old who became more proficient in the English language thanks to the training she received.

Fellow GDVT graduate Michelle Abu Bakar, 23 who obtained an SPM certificate, also believes that practical training for any school-leavers seeking a non-theory based education was a good option.

The German-born lass whose mother is German, said she took this option as she preferred a hands-on education so that she could learn skills on the job.

Michelle believes that practical training for any school-leavers seeking a non-theory based education is a good option.


“Practical training isn’t a lesser option. It’s just a different option in gaining knowledge and I believe I gain more by having hands-on experiences.

“There is direct knowledge passed onto apprentices. I get to learn directly from the manager, or even the managing director himself,” she said, adding that her confidence level rose after she learnt how to network and mingle with people at the German company she trained in.

Michelle is now working for MGCC.

GDVT project officer and coordinator Kumaran Nair said the GDVT is beneficial to school-leavers who prefer the hands-on approach as it comprises 70% practical training and only 30% theory-based.

“Students who applied for it will be shortlisted by the companies themselves and will be interviewed by them.

“The training is fully funded by the company that hires you, and allowances will be provided,” he said.

He noted that the commercial subjects such as industrial management and logistic operation management take three years to complete, while vocational subjects such as megatronics and electronic automation technology take three-and-a-half years.

Kumaran stresses that there are always opportunities for school-leavers.


“The companies’ minimum requirements include being able to communicate and having some interest in vocational training for the commercial subjects.

“For megatronics and electronic automation, the companies would prefer candidates to have obtained at least a credit in physics or mathematics,” he said.

Kumaran stressed that there would always be opportunities for school-leavers who don’t do well in the SPM, provided they take the initiative and are willing to take opportunities available in the market.

“Choose programmes in the market that are reputable and always make sure that the programme selected enables you to be industry-ready,” he said.

By Lee Chonghui
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Two years’ crime rate in Kota Kinabalu schools down to zero

Sunday, January 27th, 2019


Habibi (third left) handing over a memorabilia of the police liaison officer appointing program to Umin.

KOTA KINABALU: Two police liaison officers will be assigned to every primary and secondary school in the district where they are expected to give talks to the students twice on a monthly basis.

Its chief, ACP Habibi Majinji said so far there are no issues with primary students and the program will be mostly focused on those in their secondary years.

He said this is due to raging hormones and the rebellious spirit in teenagers during their years of seeking their self-identity which if not supervised could be potentially destructive.

“Previously there were isolated reports of more serious crimes like molestation and drug use amongst students.

“But after collaborating with the Education Ministry and implementing strategical improvements for about two years now the crime rate in schools has dropped to zero,” he told reporters at the Karamunsing headquarters.

He added that gateway vices like smoking and glue sniffing can be deterred through the program as it also involves the police to work closely with teachers and parents of Kota Kinabalu’s 58 primary and 24 secondary schools.

An official from the Education Ministry, Umin Sadi, said most parents tend to defend their children when called out on their mischief.


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Importance of academia-industry linkages

Friday, January 25th, 2019
‘By infusing industry-based skills into education, we ensure students gain the practical know-how to match theories, and graduate with a holistic view of the specialisations…’ – TAN LIN NAH, INTI International University & Colleges chief operating officer

THE Malaysian Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) has highlighted the need to take collaboration between universities and the industry to the next level by enabling the latter to lead curriculum design and delivery through partnership models which include apprenticeships, hands-on training, real-life simulations and specialised employer training programmes.

Most academicians and industry frontliners are on the same page when it comes to collaboration. The benefits are numerous via the enhancement of research and innovation through joint research projects, delivery of innovative commercial products, improvements in teaching, learning and enrichment of students’ knowledge and their employability, as well as providing new streams of funding to tertiary institutions.

Most universities here have formalised collaboration with the industry in the areas of curriculum development, teaching and learning, research and development, consultancy as well as securing suitable industrial placements for students as part and parcel of a tertiary institution’s core responsibilities.

