Archive for November, 2019

SSPN incentives for parents

Saturday, November 30th, 2019

Start early: PTPTN is encouraging parents to start saving for their children’s education ahead of time, to reduce dependence on its loans.

TO encourage parents to increase savings for their children’s future education, the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is offering parents up to RM8,000 in tax relief privileges under the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN).

The tax benefit, which covers the SSPN-i and SSPN-i Plus savings scheme, has been increased to RM8,000 from the previous RM6,000.

This was announced by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last year during the announcement of Budget 2019.

As such, parents who opt for savings under SSPN-i Plus are eligible to receive tax relief for deposits up to RM11,000 (RM8,000 for the net savings under the SSPN-i Plus and RM3,000 in takaful contribution).

Depositors who choose the pension scheme, on the other hand, are qualified to enjoy tax relief up to RM15,000 (RM8,000 for net savings under SSPN-i Plus and RM7,000 in takaful contribution).

The objective of offering such privileges to depositors is to improve educational savings for their children among parents, thus reducing dependency on PTPTN loans.There are two categories of qualifications, including a separate assessment that gives a maximum tax relief of RM8,000 a year for both husband and wife, as well as a joint assessment that offers a maximum tax relief of RM8,000 per couple.

Depositors can be natural or adoptive parents or legal guardians who can open the accounts for the benefit of their children.

If the depositor (husband or wife) decides to submit separate tax assessments, they can open a separate account for the same child to be able to enjoy a maximum tax relief up to RM8,000 per person.

Besides that, parents can also get an additional benefit via a competitive dividend given for each year, which is considered a profitable rate.

The eligibility condition for tax relief for SSPN is calculated based on the net savings amount for the current year, with PTPTN encouraging depositors to start their savings from January to December to ensure they keep up consistent savings, without it becoming a burden.

SSPN 2019 draw

With these initiatives, the goal is to acknowledge and reward the sacrifices made by parents as depositors committed in starting a savings plan for the future education of their children.

Unlike in previous years, PTPTN will be providing two categories of prizes this year, including Cabutan WOW! SSPN-i Plus and Cabutan 15 Tahun SSPN-i.

This year, in conjunction with the 15th anniversary of SSPN-i, PTPTN has introduced Cabutan 15 Tahun to commemorate the occasion.The last time it has offered prizes to SSPN-i depositors was in 2015.

Both prize draws offer two categories, namely series draw (promotional period in three series from July to December 2019) and an annual draw, with the promotional period running from January to December 2019.

The series draw will see five depositors winning RM15,151.15 each for each promotional period, while 15 depositors will each walk away with RM3,000 under Cabutan WOW! SSPN-i Plus.

The grand prize for Cabutan 15 Tahun SSPN-i annual draw is RM151,515.15 cash, while for cabutan WOW! is Proton X70 Premium.

PTPTN has allocated RM1.1mil to reward 1,726 depositors in its prize draws.

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Set for a Gojek like success?

Saturday, November 30th, 2019
Nadiem Makarim, founder of the Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment firm Gojek.-Reuters

THE Indonesian education sector experienced a “shock” when the new education and culture minister was announced.

For the longest time, the position was occupied by senior academics from Indonesia’s higher education institutions.

Many had strong reputations, built on long institutional leadership experiences‎, giving much confidence to major stakeholders.

That is now put under scrutiny.

The appointment was said to have stirred a turbulence of its own.

Foremost, the person is a non-academic and young (read: lack of experience).

However, this was more than made up by his fame that none of his predecessors seemed to have.

Nadiem Anwar Makarim, better known as the co-founder and chief executive officer of the ride-hailing firm Gojek, has made his grand entrance into politics.

He is an entrepreneur par excellence, responsible for a start-up worth an estimated US$10 billion, which is one of the largest in Asean.

I first heard of him some five years ago when Gojek was introduced to me by a friend as a solution to Jakarta’s traffic woes.

Gojek became a source of “alternative” employment for youth.

