Archive for April, 2019

Helping rural primary school kids score in English

Monday, April 29th, 2019
Students of SK Cherating who participated in the UPSR English workshop in a group photo with their teachers and workshop facilitator. – NSTP/Rayyan Rafidi

CHERATING: Ninety pupils from SK Cherating, Pahang had a head start in preparing for their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) English examination at a two-day workshop conducted by the New Straits Times Press Education Vertical department as part of the Media Prima Group’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme last weekend.

The participants underwent intensive training to improve their grammar as well as gather the proper techniques to answer the UPSR English Paper 1 and Paper 2 questions.

One of the pupils, Maisara Md Raya, 12, said the module provided in the workshop was comprehensive as it also included a revision of grammar which is important for UPSR Paper 1 in particular.

SK Cherating students pose for a group photo with the instructor, Sri Wahyuni Mohamed Kham (centre, back row). – NSTP/Rayyan Rafidi

“I enjoyed learning with the facilitator as she was clear in her explanation and I could ask her questions if I didn’t understand anything,” said the school deputy head prefect.

Another pupil, Muhammad Syahrul Ikhwan Muhammad Syahir, 12 said: “I feel that aside from learning the techniques to answer UPSR questions, I also improved my communication skills. There were a lot of group activities so the workshop also taught us about teamwork.”

“What I like about this workshop is how friendly the instructor was,” said Nur Natasya Alia Zulkifli, 12, who harbours hopes to be a doctor one day.

On the second day, pupils attempted exercises for Paper 1 Section B on social expressions before they were guided on how to answer the writing part of the English exam paper, which is under Paper 2 Sections B and C.

“I am not very good at answering Paper 2 Section B and C so I am glad that we were given a lot of exercises to do. The techniques I learned were very helpful. The two days were very enjoyable,” Nur Natasya added.

A total of 90 students participated in the UPSR workshop – NSTP/Rayyan Rafidi

SK Cherating English teacher Aliza Abd Shukor, expressed her gratitude for the workshop.

“For many students in rural schools, English is foreign to them so they tend to lose focus quickly in class. But the facilitator for this workshop was great at connecting with the children and capturing their interest.”

“I feel that this workshop has successfully focused on grammar and vocabulary, the two important aspects of the language in which most of the students are lacking,” said Aliza.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @

‘Be aware on importance of healthy, balanced diet’

Monday, April 29th, 2019

KOTA MARUDU: Everyone should be aware on the importance of a healthy and balanced diet, said State Health Director, Datuk Dr Christina Rundi.

Dr Rundi said although it seems a trivial matter to some, nutrition should be taken seriously because imbalance to it give rise to many diseases

“Not only because of over eating, one can suffer from diseases such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, but lack of food is also a cause of illness due to lack of nutrients.

“Having awareness on keeping a balanced diet is important, especially during this current times, with the diversity of food sources, plus easy access, including online trading,” she said at the State level Nutrition Month 2019 held at the Kota Marudu Community Hall, Saturday.

Over 800 people attended the one-day event which featured various activities such as health screening, blood donation drive, dental treatment, colouring contest, games and interaction exhibition, lucky draw tickets and sales of local food products, among others.

Dr Rundi also presented a special programme award called “Cara Hidup Anda Terbaik (C-HAT)” to Sekolah Kebangsaan Bawang in Tamparuli.

The event was made possible by Kudat Health Officer, Dr Kwang Kugan and Kota Marudu Health Officer Dr Athira Naseruddin together with members of the Ministry of Health.

Dr Rundi said the Nutrition Month programme is not just for the community in Kota Marudu but for all the people in Sabah, especially those who are busy working to be aware and begin to invest in the importance of a balanced nutritional care from now on.

She said Sabahans should be grateful that there are many choices of food including a variety of seafood, vegetables, fruits and rice.

By: Patimang Abdul Ghani.

Read more @

Seminar on Parenting Skills & Child Development Psychology

Monday, April 29th, 2019

Freda Radin School, an elementary school in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam celebrated its golden jubilee by organising various activities such as Sunnat Hajat prayer, mass Prayer and more to enliven the celebration.

