Education Ministry links up with O&G firms for TVET

December 11th, 2019
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (centre) with (from left) EEW Malaysia chief executive officer Thorsten Petermann, Dynac Group chief executive officer Md Jasman Bongkek, Polytechnic and Community College Education Department JPPK managing director Dr Mohammad Naim Yaakub, Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Berhad managing director and chief executive Wan Mashitah Wan Abdullah Sani and Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corporation Kuala Lumpur operations head Tajul Ariff Abdullah Halim Kamil. -NSTP/Luqman Hakim Zubir.

The Education Ministry recently formed a strategic partnership with four industry players in the oil and gas (O&G) sector to empower the nation’s technical and vocational education and training (TVET).

Witnessed by Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, a certificate of collaboration (CoC) was inked between the ministry, represented by the Polytechnic and Community College Education Department (JPPK), and four firms, namely Dynac Group, EEW Malaysia, Malaysia Marine and Heavy Engineering Holdings Bhd and Brooke Dockyard and Engineering Works Corp.

The collaboration will see an expansion in job opportunities and accessibility for polytechnic and community colleges’ students and graduates.

Maszlee said the formation of the TVET O&G industry cluster as the first focus group served as a new milestone in efforts to strengthen TVET.

“It has been seven months since the cabinet launched the TVET Empowerment Cabinet Committee. We have since conducted consultations, round table discussions, workshops and dialogues.

“By grouping businesses into focus groups, we hope to better address issues specific to the industries, achieve greater efficiency and draft better synergy in our initiatives.

“We believe that TVET should be led by the industry, not the other way around. Today, we are going to make the oil and gas sector more attractive to graduates, especially from families in the Bottom 40 per cent group. With a better career, they can change the entire landscape of their community.”

To succeed, Maszlee said, having a clear focus was critical, especially as TVET moved towards adopting an industry-led and industry-certified framework.

He added that the ministry persistently seeks for industry participation not only in industrial training and work collaborations, but in curriculum development and education policy-making as well.

“If the accountancy profession has ACCA, CIMA and MICPA, I hope that today’s TVET O&G cluster will lead to a similarly dedicated group that strives to make education and training in the industry world-class and forward thinking.

“This is the first step in the long and arduous journey to revolutionise the way our society learns and accumulates new knowledge, skills and experience. This is also why TVET is known as future skills, a testament of the need to adapt and change as the world does,” said Maszlee.

JPPK managing director Dr Mohammad Naim Yaakub said the partnership signals numerous benefits for the polytechnic students and staff alike.

“A large number of our students especially from the petroleum and chemical engineering courses are having their internship placements with them. Our teaching staff can also undergo attachments to learn about the latest technologies and processes in O&G.

“Apart from that, experienced engineers will be invited to our polytechnics to share about their technologies and business models.”

Mohammad Naim added that this collaboration is in line with the government’s aim of having 35 per cent high-skilled workforce by next year.

“We are on track and moving towards the target. Our progress depends on the economic situation especially our domestic direct investments and foreign direct investments, as well as the types of skill structure they bring in.

“We hope that the small and medium enterprises (SME) in Malaysia will be more capital-intensive in high-technology content and be less dependent on foreign labour.

“TVET is currently following the Industry 4.0 masterplan developed by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI). We hope that industries can go along this line for us to have a more skilled workforce,” said Mohammad Naim.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/12/546858/education-ministry-links-og-firms-tvet

Shaping pathways towards tertiary education

December 11th, 2019
Education Ministry is moving towards mainstreaming vocational and technical education. -NSTP/Mohd Yusni Ariffin
Students who have clear aims in mind in terms of career pathways and direction in tertiary education must choose their electives options accurately to ensure they reach their goals.

COME Dec 19, results for the Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga examination will be announced, ending the suspense for Form Three students nationwide.

While some may be overjoyed and others probably less so with the results, the release of the results marks the beginning of another journey.

Next year, the third formers will advance into Form Four, following the footsteps of millions of other students in the national school system before them, taking the first step towards preparations for higher education or employment upon finishing their secondary school education.

But what is different this time around is that these group of students will have the distinction of being the first batch of Fourth Formers under the new Secondary Schools’ Standard Curriculum (Upper Secondary) or KSSM Menengah Atas.

Under the new system, students will no longer go into the conventional Arts or Science streams like before. Instead, based on student capability, availability, suitability (facilities/infrastructure), as well as consideration of each school, they will be able to choose from 89 elective subjects grouped in two packages: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and Arts and Humanities.

The new packages will allow students to pick up to five elective subjects. This will be in addition to Core Subjects (Mata Pelajaran Teras) which are Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Inggeris, Science, Mathematics, History and Islamic/Moral Studies, and the compulsory subjects (Mata Pelajaran Wajib) Physical and Health Education.

The announcement of Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga examination results marks the journey into Form Four where students will now be able to choose to study STEM and Arts and Humanities. -NSTP/Adzlan Sidek

However, there are concerns as to how students should select their combination of subjects, especially with regard to entry to higher education institutions.

In a briefing, Education Ministry deputy director-general (policies and development) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim advised students to pick their subjects wisely because it paves the way for their future. She added that the students can change subjects midway through schooling, but noted that it will not be an easy feat because there will be a lot of catching up to do.