But not everyone agreed with the idea, citing that Malaysia is not Indonesia.

This cannot be more true with reference to the education sector, where there are clear differences.

But let us not forget that there were times in our education history when Indonesian academics were instrumental in complementing and training locals.

They were here in big numbers, involved virtually in all fields and disciplines, especially for “sains dan teknologi”.

Yes, it coincided with the change in the medium of instruction to Bahasa Malaysia. ‎

As a result, it led to the “mushrooming” of universities in a relatively short period of time.

In a manner of speaking, its spread is similar to the Gojek experience — smooth, fast and easy!

Is the Indonesian education sector then poised for another Gojek ride?

Now that the founder is in the “driver’s seat”, he is eager and excited, just like any anxious pillion rider would.

All in anticipation of a fun “educational” journey beyond the usual “smooth, fast and easy” mantra.

Nadiem is expected to infuse the much needed innovative solutions and drive into Indonesia’s education sector.

Will his endeavour to educate Indonesian youth be a Gojek-like success? After all, there are not too many education ministers who made it to Time magazine’s most 100 influential individuals.

According toTime, Nadiem is in “a position to shape the future leaders of the world’s 16th largest economy”.

Expectations are indeed high.

Indonesians thus can count on their lucky stars in this regard.

Perhaps Malaysia, too, can learn from our Indonesian counterparts to make our universities “entrepreneurial” as spelt out under the Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025.

Not surprisingly, the education minister commanded high respect when President Joko Widodo openly recognised Nadiem’s leadership.

Joko said Nadiem is an addition to his “innovative” cabinet and is expected to “invent a number of breakthroughs to create a ready to work human resources”.

This endeavour is well aligned with the president’s vision to position human development as a major priority of his administration, intended to help the nation realise its huge creative potential.

Nadiem may just be the catalyst to elevate Asean to a new growth trajectory.

The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

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Keeping watch (and faith) on STREAM

Saturday, November 30th, 2019
The new STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music) system will chart the educational path for the new crop of Form 4 students next year. NSTP/EMAIL

WHEN the school holidays started recently, a nephew believed he will be in a class for those who are weak in their studies next year.

His actual response was rather crude, especially describing those who are in the Arts stream as “stragglers” and their only hope to do good in school is excelling in sports.

For those who are near the half-century mark, this brings back memories of how the education system was, at the time, putting a label on “those who are smart and those who are not”.

About a week ago, the government announced that there will be no more Arts or Science stream from next year.

This was preceded by several hints from the government in Parliament since early this year by Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

Suddenly, those who had prepared themselves to head on to their destined Arts or Science paths are faced with a route with a network of 89 subjects, which they may not be familiar with.

Let us rewind back to the late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and the 2000s, where the majority of the present crop of working Malaysians were in secondary school, struggling with getting the right education that set their career path.

Very few probably got it right. Unless, of course, if they did vocational training, which provided them skills to give them a career head start.

But way back when, vocational training, or trade school as it was called before, was for the “weak ones”.

And there are those who slogged and struggled past the Lower Certificate of Education, which later became Sijil Rendah Pelajaran and Penilaian Menengah Rendah, and Malaysian Certificate of Education, which became Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. And then there’s the dreaded Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia.

Excelling in these exams did not necessarily bring them success in their chosen careers.

Not all found good use to their knowledge on ergs and glaciers as taught in geography.

This new undertaking, to be called STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading, Arts and Music), will chart the educational path for the young soon.

Educators will somehow need to work their way in dealing how to teach their students and make them reach their full potential using the new system.

With the new crop of Form 4 students taking their place next year with STREAM, hopefully things will be better and they get to learn things they like or probably use to improve their lives.

Malaysia can probably take a leaf from the Philippines, literally, in their move to introduce a law for students to plant 10 trees before they can graduate from elementary school, high school and college in May this year.

It also helped youth take on a better sense of responsibility and, at the same time, look after the environment, no matter how small a role they play.