In conjunction with this auspicious occasion, Honourable Pengiran May Fazura, Principal of Freda Radin School; collaborated with Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Chairman and Founder SIDMA College Sabah and Sarawak; and Prof Dr Zaida Mustafa, Dean, School of Education, Humanities & General Studies, Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNIRAZAK); and collectively organised the first ever held Seminar on Parenting Skills & Child Development Psychology in Brunei Darussalam. Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie and Prof Dr Zaida Mustafa were also given the honour to present papers for the occasion.

Based on his experience gained and researches done throughout his years as Founder and Chairman of SIDMA College Sabah, a college that focuses on its Diploma in Early Childhood Education; a niche area as its core business, Dr Morni developed and presented his paper on “Child Development Psychology – when do you start making mistakes with your children”

Dr Zaida Mustafa has served for the last 33 years in the education industry, her previous post was as Dean of UNITAR International University (for six years) and prior to that she was servicing with the Malaysian Ministry of Education (MOE). Her vast experience and knowledge gained has enable her to produce the paper entitled “Understanding Children’s Attitude Issues: Behavioural Problems you shouldn’t ignore”.

The seminar was held at three different localities. On 25 April 2019, the first series was held at Institut Perkhidmatan Awam, Kampong Rimba located at Gadong district. The second one was held at Dewan Serbaguna, Temburong on 26 April 2019; whereas the final one was held Dewan Pusat Insani, Seria in the Kuala Belait district.

Both Dr Morni and Dr Zaida are unique motivational speakers, well known for their entertaining, captivating, highly interactive and energizing delivery techniques when they are on stage presenting their talk. When Dr Zaida was with the MOE, she was appointed as an International Trainer, and has been giving talks to educational officers at international level. Through their vast experiences and findings, both the speakers delivered a very meaningful, thought provoking, motivational as well entertaining speech during the occasion.

The participants, mainly parents, took the opportunity to convey their sincere thanks to the two speakers for providing them with simple, but meaningful and practical tips on parenting skills and child psychology. New parents felt that they are now more confidents to handle their children and allow their children to grow in a more conducive and democratic environment.

Hon. Pengiran May Fazura, on behalf of Freda Radin School and the organising committee, thanked Prof Dr Morni and Prof Dr Zaida for their time to prepare and deliver the seminar papers. She too thanked all related personnel, particularly from Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam for their corporation and participation to ensure the success of the seminar.

Dr. Morni and Dr Zaida also took the liberty to convey their heartfelt congratulations to Freda Radin School, Brunei Darussalam on its Golden Jubilee celebration; and prayed that Allah will continue to shower His love and blessings to the school for many more years to come.

They too thanked Hon Pengiran May Fazura for offering them the golden opportunity to present papers to the general public of Brunei Darussalam in conjunction with Freda Radin School Golden Jubilee celebration.

Read more @

Sarawak to teach maths, science in English in primary schools.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

THE Sarawak government has agreed to be the first state to implement the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English for primary schools in the state.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (pic) said the state government would assist the federal government through his ministry in terms of implementation as well as to train teachers to teach the subjects in the English language.

“Teachers in Sarawak will be trained while initiatives have been carried out by the state government, the state education department and several universities in Sarawak to ensure that teachers receive overall training in the English language,” he told reporters after paying a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at his office in Kuching last Tuesday.

The matter was among the issues discussed with the chief minister during the meeting.

Meanwhile, State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong, who was also at the meeting, said the state government had been conducting courses for over 400 teachers in the teaching of English for the mathematics and science subjects this year.

“Some of the teachers will become trainers in their own respective districts and the state government has been discussing with local universities on training our teachers to teach in English where the effort will be funded by the state,” he said.

Read more @

Lee: Educational enforcement on smoking ban to be intensified in rural areas.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019
Filepic is for illustration purposes

Filepic is for illustration purposes

IPOH: Educational enforcement on smoking ban will be intensified in rural areas nationwide, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

He said support of the ban at urban areas was encouraging, but there were still pockets of non-compliance at rural areas.

“We need to enhance educational enforcement at villages, and out of town areas, because we find people settling there are still not adhering to the ban,” he told reporters at a health community event held in Gunung Rapat here on Sunday (April 28).

It was reported recently that the ministry had extended the six-month educational enforcement period that was enforced in Jan 1, this year.

Dr Lee said the extension did not mean that people could smoke at open air eateries.

