Archive for September, 2019

JKM-registered childcare centres to get 20% off electricity bill.

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Deputy of Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh and Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin speaking to the media in Putrajaya. – MOHD SAHAR MISNI/The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Childcare centres will get a 20% discount on their electricity bill if they are registered with the Social Welfare Department (JKM).

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh said at present, only one out of 10 childcare centres have done so.

“We believe there are about 40,000 childcare centres out there, but only 11.9% out of that have registered with JKM.

“Hopefully, this discount will encourage more centres to get themselves registered,” said Yeoh at a press conference at her ministry here on Thursday (Sept 26).


Also present was Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.

Yeoh said the ministry acknowledges that child centre operating costs can be steep – even more so with the implementation of minimum wage.

“We hope that this discount will lessen the burden of the operators, and at the same time have more childcare centres registered with JKM. Being registered allows better monitoring of such centres by the ministry, to ensure better safety and well-being of the children,” said Yeoh.

Meanwhile, Yeo said her ministry had set aside RM10mil for the purpose of giving the discount.

“This RM10mil is an estimate, should all 40,000 childcare centres come out and register. This is also part of the Incentive-Based Regulation (IBR) that we have in Peninsular Malaysia,” said Yeo.

The discount is only available to childcare centres that register themselves with JKM in Peninsular Malaysia, and the establishment must be using commercial and not residential tariffs.

The offer will last until Dec 31,2020.

Yeoh added that the government would also consider discussing with Sarawak Energy Berhad and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd to extend the discount offer to day care centres in east Malaysia.

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Print media has to adopt interesting features, digital paper is the future

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

New Straits Times Group Editor Rashid Yusof (centre) speaking to participants at a talk at Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) campus in Pekan, Pahang. -NSTP/Muhd Asyraf Sawal.

PEKAN: Print media still remains the platform for authentic news and continues to adopt old-fashioned journalism practices.

Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) Senior Publication Officer, Muhammad Azli Shukri said despite massive reforms in journalism with the emergence of social media, people still have faith in mainstream media, including newspapers to provide authorised and genuine news reports.

He said a challenge the mainstream media is facing now is to make their content attractive to entice readers and lure youngsters.

“Traditional mainstream print media still practises the five Ws and one H (who, what, when, where, why and how), so on most occasions, readers will have all their questions answered. However, social media only provides quick updates and at times, many questions are left unanswered.

“These days, news articles should be accompanied with colourful graphics which will make the presentation of a report more attractive and allow readers to have a quick read. Including videos and audio with online news articles will certainly provide readers with better understanding,” he said when met after a talk by New Straits Times Group Editor Rashid Yusof at UMP’s Pekan campus, here, today.

Azli, who handles the publication for UMP’s in house research, admitted the younger generation no longer read lengthy news articles and preferred to only understand the gist of a story.

“This is where graphics, video and audio related to a certain topic will be useful. They will watch the video, listen to the audio and read the graphics to have a quick understanding. A news report accompanied by attractive pictures, graphics, video and audio will be able to attract more readers.

“I find the print media have become more creative lately in presenting their ideas. Besides the news report, they have detailed graphics along with other opinions… a catchy front page lay-out will also be able to attract readers,” he said.

Meanwhile UMP’s Industrial Management faculty senior lecturer Dr Puteri Fadzline Muhamad Tamyez said she subscribes to the digital (Epaper) edition to keep herself updated with the latest in local and global news.

“I usually sit between meals or before going to bed to read newspapers including NST, Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia. I find my day incomplete if I do not read the digital version of the newspapers.

“I never trust social media and have even deactivated my Facebook account. News shared on social media cannot be trusted and remains unverified, and at times raise more questions than answers,” she said, adding that digital newspapers are set to become a must-subscribe in the future.

Puteri Fadzline said she is surprised that these days, both the young and old blindly share news through social media without verifying its contents.

UMP’s public relations and media officer Mimi Rabita Abdul Wahit said the campus continuously encouraged its undergraduates to cultivate a reading habit.

He said students are advised not only to read materials related to their studies but also various sources of mainstream newspapers to ensure they are kept up-to-date.

Meanwhile Rashid said it is important to continue cultivating the reading habit especially among youngsters as many seem to keep their eyes glued to their smartphones these days for updates from social media which sadly ends up as unverified news.

He also encouraged university lecturers to share their research findings in newspapers as it could help disseminate vital information to readers.

“There might be people who can benefit or find the respective piece of news on a certain topic interesting. Do not assume readers may not find it beneficial, instead share whatever gained during the study (research) and let them (readers) judge for themselves,” he said.

By TN Alagesh

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Career guidance for primary students

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

STUDENTS in the Primary schools would have completed their final examinations by now.  They are now idle.

