Archive for March, 2019

Bringing the Arts and Sciences together

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

THE Education Ministry is in the early stages of studying the operating mechanisms to implement the streamless schools approach.

Dr Maszlee Malik said the ministry does not want Malaysian students to be categorised as Science or Arts students, any longer.

“The incorporation of reading, writing and arts into STEM will include a humanistic approach thus, making it relatable to students’ daily routine.

“We hope to alter the negative perception (towards STEM), ultimately increasing interest in it,” the Education Minister said.

There are two ways to merge science and arts, he explained.

“Firstly, (through) the usage of STREAM as an educational approach in teaching and learning.

“STREAM represents the fact that we need to produce holistic students in all disciplines, by integrating reading and arts into how we teach STEM, and integrating STEM concepts into how we teach other subjects.

“An example of the application of STREAM is through projects that involve inquiry and problem-based learning, where students work on interdisciplinary activities.

“Students would leverage on, and connect concepts and skills across STEM and non-STEM spectrum to solve problems,” he shared.

Last month, Dr Maszlee said streamless schools are the way forward, and that it was among the suggestions the ministry received from the National Education Policy review committee, or better known by its Malay acronym, JKDPN.

However, two weeks ago, he said only 44% of Malaysian students were in the STEM stream last year, as compared to 48% in 2012.

Dr Maszlee said this when delivering the keynote address at the Bett Asia Leadership Summit and Expo 2019 in Kuala Lumpur.

A stronger curriculum

The ministry is deliberating on strengthening the current curriculum, Dr Maszlee said, to incorporate elements of arts and reading, such as aesthetic appreciation, design-thinking, and user experience.

JKDPN and the ministry’s Curriculum Development Division are reviewing and studying the curriculum, he added.

“Our vision for (this) new curriculum is it allows students to develop holistically, not just in (their) technical knowledge of STEM, arts and culture, but also in terms of 21st century skills with values and ethics.

“Arts and culture is the cornerstone of human civilisation, resulting in progress just as much as Science and Maths.

“JKDPN is set to table their recommendations next month, and the ministry will deliberate further on the findings.”

Dr Maszlee said the recommendations will cover preschool to post-graduate education.

He believes a head start in education during the early stages of childhood will change the trajectory of a child’s life.

Currently, the ministry adopts an open certification approach in the SPM, which was implemented in 2000.

A circular was released in 2010 by the ministry, limiting the amount of subjects students can take for SPM to 10, with a maximum of two additional subjects.

Upper secondary students can choose a combination of subjects based on their interests, Dr Maszlee said, ranging from science, arts, accounts and commerce,while maintaining the combination of core subjects required for them to further their studies.

“Moving forward, all schools should allow students to select the combination of subjects they are interested in.

“There are guidelines to ensure students have the right prerequisites for further education.

“This freedom of choice is currently subjected to availability of subject teachers and time tabling.”

Including Arts and Reading into STEMThis is done through interdisciplinary projects.

Dr Maszlee said teachers are already carrying out project, problem and inquiry-based learning in schools, where Maths and Science are taught in parallel with Arts and language skills.

“This has practical benefits to teachers.

“Multiple learning outcomes across subjects can be achieved through these projects, while maximising student engagement, teaching 21st century skills and values.

“We are also focusing on including STEM into Arts and Reading, and other subjects.

“Elements such as environmental conservation, science and technology, as well as innovation are embedded throughout the curriculum, where teachers are supposed to contextualise what they teach,” he said.

These concepts will be updated and strengthened in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“We want our teachers, and ultimately our students to be aware of and comfortable with new-age concepts such as blockchain, cloud computing or even artificial intelligence.”

Moving away from segmentationKnowledge cannot be compartmentalised.

Dr Maszlee said in the past, a large number of students were separated based on their abilities.

“This system bred segmentation that disproportionately hurt students from disadvantaged backgrounds, such as the B40 (low-income) families.

“We want to dispel the notion that just because one is in the science stream, they are not interested in the arts and humanities, and vice versa.

“My vision for the education system is one where all students have a fair chance – to be in mixed classrooms where students of different strengths and weaknesses can help and support each other.

“Not just learn technical skills, but the human values of love, happiness, mutual respect and empathy.

“Eventually, once the idea of STEM or STREAM for All becomes mainstream and implemented in the over 10,000 schools in our country, we will be able to see this turn into a reality,” he added.

Fun and experiential learning

Dr Maszlee wants STEM to be taught and learnt through experiences.

He said the ministry is investing in providing opportunities for students to experience STEM by expanding extra-curricular activities, having more science fairs and competitions.

“We are also prioritising the expansion of using STEM to teach STEM – where cheap technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality or online platforms can be brought into the classroom to spark wonder among our students,” he said.