So what is the best for upper secondary school students manoeuvring the pathway to tertiary education?

What are the ways to select KSSM (Menengah Atas) subject packages that will effectively ensure students have the right qualifications for their fields of interest at tertiary level?

CONCERNS

The STEM package offers subjects grouped under Pure Sciences and Additional Maths, Applied Science Technology and Vocational labels.

The Arts and Humanities package offers students a chance to take up a combination of subjects from the Languages, Islamic Studies as well as Humanities and Arts categories. Under Humanities and Arts, there are a variety of subjects ranging from Principles of Accounting, Economy, Business, Malay Literature, English Literature and Tamil Literature to Visual Arts and Music.

The total selection of electives under both packages, according to Dr Logendra Stanley Ponniah, head of the School of Education at Taylor’s University, suggests that the Education Ministry is moving towards mainstreaming vocational and technical education into conventional education.

Head of the School of Education at Taylor’s University Dr Logendra Stanley Ponniah.

“Students have an opportunity to curate their learning experience. This will benefit when students migrate to tertiary education, as they are more aware of the nuances of the profession of their choice,” he said.

He highlighted that the role of secondary education is to broaden student perspectives and the role of tertiary education is to entrench them into specific professions. “We should not lose our equilibrium.

We must be aware not to funnel the student too early and limit their possibilities.”

He opined that students’ perspective of the electives should be more explorative in nature than a definitive career pathway. “Students have two things working against them. One, at 16, they may not be certain what they may want to do with the rest of their life. Their thoughts and perspective are constantly evolving, so keeping a broad option is desirable.

“Second, the trend of employment and profession of the future is also evolving. How certain are we that the profession we are studying for will remain the same in the near future? One way to navigate a period of uncertainty is to study for change rather than study change itself.”

Unless a student has shown a keen interest and demonstrated talent in a specific vocational/profession — or skills-based areas like culinary or coding from early on — and whose decisions are not easily influenced by trends, the best thing is to keep options as wide as possible.

“If parents believe their children have not displayed any passion for anything, they should encourage them to study conventional STEM subjects like Pure Sciences and Additional Maths because these are critical building blocks of knowledge needed for a science-based profession and career, and a requirement for such programmes at university,” Logendra advised.

Choices in the new curriculum allow students to explore careers like coding and programming. -NSTP/Saddam Yusoff.

“Maths and Science are linear in nature — you need to learn step-by-step as opposed to Arts and Humanities where they are sequential in nature. It will be a challenge for someone to acquire them on an ad hoc basis later.”

Having said that, Logendra emphasised it is important to note that students need a balance of both STEM and arts and humanities in their education.

“Some subjects like Mathematics focus on problem-solving while others like arts and humanities focus on critical thinking. They are not the same and we need both.”

DETAILS

Students who have clear aims in mind in terms of career pathways and direction in tertiary education must choose their electives options accurately to ensure they reach their goals, said Associate Professor Dr Fatin Aliah Phang, an academic fellow at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Centre for Engineering Education as well as senior lecturer at the varsity’s School of Education Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities.

“For students who wish to further foundation and matriculation studies and Form Six, related to Science, Medicine, Health, Engineering, Biotechnology and others, the option is to choose all the pure science subjects under the STEM elective which are Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Additional Mathematics after taking the core and compulsory Subjects.

Professor Dr Fatin Aliah Phang.

“For students who wish to pursue a future career in Engineering, Computer Science, Design, Manufacturing or Accounting, opt for three Pure Science subjects (which must include Additional Mathematics) and one STEM (Applied Sciences and Technology) or a non-STEM elective subject,” she added.

“To continue studies at certificate and diploma levels at public universities, polytechnics, community colleges and skill-based institutes in the fields of business, fashion or new media design, students should take a combination of two STEM (Applied Sciences and Technology) and two STEM (vocational) subjects.”

As for the Arts and Humanities package, a student can take any combination of non-STEM elective subjects and add one subject from the STEM elective (except vocational) which will enable them to continue studies or pursue a career in the related fields.

Fatin said some of the vocational or profession-based electives may have similarities with university level courses with similar projects, contents and syllabi.

“Students and parents must be aware of the content of the electives before making the choices. Teachers who have been teaching the subjects can be consulted to know more of what the subjects have to offer and the capability of the students to take them up.”

SELF-REFLECTION

Before students select their electives, they have to make several considerations apart from looking at their talent and interests.

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia Student Affairs Division psychology officer Nor Farhana Sulaiman said the they should also consider the background of the subject and industrial demand.

“Background of the subject consists of how the knowledge/subject can be applied, how it can contribute to the community and how the whole idea of the subject/knowledge can be connected to real life so that students will get an idea of how far this subject will be beneficial to them in planning their career pathway,” she said.

She noted that electives in both STEM and the Arts and Humanities packages have their own strengths and are important in building knowledge and skills needed in the industry as well as society.

“For students to know the electives they should take up, they must identify their strengths and potential. Do some self-reflection, …what are the areas you are good at, that you enjoy exploring, and the challenges you are eager to face,” she said.

