Archive for May, 2019

Learning English under the trees works wonders for Orang Asli children

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
When Samuel Isaiah, a teacher at SK Runchang, here noticed a dip in classroom attendance early this year, he decided to do something unique that would get the Orang Asli students to come back and attend lessons. Pic by NSTP/Courtesy of PADU

PEKAN: When Samuel Isaiah, a teacher at SK Runchang, here noticed a dip in classroom attendance early this year, he decided to do something unique that would get the Orang Asli students to come back and attend lessons.

The 32-year-old English teacher introduced “Sekolah Pokok”, where he goes into the Runchang Orang Asli settlement twice a week after school hours and conducts English lessons under the trees.

Samuel, who was posted to the school in 2012, said he picked two different locations in the settlement, where he would conduct English lessons every Wednesday and Friday for the Jakun tribe children.

“In the beginning, about 10 children attended the Sekolah Pokok. Now I have more than 50 pupils aged between six and 14 years old.

Even some who had previously quit secondary school are now looking forward to attending lessons under the trees.

The environment, which is close to their nature has probably kept them eager to attend lessons.

“I make sure lessons are fun as they learn English through unique methods.

They use tablets with headphones, group activities, singing sessions, view pre-recorded videos and also use the ukulele.

Some who had earlier quit school (SK Runchang) have returned to the classroom,” he said when met.

The former Universiti Utara Malaysia and Teachers Training Institute (Penang campus) graduate said he decided to bring the classroom to the children and help create a learning environment in which the children felt comfortable and secure.

Pic by NSTP/Courtesy of PADU

“The trees provide shade and the pupils sit on canvass laid on the ground.

We paste some learning materials on the trees nearby to help create a classroom-like atmosphere, Whatever has been taught in the classroom will be shared with the children under the trees.

“None of the pupils are complaining as they are more focused on the lessons. I remember after receiving the approval from the school (to hold the classes under the trees), I met some of the parents and told them about Sekolah Pokok. They were happy to cooperate,” said Samuel who teaches Standard Five and Six classes.

The third of five siblings, Samuel said when he arrived at the school, his main aim was to make sure the Orang Asli pupils learnt and spoke English.

“I blended with their style and expressed my creativity. We sang songs, played games and musical instruments.

I emphasised English as a language first, subject second, and following that, many started to look forward to speaking English. I treated the children like my family and helped to build their confidence.

Pic by NSTP/Courtesy of PADU

“Since 2013, the passing rate for the English subject at the school is around 80 per cent, compared to 30 per cent previously.

We have produced pupils who scored A’s in their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah.

English is now not alien to the pupils here as many can speak the language. Some parents come to me saying that they are impressed to hear their children sing English songs at home. This certainly inspires me,” he added.

By T.N.Alagesh.

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Building their self-confidence

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
Students celebrate Merdeka Day at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih in Kuala Lumpur last year. — File photo

Students celebrate Merdeka Day at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih in Kuala Lumpur last year. — File photo

DEALING with abandonment and rejection is something even adults handle poorly.

So what about young children who were abandoned by their own parents?

This is where education and guidance is needed to ensure the children – who may be emotionally affected – would not turn to the “dark side”.

Dishevelled with ticks in her hair, an eight year-old illiterate Syafiqah Abdullah enrolled at Sekolah Bimbingan Jalinan Kasih (SBJK) in 2014 and managed to turn her life around. (see sidebar on the school).

Her first encounter with education was when she joined SBJK five years ago.

She remains an undocumented child and does not have her MyKad due to a lack of documents.

Cikgu AG (in brown batik) guiding his pupils to make Teachers’ Day cards to present to their teachers.

Cikgu AG (in brown batik) guiding his pupils to make Teachers’ Day cards to present to their teachers.

“My grandmother sent me to Rumah Kebajikan Titian Kasih, Kuala Lumpur because she couldn’t take care of me due to her old age.

“She also could not help much in helping to sort out my papers (documentation),” said the lass who was originally from a small village in Pahang.

Syafiqah feels fortunate that she found a secure place and people who cared for her.

“It is very different in the shelter and in my school. SBJK is a safe place for me and I enjoy coming here everyday.

“I have friends and teachers here who love and care for me. This is where I learnt about sewing, cooking and other hands-on skills,” said Syafiqah, 13, whose favourite sport is running.