“If people are still smoking openly at such eateries, refuse to follow advice, they can be issued a fine.

“We are not punishing smokers, but our intention is to give them a chance to quit, reduce smoking or if they can’t do that, then at least they should not smoke in public,” he added.

On claims by restaurant owners that their business was dropping, and the economy was affected, Dr Lee said “The government collects between RM4bil and RM5bil in taxes from the tobacco industry annually, but spends at least RM16bil a year to treat smoking related illnesses.”

By Manjit Kaur
Read more @

Dr M: Belt and Road initiative will benefit all participating countries.

Sunday, April 28th, 2019

BEIJING: The Belt and Road Forum has allayed fears that the Malacca Straits and South China Sea would be dominated by a superpower nation, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister admitted that he was once worried that the Belt and Road Initiative would only benefit China.

But he changed his view after attending the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which was held on Friday (April 26) and Saturday (April 27).

“This is an international gathering (of world leaders) to discuss cooperation, policies and plans to develop their countries respectively,” he added.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that despite the size and wealth of the nations, all of them sat together and were given equal chance to voice their concerns and views.

“I understand more about the initiative now and believe it will benefit all participating countries,” he told a press conference before heading to the airport to return home on Sunday (April 28).

Dr Mahathir, who arrived on Wednesday, also visited Huawei, artificial intelligence company SenseTime and met with Chinese investors during his five-day working trip here.

By Beh Yuen Hui
Read more @

One-stop centre to be set up to spur foreign investment

Sunday, April 28th, 2019
A one-stop centre will be set up soon to facilitate the approval of applications from foreign entrepreneurs to set up business or invest in Malaysia, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (Bernama photo)

BEIJING: A one-stop centre will be set up soon to facilitate the approval of applications from foreign entrepreneurs to set up business or invest in Malaysia, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The prime minister shared that one issue brought up by many businessmen in China during his discussions was the difficulty in getting approval to conduct business in Malaysia.

“They have to see up to 20 people and go to many places. This takes a lot of time. A one-stop centre will make things easier for them.

“Of course, the person placed at this centre must be someone who can make decisions.

“There is no point setting up this centre if those placed there need to refer to other people.

“I am sure that with the centre, investments from many countries, not just China, will come pouring in,” he told Malaysian media at the end of his five-day working visit here.

Dr Mahathir arrived here on Wednesday to join 36 world leaders and participants from 130 countries at the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

On whether investments from China would increase with Malaysia’s participation in the Belt and Road initiative (BRI), Dr Mahathir said it would, but that it was important for Malaysia to respond to the problems of foreign investors and make things easier for them.

He said China had shown not just its support but sensitivity that its projects in Malaysia created job opportunities for locals.

“For one of its investments in Sarawak, for example, there is only one Chinese, but 3,000 Malaysians in employ.”

Dr Mahathir said aside from dialogues with Chinese businessmen while here, he also visited the Huawei research centre in Beijing and SenseTime Group Ltd, the world’s biggest and most valuable artificial intelligence (AI) startup.

Impressed with their expertise and technological advances, especially in AI, Dr Mahathir said there was an opportunity to tap their expertise for Malaysia’s benefit.

By Chok Suat Ling.

Read more @

Embrace IR4.0 as we move forward

Friday, April 26th, 2019
At the ceremony to launch Taylor’s College's CAT and ACCA programmes, (from right) Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran and Taylor’s College school of professional studies head Jason Lo.

At the ceremony to launch Taylor’s College’s CAT and ACCA programmes, (from right) Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran and Taylor’s College school of professional studies head Jason Lo.

TAYLOR’s College has launched its Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) and Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) programmes.

In a recent ceremony at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus in Selangor, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran who was the guest of honour highlighted the importance of embracing Industry 4.0, saying that it is inevitable as Malaysia heads towards a more connected, automated and efficient society.

“From the Ministry’s standpoint, Malaysians should continue to be involved in efforts to be equipped with new skills, engage with the workforce to be ready, and march towards this change – individually and on a corporate level – so that Malaysians remain competitive on a global scale,” he said.

Taylor’s College campus director Josephine Tan said it was imperative that education institutions equip learners with quality education, including professional qualifications, and extensive skills that are in line with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) so that they could meet employers’ requirements.