Meet school counsellors for career counselling, Nur Farhana advised.

“Build a network with people in the industry such as your relative, neighbour or family friend to get the right picture of what you want to be in future.

Nor Farhana Sulaiman.

Students can start using platforms like LinkedIn to get connected with people in the workplace or field or study. Do not wait until you enrol in the university. It will give a broader understanding of certain fields and various options to help students start planning their career pathway. It is also beneficial for them to learn and discover new things about future careers.”

Siti Fatimah Abdul Ghani, head of the Intervention Section at Universiti Putra Malaysia Registrar’s Office, said the new packages under KSSM for upper secondary school students can help avoid the student-stream mismatch that was common previously.

“The options they choose will impact the course of the rest of their lives. The most important thing for students is to determine their passion. . There is no point trying to shove a square peg into a round hole: If your passion is accounting, then don’t accept the pressure of choosing Pure Sciences subjects, for example, just because that’s where ‘the smart students’ are. The choice is up to you. Remember, do what you love!

Siti Fatimah Abdul Ghani.

Whatever electives students choose, Siti Fatimah said they should inculcate good reading habits and a sense of inquiry as these skills will enable them to learn and grasp the knowledge and skills better.

UNIVERSITY IMPACT

Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Dr Elizabeth Lee said the offering of electives for Form Four students looks more like a bundling of both the Science and Arts, which she believes will be good for students as it will make them a lot more rounded in their upper secondary education.

“It should enable students to make a well-prepared and informed choice of tertiary studies as they have had the opportunity to study a variety of subjects to know what’s of most interest and suitable for themselves,” she said.

Dr Elizabeth Lee.

Lee mused that perhaps universities need to change too and allow for more Liberal Arts subjects or electives at the tertiary level. “It is believed that in the age of robotics and AI, we need graduates to be a lot more creative and artistic as machines can and will take over the more skills-based work,” she said.

Fatin, meanwhile, said universities should view the offering of vocational or profession-based electives in upper secondary as an opportunity to revise their curriculum in view of the new Secondary Schools’ Standard Curriculum (upper secondary).

“For example, diploma programmes in related electives such as Computer Science, Fashion, Graphic Design and others can allow students to transfer some credits. This can shorten the study period or add other advanced content into existing diploma programmes,” she said.

By Rozana Sani.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2019/12/546880/shaping-pathways-towards-tertiary-education

Sabah’s poliovirus strain from southern PI, says WHO

December 11th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The first case of polio that was detected in Malaysia for more than 27 years in Tuaran, Sabah is genetically linked to poliovirus currently circulating in the southern Philippines, says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO said that the confirmation came after a testing at its Regional Polio Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia on Dec 6.

It said the case of polio from Sabah is a rare strain of poliovirus called circulating vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV) Type 1 and that these polio viruses only occur if a population is seriously under-immunised.

The southern Philippines had declared an outbreak of polio on Sept 19, 2019.

The patient, a three-month-old male child, developed fever and paralysis on Oct 26.

“We are deeply concerned about the confirmed case of polio in Sabah,” Dr Ying-Ru Lo, WHO Representative in Malaysia, said in a statement Tuesday.

“WHO, alongside UNICEF, stands ready to support the Health Ministry in responding to this outbreak and ensuring that all children in Malaysia receive the full protection of polio vaccines.

“The only effective way to protect children from polio is vaccination,” said Unicef representative in Malaysia, Marianne Clark-Hattingh.

“We must make it a priority to stop its transmission so that every child, regardless of their economic status or origin, is protected against this terrible disease,” she added.

Polio spreads in populations with low immunisation coverage. The virus has the potential to cause paralysis or occasionally death.

WHO and Unicef have been providing technical advice on the outbreak response, on-the-ground monitoring and support for risk communication.

“Children are most at risk of polio. Parents and caregivers should ensure that all children under the age of 5 years are vaccinated.

“Polio vaccines are extremely safe and effective and have resulted in global cases decreasing by over 99%. Polio vaccines must be administered multiple times to stop outbreaks and protect children,” said WHO.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/35396

Polio scare: ‘Many Pulau Gaya folks settled in Tuaran village’

December 11th, 2019

TUARAN: Neighbours at Kg Damat in Jalan Sungai Damit, here, who they suspect is where a three-month-old was confirmed to have the polio virus, claim that one of the parents is a Filipino migrant from Pulau Gaya who married a local and settled there in the 1990s

The neighbours, who did not wish to be identified, said there were many others from Pulau Gaya who also began to reside there since.

They said although they were not officially told if their village was the focus, their curiosity was aroused by visits of health officials lately. One resident said they saw health officials carrying out regular inspections at a particular house in the village the past two days.

“We read the statement issued on the Ministry’s website, about a victim diagnosed with the polio virus in Tuaran. However the exact location was not revealed, we don’t know if it happened here or not.

“However, the presence of health officials carrying out inspections and surveys here raised questions,” he said.

He said there are over 300 residents in the village, including outsiders who have stayed in the area since the 1990s.

“Some are married to locals and work here, some have even built their houses here,” he said.

He hoped a thorough check-up will be conducted to prevent the infection if indeed the virus was indeed from the village.