STREAM ensures that STEM is taught in a fun and experiential way, Dr Maszlee explained.

It helps students who are more inclined towards arts or humanities, to see the relevance of STEM in their lives, whether or not they actually pursue a STEM career, he shared.

“It brings out the fun in STEM, through projects and hands-on activities where they have to design and express themselves through arts, reading and writing.

“This is also the best opportunity to learn and apply values such as love, happiness and mutual respect.”

Citing a recent study by the Malaysian Science and Technology Information Centre on public awareness on science, technology and innovation (STI), Dr Maszlee said people’s knowledge on STI is less than 50%.

“Not putting our students into streams relates to our vision for STEM for the future, which is STEM4ALL.

By Sandhya Menon
Read more @

Developing skills in varsities

Sunday, March 31st, 2019
Universities help graduates apply their knowledge in their jobs. – NSTP/File pic

A University explores the sciences, humanities, social sciences and the fine arts, as well as helping graduates apply their knowledge in their jobs.

A university moulds cerebral and technical skills. The emphasis between these two depends on whether they are technically inclined with focus on practical skills or are theoretical with emphasis on verbal and textual articulations.

These skills enable students to develop and fathom knowledge through constructing, deconstructing and reconstructing them into meaningful expressions, as well as the skill of applying data to hypothetical and real-life situations.

Different disciplines emphasise different knowledge, which is the result of man’s interactions with the environment.

These disciplines also examine man’s ingenuity in using his imagination and creativity to use the environment to create a conducive environment.

The humanities and social sciences involve understanding and creating awareness of human living experiences through theoretical models that use data to create algorithm for a conducive living environment.

Or creating awareness of human experiences — his belief, values and norms — through written narratives.

In the visual and performing arts, human experiences are abstracted and dramatised to create a larger-than-life situation.

Dramatic discipline requires performing (acting) and writing skills as well as the skill to create a physical and cerebral visual composition on stage.

Dance, on the other hand, focuses on developing high-level techniques in using the human anatomy to create forms and shapes, gyrations, horizontal and vertical bodily configuration in static and moving trajectories.

Kinetic energy is dispersed through bodily movements to create articulations and patterns; a high level of muscle memory is required to execute the movements.

Music requires a high level of playing techniques and cognitive perception as well as muscle memory.

Different instruments require different playing skills, but musicians must possess the ability to read music as well as develop cerebral and muscle memory.

In science and engineering, technological and cerebral skills are applied for functional purposes to develop and solve human needs for a conducive environment.

And medicine is a discipline that uses its skills for people’s wellbeing.

In all cases, the university imparts knowledge to cater for various trades.

But skills development depends on the nature of the educational environment, which includes students, teachers and the mode of knowledge transmission.

Optimum skill development occurs in an environment in which the ingredients of the educative process interact synergistically.

What is important is the culture and passion of seeking knowledge not to pass exams but to develop one’s skill and thinking process.

It is also important that the quest for knowledge is not only to better oneself but to also contribute to the community. This would require a receptive recipient and a passionate transmitter.

To change from a passive to an active mode of teaching and learning, a new method of knowledge transfer must be put in place, one that does not only give the knowledge but also the skills of critical appraisal and application of the knowledge.

An integral part of this mode of learning is reflection in which one views knowledge in whole and its parts and analyse their architectonic structure through deconstruction and reconstruction.

It means that understanding their structural framework and components would allow for their reconstruction through reassembling the components in different configurations.

This allows for the development of scholarship and expertise.

Central to scholarship is the ability to fathom manifestations of knowledge and its structural framework.

Scholarship is attainable only when there is an interaction in the transfer of knowledge between the provider and receiver that is geared to develop inquiry, scepticism and disbelief.

Thus, our education system needs to include reflection, exploration, discovery and articulation in the learning process to enable students to better serve the nation.


Read more @

Chalk-and-talk makes way for slides and videos

Sunday, March 31st, 2019
Zakwan Aqil Faisal making an attempt to answer questions by dragging items on the wall using his finger guided by his teacher, Fatin Izzati Mustapa (right). PICS BY AMIRUDIN SAHIB

GONE are the days when students sit down with textbooks, quietly in rows, while the teacher stands strategically in front of the classroom and imparts knowledge.

At SMK USJ 13, Selangor, students gather in a spot just outside the library called the Digital Den. They animatedly discuss a topic while referring to a digital display on a wall. The teacher acts as a facilitator for the students.

Formerly an open space, the Digital Den has been transformed into an outdoor class by adopting the Arvia Interactive Wall by Israk Solution. The digital tool can turn any flat surface including a concrete wall into an interactive whiteboard for learning and presentation.