Some do not even bother to come to school. Unless schools create activities for them, you can’t get their attention. What can schools do to keep them engaged?

Career Guidance is one of the solutions. By career guidance, it is not meant that we organise a series of talks on various careers in school. That can be boring specially for those who are not really interested in becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc.

Furthermore listening to a speaker for more than one hour can be really frustrating.

What else can we do?

Visit to Training Centres

The government is talking about blue coloured jobs. We have to get our future youths to be interested in learning skills.

Only if we start early, we will be able to see some results.

Many Training Centres have their own transport such as vans and buses. They can provide the transportation for the students to visit their centres.

Students can be taken for a tour around the campus. This is cost effective for the schools too. The training centres are also interested in publicising their courses. They want to recruit students in the future.

When you mention training centres, they can include Universities, Polytechnics, Community Colleges, Vocational Colleges, Government Training centres and private training centres.

Such field trips can encourage students to attend classes. At the same time, students can learn about various skills. They can learn about projects which are on display. This can motivate students to consider blue colour jobs as another option.

Visit to work places

Field trips can also be organised to Police stations, hotels, hospitals, banks, government departments, army camps, etc.

Students can learn about what people in various work environments do daily.

Many would not have stepped into a five-star hotel. Let them learn about careers in the hospitality industry.

This will give them a hands on experience.  When they visit police stations or army camps, they can learn about what uniformed people do daily. What equipment they work with and where they work.

While visiting they can also be taught some simple skills such as working in a restaurant, hospital or army camp.

Invite skill based people to come to school

There are many retired people and people who are still in service.

They may have various skills such as making handicrafts, growing flowers, making cakes, tailoring, grooming, drawing, painting, etc.  They can come and demonstrate their skills to students.

When students see and do some of these activities hands-on, they will appreciate those skills.  If they take an interest in those skills, they may want to pursue a course when they grow up. These students are never going to be exposed to these skills on their own.  Their parents may not have the time to teach them. The best place is to introduce learning about skills in school.

Talent shows

The best time to organise concerts, talent shows, competitions, food fair and jumble sale is when students are free.

If they have no exams to worry about, organise activities for them.

Teach them the skills of organising on their own. Let them plan and execute on their own. Students who have creative talents can take part in the shows and win prizes. Students who take part in food fair can learn how to cook various dishes.

They can sell their food and donate to the school. Along the way, students learn about business skills too.  Other than demonstrating their skills they also learn to work with others.

They have to give and take while organising an event.  Above all they learn team building.

Dollars and cents

Yes when organising activities for students, the teachers and counsellors have to spend a lot of time and energy.

Not all would want to sacrifice their precious time. But, it is a culture you are building in your school.  If the activities are successful, the students will no doubt appreciate the teachers and what they do for them.

As for money matters, the teachers need to work with universities, training centres, colleges, hotels and various other organisations to absorb the cost.

If you don’t try you are not going to know. There are many training centres which will come forward to assist you.

You can also tap the Labor Office, Human Resource Departments, Multi-National companies, etc.  You can also try your local Aduns, Politicians for assistance. Last but not least, you can talk to your PIBG for financial assistance.

Career Tips

If students know that they are going to do exciting things in the school, they will definitely not miss school. In fact they will look forward to come to school.

Give it a try. If you are a teacher in the primary schools and if you have tried some new activities, drop me line. We can share your experience with other teachers.

Q and A

If you have a question write to:

by R. Krishnan

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149kg rubbish collected in Labuan cleanup event

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

LABUAN: Some 149kg of rubbish was collected during JCI Labuan’s annual beach cleanup held in conjunction with the World Cleanup Day last Saturday.

The event commenced with more than 500 people of all ages coming together to help clean up the Tanjung Purun Beach.

Numerous OGA, NGOs, private sectors, schools and uniform bodies also took part in the event.

Additionally, 5Rs (Recycle, Reduce, Refuse, Reuse, Rot) booths on Waste Management were set up and a children colouring contest was organised simultaneously to create environmental awareness amongst the general public at Labuan International Sea Sports Complex during the day.

According the Organising Chairperson Caris Teo, JCI Labuan is focusing more on creating environmental awareness this year and also targeting children to instill good waste management practice at a young age.

Invited speakers from the Fisheries Department and environmentalist Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma shared their knowledge in the importance of preserving the environment.

Young children were also engaged in Q&A sessions to indirectly sow awareness into them.

The 5Rs booths attracted a large number of visitors throughout the day.

The public were invited to bring recyclable wastes collected and sorted at home to the recycle booth set up by Tzu Chi Foundation.

