EXCLUSIVE: Children exploited by drug addict parents

February 14th, 2018
A MOTHER was found to have used her two-month-old baby for money to satisfy her drug addiction. (FIle pix)

ALOR STAR: A MOTHER was found to have used her two-month-old baby for money to satisfy her drug addiction.

This was revealed during a joint operation under the National Blue Ocean Strategy with the National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada), police and the state Education and Welfare Departments.

A state Welfare Department spokesman said drug addicts had been using children to get cash. Some mothers even drugged their children to get them to
do what they wanted, resulting in children becoming addicts.

He said in just three months, the department had rescued 11 children, aged between 2 months and 13 years, who were neglected by their drug addict parents.

He said it was unfortunate that the children did not get the opportunity to go to school.

“Some of them are neglected, while others are homeless. The department has rescued 11 children since we started the operation last year.

“The children are being cared for by their relatives,” he told the New Straits Times.

He said the department rescued five siblings, including a 2-month-old baby, during a raid in Kota Sarang Semut here last November.

He added that of the five, an 11-year-old tested positive for drugs and had drug supplies on him, believed to belong to his parents.

“Nada officers had detained the parents. But, they continue to use their children to gain people’s sympathy. The five children are under their aunt’s care after receiving a temporary order under Section 19(2) of the Child Act (Amendment) 2016.”

He said four siblings, aged between 3 and 9, were found in a dilapidated house, while their father was busy taking drugs at a neighbour’s house, during another operation in Simpang Kuala near here.

By SUZALINA HALID.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/exclusive/2018/02/335329/exclusive-children-exploited-drug-addict-parents

2018 Chinese New Year Goodies Distribution at SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah

February 12th, 2018

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is the grandest and most important annual event for Chinese people. Based on the lunar calendar, the festival has no exact date and it changes each year, but it mostly falls on a day from January 21st to February 20th in Gregorian calendar. The lunar calendar also defines the 12-year repeating cycle of Chinese zodiac, and each year is named after an animal; and 2018 Chinese New Year which falls on 16th and 17th February 2018 is the “Year of the Dog”.

In conjunction with the coming of this auspicious celebration, Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Founder and Chairman of SIDMA College UNITAR, who has been very well-known for his generosity, caring and sharing of his gains with his employees, seized the opportunity to share the happiness to all his SIDMA employees celebrating Chinese New Year by distributing Chinese New Year Goodies to them.

The special event which was held at SIDMA College on 9th February 2018 was organised with the full collaboration of SIDMA Staff Welfare Association (PKKKSS) Committee members under the leadership of Mr. Zain Azrai Bin Mohd Noor. During the event, SIDMA College members celebrating Chinese New Year were invited to receive their special goodies in the form soft drinks, poultry, beef and Mandarin oranges. PKKKSS also took the opportunity to distribute Mandarin Oranges to all SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah staff to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year. Synonymous with Chinese New Year, the Mandarin oranges promises luck, prosperity, and a long life.

Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO) who was given the honour to present the Chinese New Year Goodies to all SIDMA Sabah staff, took the opportunities to wish in advance Gong Xi Fa Cai to all the staff celebrating the auspicious event. She hope that the Chinese New Year (CNY) will bring more prosperity especially to SIDMA College and to its staffs.

Meanwhile all SIDMA staff who have received their CNY Goodies from Dr Morni conveyed thanks and cheers to Dr Morni and family, Madam Azizah Khalid Merican, PKKKSS, as well as to SIDMA Board of Management for their generosity shown to them, particularly during this special festive celebration. They believe that that they are very fortunate to have Dr Morni and his team of management who has been very caring and highly emphatic towards the needs of all his staff, particularly during festive seasons such as this. Dr Morni not only prioritises his staff welfare as one of his many goals, but also is a man with a great heart for people of all races and cultural backgrounds, who would continuously foster, preserve and propagate goodwill, harmony and unity through diversity in SIDMA College.

Meanwhile Dr Morni, Madam Azlina Ngatimin (Director, Corporate Marketing and Business Development), Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), and SIDMA Board of Management took the opportunity to wish all lecturers, staff, students, relatives and friends “ Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year 2018”. “GONG XI FA CAI”

Read more @ http://www.sabah.sidma.edu.my/sidma2010/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=972:2018-chinese-new-year-goodies-distribution-at-sidma-college-unitar-sabah&catid=45:other-news&Itemid=0

Towards Holistic Education: Do Not Make Sending Children To Tuition Class A Trend

February 12th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 (Bernama) — Sending children to tuition classes merely to see them getting good examination grades should not be adopted as a trend but instead, parents should look beyond their children’s academic excellence.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said parents should always talk to their children to enable them to identify their tendencies, abilities and real interest in school.