Villagers said several individuals carried out inspections at their homes through stool samples but did not comment further. “They (health officials) came to residents houses and the family members were asked to provide a sample of their stool.

According to the Ministry’s website, the victim is currently being treated at a hospital’s Intensive Care Unit after coming down with fever and fatigue.

The three-month-old boy had been diagnosed with vaccine-derived poliovirus type 1 (VDPV1). Better known as polio virus on Dec 6, believed to have a genetic link to the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) case in the Philippines.

This is the first case since Malaysia was declared free of polio virus infection for the past 27 years.

Meanwhile, the type of polio virus contracted by a three-month old boy has been confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) to be the same virus that broke out and is spreading in southern Philippines.

Malay Mail reported that the boy from Tuaran had contracted a rare strain called circulating vaccine-derived polio (cVDPV) Type 1.

“These polio viruses only occur if a population is seriously under-immunised,” they said in a the press statement.

“The virus has the potential to cause paralysis or occasionally death,” they added.

They said confirmation of the type of virus was based on testing conducted by the WHO’s Regional Polio Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia on December 6-10 after the boy developed fever and paralysis.

The Philippines declared a polio outbreak on September 19, WHO and Unicef pointed out, noting that Malaysia’s last case was 27 years ago in 1992.

Earlier, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said it was suspected that the virus infecting the boy was brought into Sabah from the Philippines as the infant’s family members had not travelled overseas.

WHO and Unicef, meanwhile, said they have been assisting Malaysia with technical advice on the outbreak response, on-the-ground monitoring and support for risk communication.

The two bodies advised parents and guardians to ensure their children, especially those under five years old who are at highest risk, to get the full number of vaccination shots for full protection.

They gave an assurance that polio vaccines are very safe and are the main reason for 99 per cent of the reduction of cases worldwide.

By: R Gonzales.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/144767/polio-scare-many-pulau-gaya-folks-settled-in-tuaran-village-/

Niosh to expand free skills training for B40 in Sabah

December 11th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) will expand the implementation of free skills training proramme for the lowest household group (B40) in Sabah and Sarawak next year.

Its chairman Alice Lau Kiong Yieng said the agency would be targeting 250 participants in each of the states for the programme which would involve full time and part time training.

She said the training would take over a month and the participants would be provided with free accommodation, food and an allowance.

According to Lau, the programme would be in co-operation with Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Berhad to help the B40 group find employment after completing their training.

For the participants, involving those who were already employed and who would be joining the programme on a part time basis, it would be to boost their skills to enable them to gain promotions in their place of work, she told reporters during a dinner organised by Niosh here, last night.

Lau said the pioneer programme had been implemented at the Niosh headquarters in Kuala Lumpur which was participated by 50 people this year and 33 of them had also found employments.

She said the challenge faced by Niosh in implementing the programme would be in ensuring the participants taking part in the programme on a full-time basis found jobs after completing the training.

‘’Other than a pay increase, the workers with high work skills will have the opportunity for promotions and unemployment problems can be overcome,’’ she said.

As such, she said, Niosh needed the co-operation of the industry to provide job opportunities and to ensure the implementation of the programme would meet its target.

by Bernama.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/144771/niosh-to-expand-free-skills-training-for-b40-in-sabah/

Fostering SIDMA College Graduates with 21st Century Skills

December 11th, 2019


In less than a month’s time, the 2020 school year will begin. Most colleges and universities and their students are worrying about the extent of 21st century skills that they need to acquire prior to getting their dreamt job/career. Thus they are eagerly preparing to faces new challenges path ahead. According to Dr Webster, “Our students need to be able to be agile critical thinkers, be able to connect and collaborate with people across various mediums and they need to solve real world problems.” Similarly the industries in the real working world are interested to see colleges and universities preparing students with flexible technical skills, morally correct and being able to be mobile to work within the global market system.

The term 21st century skills refers to a broad set of knowledge, skills, work habits, and character traits that are believed by education reformers, college professors, and employers to be critically important to succeed in today’s world, particularly in contemporary careers and workplaces. In various related terms such as cross disciplinary, interdisciplinary, non-cognitive and soft skills amongst others are also widely used in reference to the general forms of knowledge and skills commonly associated with the said 21st century skills. Rohiman Haroon in his article “Of Re-skilling, Up-skilling Youths” talked about the need to reskilled and up skilling unemployed graduates according to the requirement of the “new” industry.

SIDMA College through its collaboration with Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNIRAZAK) understands the imparting 21st century skills through improving the mindset, curiosity, and developing a sense of progress and belonging like constructing a bridge between what students know and what they need to learn. To do so, our educators inspired the imagination, and instilled in them a love of learning by embracing the student’s cultural background which is what actually makes teaching effective.

To make sure that all students feel valued, educators need to be aware of their own biases, work deeply to understand their individual students, find ways to bring students’ heritage into the classroom and hold all students up to a high academic standard. Gone are the days of students sitting in rows, poring over textbooks or memorising facts. Academic research and technological developments have shown that educators need the understanding of what great teaching and learning looks like.