Dr Ahmad Shuhaimi Abu Bakar, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Science’s Department of Physics, said engaging with industry players benefits students in terms of acquiring skills and knowledge. Researchers will also gain from technology transfer and commercialisation.

For students, a mismatch of skills required by the industry has always been the root of unemployment, hence the importance of academia-industry linkages for academic engagement via curriculum, lectures and internships.

“Researchers get to collaborate with industry players to take their research products to another level — commercialisation.

“It has always been a practice for researchers to do their research and publish in journals for recognition, locally and internationally.

“This mindset has to change. They should think of making their product visible in the market and reach the end user via commercialisation.

“It is a pity if researchers have good products, which can make a breakthrough in the market, but end up on display in their rooms only,” said Ahmad Shuhaimi, adding that the university needs the industry to play a role in realising the potential of a product.

Ahmad Shuhaimi said the Low Dimensional Materials Research Centre at UM has been engaging with OSRAM Opto Semiconductors to jointly work on a collaborative project in the field of light-emitting diode (LED) technology.

“UM has expertise in this field and we want to produce more graduates who can leverage on this industry.

“The long-funding grant from OSRAM supports our postgraduate students to work on the project. Researchers in the semiconductor industry require a lot of funding to maintain the cost of facilities and laboratories.”

Postgraduate students at the Department of Physics trained in experimental physics analyse crystal growth, chip fabrication and packaging, as well as gas exchange to enable the production of high brightness LED.

Symbiotic partnerships

“All these theories are not taught at the workplace. We have a mini-lab, simulating machineries in the factory, so by end of their studies, we are able to produce skilled manpower for the industry.”

OSRAM Opto Semiconductors research and innovation director Dr David Lacey said the company seeks to identify the leading universities in areas of science and technology relevant to its business, both for teaching (quality of graduates) and research (quality of research and development).

Ahmad Shuhaimi Abu Bakar (right) and his students working on LED technology at a laboratory in UM.

Lacey said the Low Dimensional Materials Research Centre is one of the country’s leading specialists in the growth of synthetic crystals for semiconductor applications.

“That’s a technology that is at the heart of modern LED that you see in cars, smartphones and street lamps.

“Expanding postgraduate scientists’ knowledge of semiconductor technology and who can join our R&D team and potentially access support for experimental work at UM labs is critical to our business success here.

“In the near future, many semiconductor companies will be expanding their R&D in this region as there will be increasing demand for deep scientific knowledge of materials, chemistry and physics to support this R&D,” he said, adding that OSRAM is also working with Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Perlis and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR).


Youth development has always been one of CIMB’s agenda, both internally and through its various development programmes with universities which set the stage for developing young talents across Asean.

Since 2010, CIMB had organised competitions such as CIMB Asean Stock Challenge, CIMB Trail and CIMB Data Science Challenge annually to reach out to youth and universities in a bid to increase graduate employability by equipping students with current and future-ready skills.

With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR), it has become more compelling than ever to prepare the workforce with new skills and competencies to ensure workers remain relevant and able to thrive in the digital era.

It is even more crucial in today’s operating landscape where disruptions have become the norm.

CIMB Group chief people officer Datuk Hamidah Naziadin said: “We understand that collaboration between universities and industries is critical to accelerate students’ skills development, enhance their industry exposure as well promote participation and engagement via learning.

“Universities are the main talent pipeline for the industry, thus it is crucial for corporations to partner with academic institutions.

“This way, corporations can help shape the curriculum to enable graduates to fully understand the talents that they are looking for.”

The financial institution aspires to develop a robust pool of regional talent to support not only its future growth but also Asean’s.

Hamidah added: “With 4IR already upon us, we want to do our bit to contribute to Asean’s digital readiness by ensuring that its young population is equipped with the necessary skills to leverage on big data, digital innovations and disruptive technology.

“We strongly believe that through industry collaboration together with various initiatives including CIMB’s 3D Academy and human resource development tools, we will be in good stead to usher in the future and ensure that Asean’s future digital talents are ready to take the region forward.”