The aspiring veterinarian is one of the 155 “neglected children” enrolled in SBJK, which is located in Chow Kit, Kuala Lumpur.

Fellow classmate Danish Rayyan, 15, admitted he was a bully and always picked fights before he joined the school.

Danish who is also from the same shelter as Syafiqah, said he was grateful when SBJK accepted him.

“Teachers here are always willing to give good advice which helps us become better people.

“I am motivated when they tell me to try my best, work hard and have a good attitude if I want to change in my life.”

Danish shared that before he enrolled into SBJK, his days passed aimlessly as he had no freinds and did not know what to do.

“Being here has taught me to make better decisions and made me a better person.

“I am making friends and have started studying. I’ve also picked up a few skills such as ICT and I love playing football,” said Danish who does not have his MyKad due to a lack of documentation.

Danish’s mother abandoned him when he was an infant. Fortunately, his father is in Kuala Lumpur working as a restaurant cook but does not have enough time to care for him and his sister, who also attends SBJK.The driving force behind SBJKMany would not venture into dark alleyways but this has not prevented SBJK principal Zulkernai Fauzi from going there to carry out his mission.

He believes he was put in his position (principal) by a higher power to help the children.

Zulkernai often spends his free time visiting Chow Kit, sometimes in the wee hours of the night to look out for “neglected children”.

“They are children who are born into unfortunate backgrounds. They have done nothing wrong and have the right to an education,” said the passionate educator who received the Special Education Award for his contributions to the school during the national Teachers Day celebrations in Penang on May 16.

Though he faces resistance from the public for running SBJK, an optimistic Zulkernai said he remained positive and motivated to give his “children” an opportunity to develop.

“Attending SBJK gives them hope. Besides classes on life skills, field trips and simple out-of-class lessons we conduct such as going to the park, taking rides on the MRT or watching a movie, helps them build self-confidence and expose them to the environment.

“They live in a big city yet they are not exposed to any of it. They are the B40 of the B40 group,” he said.

He shared a heart breaking situation where he found a student and his family living under a bridge. They slept on concrete and bathed with water from the river.

It is difficult for these children who have gone through such harsh conditions to smile but when they do, it keeps Zulkernai going.

“I am so happy when my children smile. Even one smile is enough,” he said, adding that the children call him “ayah” – treating him like the father they never had.

“They would come up to me, give me a big hug, and call me ayah. It started with a few, but word got around and now many of them call me ayah,” he said with a laugh.

Noting that the 15 teachers and staff under his care play a big role in running the “second home” for the children, Zulkernai said he has to make sure they are prepared to face the reality.

“Teachers can’t use the mainstream school methods as these children learn differently.

“Without strong willpower or motivation, it would be hard to teach these children. I always motivate my teachers and encourage them to build the children’s capabilities,” he said.

The teachers are given a free hand to teach the students based on their creativity.

This, he said, is to ensure the children enjoy classes and would keep coming back for more.

“One of my top challenges in running SBJK is keeping students in school.

“Many of their parents do not care about education, so basically, the children are continuing their lessons based on their own will and would come to school by themselves.

“The most difficult challenge for me is to convince their parents to let them attend SBJK, once I’ve identified them as they are often suspicious that I want to take advantage,” he said.

Meanwhile, SBJK counsellor Abdul Ghani Abu Hassan – fondly known as Cikgu AG – believes that when teachers are positive, the children would catch the vibe and be better themselves.

“I motivate myself by staying positive because I want to do my job right – which is to ensure (to the extent of my ability) that my students are happy when they come to school.

“When the children think more positively, they are able to mingle and foster closer bonds with their classmates who become their family they never had. It also helps with their learning process,” said Cikgu AG who has served at the school for a year.

The hardest challenge for teachers, he said, was helping students progress further.

“Teachers have to repeatedly teach the same topic to ensure the children would absorb the knowledge. Instead of focusing on academics, we help children here develop on their practical skills.

“Not doing well in studies doesn’t mean they are bad students. They each have a skill they can excel in. They always surprise us by producing or coming up with unexpected ideas,” he said.On top of imparting knowledge and making sure students keep up with attendance, Cikgu AG said giving constant encouragement was also a big part of the job.

To ensure the children come to school, teachers use edutainment and fun learning to encourage them not to skip classes.