History teacher Fatin Izzati Mustapa said students need to be engaged with learning to absorb lessons in a meaningful way, otherwise they can be distracted from teacher’s instruction.

“The Digital Den has brought a difference to the way teachers conduct lessons in class. It enables teachers to produce their own content including notes, slides, videos and practice questions.

“I like to prepare my teaching materials using videos because students tend to get sleepy in history class.

“During my class, I usually separate the students into groups to discuss a topic. This was a challenge in the classroom where we had to rearrange the seating. It was also time consuming. The outdoor class has made it easy and gives more freedom of movement for students to form study groups,” said Fatin Izzati whose students are at the Digital Den two to four times a week.

Form Two student Harleen Dev Kaur said that learning using the interactive wall helps her to overcome short attention span.

Harleen Dev Kaur

“I get distracted easily in class. However, colours, animation and music help a lot in improving my concentration. Some subjects like science and geography require a more visual approach.

For example, with the use of the interactive wall in science class, I can get a clear 3D image of the human heart. And we can zoom in too.

“Technology and gadgets make learning more fun. I am thrilled every time the class takes place at the Digital Den as I will learn something new and exciting.”

Classes at the Digital Den spark Zakwan Aqil Faisal’s creativity.

“I really like classes held in the outdoors. Learning outside the four walls of a classroom gives me freedom to think and learn in a new way,” said Zakwan, 14.

“The Arvia Interactive Wall offers more content on the subjects. In an interactive exercise at geography class, I can identify countries on the world map.”

After calibration, a computer screen is projected on the interactive wall. Teachers and students manipulate the elements projected on the wall by using their fingers as a mouse. Items can be dragged, clicked and copied which later can be transformed into text and saved.

Basic computer science (asas sains komputer) teacher Mohammed Syahrir Talib said that with the use of the interactive wall, students have developed a more positive learning attitude.

“Lessons at the Digital Den create a two way communication as students speak up and share their thoughts. This encourages them to think outside the box and be more creative.

“Some subjects are quite difficult for students due to their abstract nature. However, I am confident this new technology in our school can aid the teaching and learning process.

“The technology makes a lot of difference especially in time management when conducting a class. With the interactive wall, students can make the most of their time to learn a topic and answer questions.

The Arvia Interactive Wall enables teachers to produce their own content including notes, slides, videos and practice questions.

”Mohammed Syahrir, who is also coach for the school football team, added that he often uses the interactive wall to show students videos of football games.

“Playing football is all about visualisation thus, by watching videos relating to the sport, they can learn and analyse the tricks of the game.”

Fatin Izzati added that the traditional chalk-and-talk method of teaching is fast becoming obsolete in the 21st century.


Read more @

Have safety and preventive measures in place

Thursday, March 28th, 2019
Initial reports stated that 2,775 people were affected by toxic fumes released from the illegal dumping of chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang. – File pic

When we talk about industrial disasters, what comes to mind are the 1984 Bhopal gas leak tragedy from a pesticide plant in Madhya Pradesh, India, and the 1954 Minamata mercury poisoning disaster in Japan.

We may have to add the recent poisoning in Pasir Gudang to the list.

In the Bhopal tragedy, toxic gas from a pesticide plant leaked from storage tanks in the middle of the night. By the next morning, more than 2,000 people in the vicinity were found dead and thousands more in the following days.

According to reports, faulty plant design and pipes, safety devices, poor maintenance of tanks, lax storage safety procedures and negligent staff were among the causes. Those who survived suffer from respiratory, neurological, gynecological, psychological, genetic and ocular issues. The Atlantic magazine states that it is the world’s worst industrial disaster, and after three decades, survivors are still fighting to have the site cleaned up.

In the Minamata disaster, mercury poisoning affected thousands of people who consumed seafood contaminated by methyl mercury in wastewater. Methyl mercury was released from a chemical factory in Minamata. The high level of mercury in marine products caused neurological disorders, and sensory and auditory disturbances in people who lived near the contaminated area. The industrial pollution also resulted in environmental degradation, marine pollution and affected fisheries. The effects impaired low socio-economic groups and fishermen.

And, now, in the 21st century, we have this grim case of industrial pollution in Pasir Gudang, Johor. Initial reports stated that 2,775 people were affected by toxic fumes released from the illegal dumping of chemicals into Sungai Kim Kim. More than 100 schools remain closed at the time of writing. About 1,250 tonnes of soil, water and sludge samples had been collected from the river. Earlier, it was reported that 15 types of chemicals, including hydrogen cyanide, were found in air samples taken from the surrounding areas.

Efforts are underway to prevent another wave of toxic pollution. But the question remains — how did the dumping of chemicals escape enforcement?