INTI International University & Colleges chief operating officer Tan Lin Nah said the institutions work closely with the industry to ensure students gain the knowledge and competencies required at the 21st century workplace.

With youth unemployment rates in the country at 10.8 per cent in 2017, which was three times higher than overall unemployment in Malaysia and among one of the highest in the region, she said there is an urgent need to ensure that graduates meet the needs of an increasingly global workplace.

“Collaborating with industries enables us to systematically include additional development and training for students.

“Last year, we signed collaborations with Direct English, Hilton, SAS Institute and a number of partners to offer training in areas such as data analytics, language proficiencies and five-star hospitality which complement the theoretical knowledge of students from various programmes.

“By infusing industry-based skills into education, we ensure students gain the practical know-how to match theories, and graduate with a holistic view of the specialisations and stand out among their peers when entering the workplace.”

Rapid technological advancements including automation, digitisation and the Internet of Things that form part of 4IR add to the complexities of employment.

“With 43 per cent of Malaysian employees believing their jobs are at risk due to digitisation, the university has tied up with global technology giants such as IBM, Google, Microsoft and Alibaba GET to ensure graduates have the skills to deal with digital transformation and remain relevant in spite of growing technological advancements.

“By integrating industry into students’ learning experiences from as early as the first year, we empower them with the competencies they need to thrive when they pursue their careers.”

Vinda SEA, one of the largest companies for hygiene products in Asia, has worked with students on multiple projects, including the development of its corporate video by mass communications students.

“Employer projects enable students to deep dive into business needs, meet senior leaders and develop practical solutions to business issues.

“By working on these projects, students develop critical skills including teamwork, creativity, communication and critical thinking.


Xiamen University Malaysia Assistant Professor Dr Wang Changsong said it encourages the formation of industry-academia partnership to foster close relationship with the industry and community.

Through this exercise, students gain more insight from top industry players in the market which strengthens their skills and knowledge before they enter the workplace.

Most universities require students to complete internship in the final year, undoubtedly a way for them to test the waters of the work environment.

However, he added, it should be a continuous process via academia-industry linkage throughout their three-year first degree studies to ensure students acquire the kinds and levels of skills they need to be employable.

“Students will be able to identify their professional qualities and skills that permit them to position themselves in the market.

“Collaboration with the industry will allow undergraduates to be exposed to real case studies and latest industry insight, attend lectures and get training assistance for educational purposes, as well as internship opportunities,” added Wang, who is also programme coordinator of the advertising programme.

Xiamen University recently formed a collaboration with Leo Burnett Malaysia, the award-winning creative agency under Publicis One Malaysia, to provide a greater learning opportunity with real insight and promote industry readiness among its students in the fields of advertising.

Wang said it is necessary to understand the marketing and advertising industry which is constantly changing with technological advancement.

“Hence, the effective approach to the advertising programme is to be aligned with industrial development.

“These partnerships are a mechanism to remain efficient and provide up-to-date teaching and learning experience.

“I organised the Yasmin Film Fest and Forum last year at the university and met a number of professionals who provided their industrial experience and thoughts on education.

“Education, research and real work are systematically connected all the time to produce quality students, qualified graduates and competence of advertising education in Malaysia.”

As industry partner, Leo Burnett Malaysia chief executive officer Tan Kien Eng said the collaboration aims to foster and promote a collaborative learning culture between professional practice and academics that is mutually beneficial to both parties.

“As we share our expertise by roping in students into our projects, we will also adapt to industry change and further evaluate students’ needs to meet the objectives,” he added.

As an established company, the creative agency believes in inculcating young talent with the true meaning and the purpose of marketing and communication by adopting a human approach.

“We believe what we do is always about people and purpose, thus we need to take into consideration the approach that serves true human needs.

“Hence the collaboration is important for both parties as we hope students are able to truly embrace the real meaning and purpose of marketing and communication.”

The company has been working with colleges and universities to provide academia assistance but this is the first time it is entering a strategic collaboration via a memorandum of understanding.