With the help from Leo Club of UMSKAL, Lions Club Labuan Host and the public, a astounding total of 760kg of paper products, 3.8kg of aluminium cans, 8.4kg of steel cans, and 4kg of plastic bottles were collected. This event successfully involved partnerships and collaborations from numerous government agencies, NGOs and private business entities.

JCI Labuan expresses their utmost gratitude to all the sponsors and supports from the following organisation for making this a historical and memorable event.

By: Iffah Dilaney.

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Special award for Most Supportive Man at Women’s Day ‘do’

Wednesday, September 25th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU:  The Sabah Advisory Women’s Council (MPWS) has decided to present an inaugural special award to a man who has helped women’s careers and development, including upholding their rights, at this year’s State-level Women’s Day celebration on Oct. 23.

“It is high time that men who support women be appreciated by giving this ‘Anugerah Khas’ (Gender Balance Award) to those who had given full support to women in several aspects including moral, facilities, finance and related matters,” said new Chairperson Datuk Noni J. Said (pic).

“We decided to introduce this special award in line with the theme of the celebration of  ‘Balance For Better’ and to show that men and women need to help and support each other to go forward and achieve excellence.

“But of course, only one man will be decided for this special award after scrutinising candidates submitted by anyone who fits three criteria, namely

1) Best personality supporting women and family in workplace;

2) Fostering gender equality in the workplace; and

3) Practising a charter against violence and sexual harassment against women,” she said.

Noni disclosed this at a press conference after a luncheon talk “MPWS Meet the Media” here, Tuesday, where the new line-up of MPWS and Sabah Women’s Affairs Department (Jhewa) were made known as well as their functions and roles.

Noni said the public can nominate suitable names which should include information on his background and achievements when nominating for the special award to Jhewa’s office at Wisma Wanita.

The other four awards are “Anugerah Tokoh Wanita”, “Anugerah Wanita Cemerlang”, Excellence Women Association Award and Excellence Women Entrepreneur Award.

All nominations must be sent to Jhewa before Oct 5.

“The criteria for Anugerah Tokoh Wanita and Excellence Woman Award is that she must be a Malaysian aged 35 onwards, originate from Sabah or has resided in Sabah for 15 years.

“The candidate must be involved in more than any one of the following fields of work and service like education, social work, women’s organisation, business, corporate sector, research, literature, art, sports, government, and professional, among others.,

“The candidate must has achieved advancement in her field of work in the midst of economic, social or professional challenges and possess qualities that make her a role model for women in the State,” Noni said.

According to her, the Excellence Women Association Award is to give recognition to Women Associations which have contributed excellently, especially in women development and society as a whole.

Those selected would be based on the following criterion, namely association’s organisational structure, number of members, frequency of the Committee Meeting and compliance to the date of Annual General Meeting in accordance to the association’s constitutions, financial status of the association, internal and external activities of the association, and contributions towards women socio-economic development.

The Excellence Women Entrepreneurs Award is to recognise their participation and contribution in economic development to show that women could be icons and an inspiration in the field of business.

“The criterion for Excellence Women Entrepreneurs Award is that the business must be initiated or started by a woman or women, must be fully or majority owned by a woman or women, the nominee or applicant must be the Chief Decision Maker or Managing Director or CEO and the nominee or applicant must be a Sabahan or hold a Permanent Resident for at least 15 years.

“The applicant’s business must be home grown, registered, located and operating in Sabah and the business has flourished or extended beyond Sabah would be an advantage.

“Also the business must in operation for at least three years with audited financial statements for the last three years or financial statements for the last three years submitted to Inland Revenue Board (IRB) and the applicant must have a good track record in business.”

To a question, Noni said all these five special and excellence awards provide cash prizes worth about RM60,000 and other side such as trophies and certificates on the awards.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal would be the Guest of Honour at the event at Magellan Sutera Harbour on Oct 23.

She said MPWS would be organising a roundtable discussion on sex-disaggregated data and gender analysis matter (s) in advancing gender inclusion so as to get data and statistic on number of women on certain aspects so that we have facts when we want to show concern that need to be addressed.

“There will also be a seminar on responsibilities of parents towards their children and on social issues, talks and visits to Taman Seri Puteri, conducting ‘Majlis Jalinan Mesra’ with NGOs especially women organisations, press conferences, interview by RTM TV and RTM Radio.

“We will also continue with the legal literacy programs so that women in Sabah continue to be exposed with their rights and know what to do,” she said.

MPWS would also organise a short story competition on untold stories or unsung heroes on achievement and struggles of women as well as how they face challenges in life and a new competition of short videos for two-minute each on challenges and success of women.

She said the winners for the two competitions would be decided by the MPWS Wanita and Media committee’s and the cash prizes would be given on Oct 23.