Illegal discharge of factory waste is not new and has been going on for years. Many other rivers and numerous sites throughout the country have been polluted by industrial waste. Surely, we do not want another episode of chemical pollution to go wrong before we realise that it is too late for recovery efforts.

The effects of past industrial disasters should serve as powerful reminders that people usually end up paying the price for the irresponsible and unscrupulous acts of the callous few. Effects of industrial disaster is widespread. The need to enforce environmental safety procedures and implement preventive strategies cannot be understated. Because for as long as enforcement is not stressed upon and procedures are not followed, pollution will continue and the lives of the public will be under threat.


Read more @

NST Leader: Malaysians love unpunctuality

Thursday, March 28th, 2019
A giant sculptor with the faces of clocks outside a train station in Paris. Malaysians just do not know how to be punctual and they are spectacularly nonchalant about it. – Reuters

THE solar system, which our planet calls home, observes order.

Planets orbit around Sol at fixed times, under the command of gravitational law.

The moon, too, is compelled to accompany the earth all the time and on time.

Halley’s Comet will keep to its routine, visiting us once every 75 years. Everything is punctual to a T.

Now if only this attribute of the inanimate universe could be extrapolated to the conduct of another of God’s creations — homo sapiens.

Alas, humans possess free will. And with this in their hearts and heads, they kill and destroy, love and build.

With it, too, they are notoriously unpunctual. And quite spectacularly nonchalant about it.

They are late for meetings, late for work, late for events, late for everything except for their inevitable appointment with the hooded one and his deathly scythe.

That they are also late for prayers at houses of worship is astonishing. What irreverence!

Their excuses for tardiness are as predictable as they are puerile.

In fact, in the widely absorbed Daily Mail, this country suffered the ignominy of a citation that read: “But in Malaysia saying you will be five minutes late usually means an hour and being late is an accepted norm that does not require an apology.”

But this is not a Malaysian disease, to be sure. There is more than enough literature to prove it is a virus long thriving in the hearts of women and men the world over.

Ocean-and-land masses away, renowned English adventurer Peter Fleming wrote in 1933: “Delay in Brazil is a climate… it should, I think, be a source of pride to the Brazilians that they possess a natural characteristic that is absolutely impossible to ignore. No other country can make this boast.”

In the last line, he is in error, of course. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, a stickler for the affairs of time, would tell him so. So would this newspaper.

The prime minister repeatedly enjoins the people to adore and adopt good work ethics, punctuality being one of them.

Emulate the Japanese, he says. But it is a strange (and evil) thing that people need persuasion to do what is right. Must someone remind them to look right and left be-fore crossing a road? Isn’t this an elementary principle of life?

Perhaps they behave erringly because they suffer no loss. But loss is indeed suffered, hitting the bottom line and frustrating others to no end.

Management literature and studies testify to this. The groanings of friends, companies and civil service bosses refuse to go away.

Perhaps, too, the only way to remedy this recurrent absurdity is to make the unpunctual ones suffer a measure of pain themselves; the way they would moan if they were 30 minutes late for a movie (for they would not get their money’s worth).

When A.I. finally takes hold, infallible monitoring and instant salary cuts may become a reality. Great idea!

In truth, though, this newspaper does not believe harsh measures alone will change character.

Read more @

An ideal library is at the heart of everything

Thursday, March 28th, 2019
The library at UM offers a conducive ambience for all levels of students to fully utilise the books, journals and multimedia.

A university library is an integral part of the institution as it brings together information or knowledge from various sources into one place.

It plays an important role in the support of, and participation, in teaching, learning and research activities in the university’s community.

For many years, a typical library is a place that houses materials like collection of books, periodicals, newspapers among others with services of librarians who are experts at finding and organising information and at interpreting information needs.

However, with the advancement of technology and digital resources, as well as students’ reading habits and their preferences, the functions of libraries have changed to fit users with current needs without compromising the number of library visits.


Today, many students prefer to access electronic books (e-books) compared to the printed books. The reason for this is that e-books can easily be accessed and read on a computer and other electronic devices.

Leenawati Razali, Head Librarian at Taylor’s University, said the university’s library has seen the evidence in statistics of e-books usage which has increased to 154,568 in 2018, an increase in access by close to 20 per cent.

She said the academics, researchers and students are able to search and locate information from not only physical resources such as books but also through various online resources like online databases, e-books and e-journals.

MAHBOB YUSOF acting UM chief librarian

University of Nottingham Malaysia Head Librarian Ng Siew Ling said students are more comfortable to choose easy and instant access to information and e-resources, if possible, using mobile technology.