“This, coupled with the advent of IR4.0, is why institutions of higher learning like Taylor’s College need to equip students with human-centred characteristics such as critical thinking, people management, emotional intelligence, negotiation, resilience, cognitive flexibility, life-long knowledge production. among others.

“By putting more emphasis on human-centred characteristics, students will be able to better adapt to technological changes upon entry into the workforce,” she said.

In keeping with Taylor’s College’s commitment to provide a great learning experience for its students, the launch was followed by the first Taylor’s College Forum on Professional Qualification, with the topic Revolutionising the Role of Professional Accountants.

The panellists were Kulasegaran, Baker Tilly Malaysia managing partner of audit and assurance Datuk Lock Peng Kuan, BP Malaysia country head Ainol Roznain Yaacob and 6Biz founder and CEO Datuk Vimmy Yap.

Tan said the event was an example of how Taylor’s College aims to be a differentiating factor for students who enrol in its CAT and ACCA programmes.

“In addition to value-added initiatives such as this, we also will provide our students with the ability to learn according to their schedule. For our students who are busy professionals, we aim to support their learning journey as best as possible.

“Our ReWIND technology enables them to tune in to their lectures on-the-go. This technology can also be utilised by all students to revise for their examinations.

“Additionally, we have an award-winning campus that is equipped with facilities and amenities to support their learning experience.

“We have a proven track record of high achievements over the past 50 years, as we have engaged some of the best academics to provide all our students the education befitting them.

“To ensure that our CAT and ACCA students are able to further enhance their human-centred characteristics, we have updated one of our compulsory modules with Life Skills to ensure that our students’ critical thinking skills will stand them in good stead when they complete the programme,” said Tan.

By doing the two programmes at Taylor’s College, students will gain a comprehensive learning experience and get a headstart towards the future that they want, she added.

For more information on Taylor’s CAT and ACCA programmes, go to or ACCA at

Fact Box

Certified Accounting Technician (CAT)

● CAT is open for enrolment with three intakes in January, March and July.

● Students are able to complete this qualification (9 papers) within 1 ½ years. The structured programme takes students’ development into account, allowing them the platform to acquire a strong foundation.

● Upon completion of the CAT exams, one year of relevant practical experience and having completed the Foundation in Professionalism modules, students will be entitled to use  “CAT” in their designation.

Read more @

Inclusive campuses: Enabling the disabled to pursue studies to the highest level

Friday, April 26th, 2019
Volunteers from UM Voluntary Secretariat at the hero for the blind programme at MAB.

IN Malaysia, the number of persons with disabilities (PWDs) who are studying at higher learning institutions has been increasing with every academic year.

The government too is always supportive of disabled people wishing to pursue tertiary education. The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2035 and Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025 are clear on the needs of students with disabilities.

Both documents state the country’s education system aspires to be holistic, accessible and inclusive.

As the one of the oldest universities in the country, Universiti Malaya (UM) recognises the rights and needs of the disabled to pursue studies to the highest level.

The university, from the top management to support staff, is committed to provide the disabled with equal opportunities in education as is available for non-disabled persons.

UM has attempted to provide an environment that is capable of supporting disabled students in order for them to move freely and independently both socially and emotionally, and in the physical environment.

And in line with the nation’s development and UM’s intention to become a PWD-Inclusive University, and in tandem with the stipulations of the Persons with Disabilities Act 2008 and United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UM has formulated a special policy pertaining to disabled students.

Speaking at the Asia Pacific Association for International Education Conference and Exhibition 2019 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, UM Faculty of Built Environment dean Professor Dr Yahaya Ahmad said an inclusive environment in a university, where equality is upheld, and diversity respected, is fundamental to support students with disabilities to build positive identities, develop a sense of belonging and realise their full potential.

To realise this, inclusive values have to be hardwired into its primary ecosystem of teaching and learning, governance structure, student support system and infrastructure for the benefit of the university’s community especially students with disabilities.

“UM’s Inclusive University Policy aims to provide equal opportunity to the disabled and to make the university fully accessible to them.

“The policy is expected to ensure the rights and needs of disabled students and strengthen the quality of education in the country, in addition to promoting the university’s reputation in the global arena,” he said during a dialogue session titled Towards Achieving An Inclusive Campus Environment For Students With Disability to showcase a holistic ecosystem of education for all.