By: Hayati Dzulkifli.

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SIDMA College Supporting Secondary Schools Students English Mastery

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

Since English has been given the status as the “Second Official Language” in Malaysian school curriculum, thus the language must be taught effectively in all schools so that Malaysian who have undergone the national education system are able to communicate in the language (Asmah, 1981).

SIDMA College Sabah shares the concern about the poor grasp of English among students in Malaysian primary and secondary schools, and constantly follow and appreciate the various initiatives implemented by Ministry of Education (MoE) to ensure that Malaysian students excel further to become globally competitive, as stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB 2015 – 2025).

However much has to be said about the poor grasp of the language among students in Malaysian primary and secondary schools students More often than not, the low level of English language proficiency is associated with teachers’ ability and competency to teach the subject. According to Associate Professor Dr Hanifa Hassan; Chairperson of the Language Academy, University Technology Malaysia’s (UiTM) Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities; it is important for teachers to note that teaching is not stagnant, but dynamic, and has resulted in multiple perspective in the teaching and learning of English as a second language.

“Fundamentally, Bahasa Malaysia is accepted to unite the culturally multilingual society of the Malaysians; on the other hand, English language has a functional role because of its use as an international language of communication in the economy, thus, demonstrating its pervasive influence through its role in the education system. Language has to be communicated for learners to achieve competency; therefore, it is pertinent for Malaysian English language learners to overcome language anxiety so as to enable them to participate actively and meaningfully in language classes and be competent in the English language.”(Darmi, R., & Albion, P., 2013)

On 13th of September 2019, SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah Final year students taking Bachelor of Education (mainly those majoring in English), organized a Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) for 140 Form 1 students of SMK Taman Tun Fuad, Kota Kinabalu. The event was part of SIDMA’s initiatives to complement and supplement MoE’s on-going and existing programmes to improve the standard of English amongst Malaysian students.

Nester Duncan, English-majoring final year Education student, President of the HIP, together with 38 other final year Education students, and being assisted by a team of English lecturers namely: Miss Audrey Gee, Mr Bryan Oliver Cabalce, Miss Rachell Maycy and Miss Florence Ajadap who acted as the advisory committee: together organized a fun-based activities for the 140 students to immerse fully in English. All the 38 members acted as facilitators to implement the activities. The HIP comprises of 10 stations with 10 different games for the students. The games created was aimed on increasing the students’ speaking proficiency as requested by the teachers. Here, Nester Duncan and his team designed games that will require students to communicate with one another as they progress from one station to the other.

Nester Duncan, through his welcoming address, among other things, motivated the students to communicate freely in English without hesitation with their friends as well as the facilitators throughout the activities. He hoped that through such initiative, students are empowered to communicate to their friends using English, and hopefully able to cultivate their interest to use English in their daily communication.

The HIP was themed the “Game of Thrones” in which the students were divided into groups and the group that managed to complete the most stations will be able to win the throne. The students were first divided into 10 groups and they were sent to their respective stations. Upon the completion of their task at the station, they were then given a secret word. After they have completed the task, the students then moved to the next station. There was a total of 10 stations and a total of 10 secret words in which students need to gather all of it in order to be able to create a story at the end. The students were then told to present their story. The winner will be chosen based on the creativity of the story and the tasks that they have managed to complete earlier on.

In his closing speech, Nester also thanked SMK Taman Tun Fuad for giving SIDMA College the opportunity to communicate to its students. Madam Nancy from SMK Taman Tun Fuad was thrilled with the programme that was held by the SIDMA students and expresses her gratitude to the rest of the team. According to her the students, were having so much fun and they even converse with each other in English. The principal, Mr Kassim bin Wiro, apologized for not being able to join the closing ceremony but expressed his welcome and gratitude towards the team from SIDMA College for their effort to help the students.

Prof Dr Morni Kambrie, SIDMA Chairman and Founder, who was in away for another official event, congratulated Nester Duncan and all the final year students for the successful implementation of the event. He hoped the students should be ever willing to use the knowledge and skills learn to assist students to empower their learning and thus able to excel in the future.

For more information on how SIDMA College can improve your competitiveness in tertiary study in Foundation Programme, Diploma, Degree or Master’s Level, you are encouraged to apply online by visiting SIDMA College Website or to call our hotline number 088-732 000 or 088-732 020, or through fax @ 088-732 015 or 088-732 019. Potential students are welcomed to visit us at SIDMA College UNIRAZAK Sabah, Jalan Bundusan, 88300 KOTA KINABALU.