“They prefer electronic copy compared to printcopy. Our loan percentage of borrowing physical books had dropped about 15 to 20 percent for the past two to three years compared to ebooks.

A postgraduate in Master of Arts (Linguistics) Noor Rusydiah Abd Ghani, 28, said libraries should be accessible virtually, at any time, in which there should be a development of a system that allows users to browse through the available content online; on a mobile application for instance.

She said purchases of any materials could be made possible without having to be physically present to the library itself.

“I don’t read as much prints as I do with digitals. The factor of practically and portability is the main reason why digitals are the preferred choice when it comes to everyday reading. For those who are always on the go, it is quite a hassle having to carry a certain weight of books when you can actually fit everything inside one electronic device. Besides, digitals are usually cheaper than prints and they are easily shared,” she added.

Shamellya Norazizi, 22, also frequent the library due to high speed internet connection and comfortable places to discuss with team members about assignments and meetings.

The Bachelor in Finance student chose prints or online news as both medium helps her a lot in gathering the information.

“From my view, some people might have less time to read prints but are more comfortable using the new era of technology by getting information online.”

Brandon Quek Boon Lok, 21, frequent the university library, almost daily as he finds the atmosphere to be generally conducive, giving him a chance to visually inspect the material before perusal, and enjoying the palpability of physical books.

“For my studies, I make use of both print and non-print media and materials. I believe that the diversity of readable material does service for both the pursuit and transmission of knowledge,” said the International Relations undergraduate.

Student Zara Basyirah Md Shah, 20, said the role of library needs to change to meet the digital world’s requirement.

“Nowadays, the library does not only operate as a space to collect and borrow printed books. It should evolve into a space to allow users to have access to technology and as a source of digital literacy as well as printed books,” Zara said.

The Bachelor of Software Engineering (Hons) student said she still frequent the library for the discussion rooms to meet with her classmates for projects and as a place to practise presentations.

Bachelor of English Language and Linguistics student Nur Fatihah Noor Azhar Shah, 22, only goes to the library if there is a discussion with her friends or to borrow some books or read printed materials like newspapers only when she has time.

International Business & Marketing student Aizat Izzuan, 21, he chose to utilise the spaces within the library because it’s comfortable, quiet, cold and suitable for silent studying which allowed him to completely focus on his studies.

Electrical and electronic engineering student Shahidan Idris, 21, who reads printed materials such as books and magazines, said: “Today’s library must reshape itself to accommodate virtual reality learning and simulations as well as allocate activity areas for hands-on learning.”


Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS Information Resource Centre (UTP IRC) director Sabri Abu Bakar said for the past three years many efforts and activities have been introduced to improve user experience such as library outreach, structured user engagement sessions, new rules and regulations, space refurbishment and service enhancement.

“After these initiatives, we received positive comments from users, and the library utilisation statistics reflect this.”

Based on a UTP IRC survey, individual focus work is the dominant activity observed at its premises.

But collaborative group work also shows an increase in pattern in the evening.

“The library is a space for social points. Although there are improvements in user attendance, static books utilisation is a global trend.

“On the contrary, utilisation of e-resources has increased tremendously, reflecting the increase in research, reference and changing study habits,” Sabri added.

UTP IRC also provides extended services such as – Station 353 – a place where users can buy refreshments, have coffee breaks, snacks, relax and unwind for a moment after long hours of study, and Post Graduate Lounge is equipped with reading tables, sofa, computers, television and a massage chair.

Head Librarian Azman Hashim, said based on his observations, users come to the library not only to obtain information and make references but also to make libraries a recreation and social gathering.

“Although for the time being we are facing constraints in terms of space, but the library is full with visitors every day.”

In 2013, the UMK PPI has strengthened its basic functions and roles through the establishment of the Archives and Knowledge Management Division, Information Services Division and Publishing section.

This transformation has placed a new level in the library field in providing a new dimension in the governance and service of the academic library.

“In addition to information services and research support, the library provides effective records management and archives which are important components in the development of the university’s quality management system.”

Under the publishing section, UMK Press has produced quality scientific books and materials which not only reflect scholarship but also symbolise the university’s development as a centre of knowledge and key reference for entrepreneurship.

At University of Nottingham Malaysia, the library offers a variety of study environments from flexible learning spaces for groups to silent areas for individual study and research.

Its reading lists embedded into an e-learning system (Moodle) links students to resources in the library.

Acting Universiti Malaya chief librarian Mahbob Yusof said there were some 828,350 physical visits to the central library on its main campus. Students favour e-resources but go to the library not only for reference purposes but also to study, collaborate, work on presentations and other learning activities.

Leenawati said the library at Taylor’s University is looking into providing sufficient learning spaces such as individual and group study areas, and a theatrette, which comes with individual plug points to enable charging of devices.