Championing this issue is the Asean University Network Disability and Public Policy (AUN DPPnet), which aims to contribute to human resource development in Asean by building a cadre of disability policy leaders who can help facilitate the vision of an Asean that is inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based.

These leaders are trained and empowered to shape the policies that directly affect persons with disabilities throughout Asean and around the world.

Yahaya, who is also AUN DPPnet director, hoped that these efforts will enable disabled students to experience life in the best way possible throughout their sojourn on campus.

He added that the provisions made to meet the needs of the disabled which include facilities, equipment and services are no longer a choice or charity-based action.

“It is the right of the disabled which must be fulfilled and maintained, as has been enjoyed by non-disabled students. These efforts are not works of charity or corporate social responsibility merely carried out when an institution has surplus funds or spare workforce.”

Since 2014, UM has implemented the Inclusive University Policy which brought about the establishment of the Inclusive University Development Committee, Students With Disabilities Management Unit (UPSOKU) and Disability Liaison Officer.

“The Inclusive University Policy implementation includes standard operating procedures for teaching and learning, industrial training, examination, counselling services, scholarship and financial assistance,” said Yahaya, adding that there is still a long way to go but UM is heading towards the right direction towards achieving this mission.

In addition to running capacity-building programmes, AUN DPPnet offers postgraduate scholarship in public policy that covers tuition fees, monthly stipends, air flights and book allowances.

To date, it has given 41 scholarships for scholars to pursue master’s programmes at several universities.


Mature UM student Mohamad Sazali Shaari, who is pursuing the Master of Public Policy, said he felt a bit awkward in the beginning as he is hearing-impaired.

But his coursemates welcomed him and made him feel at home as they learnt together despite the age gap.

“I don’t feel alone because the students are sensitive to my needs. So there is no limitation or barrier for me to acquire knowledge.

“I chose to study at UM because it’s one of the oldest universities in the country and it champions ethical practices to ensure accessibility for students with disabilities,” said Mohamad Sazali, who is Malaysian Federation of the Deaf executive director.

“In an inclusive university, it is important for everyone to be aware of special needs.

“Once my lecturer asked why two women were standing behind him. I told him I needed them to sign what he taught in class.

“Within a short period of time at UM, I feel that I have learnt a lot. Students with disabilities are thankful for easy access to studies.

“We do not want sympathy but our rights as students,” added Mohamad Sazali, who values the chance to mingle with other students.

He believes easy access to communication and information is key to lifelong learning.

“I go to classes with my sign language interpreter.

“Signing is an art. An interpreter has to listen, summarise and convey the message accurately whether at a lecture or class discussion.

“Interpreters have to be familiar with the terminology of the subjects,” he added.

In advanced countries, a dedicated person is assigned to type during the presentation or lectures while students concentrate on the sign language.

“I hope that in the future the university will be able to provide these services.

“Disseminating information such as the lesson plan has helped. I interact with students on platforms such as WhatsApp and email.


Another aspect that should not be overlooked by a diverse tertiary institution is the assistive technology awareness which plays an important part in the life of students with disabilities.

Assistive technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities or elderly population while including the process used in selecting, locating and using them.

Common examples of assistive technologies include mobility aids such as wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, canes and crutches as well as text-to-speech tools.

Another alternative is Draft Builder, a writing tool that integrates outlining, note-taking and draft-writing functions to break down the writing process.

For some 40 years, UM Department of Rehabilitation Medicine Honorary Professor Datuk Dr Zaliha Omar has been advocating the development and use of assistive technology in her work at the university, in her clinic at the hospital as well as in the community.

“It is a privilege to work with the disabled and try to make their lives easier by introducing assistive technology.

“Don’t create things just for the use of people with disabilities. We should look at a device and create something that is functional,” said Dr Zaliha.

“In the digital era, everything is smart — at home, school and on campus — and it makes it easy for you and I. But it should be easy for people with disabilities too.”

Devices on campus must be universal in design to cater to all students including those with disabilities.

“A learning institution is responsible for providing all of the facilities needed by students.

“In terms of technology, don’t just think devices. Think of all the senses — sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch — including the three new senses which are spatial, emotional and spiritual instead. All the senses have to be put together. When we address issues of students with disabilities, we cannot afford to go wrong.