Through its collaboration with UNIRAZAK, SIDMA students are empowered to take control of their learning. Through the adoption of SIDMA’s XSEL (Excellent Student Experience Learning), UNIEC (UNITAR); and the latest – UROX (UNIRAZAK) that rides on the Canvas System. UROX is an UNIRAZAK online system that has developed to provide Educational experiences based on the IR 4.0 for students through online experience.

Currently, SIDMA College being equipped with all this online systems or tactile tools has adopted blended teaching and learning, flipped technology and nurturing students to become resilient, curious, analytical, critical, creative and innovative thinkers that reflect a changing world. This is to prepare students for success after graduation. Students are taught on how to use information, rather than present information, thus focusing on preparing students to be learners for life.

All these have empowered this semester September 2019 Bachelor of Education students, particularly those majoring in English and Bahasa Malaysia to showcase their creativity and innovative thinking skills in an array of different manners which can help to develop further creative thinking and new study techniques, as well as building their confidence which benefits their public speaking opportunities through their creative drama performances.

The English Majoring students showcased their talent by the production of “Mulan”. Student Ewayne Loi portrays herself as a young Chinese maiden, disguising herself as a male warrior to save her father. The drama presentation coincided with the visit of delegates from the University of Taiwan. They were very impressed with the performance particularly on the creativity of the students in creating the necessary costume, action and more.

The Bahasa Malaysia option students on the other hand performed a Comedy-drama or dramedy; entitled Bawang Putih Bawang Mreah” which was a portmanteau of drama and comedy in which plot elements are in combination of comedy and drama. The selected story-telling Malay genre emphasized the Malay culture, a comparison of education issued in 1900 and 21 century, which drew great applauses from the audience.

In addition, various musical and creative movement were showcased by this semester’s Diploma and Bachelor Early Childhood Education students. Under the theme “Music Unites Us”, the students collaborated with the nearby nurseries and day care centres, parents, teachers, as and community to stage creative movement, fashion show and more. Various galleries such as Doll House, Puppet Show, Music Room, Puzzle Station, Colouring corner and more were also arranged.

Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, SIDMA Chairman and Founder, and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO) were indeed very satisfied and amazed with the lecturers’ efforts, responsibility and commitment. They congratulated lecturers for their abilities to transform SIDMA students into future 21st century teachers, ready to meet the need of the education industries. They too advised these students to continue improving themselves by reading latest education journals, attending various professional courses as well as up-grading their academic qualification as education is a very dynamic industry.

SIDMA College collaboration with Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNIRAZAK) Kuala Lumpur and University of Cyberjaya, under the dynamic leadership of Prof Morni Hj Kambrie and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO) prides itself as being the first private institution of higher learning in Sabah, offering various accredited and affordable courses ranging from Foundation Studies, Diploma Programmes, Bachelor Degrees and Masters Programme such as:

  • Master in Management
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Bachelor of Education (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Hons)
  • Bachelor of English (Hons)
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Education
  • Diploma in Management
  • Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health
  • Foundation in Art and Social Sciences

SPM/STPM Diploma school leavers are warmly welcomed to visit the College, located at Jalan Bundusan, 88300 KOTA KINABALU for more information and registration. For enquiries, please call SIDMA Hotlines: 088-732 000 or 088-732 020 or you may contact via Whatsapp  013-865 4877.

Read more @ https://www.sidma.edu.my/index.php/en/event-2/253-fostering-sidma-college-graduates-with-21st-century-skills

SIDMA College Sabah Distributed Free School Uniforms to Staff with Schooling Children

December 11th, 2019

Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Chairman and Founder of SIDMA College, distributed two pairs of school uniforms to each of his SIDMA College Sabah staff with schooling children both in primary or secondary school. The event was held at SIDMA College Atrium on 10 December 2019.

Dr Morni in his welcoming address thanked all his staff for their willingness to accept this simple annual gift for their schooling kids. “I have a very soft spot for children. I like to see children are well-nurtured and well-dressed when they go to school”. God willing, i will try to provide at least similar gift for the kids in the coming years”. He hoped that this simple annual gift will serve as motivators for the kids; letting the kids knows that everyone wish them to go to school and learn to become a good individual.

Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), on behalf of all SIDMA College staff, conveyed their sincere appreciation to Dr Morni and family for their generosity, caring and sharing, as well as being concerned towards his staff wellbeing. She added that as parents, “We always want to give the best to our kids as well as to all the students of SIDMA College Sabah. It gives great pleasure to serve in this college and to see our kids, as well as all the students of this college reach for greater heights”.

Read more @ https://www.sidma.edu.my/index.php/en/event-2/252-sidma-college-sabah-distributed-free-school-uniforms-to-staff-with-schooling-children

Showcasing Peranakan dress style to the world

December 10th, 2019
Baju panjang’ made from cotton gingham were in vogue around the turn of the 20th century.

“THE recent 68th Miss Universe competition saw our country’s representative, Shweta Sekhon, showcasing a stunning Peranakan-themed national costume,” a friend calls me up excitedly soon after our homegrown designer’s unique creation was spotted on stage.

A keen enthusiast of the popular annual event, he owns a vast collection of photographs and other memorabilia featuring beauty queens who have represented our country in the past.

His exuberance is understandable as the Miss Universe Malaysia competition is considered the longest running and most widely followed beauty pageant here.