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SIDMA College Sabah Sukan MASISWA Sabah Zone 2019 First Runner Up

Tuesday, September 24th, 2019

SIDMA College Sabah captured four gold and one bronze during the recent Sukan MASISWA Sabah Zone 2019. During the event, SIDMA College Sabah won Gold in Women’s futsal, Women’s volleyball, netball and Men’s badminton singles (Andree Chin Yi Thsung) while the bronze was from Amiley Mark Lee and Maxelvin Berimbun in the Men’s badminton doubles. However, University College Sabah Foundation managed to capture four gold, one silver and one bronze; thus managed to capture the overall championship title of the tournament followed closely with a different of only single silver with SIDMA College Sabah.

The event held from 20-22 September 2019 at Kota Kinabalu Sports Complex and Tun Adnan Sports Complex (Sabah Foundation) participated by an estimated 1,000 athletes representing the 19 competing private institutions of higher learning in Sabah. The 19 colleges that participated the event are SIDMA Sabah, University College Sabah Foundation, North Borneo University College, Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, Kolej Teknikal Yayasan Sabah, Kiara College, Asian Tourism International College, Institut Sinaran, Geomatika College Keningau, Inti College Sabah, Asia Metropolitan College Kota Kinabalu, Almacrest International College, MSU College Sabah, Cosmopoint College Kota Kinabalu, Eastern College Sabah, Kinabalu Commercial College, Kolej I-Systems Kota Kinabalu, Mahsa College, and AMC College.

During the event, the organiser; Asia Metropolitan College Kota Kinabalu introduced two new sports category namely E-Sport and Aero-dance in addition to the seven other sports such as badminton, volleyball, tenpin bowling, futsal, sepak takraw, chess and netball.

The tournament was brought to a close by the Sabah Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Phoong Jin Zhe. His speech during the closing ceremony was delivered by his political secretary, Mr Henry Shim. According to Mr Phoong, the Sabah Zone MASISWA Sports Carnival have provided the opportunities for all athletes from the different institutions of higher learnings in Sabah to continue in their sporting talent and careers, enabling them to excel and thus able to represent and compete  at national and international level in one’ respective sports discipline.

He added that sports play an important role in our life as it keeps us healthy, and increase our ability to always stay active and resilient; thus enabling us to overcome obstacles and to achieve our dreamt future.

Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (SIDMA Chairman and Founder); and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican, (CEO) when met expressed their satisfaction with the athletes performances despite the fact that college doesn’t have a sport field for them to do the necessary daily training. They too congratulated the Students Affairs Department (STAD), Students Representative Council (MPM), coaches and lecturers in continuing taking the necessary initiatives to ensure that the students continue to enjoy their sporting routines so that they will excel both in studies and sports, and the college will continue to sponsor potential students to participate or compete in any national or international competition.

Congratulations to all athletes!!

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Coding in national schools

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

StarEdu speaks to the Education Ministry’s curriculum development division to understand how much students learn about coding and programming in national schools.

WHEN the implementation of khat, or Jawi calligraphy, became a national issue, many raised their concerns over the matter.

Among them include questions on why our schoolchildren are learning calligraphy and not ‘beneficial’ subjects such as coding.

To this, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said coding has been introduced in schools since 2016, starting with Year Six.

While Australia and Thailand will be introducing coding into their school curriculum from next year, Education Ministry curriculum development division director Dr Mohamed Abu Bakar said it isn’t something new for Malaysia.

“We’ve had it in our curriculum for years.

“Coding elements were present in the old curriculum but with very minute details of the topic. We beefed it up in the new curriculum to keep up with technology and current trends.
Click on graphic to view details

Click on graphic to view details

“Coding demands skills like computational thinking, problem solving skills, creativity and innovation among students.

“We want them to develop higher order thinking skills and come up with products through their coding and programming knowledge.

“The focus here is for them to write coding instructions for things like robotic components and applications, ” he said.

Mohamed said elements of coding are also present in science subjects through project-based learning, though minimal.

“The division is exploring how we can expand its coverage in the Sciences.

“The future of sciences, such as medicine, is changing where digital equipment are ubiquitous and pervasive, so we must keep up with what’s new.

“We have to also be on par with other countries and look at how they cover coding and programming in their syllabus, ” he said.

Explaining further, Mohamed said the division looked at the United Kingdom, United States (US) and Singapore’s curriculum on coding as reference.

Training the teachers and being proactive.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is one of the ministry’s service providers, Mohamed said, adding that they provide training to teachers and budget for developing modules for schools.

“Our division also conducts teacher training sessions, with our own experts and those from universities.

“It’s an ongoing and on-the-job effort, ” he added.

What can students do with school-level knowledge on coding?

Create websites, solve problems using computer systems and computer languages and more.

What students learn in school, Mohamed said, will give them a basic understanding if they choose to study courses like Engineering in university.