Meanwhile, MSU Management and Science University (MSU) global affairs and strategic communication senior vice-president Datuk Rosli Yusof said the MSU Industry Advisory Panel boasts more than 200 active industries which are consistently engaged with the university in ensuring the ecosystem is strengthened from time to time.

It is important, he added, to get industry feedback to further enrich the quality of graduates.

Rosli said the industry and workplace are dynamic with the existence of knowledge-sharing on research and collaborations as well as other related work.

“Students gain the experience of the workplace through industrial exposure or internship apart from talks by industry leaders on wide-ranging areas of interest such as economics, politics, arts, health, security and Internet of Things.”


The country needs talent to venture into 4IR with the latest technological breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, blockchain and other transformative innovations.

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) vice-chancellor Professor Dr Wahid Razzal said the university’s recent collaboration with an industry partner focused on employees from the industry and the university working together in the same workplace.

This collaboration model nurtures closer understanding from team-building to working towards the same goals.

Under its Faculty of Electrical and Electronics and Faculty of Computer Science, the strategic partnership sees an exchange of ideas and development of quality and practical solutions applicable to smart cities across faculties and disciplines.

MSU held the eighth edition of its Idea Regeneration Expo recently as part of a university-industry partnership to encourage innovation among students.

With the establishment of the Professor of Sena-UTHM Smart City Chair research centre, staff from Sena Traffic Systems (STS) and UTHM work together, “hand in hand and side by side”.

Prior to the signing the letter of intent on Sept 5, 2018, the faculty members have been working closely with STS staff on projects related to the development of smart city applications.

As it has already developed a healthy collaborative partnership, UTHM invited STS to set up a research centre on campus to further facilitate development.

“The partnership will bring impact all the way to the international level, spurring practical R&D activities where the industry partner and university staff interact daily.”

Both parties have had discussions on expanding the benefits of this collaboration to surrounding communities, from promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) learning activities through engagements of schools with STS engineers to UTM researchers concentrating on science and mathematics instrumental to developing smart traffic lights which STS has expertise in.

Founded in 2007, STS develops smart traffic systems and other smart city applications which involve integrating telecommunication technology with sensors and computer software that analyse real-time information. In short, developing a traffic system with AI capability.

STS managing director Datuk Tan Boon Hock said the company is keen to be part of the government’s effort in developing a workforce with relevant engineering and technology know-how in this field.

STS firmly believes that it can contribute and help the government in grooming more talent and experts with technical expertise in the nation as well as building human capital relevant in the Malaysia context for Malaysians.

“The industry-academia collaborations mean that we want to create local talents in this emerging fields and fulfil our duties as a responsible Malaysian company.

“We need talents in various fields to come together to develop smart city applications together. We believe this is our duty as a responsible corporate citizen to create these opportunities for Malaysians.

“We have to start with our universities as undergraduates will have the opportunity to work on real problems rather than some hypothetical case using foreign education materials.

“At the same time, this will help students to discover their talent rather than being dictated by examination scores.”

STS has also collaborated with Multimedia University, UM and UTAR in R&D for smart city applications development.

Such applications cover a very large field, from smart traffic systems for the purpose of enabling better vehicle flow with smart traffic systems and managing urban energy consumption with smart street light monitoring to providing surveillance for security purposes.

“Technology continues to change rapidly. We need people to be on the ball to continue to innovate and create new applications to meet the demand for better quality of living.

“Our company can provide Malaysian students, academicians and professors the opportunity to explore and experiment with new ideas and innovations.

“We are also looking at reducing dependency on importing such technologies that we can develop at home, hence reducing currency outflow.

“There are also other benefits. As we have local talents who are at the top of their game and in the event of troubleshooting, response will be prompt and the issue quickly rectified, rather than waiting for a technical consultant from overseas.

“We want to produce world class smart city solutions, made in Malaysia, by Malaysians.”


Building talent requires a proper channel, and what better way than via academia-industry linkages said Ahmad Shuhaimi.

“It also helps the academician to be updated on advancing technologies via technology transfer and knowledge-sharing.