“The library equips students with the research skills, information and digital literacy skills they need to be at the cutting edge of their discipline and to be influential digital users.

“We offer information literacy classes to students from all schools and for all levels from pre-university to postgraduate studies. As at last year, 168 classes were conducted, with a total of 3,499 students in attendance.”


In the era of the Industrial Revolution 4.0, the library needs a paradigm shift of roles, functions and services.

The hybrid concept at UMK combines the physical and digital libraries offering access to digital materials at the outset.

“Online database subscriptions have been implemented to ensure access to quality scientific materials. More than 2.1 million collection of electronic reference material can be accessed through the platform,” said Azman.

“We are always in touch with other libraries to identify improvements we can implement, especially technology use.

“We actively seek to work with partners to organise innovative activities such as the Young Maker Challenge, Young Innovator Challenge, workshops and programmes at the library.

“New buildings in Bachok and Jeli will be fully completed this year. We hope students will fully utilise the digital library facilities to enhance soft skills.”

Ng agrees the library needs to evolve in line with technology, especially mobile.

“An ideal library puts users at the heart of everything. Good collaboration with academics will enable the library to offer a connected and interactive environment to support teaching and learning.

“The library isacentre of information for the university community. It aims to meet the needs of our learners, teachers and researchers.

“As an example, we provide inter-library loans if we do not have the items requested,” she added.

Since its establishment in 1997, UTP IRC has steadily improved access to its collection. To stay relevant, the university follow trends in the current technological and educational environments as change is continual.

“We have purchased and subscribed to e-books and ejournals. We have also digitised the university’s intellectual assets such as theses, dissertations, examination question papers and final-year project reports. These digital content is accessible 24/7,” said Sabri.

Taylor’s University library has more digital content than physical books. “There are 694,049 titles of e-books compared to 99,727 volumes of printed books. The number of ebooks increased by 234 per cent last year,” said Leenawati.

University of Nottingham Malaysia has a digitalised library with e-resources, i.e. e-journals, e-books, e-dissertations and etheses, for example.

“However, we don’t digitise our physical books,” said Ng.

Acting Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) chief librarian Nor Azzah Momin said that although the concept of a library needs to include additional spaces for discussions, other elements such as silent spaces for readers need to be maintained.

“We provide digital content such as ebooks and subscribed database online, which offers a platform for its institutional repository called ‘elmtiyaz’ where content is freely accessed by the public.

“As of now, we have 13,653 digitised collections.”

Mahbob said the library at UM hopes to provide the best services in the most effective and efficient manner by anticipating and responding to changing needs and leveraging on technologies.

“We are committed to creating an inviting environmentthat supports research,teaching, learning, innovation and collaboration.

“As new teaching methods are introduced with increased group work sessions and the application of the flipped classroom, the library has to accommodate these needs by evaluating learning spaces within it.

“UM has spent substantial funds on refurbishment and rejuvenation in line with the very function of the academic library of the 21st century.”

He added that access to electronic resources aremade available through the library portal and can be used by students from anywhere in the world with Internet connection.

“The library has also set up open access repositories to increase the visibility of its research output. Due to copyright law, the feasibility of digitising physical books has to be studied carefully.

“However, we are actively digitising local content which belongs to the university, for example our theses are available online via institutional repositories.

“In this digital age, information and communications technology developments have influenced learning and teaching, research and the whole environment within the university.

“In line with the new learning landscape, the library should be perceived as a centre of learning, discovery and discourse between students, faculty, staff and the wider community.”

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @

Education Ministry working towards cashless schools

Thursday, March 28th, 2019
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (centre) with Bank Simpanan Nasional chief executive officer Datuk Yunos Abd Ghani (left) present the Student Savings Encouragement Scheme (SGSP) to Huda Abdullah in Putrajaya. – NSTP/LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR

PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry is working towards building a cashless eco-system in schools.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik said the cashless programme was part of its efforts to boost financial literacy among schoolchildren, as seen in Bank Simpanan Nasional’s Student Savings Encouragement Scheme (SGSP).

“Each student will be exposed to financial literacy. Other programmes being drafted include the Cashless School programme.

“This is in the pipeline and marks another cooperation between BSN and the ministry,” he said after presenting awards to the best students and schools with strong growth of savings and high participation in SGSP.

Maszlee said the ministry and BSN had reached a consensus to conduct a pilot project in selected schools for the Cashless School programme.

“There are already schools heading towards being cashless, for instance, SK Bukit Lanjan. Now, we want to expand it to other schools as well.”

The minister also cited China’s cashless society as an example that the country could learn from.