“It also depends on the teachers and students, if they are creative enough to explore on their own.

“Some schools are active in participating in robotic competitions.

“For students to be well-versed in the subject matter, schools must prepare them and keep in tandem with what’s happening in the real world.

“When students leave school, we want them to be prepared not just for tertiary education but to enter the workforce.

“Depending on their capabilities and interests, some school leavers may join the workforce right after school.

“If they enter fields like the automotive industry, with the basic knowledge they have from our curriculum, they will likely need just about five to six months of industry training to have fully functioning knowledge in the area. So it does not necessarily mean that you must go through years of tertiary education to be successful.”

Malaysian students have always been active participants in coding and robotics based competitions, Mohamed said.

In 2017, during the Hour of Code campaign, Mohamed said Malaysia had the highest number of students who joined the session, outside the US, with over 40,000 participants.

Two years ago, under the new Secondary School Standards-Based Curriculum (KSSM) for lower secondary students, the ministry introduced two subjects called Basic Computer Science and Design and Technology.

Students are given the option to learn either one of the subjects.

Mohamed explained that coding in Design and Technology is applied in electronic and mechatronic topics through the use of microcontrollers.

Basic Computer Science, he said, focuses on the use of coding in different programming languages such as Scratch, HTML and Python in problem solving and projects.

“At the upper secondary level, Forms Four and Five students can further study coding in subjects such as computer science, invention or engineering and vocational related subjects as elective subjects, ” he added.

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Dr Maszlee Malik talks about reforms in the higher education sector.

Sunday, September 22nd, 2019

Maszlee speaks with students during a recent town hall session held at the UiTM Puncak Alam campus.

“IF your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat LastIn leadership, there are three critical aspects:

a) Firstly, the importance of doing because people learn best from the example that leaders set;

b) Secondly, the importance of learning because great leaders are always learning from others and trying to take things to greater heights; and

c) Thirdly, the importance of dreaming because all great leaders need to have a dream – a vision and mission that allows them to go beyond the self. Our dreams must give our lives and the work that we do true meaning.

At the ministry, we have embarked on three core areas of much-needed reform in Higher Learning Education. Number one, we are reinvigorating the spirit of the university through empowerment, autonomy and integrity. Number two, we are bringing Malaysia’s Higher Education system into Global Prominence. Number three, we are developing future-proof graduates that carry with them crucial humanistic values.

Autonomy and integrity

What does it mean to empower universities? It means that we want universities to be a place of learning, a place where knowledge is explored, uplifted and imparted. Universities are, and should be, places that uplift society, be it through values, ideas, or solutions for real world problems.

This is why we are committed to bringing back university autonomy as well as to ensure the integrity of academia. I personally believe in the power of individuals – in their creative genius and ability to thrive and be responsible.

New students moving into campus with the help of family members.New students moving into campus with the help of family members.

One of the first things that the Education Ministry has done in crystalising this idea is to repeal a section of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA). Students’ Committees are allowed to conduct their own campus elections, assisting them to form students’ unions so that they can grow into leaders in the truest sense – by bringing in new ideas, ideals and a reimagination of how society can progress.

The government is also working to ensure the highest level of integrity in our academia, including improvising corporate governance, appointing eminent figures as members of our Vice-Chancellor Selection Committee to select only the best to become Vice-Chancellors of the public universities and have formed the Committee on Integrity in Higher Education.

For members of our academia, we are working to amend Act 605 governing statutory bodies to give lecturers their much-needed academic freedom. These amendments will give lecturers the freedom to publish articles and make public statements including on previously perceived “sensitive” topics. We are even looking into critical matters that come with freedom – that is, academic integrity and ethical conduct.

In that respect, academics are free to enjoy the fruits of their labour and also be accountable for their behaviour. I have personally met our Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad about this and we are in discussions with the Public Service Commission to exempt members of the academia from restrictions placed upon the civil service, and to add unto them certain guidance to ensure their level of academia and scholarship.

We are also working hard to grant our universities autonomy and empowerment systematically from both a legal and policy standpoint. Last year we formed a team of education, legal and financial experts to look into the harmonisation of the UUCA and Act 555 (Private Higher Education Act).

This means that we will repeal both acts, especially the UUCA and replace it with a new one. By the end of the year, we hope to propose a white paper in parliament that would look into university empowerment at all levels. The changes will cover every aspect, from funding to the appointment of board members, to the freedom for institutions to decide on their own personnel.

Our goal here is to make a fundamental shift in our role at the ministry. From a tight controller to a regulator, policymaker and funder. Most importantly, we will act as facilitators to assist in the betterment of universities – we must not control our universities from doing what they do best and we must trust that our universities have the means to progress when given the mandate to do so.