Our local version of the international beauty extravaganza was established in 1964 and the first winner of the pageant was Angela Filmer from Selangor. Since then, the Miss Universe Malaysia competition has continued to grow in strength annually.

Despite the pageant’s long history with countless numbers of stunning gowns already paraded, this year’s edition proved to be especially meaningful as Miss Universe Malaysia 2019 was wearing a costume inspired by Malaysia’s multicultural character and diversity when she went on stage with her fellow contestants from the world over for the coveted Miss Universe crown in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States on Dec 8, 2019.

Before our conversation comes to an end, my friend provides more details about the costume, saying that it bears a combination of elements from Malay, Chinese and Peranakan cultures.

HERITAGE INTERPRETATIONS

“The dress is primarily made of songket, which is then meticulously embroidered with elaborate beadwork. Completing the outfit is a golden cape that bears a resemblance to the traditional wedding costume worn by Peranakan brides,” he elaborates.

His comments strike a chord. In recent years, pageant costumes had become more and more creative, ranging from an outstanding nasi lemak theme to a design similar to those found on traditional Malay boats.

These elaborate, larger-than-life interpretations of our rich heritage should be lauded. Like past entries, this year’s Peranakan tribute successfully ticked all the right boxes.

With my interest piqued, I head for my study to seek out reading materials and photographs to shed light on the origins of the Peranakan.

I wanted to learn how the Straits Chinese Baba men and Nyonya women dressing styles managed to evolve so seamlessly to the point where their position as an integral part of this enduring heritage was achieved.

Although the British ruled Straits Settlements, formed in 1826, comprised Penang, Melaka and Singapore, it is widely accepted that Melaka, due to its long history that dates back to the 15th century, is the original centre of Peranakan culture.

The Chinese traders and merchants who arrived in the Malay Archipelago before the 19th century almost completely comprised men.

They were primarily from the Hokkien dialect group, while a small minority spoke Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew and Hainanese. With their movement across the seas dictated by the monsoons, it was often necessary to spend up to six months in their port of call.

NEW ETHNIC GROUP

That relatively long duration resulted in loneliness and eventual intermarriages with local women. During those early days, those nuptials and the predominantly Malay social environment became crucial factors that gave rise to an entirely new ethnic group that later became known as the Peranakan.

Although this term is most commonly used to refer to the Straits Chinese, or Baba and Nyonya, there are also other comparatively smaller Peranakan communities, such as Indian Hindu or Chitty Peranakan, Arab and Indian-Muslim Peranakan and Eurasian Peranakan of Portuguese and Asian ancestry as well.

It is not clear when the Peranakan identity first developed, but one thing that’s certain is that the acculturation of the early immigrants preceded it. This is especially true for the Straits Chinese as the multi-fold increase in the number of immigrants from China during the 19th century and their subsequent intermarriages caused an increase in population of this unique ethnic group.

While the Straits Chinese retained most of their ethnic and religious origins like ancestor worship and religious observance, other factors like dressing style saw a gradual and close assimilation with Malay culture.

The Peranakan wore different types of clothing depending on their occupation and standing in society. The clothes they wore were different compared with newly arrived Chinese immigrants

A group of Nyonyas dressed in their best ‘kebaya’. -NSTP/Alan Teh Leam Seng

CONTRASTING STYLES

Known as sinkheks, these new arrivals, predominantly male, made their living as labourers. As menial workers, they wore short baggy trousers secured around the waist with a piece of string and had straw sandals on their feet.

On the other hand, wealthier merchants, including Peranakan, could afford better clothes like outer robes or coats
worn over comfortable loose-fitting shirts, long, baggy trousers, thick-soled shoes and Western-styled hats or traditional skullcaps.

Sinkheks of the opposite gender working as domestic help usually wore the samfoo, a blouse and trousers combination. Later, women immigrant arrivals opted for long blouses with full-length wide sleeves matched with skirts made of the same material.

Despite the marked influx of sinkheks during the early 20th century, only a miniscule percentage who exhibited excellent business acumen and great potential in helping to expand the family business were given permission by established Peranakan to marry their daughters.

Prefeence, however, was always given to suitors from the same social standing, quite often with maternal first cousins, in order to preserve and expand wealth within the family unit.

During those rare matrilocal form of Straits Chinese marriages, the sinkhek groom had to forgo his own surname and he, together with his future offspring, would take on his wife’s family name.

World War 2 and the near complete decimation of wealth and opulent lifestyles, compounded with rapid modernisation, brought this custom to an end.

WESTERN INCLINATION

Towards the end of the 19th century, male Peranakan dressing styles began to closely mimic those worn by high-ranking colonial officials and affluent European entrepreneurs with whom they socialised regularly to gain support for their businesses.

The oly time Babas wore something with local flavour was at home, where kain pelikat was the casual attire of choice.

This type of cotton sarong, with checked patterns printed in pastel colours, was also popular with early English rubber planters as it provided cool respite from the overbearing tropical heat.

During other times, some western-influenced Babas showed preference for waistcoats with brass buttons, while others sported bow ties. The standard outfit for a Straits Chinese office worker during the first half of the 20th century was a white cotton shirt, trousers, European leather shoes and a straw hat.