In her first posting at her previous school SK Taman Segar, Cheras, Bahasa Melayu and Mathematics teacher Farisha Assila Saharudin believed that “street kids” such as those in SBJK were a “lost cause”.

“My thinking was wrong. We have to change this mindset if we want Malaysia to become a better place. Education is the way forward because it can bring positive changes to the children,” she said.

She was posted to SBJK in 2015 and learnt that these “street kids” just needed love and care.

“I became their foster mother. Before we start class, I have to make sure they’ve bathed and eaten so they can start class comfortably,” she said.

She said that many who enrolled at the school were illiterate and some did not know how to take care, or groom, themselves as they have never been taught.

“As teachers, we need to learn how to adapt to a completely different environment. In mainstream schools, teaching and completing the syllabus directed by the ministry is the focus.

By Lee Chonghui
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Malaysian education and quota: The Endgame

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
IN my last article, I took us along memory lane through the 60s and 70s when our education was world class. As I said, we prepared our bumiputra students at foundational levels in secondary residential and semi-residential schools to be able to competently compete on merit with others, at primarily international universities overseas.

After the social engineering of the New Economic Policy (NEP) quotas of the late 80s, our education system today is wrought by an overabundance of religious indoctrination, overtly in the curriculum and covertly in our public schools’ teaching environment. This was accompanied by the forcing of unqualified bumiputra students into local public universities that had to be graduated into the workforce in spite of them being mostly non performing. Gradings and exams had to bent to ensure large drop out numbers do not inundate the population. Instead, we flood the workforce with mediocre graduates who today fill the ranks of the civil service and government-link-entities top to bottom.

These graduates, in fact, today also fill up the whole levels of our education administration, teaching workforce and universities. Not all, but to most of them out there – you know who you are. Case in point are all the so-called bumi-based NGOs heads, university administrators including vice-chancellors who are somehow twisting their arguments into pretzels to defend the hapless Education Minister who just put his black shoes into his mouth with respect to the issue of a 90% quota for bumis in matriculation.

By now, everyone and their grandmother have seen the video-clip of our supposedly esteemed minister justifying the existence of matriculation quota in favour of bumis because the non-bumis are rich. To add insult to the wounds, he proudly claimed that private universities are mostly filled with non-bumis because non-bumis are better off than the Malays.

Let me today reiterate that this assumption can no longer be left unchallenged. It is patently untrue that all or even the majority of non-bumis are rich and are therefore of no need of government assistance. That the Malays are indeed so poor, that they are the only ones who are overwhelmingly in need of help.

This is a slap on the face of poor non-Malays and an insult to the many hard-working Malay parents who do not rely on government handouts and in general compete on their own merit.

Let us look at the reality, shall we?

Figures provided by Parliament in 2015, showed that bumiputra households make up the majority of the country’s top 20% income earners (T20), but the community also sees the widest intra-group income disparity. According to data from a parliamentary written reply, the bumiputra make up 53.81% of the T20 category, followed by Chinese at 37.05%, Indians at 8.80% and others at 0.34%.

So which groups overall are the top 20% income earners in the country? Answer: bumiputras by a whopping 16.76% to the next group, the Chinese!

However, when the comparison is made within the bumiputra group itself, T20 earners only comprise 16.34%. The remaining comprises the middle 40% income earners (M40) at 38.96% and the bottom 40% income earners (B40) making up the majority at 44.7%.

This means that in spite of almost 40 years of affirmative action, handouts, subsidies and quotas, bumis as a group has a large disparity between its haves and the havenots. That raises the question if it means practically none of the government assistance has in fact gone to help the bumis that truly needed help but has gone to further enrich those who are already having it all!

To the Malays, I say, “You should look into this disparity instead of pointing fingers to other Malaysians who work hard to uplift themselves without any help from their own government”.

Maybe because of your adulation of your Bossku, feudal fealty or religious chieftains that they are the ones that are taking up what is essentially yours to uplift your own lives?

After all the YAPEIM (Yayasan Pembangunan Ekonomi Islam), yes, another institution in Malaysia using religion to sucker people, the Director himself takes home RM400,000.00 in bonus and his senior executive draws another RM250,000.00 all by themselves. Must be one hell of a “pembangunan ekonomi Islam”.

The problem is not between the Malays and the other races. The problem is clearly within the Malay community itself. The help is not reaching the supposed target group. Why? So do not punish others with quotas that penalise the excellence of others for your own dysfunctions.

Now, contrast with the Chinese and Indian communities, where the M40 group makes up the majority.

Within the Chinese community, the T20 group makes up 29.66%, followed by the M40 group at 42.32% and B40 at 28.02%. As for the Indian community, the T20 group stands at 19.98%, followed by the M40 income earners at 41.31% and the B40 at 38.71%.

It is so clearly not true that all non-bumis are rich and therefore the quotas must remain to enable the bumis to compete on an equal footing. The quotas are no longer justifiable if it was ever justifiable in the first place. It is very clear from these data that equal opportunity to university places must be provided irrespective of race purely on merit. The help on the other hand must be in the form of scholarships or loans to those deserving based on the financial capability of each successful university entrant, as simple as that.

If a candidate does not qualify, he or she does not, race be damned. That person must then take a different route – vocational or skilledbased profession or any other road to success. There is nothing wrong with not being a university graduate if one is not qualified. Find your vocation and passion in a field that you will excel in.

The Government has no business populating a university and later the workplace with a single race based on the criteria of fulfilling quota. It makes no sense and it is the root of ensuring the downfall of both the administrative branch of government or even the overall machinery of the nation’s economy.

Maszlee claims that foreign university branches in Malaysia are filled up by non-bumis, therefore Malays need more places in public universities via matriculation. As such the Government instituted matriculation in 1999. He cited Monash and Nottingham as examples. Unfortunately, Monash was opened in KL in 1998 and Nottingham in 2000. That lie blew up in his face pretty fast, didn’t it?

But really why would private universities be filled up with mostly non-bumis? Can’t Maszlee see that if the local public universities are providing only 10% quota to non-bumis to enter via matriculation, an even tougher entry through STPM and none via UEC, that middle and low income non-bumis will have no other choice but to opt for the less expensive private local and branch universities to sending their children for overseas education?

They even can’t gain entry to public universities due to the quotas despite having better results than Bumis. Where do you expect them to go then Maszlee? I know of many non-bumis who are scraping their barrels to ensure they send their kids to further their studies either local or overseas. Many of them have fewer children because they know they will have to pay for
their kid’s education in the future. With most if not all of the scholarships given to bumis do they have another cheaper option?

How much more heartless is your assessment of our fellow non-bumis’ predicaments can you get, my dear Maszlee?

I think Maszlee need to learn facts and have some critical thinking before opening his mouth. Being the education minister is not like teaching religion, where people are not going to fact-check you because they think you are a gift from God. An education minister with such thinking cannot be allowed to stay in that position much longer. It is untenable.

Interestingly of late, a number of those from the Malay academia have come to the defense of the hapless minister defending matriculation quota because of workplace imbalance in the private sector. I have to ask is this proof that our universities are headed by Malays who have no business graduating and being employed and now heading such academic institutions and organisations? Do they even realize the tenuous relations between entry quota into learning institutions vs recruitment variables?

We truly need to clean up the education ministry from top to bottom including at our public universities. Too many people with no brains sucking up to powers that be and playing the race and religion card. It’s enough to make you weep.

Back to our conundrum that is the Malaysian education, what then is our endgame?

1. Stop quota – period. Any type of quota. It does not work and it will destroy the capability of our public and private sector to excel. Merit must reign.

2. Go back to basics. Primary and secondary education are the foundation that will allow any persons of any race to compete on equal footing in order to enter vocational institutions, colleges, and universities. The rest will take care of itself upon them graduating and joining the workforce. Trust in our youth. The bumis are not incapable of excelling given the right foundation.

3. Bring back a Science, Mathematics and English-heavy curriculum for primary and secondary years. Go back to basics. These are foundation years. Do not worry about having the latest technology. Children will absorb that in their own time. Tertiary education is where skill-based knowledge is acquired. Foundational knowledge and critical thinking is honed before you leave high school.

4. Please leave religion at home. Teach it if you want but do it outside of normal school hours. Let our children be among their peers as human beings without any differentiation of beliefs and faiths. Let them celebrate their differences without adults telling them who is better than others. Show them all the beauty they possess without judgment.

5. We are all Malaysians. We all bleed the same blood and we all weep the same tears when we are capable but are unable to fulfill our potential because we do not have the financial means to achieve those goals. Help us irrespective of race. All of us contribute to our taxes. No one group should benefit more than the other because they are of a different ethnicity.

By Siti Kasim
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NST Leader: Missing the wood for the trees?

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik. (NSTP/MOHD FADLI HAMZAH

YESTERDAY marked a year in office for Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

Where we are going and where have we been are good questions to ask the minister.

Some of this was answered by Maszlee himself in his New Straits Times op-ed article, Thank you, everyone, an attempt of sorts at report carding his and his ministry’s performance. But there were bigger things missed.

This paper has reported “a creeping sense of misplaced priorities” before. This bears repeating.

Take the case of the downward spiral of English language competency among our students. None of the nine pillars in the op-ed article mentioned anything about doing something about such language incompetence among Malaysians.

Even our English language teachers seem to have competency issues.

Otherwise, why would the Education Ministry compel them to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET)? But MUET, like the black shoes controversy, has, quite rightly, attracted unnecessary noise.

Firstly, MUET is a university entrance test, not a cure for ailing English proficiency. If it is true that English language teachers need their competency upgraded, a custom-made training course is a better choice.

Secondly, the National Union of Teaching Profession does not see the need for teachers to sit for MUET because they are English language teachers in the first place. Obviously, neither the ministry nor NUTP is speaking the same language.

Missing too is the problem of our national schools fast becoming a single-race school rather than a multiracial one.

The dream of single-stream national schools and the attendant aspiration of national unity seem destined for the netherland. If unity doesn’t begin at schools, there is no place else where this can cohere.

Vernacular schools are mushrooming, while homeschooling, unheard of before, seems to be an increasing alternative now. If nothing is done to arrest this problem, Malaysians will soon be arguing from different premises.

But the unnoticed elephant in the room must be English as the medium of instruction. But none dare touch it.

What more a minister who is just a year in office. Plus, it is a hot potato in this beloved land of ours. But a happy compromise must be found.

This Leader, however, takes cognisance, too, of the views by the directors-general of education and higher education in today’s Opinion section.

Meanwhile, a black shoes-like controversy is brewing a storm in the media of one sort or the other: Bumiputera quota for matriculation.

Speaking to students of Universiti Sains Malaysia, Maszlee was quoted by a news portal as saying: “If we want to change, if we say in Malaysia Baru there is no need for a quota system and so on, then we must also make sure job opportunities are not denied to Bumiputeras just because they don’t know Mandarin.”

Like the black shoes, that remark has not gone down well with some sections of society. To be fair to Maszlee, he was pushing for context in speech.

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NUTP: Don’t hold activities during school holidays

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is urged school administrators not to hold any activities, including extra classes or academic programmes, during the school holidays. NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is urged school administrators not to hold any activities, including extra classes or academic programmes, during the school holidays.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said throughout the school session students were burdened with too much homework.

He said NUTP hoped that students and teachers would be given the opportunity to take part in leisure activities during the holidays so that they could recover from the stress.

He added that students of different ethnic backgrounds should also be given the chance to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“During school holidays in conjunction with Hari Raya Aidilfitri, let the students and teachers rejoice while resting with their family and relatives, as well as friends to celebrate the meaningful Hari Raya,” he said in a statement here today.

The school holidays started yesterday and will continue until June 9 for Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu, while for other states, the holiday begins today and ends on June 10.

By Bernama

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Mass buka puasa at Dataran Merdeka draws the crowd

Sunday, May 26th, 2019
The Iftar@KL programme, held for the fifth consecutive year, has become a major attraction not just for Muslims but also Non-Muslims and foreigners alike. Pic by STR/OWEE AH CHUN

KUALA LUMPUR: It is only during the holy month of Ramadan that you can see city folk and tourists breaking fast together, next to the historical backdrop of Sultan Abdul Samad building, Royal Selangor Club and Dataran Merdeka.

The Iftar@KL programme, held for the fifth consecutive year, has become a major attraction not just for Muslims but also Non-Muslims and foreigners alike.

Sitting side-by-side on a mat, everyone was served with popular ‘buka puasa’ dishes such as ‘bubur lambuk’ (spiced rice porridge), dates and cakes distributed by Tourism, Art and Culture Ministry.