Aligned with this spirit, unlike the previous practice, now the government is working closely with private universities and colleges. Instead of being treated as customers, the private sector is now collectively working together on regulatory and governance to ensure the quality of private higher education.

Global prominence

When given the freedom to strive, universities must also work towards thriving globally. Local universities, both public and private, can no longer be insular about our place in the world. We need to compete and share our knowledge with the world while learning from the world itself. The time is over for Malaysian academics to be known as “jaguh kampung”. The government is now working on formulating ways with academics to be the subject matter experts and references of their respective fields.

Here I refer to a few exemplary figures like Prof Dr Ng Kwan Hoong from Universiti Malaya, the first scientist from Malaysia to receive the Marie Curie Award. More recently, we have Dr Abdul Rahman Mohmad from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) who published in the academically renowned Nature Materials journal. This proves to me that we have the talent and ability to succeed at an international level. The ministry together with the universities are also developing means to push more potential researchers and professors to the global world via big data and artificial intelligence.

Pro-student movement group Suara Siswa’s newly elected representatives celebrating after the results were announced in UM.Pro-student movement group Suara Siswa’s newly elected representatives celebrating after the results were announced in UM.

We must therefore create an environment for our institutions and talents to stand among giants. The ministry is reforming our regulations, and some examples of what we have done include increasing the collaboration between Malaysian and foreign universities. One of the highlights of my recent visits to the United Kingdom, France, China and Japan is this. For our universities to thrive, we must work with the best partners in their respective fields. The government will always welcome collaborations with any institution abroad, whether via branch campus, micro campus or research collaboration. We encourage more initiatives such as the collaboration between the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and Dyson, UKM with Peking University and Tsinghua University, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) and International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) with Durham University and many more.

We are also encouraging greater movement and mobility of students and academics between institutions and countries. It will start with the public universities among themselves, then between the public and private at the national level, and then towards a more regional level. As the Chair of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (Seameo), I am personally looking into building a stronger mechanism for credit transfer as well as academic and student mobility for the entire Asean region. We are also looking into partnerships between Asean and countries like Japan, Korea and the European Union to enhance the extent of our mobility.

For universities and research institutes, this also means increased availability of capital, talent and research opportunities to boost the quality of our research. Industries and private sectors are being engaged in this manner to create more impactful researchers and to further strengthen the mutual beneficiary relation between the universities and the private sectors.

Besides mobility, it is critical that we see to the preservation, generation and export of our knowledge. In humanities, particularly on Southeast Asian Studies, UniSZA recently obtained the Malcolm MacDonald digitised manuscript from the University of Durham. At Durham, we signed an MoU that will lead to the largest digital repository of manuscripts in Southeast Asia (especially manuscripts from the Malay corpus of knowledge). This is to complement that of the British Library and Royal Asiatic Society.

I am pleased to say that UniSZA is also working with the Moroccan government to digitise Islamic manuscripts preserved by several custodians.

My recent visit to Beijing International Publishing Forum 2019 also paved the way for our best literature to be offered to China and the world.

Amid all of these efforts we must never forget our roots and language. Appreciation of literature is importantly needed because of its value in helping us to know ourselves better. This is where we have introduced the Sasterawan@Fakulti to inculcate a love of our literature and national heritage; and further develop our publishing industry, reading habit and learning culture. We are also working with publishers and universities abroad to make sure our own literature and academic publications will be seen on the shelves and in directories of prominent libraries from all around the world. It is my hope that these efforts will make our academics the reference for global scholarship in this field.

Finally, we are doing more to push our global brand in education. We are already an attractive destination to learn English, being the third most proficient country in Asia; and have strong niches in hospitality, Southeast Asian Studies, engineering and Islamic Studies including Islamic banking, finance as well as halal certification. We have the globally respected institutions such as the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance as well as the Malaysian Accounting Standards Board.

But to further our global aspirations, we need to have a more robust environment and as such we are easing our rules and regulations to make it more attractive for international bodies and institutions to enter and for our local institutions to reach out. We want to offer our best to the world and benefit from them in return.

Future-proof graduates

Our last and major goal at the ministry is to develop graduates who can prosper in the 21st century. We hear catch phrases like the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR), but the most fundamental aspect of these changes in technology is to impart to students the right skills, abilities and values.

This is not the era of traditional degrees and qualifications. This is the era of flexible education and agile governance. It is the era of research and innovation and talent planning.