“We have to be inclusive in our thinking — think of the disabled person not only in the learning environment but also in the future when they join the workplace.”


Undergraduates Seri Irdina Syahirah Nordin and Tan Chin Ning are physically- and visually-impaired respectively.

Both faced various challenges, especially in terms of accessibility and lack of awareness during their early days on campus.

Seri Irdina Syahirah, who is in her second year of the computer science and information technology course, uses a wheelchair and rides a scooter on campus.

She finds it difficult to go to classes and have skipped them many times.

Tan, a first-year economics and administration student, was not allowed to sit exams via soft copy format. Her lecturer asked her to sit the exams with the rest of the students.

Administration officer Muhammad Firdaus Abu Hassan at the Students With Disability Management Unit, who has been helping such students on campus since 2014, intervened.

The disabled student registration and admission process are under the unit for easy monitoring during their studies.

“For cases such as Seri Irdina Syahirah and Tan, it is important for students to register with us so that we can take immediate action pertaining to their complaints,” he said.

Muhammad Firdaus, who is blind, said the number of disabled students at UM is 74 as per Semester Two (2018/2019).

Disability Management Services focuses on four key aspects — disabled student management, building accessibility and campus environment, learning and support as well as quality of life and career preparations.

“I put emphasis on building accessibility and campus environment which include transportation, accommodation and physical facilities.

“We have issued the UM Inclusive (Accessibility) Map for convenience of movement, not only for students with disabilities but also those who want to make their life simpler.

“With the map, students, friends and family members know the location of facilities such as toilets, wheelchairs and elevators with just one click of the site that is linked to Google Map,” added Muhammad Firdaus, who is pursuing the Masters in Counselling programme.

Two shuttle vans operate from 7.30am until 10pm on weekdays, fetching students with disabilities to and fro residential colleges and faculties.

“All academic staff provide assistance to disabled students during teaching and learning sessions so that they can fully participate in them and do not feel excluded and get left behind.

“This includes the provision of alternative materials, for example soft copy format for blind students, permission to record lectures and tutorials, choice of lecture room or hall that can be accessed by wheelchair-bound students.

“Lecturers and students can consult UPSOKU on the provision of support systems.

“Our services not only end here, as we also provide a platform for students to achieve high quality of life and prepare for future careers.”

The platforms include disabled student development programme, career path, sport, disabled student involvement in campus activities as well as practical training.

The varsity has more than 200 student volunteers, known as “buddies”, to help special needs students.

“They volunteer services from reading for the visually-impaired to assisting them in completing their projects.”

Other than empowerment programmes to help special needs students interact with their peers, the varsity’s inclusive policy also goes towards boosting awareness among students and staff.

The UM Voluntary Secretariat (SEKRUM) recently organised the two-day volunteer programme, Hero for the Blind, at the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

Programme director Nur Dini Mohmad Nayan said volunteers from diverse backgrounds learnt to approach visually-impaired students in the right way, without hesitation.

“The highlight was the information-sharing session on the right way to guide the blind on the move. Interestingly, all 31 volunteers, with their eyes closed, took part in recreational activities with MAB students.”

With the help of experienced instructors, volunteers played congkak, dominoes, chess, carom and a game called goalball.

The game is designed specifically for the disabled, where two teams consisting of three players try to score by placing a ball on a bell.

Nur Dini, a second-year UM Faculty of Business and Accounting student, added: “The volunteers were impressed with the dexterity of the visually-impaired who only depended on the senses of touch and hearing.”

She hoped that the programme will continue as a collective effort of students towards the pursuit of noble values that will help build a prosperous society.

“Every volunteer now has the ability to become a superhero to any disabled person in need,” she added.

UM Student Affairs and Alumni Division senior assistant registrar S. Ramlee Shamsuddin, who is also SEKRUM adviser, said the initiative not only provided the chance for volunteers to interact and experience the reality of life as a blind person, but it also had a larger aim to enhance the self-learning process to be concerned citizens in the community.

By Zulita Mustafa.

Read more @

Dealing with marine plastic pollution

Thursday, April 25th, 2019
Microplastics are less than five millimetres in size.