“Proper funding and grants through the right combination of industrial partnership will help bridge the skills gap and produce the 21st century workforce anywhere around the globe,” he added.

Rosli hopes for a continuous enrichment of content for the benefit of all stakeholders and continuous engagements that will benefit both the university and the industry.

The creation of a truly effective and quality partnership will thrive within an ecosystem of mutual understanding and respect.

“All we need is a review of performances, practical content, approaches and challenges that can be shared with industry partners so that further planning can be mapped out for a better future and industry-ready graduates,” he added.

This symbiotic partnership will continue to develop as each is dependent on the other. “We are aware of many opportunities and advantages from various joint collaborative work over the years.

“The challenge is the manner we maximise this partnership as we move on from level to another.”

By Zulita Mustafa.

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MOE to expand caring school concept through ‘Ziarah Cakna’

Friday, January 25th, 2019
Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said the programme, to run throughout the year, would see school representatives visiting students’ homes to meet parents or guardians and share with them the students’ progress while understanding their family background. NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR.
By Bernama - January 25, 2019 @ 6:55pm

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry will expand the concept of a caring school by implementing the ‘Ziarah Cakna’ (Home Visit) Programme nationwide, starting Sunday.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said the programme, to run throughout the year, would see school representatives visiting students’ homes to meet parents or guardians and share with them the students’ progress while understanding their family background.

“Teachers are more aware of their students’ behavior, family situation and the assistance that they may need. This information is very important to help develop and boost a student’s confidence in learning and achieving good results,” he told reporters.

Unlike the previous visits to students’ homes, Amin said under this programme teachers would also be visiting the homes of students who have done well to honour and get to know the parents.


“Basically the programme is to strengthen ties and understand the background of those who have learning problems and help them overcome the difficulties,” he said.

Asked whether the ministry would set key performance indicators (KPIs) for the schools, Amin said although this was considered a core programme it was up to the schools to choose and visit as many houses as they wanted.

“It is hoped that this programme will be beneficial to the overall development of the students and the visits be part of the school’s culture,” he said.

Amin said the national-level ‘Ziarah Cakna’ programme would be launched by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik in Kluang on Jan 28.

By Bernama.


Close to target of 90 per cent Sabah teachers achieved

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Mistirine (third right) with the new primary school teachers after presenting them with housing letters.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has achieved 86.81 per cent Sabahan teachers at the primary school level after the placement of 187 new teachers statewide.

State Education Department director Mistirine Radin said this was in line with the Ministry of Education 90:10 policy to have 90 per cent Sabahan teachers in Sabah.

The 187 teachers who graduated from the Teachers Education Institutes (IPG) last year has been posted to several primary schools in Sabah, effective yesterday.

Mistirine said the placement of the teachers was done based on their specialisations and the districts which are in critical need of teachers.

Most of the teachers involved specialised in English, Kadazandusun Language, Mathematics, Islamic Education, Early Childhood Education, Music Education, Physical Education and Special Education, she said during the presentation of housing letters and briefing for new teachers yesterday,

“Teachers would be placed based on option need and locality, namely options such as English, Kadazan Dusun, Mathematics, Islamic Studies, Early Childhood Education, Music, Physical Education and Special Education, among others.

“The State Education Department also acknowledges the gap between status of teachers closer to the city and in rural areas, hence the placement of teachers according to districts with a shortage in particular options. This is so that children in rural areas stand to gain equal opportunities in education,” she said.

by Fiqah Roslan.

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Forum on current issues kicks off

Friday, January 25th, 2019
Dr Welsh speaks on the podium while seated (from left) are Prof Zakaria, Tay, Prof Chan, Redzuan, Mohd Sheriff and Tawfik.

Dr Welsh speaks on the podium while seated (from left) are Prof Zakaria, Tay, Prof Chan, Redzuan, Mohd Sheriff and Tawfik.

ALBERT Einstein once said: “Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think”.

But what makes a good education system?

For moderation advocate Tawfik Tun Ismail, a good education system is one that is “secular”.