For Mohd Rossi Yusof and his family, Iftar@KL has become somewhat of an annual event.

The 45-year-old father of one said he would make it a point to be at Dataran Merdeka at least once during Ramadan to break fast.

“I will come with my wife, Nor Meme Ahmat, 44 and son Adam Haikal, 15. I will also invite my siblings who are from different parts of Klang Valley to join us. It’s like an annual family gathering for us.

“This year, I am here only with my wife and son as my other siblings are busy. I look forward to this mass breaking of fast event organised by the Ministry,” he said when met here, today.

Rossi, from Puchong, said he started the tradition because he wanted to create something unique for the family.

“Every year, rain or shine I will make sure I will be at Dataran Merdeka.


“This year, the bazaar was relocated to Jalan Raja, which I think is good. People can do their Raya shopping at the bazaar after the mass buka puasa event,” he said.

Noor Shamimi Iskandar, 24, from Ampang said she was excited to be able to break fast in the huge crowd, with the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building in the background.

Like Rossi, she too has made it into an annual event with her friends from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).

“It’s just our way of catching up with one another, especially since some of them are working in the city centre.

“Besides, this is more strategic (in terms of location) and cost effective rather meeting up at a high-end eateries,” she said while waiting for the arrival of her three friends.

Fauzieha Wan Kamaruddin, 38, said this was her first time breaking fast at Dataran Merdeka since she started working in KL more than 10 years.

“I went to the bazaar searching for Raya clothes for my 3-year-old daughter.

“Since I am already here, I thought why not experience the mass buka ouasa event with other people here,” she said.

Meanwhile, Kanae Mizuno, 31, from Japan, said this was her second time taking part in Iftar@KL.

“My friend invited me to join them last year, so I came.

By Kalbana Perimbanayagam and Teoh Pei Ying.

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Sharp Malaysia hosts PM, minister at smart interactive classroom

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

GEORGETOWN: In the spirit of promoting 21st century education, Sharp Electronics (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Sharp) recently hosted Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Minister of Education, Dr Maszlee Malik at its smart interactive classroom in Penang.

“Sharp’s smart education solutions comprising interactive whiteboards and engaging education content allow educators to present lessons in an engaging way to help improve retention and interest among students. This approach caters to a wide range of learning styles be it visual, auditory, reading, writing, or kinesthetic.

“Our smart technology is poised to upgrade classrooms from traditional blackboards to dust-free screens that present multiple functions for teaching and learning when paired with user-friendly teaching applications. These functions include quick answering, work comparing, screen broadcasting, and brain storming, among others. The result is a highly engaged classroom where students play a more active role in taking ownership of their lessons and the overall learning process,” said Sharp managing director, Robert Wu.

Tun Dr Mahathir shared a light moment listening to the chatter of young students at Sharp’s Smart Interactive Classroom. At the same time, Dr Maszlee witnessed a young group of tech-savvy preschoolers interact with an artificial intelligent educational robot at Sharp’s Smart Kindergarten area. The designated smart education areas showcased Sharp’s dedication to champion 21st century learning.

Sharp recently announced its debut in the smart education solution sphere through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Eduspec Holdings Berhad (Eduspec), an integrated education solutions provider. The strategic partnership is poised to benefit the local education sector as it aims to equip 100 classrooms across Malaysia with smart education solutions comprising advanced digital tools, software and interactive educational content, directly elevating the education experience in schools and campuses nationwide.

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What is A Levels

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

A-LEVEL is a pre-university programme offered in Malaysia that’s based on the UK education system. Otherwise known as GCE Advanced Level, you can take this course after completing your SPM and before pursuing a degree at university.

How long does it take?

The programme is 15 to 24 months long, depending on when you start your studies. It is 100pc exam-based. Unlike  SPM where students usually take 9 subjects, you only need to take a minimum of 3 subjects.

Students whose English is average or below average will find the A levels tough. It requires you to analyse and apply logical thinking when answering exam questions.

You will also find that the learning material is more in-depth compared to other courses, such as Australian Matriculation (SAM/AUSMAT). In fact, many A-Level graduates say they have an easier time completing their first year in university compared to their peers!