Microplastics are small fragments of plastic that pollute the environment.

Defined as less than five millimetres in size and derived from plastic materials,they enter natural ecosystems as

run offs of cleaning and personal care products or the result of weathering and photo-degradation as well as various mechanical forces of products like fishing nets, household items and other discarded plastic items.

According to Dr Yusof Shuaib Ibrahim, senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s School of Marine and Environmental Sciences,

microplastics have a high surface to volume ratio and hydrophobic characteristic which make them an excellent vector in transporting various types of

environmental chemicals into the marine food web.

“The chemicals absorbed on the microplastics have carcinogenic and mutagenic effects on organisms. As the size of microplastics is very small, it

can easily be ingested bymarine organisms, enter the food chain through predation, and eventually reach the human bodies,” he said.

Aquatic ecosystems in Malaysia are also part of this emerging global issue, Yusof highlighted.

“Scientific knowledge on microplastics distribution and its concentration in our environment is vital as part of the national effort to develop effective

management and mitigation measures,” he said.

For this purpose, in 2017 a group of scientists from UMT established the Microplastics Research Interest Group (MRIG) consisting of experts from

various field of studies like marine biology, environmental chemistry, physical chemistry, chemometrics, metagenomics, ocean dynamics,

analytical chemistry, entomology, and food microbiology.

The MRIG focuses on quantitation, characterisation and method development for microplastics (MPs) analysis and marine debris in order to identify the path and fate as well as to increase the understanding of this emerging pollutants in the food web.

Yusof, who heads MRIG, said the research on microplastics in UMT actually started from 2014 focusing on occurrence of microplastics in marine

organisms such as polychaete (marine worms), bivalves, sea cucumber, and commercial fishes among others.

The research later expanded to water, sediment and airborne contamination.

Using the baseline data, the MRIG group is now furthering its study on the impact of microplastics to human health.

“The study has been conducted specifically in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. However, the expansion of the research area will be widened to

compare the pristine, moderate and polluted areas in Malaysia depending on fund availability.

The data on this research will be beneficial to the government, industry and public,” said Yusof.

On top of the research, the group is also working on the solution to microplastics pollution such as the development of bio plastics derived fromrenewable

biomass sources as well as the development of biomaterials that can be used for microplastics clean up.

“In recent years, marine plastic pollution has been attracting increase attention from researchers, policy makers, and the public.

In the year 2018, Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (MESTECC) has introduced Malaysia’s Roadmap towards Zero Single Use Plastics 2018-2030. The vision of this road map is to promote Malaysia’s sustainable development, balancing the economic growth and environmental protection, simultaneously. The use of single-use plastic will be abolished, and replaced with alternative eco-friendly products such as bioplastics and reusable straws,” Yusof elaborated.

He said UMT’s development of biodegradable polymer is still at its initial stage.

“However, we can foresee the commercial potential of the findings. In this study, we explore the use of palm oil and other edible oils in collaboration with our foreign counterpart.

“The development of biomaterials for microplastics removal has also been conducted in our lab.

We utilize the potential of using polysaccharides as a precursor or production of biomaterials.

The findings of this study is planned to be published by end of this year,” he said.

The MRIG team is also actively sharing their knowledge and recent findings on microplastic pollution with the private and public sectors through seminars and conferences.

It has also embarked on corporate social responsibility programmes since 2017 targeted at school children to create awareness about their roles to protect the environment in reducing plastic pollution. Thus far it has involved more than five schools and one orphanage, with the total number of students involved numbering at more than 2,000.

“The public awareness programme has been carried out by researchers and students of MRIG, with support from the student academic clubs and professional bodies in Terengganu. We hope the campaign can inspire the younger generation and raise awareness about microplastic pollution and its danger to our future,” he said.

The MRIG group has recently received a grant through UMT’s Centre of Knowledge Transfer and Industrial Networks (PIJI), focusing on a knowledge transfer programme involving coastal area communities related to issues of global sustainability.

“Our proposal, “Small hands change the world: Raising Awareness of Plastic Pollution”, has been awarded this grant by the university for 2019.

The proposed programme is an initiative to enhance environmental health awareness, especially among primary school students. This programme

aims to educate the younger generation particularly primary school students in Kuala Nerus on the importance of protecting marine environment

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @