Archive for May, 2019

Plastic waste is at disposal facility, not dumped indiscriminately

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019
The plastic waste allegedly found near a wasteland in Ipoh, Perak, as reported by BBC, is in fact sitting on a disposal facility. (NSTP/ABDULLAH YUSOF)

PORT KLANG: The plastic waste allegedly found near a wasteland in Ipoh, Perak, as reported by BBC, is in fact sitting on a disposal facility.

Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the claims by the British news portal was investigated after a report surfaced that TV presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall had discovered a 20-ft high mound of plastic waste deep in the jungle of Perak.

“The waste found in Perak originated from Kuala Langat (Selangor) as landowners who rented out their plots have to clear their properties off the illegal waste.

“We shut down the illegal plastic recycling factories and the waste was sent to the disposal facility to be disposed, at the expense of the landowners.

“Yes, the report is right. The waste is from United Kingdom but it is at a disposal facility. Landowners are doing so as their plots will be confiscated by the state government under the National Land Code if they do not clear the land and revert it to its original status,” she said today in a press conference at Westports Malaysia.

Yeo said she was in contact with the British High Commission to discuss matters related to waste disposal.

“It is waste from the United Kingdom but it is the Malaysian government that has to ensure that it is disposed properly. I am already in touch with the High Commission to seek ways to move forward in terms of cost, machinery, capacity building and more. We will collaborate and assist each other to ensure this does not happen again,” she added.

Daily Mail Online had reported on the environmental catastrophe, describing it as “it has the fingerprints of British supermarkets and council recycling departments” all over it.

“It’s like some dystopian nightmare… a plastic planet,” Hugh who is also a celebrity chef was quoted as saying.

According to the same report, Hugh also spotted British local authority-branded recycling bags which, he said, had suggested that householders dutifully filling their green bins in the belief they were helping the environment have been lied to.

Hugh pulled out countless plastic bags and packaging from M&S, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Waitrose.

By Dawn Chan.

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SIDMA College distributes bubur lambuk throughout Ramadan Month

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019


Dr Morni presenting the bubur lambuk to Sembulan Fire Station.

KOTA KINABALU: Throughout the month of Ramadan, various public agencies, private sectors, non-governmental organisations as well as individuals are grabbing the opportunities to distribute alms in many places – SIDMA College Sabah is one of them.

SIDMA College has been distributing bubur lambuk to Masjid Bandaraya, Masjid Negeri, Masjid Kg. Sembulan, and Penampang Fire Station as well as Penampang Police Station since the first day of Ramadan.

According to the Director and Founder of SIDMA College Sabah, Prof Dr Morni Kambrie, the programme is able to be conducted successfully as the college received contributions from individuals as well as organisations.

“SIDMA college is very grateful for the sincere contributions that have been given,” said Dr Morni in his speech after handing over breaking of fast meals at Kota Kinabalu District Headquarters here recently.

He said, the history of distributing bubur lambuk has started since 20 years ago in SIDMA College Sarawak and the tradition has been carried out in Kota Kinbalu since the establishment of SIDMA College Sabah in 2003.

“A total of three pots will be provided daily where students who do not have any lecture classes on that day will come and help prepare the porridge. The porridge will then be distributed to the public at the mosques after Asar prayers,” said Dr Morni.

“This yearly activity has given the staffers of SIDMA College an opportunity to do charity works which generate the spirit of giving and helping those in need, and to draw closer to Allah SWT, besides instilling a sense of gratitude with His various gifts,” he added.

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IB: Another Pre-U programme in Malaysia

Tuesday, May 28th, 2019

We are used to hearing STPM, Govt Matriculation, UEC, A Levels, Foundation Programme, etc.  There are also other Pre-u courses offered in Malaysia, such as the IB. Since it is offered locally let us find out more about IB.

What is IB?
International Baccalaureate (or its full name, International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, sometimes known as IBDP or just IB) is a Pre-University programme from Geneva, Switzerland.

It prepares SPM or O-Level leavers for entry into a Degree at university.

The course is approximately 24 months long, and is known to be an academically challenging and demanding course, requiring you to take a wide range of subjects across various disciplines.

How Is IB Structured?

IB is one of the more academically-challenging programmes that is often compared to A-Level, but is viewed as more balanced and well-rounded.

You will take a total of six subjects, one each from the following six broad groups:

Group 1:  Language and Literature

(e.g. English)

Group 2: Language Acquisition

(e.g. Spanish, German, French)

Group 3:  Individuals and Societies

(e.g. Economics,  Geography, History)

Group 4:  Sciences

(e.g. Biology, Chemistry, Physics)

Group 5:  Mathematics

(e.g. Mathematics, Mathematics Studies)

Group 6:  The Arts

(e.g. Music, Theatre Arts, Visual Arts)

Within each of the subject groups above, you have a choice of choosing either Higher Level (HL) or Standard Level (SL).

Higher Level (HL) subjects normally require more studying time (total 240 hours of classes) compared to Standard Level (SL) subjects (total 150 hours of classes).

In total, you need to take three subjects at Higher Level (HL), and three at Standard Level (SL).

In addition, you must also complete the following courses, often known as the three core components of the IB programme:

(1) Theory of Knowledge (TOK)

This is an interdisciplinary course, linking all six subject groups. It is intended to promote critical and creative thinking on knowledge gained, both inside and outside of the classroom. You will be assessed based on a 1,200 – 1,600 word essay and presentation.

2) Extended Essay

This component encourages independent research skills.

You will be required to produce a 4,000-word research paper in a topic of your own choice based on any of the IB subjects studied.

3) Creativity, Action, Service (CAS)

This component teaches you to engage and collaborate with others and the local community through:

Creativity:  Arts, music, writing and other experiences that involve creative thinking

Action:  Physical activities, such as training or learning a new sport

Service:  Unpaid and voluntary work for the community

You are expected to clock in at least 150 hours for projects under this component.

How Will You Be Graded?

You will be graded on a combination of internal assessment, final exams plus the IB core components.

Why Should You Take IBDP?

Here are some of the reasons and benefits of taking the International Baccalaureate (IB) programme.

1) Promotes critical and independent thinking

IB isn’t just about passing exams. With its unique Theory of Knowledge component and continuous internal assessment, the IB curriculum will help you grow to be a critical and independent thinker, encouraging you to ask challenging questions and perform research.

2) Balanced and well-rounded programme

IB requires you to cover a full range of subjects, including foreign language, sciences and art, in addition to creative and physical activities, as well as community service.

This will give you a more well-rounded perspective, ensuring that you are active intellectually, physically and emotionally.

3) Recognised by many universities worldwide

The IB is accepted by over 100 countries worldwide, so you will not have to worry about having an unrecognised qualification once you’ve completed this course.

While universities used to have higher entry requirements for IB, many universities worldwide are now more familiar with this programme, and are making realistic offers to students who choose to take IB.

Who Is IBDP For?

You should consider taking IBDP if:

You are an all-rounder and enjoy learning subjects across a broad spectrum covering language, arts, science and humanities

You are able to multitask and manage your time well, juggling academic studies and other activities, such as creative pursuits and community service

You are prepared to take up a challenging and demanding course

What Subjects Should YouChoose For IBDP?

The most common subjects that are available at IB programmes in Malaysia are:

Group                                                  Subjects

Language and  Literature                    English, Malay

Language Acquisition                          Malay, Mandarin, French, Spanish

Individuals and Societies                     Geography, History, Economics, Business and Management, Psychology

Sciences                                              Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Systems & Societies

Mathematics                                         Mathematics, Mathematical   Studies

The Arts                                                Visual Arts, Theatre Arts, Music and Film

Remember that you will be required to take 6 subjects, one from each group. However, for The Arts group, you may opt to study an additional subject under Sciences, Individuals and Societies, or Languages groups, instead of a subject in The Arts.

3 subjects need to be at Higher Level (HL) and another 3 subjects will need to be at Standard Level (SL).

HL subjects have more extended syllabi than SL subjects.

As a guide, here are some tips on how to choose your IB subjects:

For Higher Level subjects, choose subjects that you are good at or have a strong interest in.

For Higher Level subjects, choose subjects that are most related to your university degree.

For example, if you want to study Engineering, you should choose Physics HL and Math HL, since certain universities may demand this as an entry requirement

If you are not interested in The Arts group, you can choose to take an additional Science, Language or Individual & Societies subject that supports your interests and degree choice

For your Standard Level subjects, you can choose any subject of your choice

Where Can You Study IBDP?

IB programmes are offered at private colleges, international schools and selected MARA colleges in Malaysia

by K. Krishnan,

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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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