A-Level consists of two parts:

(i) Advanced Subsidiary (or better known as AS Level), and

(ii) A2 Level

AS Level is the first half of the programme and forms the foundation of A-Level. A2 Level is the second part of the syllabus, covering more complex topics in the subjects that you have chosen.

You will typically take exams at the end of each level, with each level contributing 50pc towards your final grade. That is to say, 50pc from AS exams and 50% from A2 exams.

Your final results will be a grade of A* to E for each subject taken. The maximum score is A*A*A* for 3 subjects, and A*A*A*A* for 4 subjects.

Why take the A Levels?

(a) A-Level is recognised by many universities worldwide

A-Level is a widely accepted entry qualification into universities in UK, Australia , New Zealand, Singapore, etc

(b) It keeps your options open

While Foundation programmes may limit you to certain degrees at certain universities, A-Level allows you to pursue a wide range of degrees upon successful completion.

(c) It gives you deep knowledge in your chosen subjects

(d) Instead of having to juggle with five or six subjects, A-Level allows you to focus on only a few subjects and gain in-depth knowledge in your chosen subjects.

(e)  There is a wide range of A-Level resources available

Materials such as past year papers, marking schemes and revision questions are readily available everywhere for A-Level. Your college will supplement you with sufficient resources for your exam, but if you don’t think it’s enough, the internet is filled with resources for you to go through!

Who should take the A Levels.

  • If you are academically-inclined with an analytical and inquisitive mind
  • If you prefer 100pc exam-based assessment
  • If you are looking to gain in-depth knowledge in a few subjects, as opposed to studying a wide variety of subjects
  • If you are looking to pursue competitive degrees (e.g. Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry) or aiming to gain entry into top tier universities, especially in the UK

Who should NOT take A-Level.

  • If you dislike being assessed based only on exams
  • If you prefer classroom interaction, coursework and assignments

If you plan to pursue degrees such as Hospitality & Tourism, Architecture and Design that are more practical-oriented

Remember that A-Level is considered one of the more academically challenging courses, due to its focus on analysis and application of knowledge.

As such, although most colleges require you to have at least 5 credits (1 credit is a C or above) at SPM or equivalent However, it recommended that you have at least 5Bs, with good grades in Math and English.

What Subjects Should You Choose For A-Level?

Practical Tips to Choosing Your A-Level Subjects

Choosing your subjects can be difficult, as many colleges in Malaysia offer a variety of subjects and combinations. Some subjects open doors to more degrees and professions than others, so it is important that you choose the right ones.

As a guide, here are some tips on how to choose your A-Level subjects:

(i) Choose subjects that you will likely enjoy – When a particular topic interests you, it becomes less of a chore to study. Also, it is always easier to excel at something when you enjoy doing it.

(ii) Choose subjects that suit your strength – Every subject is unique and involves a different skill set. Some subjects require creativity or essay writing, while others may challenge your analytical and critical thinking skills. To do well in this programme, play to your strengths!

(iii) Choose subjects that you need to enter a particular degree / career path.

If you already have an idea of the university degree you would like to pursue after A-Level, here is a list of degrees with the recommended subjects.

Choice of subjects

Degree Recommended subject
Accounting, Business,Economics, Finance Accounting, Law, Business, Mathematics,Economics
Actuarial Science Mathematics,Economics,Physics, Law
Biochemistry, Biomedical Science, Nutrition Chemistry, Biology,Mathematics,  Physics
Computer Science Physics, Mathematics
Engineering Chemistry, Mathematics, Physics
Law Mathematics, Economics, Law,

English Literature, Accounting


Dentistry & Pharmacy

Physics, Chemistry,Biology

What If You Have Completely No Idea What You Want to Study?

If you studied Science subjects in SPM and scored good grades, choose Mathematics and Chemistry, and either Biology or Physics. This will keep your options open and allow you to pursue a wide range of degrees upon successful completion of your A-Level.

Should You Take 3 Subjects or 4 Subjects?

It is usually recommended you take 3 subjects instead of 4 subjects, since it is always better to focus and concentrate on fewer subjects. In fact, most universities only require you to take 3 subjects.

However, if you are planning to study abroad and aiming to get into top tier universities (especially in the UK), there are times where it may be advantageous to take 4 subjects.

Where Can You Study A-Levels in Malaysia?