On how to approach the younger generation, the nation could probably take a look at the casual yet cautious approach by the new Indonesian Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Anwar Makarim.

The former chief executive officer of ride-hailing company Gojek called on teachers to begin “small changes” in their classrooms and reach out to students.

“Change is a difficult thing and full of discomfort,” he said in his speech ahead of the Teachers Day celebration in Indonesia.

Nadiem went on to say teachers should “engage their students in discussions, rather than telling them to listen; to give students a chance to try and teach in class; to initiate a social programme that could be participated in by students; to help pupils who lack confidence to unlock their talents; and, to offer help to other teachers in need”.

By Roy Goh

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Know the signs and get help

Friday, November 29th, 2019
Depression is one of the top causes of death in youths after accidents.

DEPRESSION is a common but serious medical illness.

What are the common signs of depression?

For some, it can manifest in them going on a buying spree as a distraction or as a “self-esteem booster”.

Some 30 per cent of people with major depression hit the bottle.

They are stricken with anxiety and feel the need to drink to assuage their “frayed nerves”.

But drinking alcohol is a shortlived lift.

Alcohol is a depressant, so repeated drinks makes depression worse.

Studies have shown that protracted depression or stress can raise the body’s levels of steroidal hormones.

These levels weaken or shrink the part of the brain associated with memory and learning.

Therefore, depression may cause one to be forgetful. Depression-linked memory impairment is worse for the elderly.

Depression can also be the precursor of low back pain.

Research has shown that up to 42 per cent of people with chronic lower back pain experienced depression before their back pain started.

Also, having chronic pain puts you at risk of depression.

Spending overly large amounts of time on the Internet may also be a sign of depression.

Studies have shown a link between the two.

A 2010 study from the University of Alabama found that young depressed adults also had the inclination to gain weight around their waist — a forerunner for heart disease.

Other studies have linked depression with binge eating, especially in middle-age people.

Treating depression can reverse these setbacks.

It is found that 30 per cent of shoplifters suffer from depression.

Shoplifting provides them with a rush to counter depression.

Depression can lead to suicide. It is one of the top causes of death in youths after accidents.

By Dr A. Soorian

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Be alert to plagiarism

Friday, November 29th, 2019

SUMARNI Mansur was doing her foundation studies when she had her assignment returned for committing an academic offence — she had plagiarised an essay.

“I was surprised because it was something that I did not do on purpose. I thought the Internet is a public domain and simply took some content from websites, probably another person’s work without providing any credit or citation.

“As I was new to tertiary education, I did not know how to put ideas into words. I had poor English at that time,” said Sumarni, who is a postgraduate Engineering student at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

Sumarni Mansur.

Having to rewrite the assignment, she had been briefed by her lecturer on the importance of respecting copyrighted materials and the consequences of plagiarism. Later, she enrolled in an academic writing class.

Plagiarism is a form of cheating and academic dishonesty.

It refers to taking someone else’s work or idea and passing it off as your own. The original work is hidden from the assessor, whether by not citing it properly or by not mentioning it at all.

Plagiarism, although not new in academia, is a growing concern in higher learning institutions and it deals with ethical and integrity issues.

According to UTM Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities dean Professor Dr Zaidatun Tasir, ideas and works are

not confined to written texts only, but also include images, videos, audio, graphics and designs.

Classes on plagiarism and academic writing help students to understand what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it.

“In academia, giving incorrect information about the source, copying the sentence structure and changing only certain words are categorised as plagiarising.

“Plagiarism may occur in different circumstances. A person plagiarises when he publishes an abstract, article, academic paper or a book which is entirely or partly written by another person yet claiming himself as the author.

“It is unacceptable if he incorporates himself or allows himself to be acknowledged as a co-author of a publication when he has not made any written contribution to the paper. A person who uses research data obtained through collaborative work with other individuals as part of a publication in his own name as a sole author without obtaining the consent of his co-researchers can be regarded as plagiarising as well.

UTM Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities dean Professor Dr Zaidatun Tasir.

“Plagiarism also includes extracting ideas from another person’s writing or creation and making certain modifications without due reference to the original source, and rearranging them in a way that the ideas appear as his,” Zaidatun continued.

Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias, who is Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) director of academic development at the academic affairs division, said that the tendency to plagiarise normally involves tasks that require intensive writing such as term paper, thesis and project report.

Nor Aziah revealed that even without a plagiarism checker software, lecturers can still detect the act by reading through the text.

“Being an expert in the field, we read a lot pertaining to the subject matter. Coming across a text of high familiarity in its theories, knowledge or published findings, lecturers tend to remember that they have read the content elsewhere.

“A quick Google search of a familiar phrase will easily reveal its source,” she added.

Zaidatun explained: “We still can detect plagiarism through the quality of writing. A plagiarised text may be too perfect, with eloquent words and well-expressed thoughts, which we know is beyond what the students are capable of.

“Lecturers may also question the originality of the works produced due to inconsistency of ideas and writing flow. This could be the result of copying from different sources.”

Professor Dr Nor Aziah Alias.

While a simple “copy and paste” may save students a lot of time, not many are informed of the stern penalties having involved in committing the academic misconduct.

Nor Aziah added: “In our university, plagiarism is totally unacceptable. A student who plagiarises, once proven, may be given a fail grade for the assignment or the course, barred from continuing in the semester, or be dismissed from the university. In worse circumstances, diplomas and degrees may be retracted.

“We had a PhD thesis reek with paragraphs taken from other sources. In the case, the student did not receive his doctorate.”

She added that plagiarising does not only occur among students. In academic settings, it is an act that anyone could potentially commit, including lecturers.

“In some cases, there is a tendency for a lecturer to present his previously published work as new. This is known as self-plagiarism.

“The need to churn out publications may result in reproducing data or findings. Some academicians don’t find using their own published work wrong as it is theirs. We had lecturers who were admonished for unintentionally doing this.”

UiTM second year Faculty of Law student Nurul Fatiha Norsip said she has to do a lot of research as the course demands that she be precise when stating something, by referring to the authorities.

Nurul Fatiha Norsip.

“Therefore, it is crucial for me to be familiar with the style of paraphrasing and quoting the content that I mention to avoid plagiarism. However, I have a friend who was caught plagiarising his assignment. He was warned and needed to repeat that particular subject,” she said.


Students may plagiarise for a number of reasons, ranging from laziness to ignorance.

Zaidatun pointed out that often the problem is committed unknowingly due to underdeveloped academic skills.

“Plagiarism is the product of lack of critical thinking, creativity and self-confidence towards one’s own work. Other than that, students can be tempted to plagiarise written works when they are under pressure. They could be overwhelmed by too many assignments from different subjects which eventually lead to poor time management.

“As a result, they may be doing last minute work to catch up with the deadlines of submissions. They may take the easy way out and copy others’ works out of urgency hoping that no one will notice,” said Zaidatun.

Third year UiTM Human Resource and Management student Muhammad Aznur Syah Azman said that plagiarism is unfortunately becoming more common as the information age progresses.

“Due to the vast accessibility to materials and data on the Internet, it is easy for students to directly take content for their assignments without properly crediting the source,” said Muhammad Aznur, who is also UiTM Student Representative Council president.

“Copying the work of others is definitely easier than coming up with your own sentences. In addition, the articles found online sound more eloquent and error-free. These are some of the reasons why some students may cut corners with their written tasks.

Muhammad Aznur Syah Azman.

“Students may commit the act on purpose or accidentally due to the lack of understanding of the consequences of plagiarism. During my diploma years, I had a subject on academic writing. During the class we were exposed to what is plagiarism and why it is wrong to do it.”

For Sumarni, the main factor in this issue is a poor command of the English language.

“It is especially a challenge for second language speakers. Academic writing needs good language skills to understand the works of others and to write your own.

“When you have a good understanding of a subject, you will be less likely to ‘steal’ others’ ideas and claim them as your own. Before writing the academic paper, it is important for students to dive deeper into the subject and read extensively from other sources. To do so, they need a strong command of the language.

Students with limited vocabulary and poor grammar may use the readily available sentences or ideas from other researchers.

A simple “copy and paste” leading to committing academic misconduct.

She continued: “Another reason why I believe plagiarism is prevalent among postgraduate students is due to the pressure of fulfilling the key performance index laid out by the institution or postgraduate supervisors.

“Owing to the pervasive culture of publish or perish, students become highly competitive in producing plenty of academic papers, with quantity emphasised over quality.”


Academic integrity is key, stressed Nor Aziah. She said that education is not just about getting the scroll; it is a platform to holistically educate individuals on high integrity, soft skills, values and social competency.

“Earning a diploma or a degree through crafty ways such as cheating or plagiarising not only undermines the certification but also produces graduates who may later cut corners to achieve what they want. A thriving society is built upon strong values and trustworthiness.

“In lectures of any subject, the attainment of learning outcomes is of utmost important. As lecturers, we are very cautious in designing the syllabus or modules which include content delivery and assessments that are aligned to the stipulated outcomes.

“Originality in both formative and summative assessments is vital to indicate that the actual attainment happens for each student.

Plagiarising is a serious academic offence, which many may not be aware of.

“By plagiarising, a number of parties have been wronged — the person from whom the work has been plagiarised, the lecturer who may assess and provide marks that do not illustrate the actual capability of the student, the academic administrator and management who use the achievement data to make further academic and institutional decisions, and the student whose credentials may not reflect his genuine achievements.”

If students don’t understand the rules of copyright, the idea of intellectual property will not be valued, added Sumarni.

“Students should be exposed to the issue of plagiarism earlier like during secondary school, and not only when they enter a higher learning institution.”


The key to avoiding plagiarism is to give credit where it is due, said Zaidatun.

“Students need to be exposed to the correct way of writing in-text citations. Therefore, organising talks or workshops on plagiarism is the first step to remind the students of the misconduct or behaviour.

“In lectures, sharing previous cases of plagiarism and their penalties can be another initiative to raise awareness among students.

“Other than that, carrying out a self-reflection assessment by asking students to reflect on how they produce their writings and assignments is another approach to avoid plagiarised work,” she said.

Zaidatun added that all written works from graded assignments to academic journals of students and academic staff must be checked through plagiarism detection software prior to submission, with the report verified by the top management of the faculty.

Students may be tempted to take the easy way out by copying content from online websites without proper referencing.

“We use plagiarism detection software such as Turnitin which is used by many students, lecturers and institutions as it is easy and highly accessible.

“In addition, we have in-house plagiarism software developed by UTM researchers where it can detect beyond copyright content — the flow of ideas, writing style, as well as data similarities across different languages including English, Malay, Persian and Arabic,” she said.

Nor Aziah said: “The university uses Turnitin or Grammarly for detecting plagiarism. However, we caution lecturers or examiners to scrutinise the similarity index before concluding that the work is plagiarised.

“Blatant use of technology may result in students being treated unfairly.

“UiTM has its own policy on plagiarism — it is reviewed periodically to ensure relevance in the era of technology to provide rich learning environment.”

Muhammad Aznur said that to minimise plagiarism, he seeks instructor’s guidance from time to time.

“Speaking to my lecturers on the assignment content helps a lot especially when I have doubts in doing citations. “Good time management also ensures the work submitted is of good quality. It is better to start early on an assignment rather than push it to the last minute. Procrastination can put students in difficult situation where plagiarism is the only viable option to get things done.”

Nurul Fatiha is aware of the penalties of committing plagiarism.

“Realising that it is wrong to plagiarise, I am getting used to the practice of paraphrasing and citing someone’s work to respect the author’s ideas. It is also an ethical thing to do — to acknowledge the original writer,” she said.

By Murniati Abu Karim.

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Smart Reader Creative Teaching Methodology new teaching method breakthrough

Friday, November 29th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Children’s development during their early years sets the foundation for lifelong learning, behaviour, health and emotional well-being.

The Smart Reader Kids® programme is a well-structured and systematic programme which applies the Smart Reader Creative Teaching Methodology® (SRCTM®) to educate the young generation in this tech-based era.

This SRCTM® is a new breakthrough in teaching method to enable children learn easily and ready with interest, fun and excitement. The international award-winning programme is a one-stop platform for young learners, focusing on the holistic development of a child which includes language acquisition, character development and social, cognitive and emotional development.

The importance of a child’s language development during their early years is also supported by Mrs Low Kwong Yuen, franchisee from Smart Reader Kids® Uptown Avenue, Seremban 2 who mentioned that language acquisition and development are important for children aged 3 to 12 years. During these vital years, children need to learn new things around them and beyond and also need to acquire social and communication skills.

What’s NEW for 2020? Smart Reader Kids® offers I Enjoy Play-Learning (IEP), is a unique programme that incorporates play-based learning approach in the curriculum, with four main components such as Intensive English programme, Smart Mindfulness Programme, Curriculum Reinforcement and Inspirational Book Series.

The school applies an innovative system to educate children on phonics reading, creative writing, mastering 600 new words and fun play with board games. IEP provides a great avenue for children to experience and explore learning in an exciting and thrilling way.

Another excellent programme Smart Fun Play Mindfulness is a programme which inculcates children with life skills, moral values, social etiquette and emotional quotient. Children learn good values, social behaviour and help them to inherit their early life skills which create happy, wise and caring children in the society. This programme also encourages children to learn magic words, to rest and relax, boost their memories, managing emotions and work in a team.

The STEM curriculum is based on the idea of educating students in five specific disciplines – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – in an inter-linked approach. Smart Reader Kids® STEM Programme integrates all five components into a cohesive learning paradigm based on a real-world application.

The Nationwide Open Day is on Dec 7, 2019 from 9am to 3pm. All parents are invited to visit any centres nationwide with lowest initial fee promotion, starting from RM511 (WM) and RM554 (EM). Redeem the promotion and exclusive gifts while stocks last. For more details, call 03-62795555 or SMARTLine at 1 300 88 5 555, or visit

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Women given equal chance for major positions in public services – Director

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The government is committed to ensure women are given equal opportunities to hold major positions in the public services.

Sabah Public Services Department (JPAN) director Datuk Datu Rosmadi Datu Sulai said the State government is consistent in its effort to empower women and has given critical positions to women in several departments.

He asserted that the appointment to hold top leadership should no longer be based on one’s gender but on their merit and ability to administrate and lead.

The number of women in the Sabah public service department, he said, currently stands at 33 per cent – 16 per cent in the Jawatan Utama Sektor Awam (JUSA), 38 per cent in Management and Professional group, and 32 per cent in Support group.

“We take great consideration in women’s involvement and acknowledge the significant roles they play in the administration of Sabah.

“The high percentage recorded was the first in Sabah public services and our hope is to maintain and balance the numbers so that gender will no longer be an issue in the public services,” he said.

This year, he underlined that the government, through JPAN, had sent 24 women officers to attend courses overseas while 54 had undergone various trainings in the country.

He added that as of Nov this year, the State Public Sector Training Institution has given training to 2,632 women officers out of the total 5,931 to strengthen their skills in various field including public administration.

“We believe officers who had attended these training now have positive skills and knowledge to improve their performance in delivering quality services to the people,” he said.

Speaking of balancing work and family among women, Rosmadi further urged State departments to take the opportunity of the RM30 million allocation from the federal government to set up care centres in workplace.

“State government offices are encouraged to apply for the provision from the Malaysia Welfare Department via Sabah Public Welfare Services Department for the purpose.

“This is an initiative that is sensitive to the needs of women which is very positive to ensure women continue to excel in their careers,” he said when closing the Program Bicara WOS: Kewibawaan dan Cabaran organised by Sabah Women Affairs Department (Jhewa) here on Wednesday.

Also present were Jhewa director Masturah Jamrah, permanent secretary of Housing and Local Government Ministry Masnah Matsalleh and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia former vice-chancellor Tan Sri Datuk Seri Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali.

A total of 114 participants from various organisations took part in the programme.

Masturah, in her speech, said women need to continue working hard, and urged the government to consider appointing more women who are qualified to be part of the administration’s top leadership.

While the number of women in the public service is growing, she stated there are currently only four women holding major positions, including as permanent secretaries, in several ministries.

“One of our Key Performance Index in Jhewa is to reach 20 per cent women among the local authorities but it seems that we have only reached 15 per cent.

“This, however, is beyond our control as the appointment relies on the assemblymen’s recommendation therefore what we can do is provide training to help women so that they could be appointed as councillors.

“I was also informed that there is no woman in the State Civil Service Commission; we previously had three, therefore we pray to the director to appoint women to join.


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SMK Kemabong’s ‘Wing-ed School Bus’ wins Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

From left: Team MVN members Mark Greatingan M. Shapi, Niea Suelea Peturus, Valerie Estelle Nicolas and their teacher Hafizi Fazli Bakar with their prizes.

KOTA KINABALU: A prototype of ‘Wing-ed School Bus’ clinched the top prize at the Sime Darby Young Innovators Challenge (SDYIC) 2019 National Championship.

The prototype, developed by Team MVN from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Kemabong, Tenom, defeated 14 other prototypes created by teams from secondary schools across 10 states to win the coveted top spot at the National Championship.

The winning trio from the interior of Sabah — Mark Greatingan M. Shapi, Niea Suelea Peturus, and Valerie Estelle Nicolas — developed the school bus safety system to ensure students’ safety when crossing roads after they disembark from buses.

It also aims to educate other road users about pedestrian safety at locations where school buses make stops, to reduce accidents and fatalities involving school children who disembark from buses.

The team won a Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) innovation grant up to RM50,000 to develop and upscale their prototype to a viable solution for the community, and prizes worth up to RM4,000.

The winning teams were announced during a finale event at Sime Darby Convention Centre (SDCC) in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

YSD Governing Council member Datin Paduka Zaitoon Dato’ Othman, YSD CEO Dr Hjh Yatela Zainal Abidin, Sime Darby Motors Head of Corporate Affairs Datuk Aishah Shaikh Ahmad and Co-founder of Yayasan Chow Kit Dr Hartini Zainudin were present to hand over the prizes.

In conjunction with World Children’s Day, the children of Yayasan Chow Kit delivered special performances that highlighted the plight of refugees and undocumented children, as well as environmental issues. More than 80 school children and school teachers were invited to the prize-giving ceremony to commemorate the special day, and inspire them to innovate and create solutions for their communities.

Dr Yatela said the participating teams of SDYIC were required to produce workable

prototypes that will address issues faced by our communities’ unsung heroes through the application of Internet of Things (IoT) technology such as sensors, software and electronics

to initiate the exchange and collection of data and to create smart connected devices or solutions.

“This year, we put the spotlight on our everyday heroes — the school bus and commercial lorry drivers, fishermen, nurses and security guards, among others — and focus on bringing them solutions to make their demanding jobs a little easier,” she said.

“To shine a light on their significant roles, the fourth edition of the SDYIC aims to create empathy-driven innovations which would solve some of their challenges. We believe that in solving their everyday challenges, we shall be solving the basic issues of the communities, towards solving national-level issues,” she added.

This year, 785 teams comprising a total of 2,283 students from 300 schools participated in the state-level Young Innovators Challenge competitions nationwide.

This year’s SDYIC had also involved the training of 250 school teachers and 200 undergraduate students from 14 universities as mentors to the participants.