For SGSP, the minister said 8,073 schools or 79 per cent of the 10,180 schools in Malaysia had taken part in the savings programme via the said scheme or other BSN financial literacy programmes.

“We work with BSN to encourage savings among schoolchildren and build better awareness on financial literacy in schools.

By Azura Abas.

Read more

Girls perform well in technical and vocational courses

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Tun Juhar (centre) with Ismail (second left), Zainab (second right) and the management team of Kota Kinabalu Politeknik.

KOTA KINABALU: Despite the stereotype that boys do better in technical and vocational studies, girls have achieved highest grades in all four diploma courses during the morning session of Politeknik Kota Kinabalu 23rd Convocation, yesterday.

Norbayah Ahmad, 28, who received an excellent award for her diploma in mechanical engineering, said achieving good result in academic and co-curriculum required realistic goals.

“As for me, I have been through so many challanges in life, where I have to stop schooling when I was in Form Four due to personal matter.

“After seven years away from school, I came back with a goal. I want to be an educator. My mission was clear and I want to achieve it. I took my SPM in 2014 but my result was not good enough for me to register in a teacher’s college.

“In 2015, I decided to pursue my study in Kota Kinabalu Politeknik and aimed for the best student award, which I did.

“Today, I am doing my degree in Technical University of Malaysia in Malacca and I am planning to be a lecturer. I am confident that I am half way there,” she said.

Norbayah, who is from Telipok, said although mechanical engineering is often related to boys, the course is actually suitable for everyone despite their gender because machanical engineering is basically to discover how things work.

“As women, we don’t have to compete with men. We have to compete with ourselves and be a better version every single day,” she said.

Norbayah (left) and Floyana.

As for Tamparuli girl Floyana Chin who received an industrial award for being an excellent trainee during her industrial training, her responsibility as the eldest of three siblings was the main reason for her to perform well.

“My other siblings and I were raised by a single mother. I witnessed my mother struggling with her day job as a teacher and full-time parent. It was not easy, I know.

“I have no option but to do good in studies, get a job and help my mother to support my other siblings,” she said.

Floyana, who is currently working in Petaling Jaya as a junior programmer said she showed her appreciation by giving her first salary to her mother.

“Living in big city like Petaling Jaya is not easy because the cost is high, but I am grateful for this opportunity. I will gain a lot of experience to allow me to contribute to the industry in Sabah.

“I also hope more Sabahans will start looking at skills and technical institutions as their choice because there are so many opportunities in this line,” she said.

Shanthana Shanmuganatan, who received the Politeknik Director Award, said she always maintained good relationship with lecturers because it was easier for her to ask questions and involved in various activities.

Shanthana (second left) and her family members.

“Since I am from Selangor, I don’t have family here. I only have friends and lecturers, so I can focus on co-curriculum. I have the best experience studying here, and I’m glad choosing Sabah for my diploma course.

“I am currently working as a service associate at front office department, Pulse Grande Hotel in Putrajaya and I enjoyed working there.

“I will continue working for more experience and will see if there is a bigger opportunity in the future,” she added.

Sabah Head of State, Tun Juhar Mahiruddin handed over all the scrolls during the first session.

During his opening speech, Juhar expressed his appreciation for the excellent performance of Politeknik Kota Kinabalu as a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centre in the state.

He said the increase of employability from 93.5 percent in 2017 to 95 percent in 2018 showed that the institution was on the right track producing skilled workers that were needed by the industry.

Read more @

RM50 million State Govt scholarship open for application

Tuesday, March 26th, 2019

Yusof (centre) announces details of the State Government scholarship while Jenifer (right) and others look on.

KOTA KINABALU: Application for State Government scholarship is open today (March 26) for eligible students from Sabah and Labuan.

Minister of Education and Innovation Datuk Dr Yusof B. Yacob said the State Government has allocated about RM50 million to fund existing scholarship recipients and new applicants.

He said the State Government would be offering scholarship for 12 diploma courses and 34 undergraduate degree courses in public higher learning institutions (IPTA) and private higher learning institutions (IPTS).

“Students can apply for courses they desire but my advice is to pursue the courses listed by the State Government because these are the courses that meet the industry demand,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.

Dr Yusof said students could apply for the scholarship online at before the deadline on April 25, 2019. Students could also check the status of their application online.

The diploma courses listed include actuarial science, surveying, engineering, health and livestock farming, property management, accounting, agriculture, pure science, architecture and information technology.

Diploma scholarship applicants must pass the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) with at least 7As.

Meanwhile, the undergraduate or first degree courses that are offered scholarship include actuarial science, aquaculture, economy, pharmacy, engineering, entrepreneurship, communication, surveying, accounting, dentistry, forestry, fishery, agriculture, medicine, veterinary, psychology, environmental science, music, tourism and hospitality, education, Islamic studies, marine biological science, biotechnology, computer science, among others.