To realise this, we have leveraged upon and are expanding and creating critical innovations in the field of education. They include:

a) Big data and machine learning – to improve and predict graduate employability and skills matching; and for lecturers and researchers to improve on their publications;

b) Micro-credentials – where the Malaysian Qualifications Agency has expanded their accreditation system to allow for credentials and professional certifications;

c) Our Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) online learning system is also being expanded to allow for a seamless platform between Malaysian students and academia with the larger global academic circles;

d) We are also innovating in trans-disciplinary work akin to a liberal arts system like UiTM’s bachelors in eco-technology;

e) Universities have also formed clusters and niche areas towards strengthening their brands and expertise; and

f) Most importantly, we are working with industry to form co-ownership models that would allow them to co-develop curricula, invest in facilities and training to ensure students are industry ready.

To integrate values into education, we have created new programmes for the introduction of philosophy and ethics into universities. Philosophy is very important to open our students’ minds to every realm of knowledge whereas ethics will broaden the students’ horizon.

We have also expanded the Service Learning Malaysia – University for Society (Sulam) programme to infuse community service as a part of the learning experience. Furthermore, we are looking into enhancing our Public-Private Research Network grant scheme to give more opportunities for universities to contribute to small and medium enterprises.

Higher Learning Institutions are melting pots of diversity, with students and lecturers from a variety of financial and educational backgrounds. Be it the B40 student looking to education for social mobility, or the working professional studying part-time, or the retiree with a love of learning. We must also make a space for the differently abled.

We have launched the Disability Inclusion Guidelines. This is the first time in Malaysia that we have such a policy. My hope is that this will be a corner stone in our history of inclusive education.

Way forward

I have spoken at length on the various initiatives we have embarked upon. But I will be the first to admit that we need to do more to realise this large ambition of an education system that can be the pride of our nation.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” So please allow me to end this speech with my dream.

My dream is to see our Malaysian universities become global references of knowledge and for Malaysia to become the destination of choice for quality, values-driven, inclusive and international education. I truly and honestly believe that we have what it takes to make this happen.

So to all of the leaders present here today, I say DREAM BIG. BELIEVE in the beauty of your dreams and aspirations, LEARN from others on how to make it happen and KEEP DOING whatever it takes to make them come true.

The writer is the Education Minister.

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NST Leader: Making it rail

Saturday, September 21st, 2019
Building a high-speed rail from Johor Baru to Padang Besar parrallel to the existing double tracks may be an excellent option. – FILE PIC

RAIL works. In the United States. In Europe. And in Asia, too. Asean saw this as early as 1995 when it gave its stamp of approval to a pan-Asean rail link at its 5th Summit in Bangkok. Progress has, however, been slow. As with many things Asean, it is never a dash to the destination.

Malaysia may do well to push for the Pan-Asian Rail Link to Kunming, China — an idea that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad mooted during his first term — from Johor Baru/Iskandar Puteri, our new growth area in the south.

This will do more for trade, tourism and travel than perhaps the High-Speed Rail (HSR) to Singapore. The prohibitive cost for the latter — estimated at RM70 billion in 2016 — is one. The other is passenger traffic.

There are already more than 100 flights — full-fare and low-cost — plying between the two destinations.

What we need though is a jam-free border crossing at the Causeway.

Picture this: thousands of motorists stuck immobile at the Causeway enviously looking at an HSR travelling at the speed of a bullet! It certainly would not be a good social statement.

At the expense of being frivolous, we say this: there will be one less reason to have a neighbourly quarrel over whether the Kuala Lumpur International Airport or Changi should have a HSR station!

Building a high-speed rail from Johor Baru to Padang Besar parrallel to the existing double tracks may be an excellent option.

Such a track will spare us from land acquisition cost, which can be substantial. Currently, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd has Electric Train Service (ETS) from Gemas to Padang Besar. ETS — which at 140kph is considered a fast train — from Johor Baru to Gemas is being upgraded.

The Padang Besar-Bangkok sector can do with an upgrade, too. Malaysian companies will do well to bid for the project.

There is yet a bolder strategic reason. A connected Asia — which the north-bound Pan-Asia Rail Link promises — would give birth to a “no warship South China Sea,” says Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong, an idea he has explored for a year now. In his view, our rail link from Johor to the north to China and, perhaps, Europe will open new forms of conciliatory collaborations between Asean and China.

Liew first broached the strategy of “looking north, instead of south” at the South-South Cooperation in the New Asian Era Forum: “Expanding the rail network in Malaysia is a good idea.

But it should be one that carries goods and not just passengers, as there will never be a HSR that is faster than flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing or Shanghai for passenger purposes.”

We agree. Should the Pan-Asian Rail Link become a reality, we, like Liew, see the strategic importance of South China Sea declining, thus helping to cool the political temperature over the much troubled waters. Our north-bound track to China and beyond can make trade, tourism and travel rail.