Team Summer Paradise from SMK Merbau, Miri, Sarawak which developed a system to ensure parking spots for drivers with disability, placed second.

Meanwhile, Team EC1 from Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar, Johor Bahru, Johor which developed a prototype called Techno IV sensor to help nurses prevent medical complications in patient wards, won third place.

The runner-up team took home a YSD innovation grant worth RM10,000 and prizes worth up to RM2,950, while the second runner-up team bagged a YSD innovation grant worth RM5,000 and prizes worth up to RM2,000.

The innovation challenge, co-organised by YSD and social business start-up Chumbaka Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE) and partnering universities, brought together universities, the community and members of the technology industry to promote the cultivation of an innovative mindset, leadership as well as entrepreneurial skills among youth aged 13 to 17.

Throughout SDYIC 2019, participants had the opportunity to meet industry experts, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals and other enthusiasts in the field of innovative technology who shared insights on market validation and entrepreneurial skills to the students.

The teams also had the chance to engage with subject-matter experts to refine their prototypes, learn about various aspects of user experience as well as solutions to design- related problems.

Since its inception in 2016, the YSD flagship programme has reached 8,213 secondary students nationwide; and trained 784 undergraduate students, 608 school teachers and seven Sime Darby employees as innovation mentors.

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Form Four elective subjects: Subject packages instead based on interests and capabilities

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Education deputy director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim.

KUALA LUMPUR: Form Four students will not be allowed to choose elective subjects solely at their whims and fancies.

Education Ministry deputy director-general (policy and curriculum) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim (pic) said instead they will be given subject packages which cater to their interests and capabilities.

“It is not totally open and flexible,” she said during a briefing on the new subject package options for Form Four students.

This new system will come into effect in 2020, affecting this year’s Form Three students.

She said the new packages will allow students to pick up to five elective subjects and mix between the subjects.

Habibah added that there are two main packages – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and literature and humanities.

She also said the subject packages offered to students will depend on the capabilities, availability, suitability (facilities/infrastructure), as well as consideration of each school.

There had been a lot of confusion among the public when Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced that Form Four students will no longer be streamed into Science and Arts last month.

Stakeholders were questioning how this would be implemented with many worrying about how it will affect students’ chances of pursuing their tertiary studies.

Entry requirements to higher education institutions are based on certain subject combinations.

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Education Ministry must gather data on students affected by period poverty, says Hannah Yeoh

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry must gather data on “period poverty” affecting the attendance of female students if help is to be given to them, says Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Hannah Yeoh.

“This kind of thing should not be happening in Malaysia today.

“No girl should stop school because of period poverty,” she told reporters at a press conference in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 28).

Yeoh, however, said that her ministry does not have the numbers of school girls skipping classes due to their inability to afford sanitary pads.

“We are talking to the Education Ministry on this issue.

“On our part, we do not have the data,” she said.

With the proper data, Yeoh said that her ministry would be able to better provide help to the affected students.

She was responding to a recent report that there were school girls in Kelantan from poverty-stricken families skipping classes due to period poverty.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry must gather data on “period poverty” affecting the attendance of female students if help is to be given to them, says Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Hannah Yeoh.

“This kind of thing should not be happening in Malaysia today.

“No girl should stop school because of period poverty,” she told reporters at a press conference in Parliament on Thursday (Nov 28).

Yeoh, however, said that her ministry does not have the numbers of school girls skipping classes due to their inability to afford sanitary pads.

“We are talking to the Education Ministry on this issue.

“On our part, we do not have the data,” she said.

With the proper data, Yeoh said that her ministry would be able to better provide help to the affected students.

She was responding to a recent report that there were school girls in Kelantan from poverty-stricken families skipping classes due to period poverty.

The issue was highlighted by Kelantanese businesswoman Zuraidah Daut, 44, who set up “Projek Oh Bulan!” earlier this year to help the affected students after learning of their plight.

Period poverty is defined as the inability of menstruating women to have access to sanitary products and safe, hygienic places in which to use them.

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