Scholarship applicants for first degree courses must pass Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) with at least a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of 3.33; diploma with CGPA 3.50; obtain at least Jayyid in Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) or pass matriculation or foundation programmes with CGPA 3.50.

Applicants for medicine, dentistry and pharmacy courses must obtain at least a CGPA of 3.8 for STPM, diploma or matriculation.

The age limit for diploma and undergraduate degree scholarship is not more than 20 and 25 years old respectively.

Dr Yusof said there was no fixed quota for the scholarship but the State Government would seek to sponsor students who have scored outstanding results in SPM and STPM.

“Based on our records, there are 148 students who scored 10As in SPM and 61 students who obtained 4As in STPM in Sabah.”

He said students who have obtained an offer letter from university could apply for the scholarship as well.

“For those who have not, we can assist them in enrolling into higher learning institutions.

“This is to prevent students from getting into unaccredited institutions, or select courses that are irrelevant to industry demand.”

He said there have been mistakes made in the past where students who were sponsored attended universities that were not even recognized, or pursued courses that were not relevant to industry needs.

As such, he advised students to change their mindset and opt for courses recommended that would meet needs of the industry, thereby help to develop the State.

In addition, Dr Yusof said the State Government has set aside 250 slots for poor students, or about 10 students from each district, to pursue higher education in IPTA or IPTS.

“The higher learning institutions must have Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with industry players so that these students would be employed upon graduation.

“Our aim to bring them out of poverty.”

He said the average sponsorship of RM20,000 for each poor student would pay for their tuition fees, living costs and accommodation.

Dr Yusof continued to say that his ministry would look into increasing the budget for scholarships so that more Sabahan students could enter IPTA or IPTS.

Nonetheless, he also encouraged students to look into scholarships offered by other sponsors as well, including Yayasan Sabah, Petronas, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) and other foundations.

Read more @

Thalassaemia patients in dire straits over low blood supply

Monday, March 25th, 2019

(Seated, left to right) Lee, Fazalena, Francis and Khoo after the First National Conference for Thalassemic and Parents press conference yesterday.

PENAMPANG: Some 1,800 Thalassaemia patients in Sabah have to deal with the critical issue of low supply in blood banks, said Federation of Malaysian Thalassaemia Societies (FMTS) deputy president and Sabah Thalassaemia Society president Francis Mujim.

Francis said the figures were not official, but the problem of low blood supply had created a real threat to patients’s safety as they were getting discharged with low haemoglobin (hb) levels from hospitals.

He added that discharged patients, in urban and rural Sabah with low hb, such as level five to six, are weak, get tired easily, and cannot walk long distances.

Thalassaemics, a group with inherited conditions that cause a person to produce either none or too little haemoglobin that is used by red blood cells to carry oxygen to organs in the body, face other health threats such as cardiac arrests.

“That’s why the critical problem for Thalassaemia patients now is the blood supply. To get this blood supply, we have been working with a few NGOs and some cooperation with other departments, but we still cannot cope with the blood needs of the state.

“We need more or less 1,700 to 1,800 pints of blood every month for Thalassaemia, not inclusive of other patients,” he said during the First National Conference for Thalassemic and Parents press conference held here yesterday.

“We can understand the problem but what we ask through this conference is to empower, provide more information to patients so they can communicate to doctors the repercussions should they be discharged with hb 6 (for example),” he explained.

He stressed that there is a clinical guideline outlining the management of Thalassaemia, and patients should not be allowed to go home with low levels of hb.

He added that as of August 2018, the number of Thalassaemics in Malaysia was 7,848, 55% of which are under the age of 20.

Francis said since Sabah has the highest number of Thalassaemia majors, the conference is held to create a more informed Thalassaemic community.

The conference themed ‘Empowerment Through Knowledge’, targeted to create knowledgeable patients and parents, is expected to be held on September 14 and 15 this year in Sabah. However, FMTS president Khoo Swee Hong said the location has not been determined yet due to budget.

Khoo said  the conference also aims to standardize the treatment of Thalassaemics in every Malaysian state, amongst others.

Among the targeted attendees are Thalassaemics, their families and doctors and nurses providing medical management to the patients. Exhibition booths will also be held to showcase the newest administration methods on chelation as well as other management needs of Thalassaemia.

Khoo said among the FMTS fund-raising events with Penang’s Friends of Goodwill for the conference are the Silent Art Auction, June 8 to July 6 at Penang Pac, Straits Quay, Tanjong Tokong in Penang, and the Charity Food Fair on August 18 at a yet to be confirmed venue.

Read more @