“A more secular education system (from what we have now) is needed, to put in place the thinking among the young that the world is a much wider place than what they are told by their parents or taught in schools.

Its theme was “Building a New Malaysia: Agendas and Aspirations” and featured a panel of prominent political and economic specialists from various industries.

It provided a platform to about 200 invited guests from the government, embassies and high commissions, non-governmental organisations, members of the public and students to share ideas about three critical issues.

These are what the Malaysian nation means to us; how we build an enterprising economy that has an equitable sharing of prosperity; and how we define our foreign diplomacy and security in the global and Asian context.

The panel of speakers at this conference are each specialised in politics, economics and foreign policy. They are HELP University and John Cabot University visiting senior research fellow Dr Bridget Welsh, Pricewaterhouse Coopers partner Patrick Tay, former ambassador and member of G25 Datuk Redzuan Kushairi, former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, former Umno MP Tawfik Tun Ismail and HELP University deputy vice-chancellor (Research) Prof Datuk Dr Zakaria Ahmad.

Issues that matter

Dr Welsh shared her views on Malaysian politics and political scenarios ahead, elaborating on leadership and legacy,

She noted there is a power struggle between Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and added that Dr Mahathir has put too much focus on his legacy.

“His focus on the legacy has always been largely on the past as opposed to the future. One of his weakest points during his tenure was not grooming young people. GE14 was a result predominantly of young people embracing a different future.

“Now it is not to look at Dr Mahathir or to Anwar as the leadership of the future, but look to the second generation and the lessons they are going to have in government,” she noted.

It is vital, she added, for Malaysia to groom younger leaders with skills.

Dr Welsh also elaborated on reform and resistance, adding that for Malaysia to move forward, individuals in power from the previous administration need to be changed.

Tay touched on economy outlook, government priorities, and key challenges the Malaysian economy will face, while Redzuan gave a run down on the key points of foreign policy framework in the new Malaysia – which include direction of the policies, empowering the Foreign Affairs Ministry, enhancing inter-agency collaboration and increasing public participation.

Describing the current foreign policy framework as “a work in progress”, Redzuan noted that the Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah intends to engage academicians on the formulation and discussions on foreign policies and its issues.

“The world has changed. It is now an emerging complex, multi polar world with multi hub and multi partnership structures in international relations. There is a clear power shift from the West to the East, and Southeast Asia will be the focal point of the rivalry between the United States and China,” he said.

Malaysia, said Redzuan, should have a more balanced position.

“Malaysia needs to keep on building and strengthening a cobweb of bilateral and regional relationships, and work with like minded countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco and more,” he said.

An interactive discussion was held after the Conversation on National Issues. This featured Prof Zakaria, Tawfik as well as Mohd Sheriff.

Prof Zakaria spoke more on foreign policies and pointed out that there is a great need to reassess Malaysia’s representation abroad and upgrade the English proficiency of diplomats.

“They do not dare to go out to meet people when they are abroad and often opt out of events when they hear that alcohol will be served,” he said.

Besides elaborating on some points the panelists made, Mohd Sheriff also noted that the new government needs to pay more attention to education and human resource development.

“If we build a strong highly-skilled workforce, we can do a lot in the high-technology industry.

“We do have many opportunities in Malaysia and we should capitalise on the potential to enter frontier industries, which will provide high paying jobs to youths in the future,” said Mohd Sheriff.

He noted that something must also be done to raise productivity levels of the labour force in the country.The audience also asked questions.

HELP University vice-chancellor and president Prof Datuk Dr Paul Chan noted that Malaysia is facing global and national complex challenges.

“Institutions like HELP University can play a meaningful role and contribute constructive ideas to help the government.

By Lee Chonghui
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Stepping up English usage

Friday, January 25th, 2019
Excited to learn: Year Five pupils of SK Sungai Buloh getting a sneak peek at the first issue of ‘Step Up’ 2019. With them are Nurhafizah (far right) and Dansen (far left).