Nyonyas, on the other hand, rarely followed Western styles. Although, occasionally, women from affluent Peranakan families wore European gowns and dresses to symbolise their social status.

The daughter of a wealthy Baba entertaining European guests with an
after-dinner piano or violin recital would likely dress herself in a western evening dress to suit the prevailing style around her.

NYONYA COSTUMES

Apart from those rare occasions, Peranakan ladies were more inclined toward Malay dressing styles. Their basic attire was the sarong, which was often matched with various blouse types as a two-piece ensemble.

Popular among the older generation was the baju panjang, which closely resembled the Malay baju kurung.

Widely considered the original traditional Nyonya costume, it consisted of a long-sleeved tunic worn over a colourful sarong, which was usually imported from Pekalongan, a renowned textile manufacturing town on the north coast of Java.

Usually hand-stitched, but sometimes made with the help of sewing machines, the ends of
the sleeves were purposely tapered to facilitate eating with fingers and also to show off gold ornaments like bangles worn on the wrists.

The baju panjang, which enjoyed widespread popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was held in place by a trio of brooches, or kerongsang in Malay.

Materials used to make baju panjang varied according to the fashion of the time. Early tunics made of cotton gingham were in vogue around the turn of the 20th century. Also referred to as Bugis cloth as they were produced in the Celebes (now Sulawesi), the fabric colours were sombre, ranging from grey to ochres and earthy reds.

Nothing is permanent, especially when it comes to dressing style.

While comparing several eye-catching vintage photographs in my collection that feature different Straits Chinese dressing styles, it becomes evident that factory-milled textiles from Europe began making their appearance in Malaya around 1910.

An elaborately embroidered ‘kebaya’ typically worn by Peranakan ladies in the late 1930s.

EUROPEAN FABRIC GAINS POPULARITY

Not long after, the Bugis cloth gradually gave way to French and Swiss voile fabric that featured superior white thread embroidery. Referred to as lace cloth by female Peranakan of Hokkien descent, the attractive material was made interesting with popular motifs like flowers, butterflies, bees and birds.

By the 1920s, German organdie in colourful prints that was all the rage in Europe at that time made its way to Malayan shores and became an overnight sensation among the Nyonyas.

Called German cloth by the Hokkiens, it featured bold floral designs superimposed on a background of white horizontal or vertical lines.

As these fashionable imported fabrics were thin and rather revealing, Nyonyas wore white cotton baju dalam under the tunics to protect their modesty.

Within the confines and privacy of their homes, Straits Chinese women merely wore this short undergarment with a sarong and only put the transparent tunic on top when they entertained guests at home or ventured out.

Towards the early 1930s, fashion once again evolved and Nyonyas began favouring shorter body-hugging kebaya made of embroidered robia voile fabric worn over cotton camisoles. Paired with the ever versatile sarong, this dress style called baju Nyonya quickly became the accepted daily wear.

The earliest Nyonya kebaya was not embroidered, but instead edged with broad lace. This form of fabric accentuation is believed to have come from Portuguese and Dutch influences. Despite their overall similarity in terms of shape and design, there are distinct differences between the kebaya worn by Malays and Nyonyas.

The Malay kebaya is usually knee length and made of cotton or silk, while Straits Chinese women favoured shorter versions that used embroidered sheer fabric.

Thanks to their enduring appeal and timeless elegance, both forms of kebaya dresses have remained popular through the years and are still very much in fashion to this day.

By Alan Teh Leam Seng .

Read more @ nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/12/546392/showcasing-peranakan-dress-style-world

Streamless education offers level playing field

December 10th, 2019

Streamless education is a self-directed approach to multidisciplinary thinking that encourages cross-curricular learning processes regardless of physical setting. PIC BY ROSELA ISMAIL

On reading in the media about the implementation of the streamless delivery last week, a number of scenarios emerged that could be problematic. Here are two.

SCENARIO 1

Urban euphoria. It is named such because urban schools have the most to gain from the new streamless approach to education announced recently.

Why not? Given their strategic locations by and large, urban pupils are within reach of many of the new subjects ‎offered under the different packages.

Chances are many schools are relatively better equipped and resourced to meet the students’ expectations and demands. Even assuming that the schools are not able to meet the demands, there will always be other alternatives to lean on outside the school.

Allegedly, this is allowable as schools are given a degree of autonomy, taking into account the facilities and capabilities available.

For example, to enrol for the package on catering and hospitality, or sustainability for that matter, students can, in principle, transfer to another school that has what it takes to deliver the appropriate learning outcomes.

Otherwise, it could be a private setting to acquire the same. While the former seems acceptable being from the same ministry (read: in sync with each other), this cannot be said for the latter.

The obvious snag is that the private outlets are different and thus need to be certified or accredited before they can be recognised to offer any of the desired packages as stipulated by the ministry. This indeed is the rule of thumb in dealing with such situations nationally and internationally, in educational terms.

The question then: has this been adequately addressed to avoid ad hoc (mis)steps given there is less than a month to the new year when the “streamless” education is expected to be formalised?

To start with, there is a condition of a minimum of 15 students before a class could be convened. Does this apply all round?