A-Level is generally offered at private colleges and selected MARA colleges in Malaysia. There are many colleges offering A levels in West Malaysia. However, if you intend to study in Sabah, check-out the colleges that offer A Levels

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Burden of proof means few paedophiles are convicted.

Saturday, May 25th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: It is an uphill task for underage victims of sexual abuse to seek justice despite the enactment of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 due to the demanding nature of the legal process, say children’s rights advocates.

PS The Children executive director Mariza Abdulkadir said the challenge in obtaining tangible evidence was one reason behind the low conviction rate of paedophiles.

“That’s because in most cases, a police report is not made immediately when abuse happens,” she said.

She added that due to the sensitive nature of the particular crime, it is procedurally difficult to even charge a perpetrator.

“The conviction rate is dismally low even in countries like the United Kingdom and the United States, the reason being the nature of these cases.

“Many times, the victims are re-traumatised in the process as well,” she said.

Independent child advocate Madeleine Yong said the current law simply requires “too much evidence to be in place” before a suspect can be charged.

“Children need medical proof to prove they have been raped, such as a physical tear. They also need corroborative evidence,” she said.

It is even more challenging for victims of sexual molestation to seek justice due to the lack of physical evidence, Yong added.

“For molestation, the child has to testify and to testify as a child witness, the system at present needs to be sped up and simplified.

“Molestation is really difficult. The younger the victim is, the worse it is,” she said.

Yong noted that underage molestation cases, particularly those involving preschool children and children with special needs, are much more challenging due to the need for them to be questioned by the authorities.

“The procedure to deal with sexual assault cases needs to be sped up and based on the best interest of the child,” she said.

Over the years, child advocates have been vocal against the previous government’s decision to place national sex abuse statistics under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).

Last year, Suriana Welfare Society executive director Scott Wong highlighted the fact that many Malaysians were ignorant of the sexual exploitation of children, while pointing out that the OSA placed on the official statistics hampered efforts to address the issue.In an interview with The Star last Sep­tember, Deputy Women, Family and Com­munity Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said removing the sex abuse statistics from the OSA would be her priority.

Meanwhile, Mariza said while such statistics should be made available to the public, it was also imperative to create public awareness on the topic so that such cases could be prevented in future.

“The release of statistics won’t lead to any substantial changes. Education and awareness will. I believe in educating the public and I believe the media can help do that,” she said

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VIPs cook ‘royal’ bubur lambuk

Saturday, May 25th, 2019
All together now: Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) with (second from left) Yeoh and the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rose Lena Lazemi (second from right) stirring the bubur lambuk with the centre’s residents during the visit to Darul Hanan care centre in Pongsu Seribu. — Bernama

All together now: Dr Wan Azizah (third from right) with (second from left) Yeoh and the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Dr Rose Lena Lazemi (second from right) stirring the bubur lambuk with the centre’s residents during the visit to Darul Hanan care centre in Pongsu Seribu. — Bernama

KEPALA BATAS: Folk at the Darul Hanan care centre were treated to an authentic royal recipe of bubur lambuk that few have tasted.

The recipe, which comes from the Pahang palace, was used to whip up the savoury porridge for the home’s 70 residents.

It took two large pots, each containing 10kg of rice mixed with a smorgasbord of herbs and ingredients.

“There are Spanish mackerel (tenggiri), prawns, chicken and beef in it.

Jahara said Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar was scheduled to join in but could not make it following the passing of former Sultan of Pahang, Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mu’adzam Shah.

“We decided to go ahead and not disappoint the folk here,” Jahara said, adding that the Pahang palace supplied the recipe.

Among those who helped keep the delicious preparation stirring for over an hour yesterday was Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

She was helped by her deputy in the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Hannah Yeoh, Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman and Penang Women, Family Development and Gender Inclusiveness Committee chairman Chong Eng.

Jahara hopes more visitors will drop by the centre to spend time with its 22 male and 48 female residents.

“We have physiotherapy, spa, gym, farms and gardens here, with 28 staff members. But all the resort-like facility in this quiet place is no match for human cheers and laughter, and the old folk need more company to share stories with,” she said, adding that the RM1.1mil annual expenses of the home are supported by Penang Zakat Management Centre.

After a tour of the centre, Dr Wan Azizah said the government would look into upgrading the massage chairs and help it get lawn-mowing equipment to save the cost of hiring outsiders to do the job.

By Lo Tern Chern

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