Excited to learn: Year Five pupils of SK Sungai Buloh getting a sneak peek at the first issue of ‘Step Up’ 2019. With them are Nurhafizah (far right) and Dansen (far left).

PETALING JAYA: In environments where English is not the main mode of communication, learning the language is mostly confined to English lessons in school.

SK Sungai Buloh, Selangor, sandwiched between urban and non-urban communities, has a majority of pupils from Malay-speaking families.

Its headmaster Ab Halid Zakaria understands that language learning extends beyond classroom walls.

“When learning English, you cannot just rely on lessons in school.

“The culture of speaking English has to start from home. We felt that this culture is lacking.”

With this in mind, the school saw the Step Up education pullout by The Star as a good fit to bridge this learning gap.

The pullout, which comes with a copy of The Star newspaper, is a 24-page workbook and activity book for pupils in Years Four, Five and Six.

“So, when pupils take an English daily home, parents would realise that this language learning is not just confined to schools,” he added.

At SK Sungai Buloh, the school’s administration believes that a three-way relationship between pupils, teachers and parents is an important aspect in encouraging academic growth at the school.

Ab Halid noted: “When we introduced the Step Up pullout to some parents at a recent meeting, they felt that the package was worth their money as it comes with attractive free gifts.

“We are planning for all students to opt for the free grammar book so that teachers will be able to use them in class.

“Last year, all Year Six pupils subscribed to Step Up.

“Seeing the benefits from using the pullouts, we made it compulsory for pupils in Years Four, Five and Six to subscribe this year.

“The pullout is suitable for our pupils – the exercises are neither too difficult nor are they too easy.

“They help our pupils master grammar,” he added.

Agreeing, English panel head Nurhafizah Yaacob said: “One positive impact that I can see is that more pupils are actually speaking English at school.

“At home, most pupils have limited English language materials to read.

“So when they bring an English newspaper back home, their parents and siblings can also use it.

“It really makes a difference.”

Nurhafizah said parents had their doubts about subscribing to Step Up last year.

“This year, even though they have two children attending SK Sungai Buloh, parents prefer that each child own a copy of the Step Up pullout.”

This shift has resulted in SK Sungai Buloh increasing its subscription for its pupils from 110 copies in 2018 to 312 copies this year.

“We love Step Up because the answers are at the back, so if parents can’t help with grammar, they can always check the answers.

“It is good as a Self Assessment Learning (SAL) tool.”

The lucky pupils in class Year Five Sinar had a sneak peek at the first issue of Step Up for 2019, which rolls out tomorrow.

Nurhafizah and English teacher Sean Dansen conducted a lesson using the pullout that had pupils clamouring to give their answers.

Step Up features Bahasa Malaysia and Chinese translations of difficult English words.

The version with the Bahasa Malaysia translation is published on alternate Tuesdays while the version with Chinese translation comes out on alternate Thursdays.

The colourful syllabus-based content tackles themes set by the Education Ministry and helps prepare pupils for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

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Maszlee: Student-based learning the way forward

Friday, January 25th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Social and emotional learning play an important role in the classroom.

“Findings have shown that when social and emotional learning is promoted as part of the daily classroom life, it fosters positive working relationships, increases student engagement, and models constructive behaviours, all pertinent elements for students to thrive in the 4th Industrial Revolution,” Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said.

Dr Maszlee said Malaysia is now moving towards more growth-based learning where the whole development of a child is at the centre of our policies.

“What this means are three things – to move learning from teacher-based to student-based, an emphasis on values-based education in which values like love, happiness and mutual respect are at the core of our education system and a more holistic evaluation of students’ achievements beyond content knowledge.

“Moving away from an exam-oriented system not only pushes us to focus on critical thinking and creativity, but can help put the spotlight on how we develop positive values and ideas of an individual who is balanced intellectually and socially,” he said when speaking on “Social and Emotional Learning and New Developments in Pedagogies” at the Education World Forum in London.

In short, he added that, Malaysia aspires to strengthen its education system by emphasising a more humanistic and values-driven education, with the internalisation of the culture of happiness, love and mutual respect.

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