Such an undertaking can be a logistical nightmare to get this organised, more so in quick time, sporadically.

Let alone to ensure the authenticity of the academic merits issued by such diverse alleged outlets spread all over the country. Failing which it can only result in a major row because the playing field is not level.

SCENARIO 2

Rural despair. There can be no closer truth to a non-level playing field than the second scenario.

It refers to‎ the state of affairs in several constrained rural areas that are markedly disadvantaged in comparison with their urban counterparts. ‎

As it stands, the disparities are well known on most fronts — facilities, human resources, availability and access to adequately prepared private alternatives.

Thus, unlike the first scenario, most likely the demands involving students in rural schools will be more uphill relative to the urban centres.

Indeed todate, even before the streamless idea comes into being, several of the usual packages then are found wanting. Hint: where are most of the reportedly dilapidated schools located? Need we say more.

In other words, the status of rural schools will be placed under greater pressure under the streamless scheme offering a multitude of elective packages.

Some require very specialised resources and capacities that are even harder to come by.

To hit the ground running come the next few weeks, the rural students could be seriously short-changed, where the ecosystem remains as it was and least prepared to cope with the massive changes.

If previously they were already on a non-level playing field, this time it will be worse.

To be sure, the move is unprecedented and cannot be left to trial and error as cautioned by professional bodies and individuals.

Interestingly, universities are lukewarm in their response thus far, despite likely becoming the largest recipient of these newly-minted streamless breed of students.

SO WHAT IS LEFT TO CONSIDER?

One way out is to look at the streamless idea as independent of the locale — urban or rural.

Rather, it is centred on students regardless of where they are located.

This is to decouple the exercise from uncertainty of resources and facilities through seamless learning instead.

Meaning, the emphasis is to bridge the different types of learning settings ranging from social to digital learning (like massive open online courses) across locations and experiences.

In itself, it is a self-directed approach to multidisciplinary thinking that encourages cross-curricular learning processes regardless of physical setting, intellectual and academic content and substance.

This will enhance the ability to connect as many dots as possible in the search for sustainable futures.

Students therefore are not only proficient in technological skills but also humanistic ones.

In this way, streamless education is moving away from fragmented learning (read packages) and is less tied down to location and uneven resource allocation, making it a more level playing field.

It implies that students can learn whenever they are curious in a variety of scenarios, switching academically from one to another. This is the ultimate new learning for the future, streamless and seamless.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/12/546396/streamless-education-offers-level-playing-field

Mass immunization campaign for polio

December 10th, 2019

Dr Christina Rundi

KOTA KINABALU: The state Health Department will be conducting a mass immunization campaign for polio and is seeking public cooperation for its efforts to ensure that people are vaccinated.

“We will be conducting a huge immunization campaign for polio and this is the step we are taking to boost immunization coverage in Sabah (and) in localities where we feel there is risk.

“What we want now is to increase the percentage of immunization and that is what the state Health Department is doing. We may not be able to determine accurately the origin of the virus but the fact remains that it is now present in the state and we must protect the population,” said Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi.

Dr Christina told a press conference that the districts where the campaign will initially be conducted are Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Putatan, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Kunak and Semporna.

The districts were selected because the department’s ‘acute flaccid paralysis’ (AFP) surveillance had reported some symptomatic case in the past, she said adding that the immunization program will involve children under seven years old.

“This is not because there are polio cases in the area. For instance the case of the baby in Tuaran who was diagnosed with polio, he was detected through the department’s AFP surveillance.

“They noticed the symptoms and did the necessary tests for confirmation. Otherwise the baby would have been treated for something else. The symptoms were suggestive that there might be some weakness (in the baby so) this means the surveillance works.

“And since there has been no polio cases since 1992,  we needed to get double, even triple confirmation before we reported it. That is why it took some time before we reported it,” said Dr Christina.

She added that other than the AFP surveillance, the department will also conduct an environmental one as the virus is secreted in faeces and enters our system orally.

“Maybe the virus is circulated in the sewage so we also take sample of the sewage to be tested. But at the moment all our environmental samples tested negative. This is part of the surveillance,” she said.

To a question on what constitutes as high risk areas, Dr Christina said these are areas where the immunization coverage is low.

“Although they know the importance of immunization, some are unable to get their children vaccinated due to several factors such as no access in terms of logistics, financial as well as resources available to them. This will result in low immunization coverage,” she said.

“Even if the coverage is high you still need to go in because there are some pocket areas where people are not immunized,” she added, adding that it is all hands on deck for the campaign and this includes assistance from local leaders.

When asked if the State Government will now be screening foreigners entering Sabah for polio also, Dr Christina said no as it is not the routine as many countries have attained the polio free status.

The disease has been eradicated as vaccine is now available, she said adding, “however there are a few countries that have reported cases of ‘wild polio’ and we know these are places which do not have proper health system such as a war zone etc.”

“It is all about immunization and the immunization program is easily available in both government health facilities and private practitioners in Sabah. A fee will be imposed on non-Malaysians. It is just whether they want access to it or not,” she said.

Read more @ https://www.theborneopost.com/2019/12/10/mass-immunization-campaign-for-polio/