“Do not make sending children to tuition class as a trend. Discuss (with children) about it first and think whether it is considered as ‘needs’ or not,” she told Bernama here today.

She was commenting on the current trend where parents regarded good examination grades as a benchmark for their children’s intelligence and ability to succeed, hence, sending their children for tuition classes.

Elaborating, Noor Azimah said the obsession among some parents in filling up their children’s free time with tuition classes even at a young age could actually rob them of their childhood.

She said every child had his or her interests such as in sports, which parents should encourage their children to explore.

Echoing similar views was National Union of the Teaching Profession president Kamarozaman Abd Razak who said with the national education policy changing towards a holistic education, sending children to tuition classes for the sake of academic excellence was worthless.

“It is good if parents send their children to attend an extra class to improve their English or Islamic education. But it is better if parents spend their money in the PIBG (parents-teachers’ association) for the association to carry out activities that can hone students’ skills and character development,” he said.

By Syamsiah Sahat and Norhayati Mohd Akhir

BERNAMA.

Read more @ http://education.bernama.com/index.php?sid=news_content&id=1435505

Dishing up healthier options

February 11th, 2018

It is vital for parents to understand lifestyle factors that determine the healthy growth of their children.

ARE parents aware of what their children are consuming, how they eat and in what environment they are eating in? In our cover story on “Ensuring children chomp on healthy treats” last month, we focused on the enforcement of the Healthy School Canteen Management Guide to limit the access and availability of unhealthy food and drinks to school children.

In this issue, we feature experts who give their take on the role parents play in ensuring their children’s diet contain a healthy amount of nutrients and the different benefits of consuming wholesome food.

We often hear from our neighbours or relatives how they get caught up with work commitments, subsequently handing down their parental duties to caretakers or the child’s grandparents

Many rely on food provided by the child’s school canteen, despite knowing the various unhealthy treats that are served on the premises.

The Education and Health Ministries have taken considerable measures to ensure healthier options are served in schools.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told StarEducate recently that efforts to “healthify” school canteens began in 2016, in collaboration with the Education Ministry under the purview of the National Plan of Action for Nutrition of Malaysia 2016-2025.

The new guide, known as the revised “Healthy School Canteen Management Guide”, will be enforced this year to limit the accessibility and availability of unhealthy food and drinks to school children.

Meanwhile, school canteen operators are given a strict list of banned food that cannot be sold in government school canteens. While schools play a significant role in ensuring healthier options are dished out to students, parents play a role no less important.

It is vital for parents to understand other lifestyle factors that determine the healthy growth of their children, says Assoc Prof Dr Hazreen Abdul Majid. A child is too young to understand how to choose a healthy selection of food by themselves and parents always know best.

“It important to educate them at an early age on nutritious food. When they start young, it is easier for them to adapt to the environment and adopt a healthy lifestyle as they progress in life.

“The more you expose them to healthy options, the more it becomes a habit,” adds the Universiti Malaya Faculty of Medicine, Centre for Population Health and Department of Social and Preventive Medicine associate professor of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Echoing Dr Hazreen, Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Yazid Jalaludin says the responsibility to ensure a child’s diet contains good nutrition is not in the hands of healthcare professionals alone.

“I have come across parents who heavily involve their children in sports, training for five to six hours a day. Due to such hectic training schedules, many of them lack time to eat.

“Hence, their calorie intake is disproportionate to their loss of energy, causing them stunted growth and a lack of focus during their lessons,” adds the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre Department of Paediatrics head and Consultant Paediatrician, Consultant Paediatric Endocrinologist.

Food that are high in glycemic index such as cereals and white bread digest faster, causing one to feel hungry more quickly. When this happens, Dr Hazreen says, a child will not have sustainable blood sugar in their system and thus, end up lacking attention during their lessons, disrupting their concentration and studies. “Therefore, the type of food and carbs they take play an important role,” he adds.

Dr Hazreen encourages the consumption of food high in fibre such as wholemeal and whole grain bread.

It delays gastric emptying, is wholesome, provides energy and is low in glycemic index. It also leads to a healthy bowel, a common problem among young children, he says.

“The vitamin and oil content in wholemeal and whole grain bread is higher compared to white bread. In addition to this, to add colour and creativity to their food, some parents even add fruits to make it interesting for their children. The role of food today has expanded more holistically,” he adds.

Dr Hazreen shares that eating meat on a daily basis is not advised. Instead, he encourages parents to alternate meat with fish sources such as tuna, sardines or deep-sea fish as it contains essential oil such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

“Don’t skip meals! Data gathered from various studies show that a number of children do not have their breakfast. When a child does not have fuel in their system, how will they be able to survive their day, especially when they have physical education in school? This will of course affect their studies. Parents play a crucial role here; they must be alert and monitor their children’s eating timings,” he adds.

Sharing similar sentiments as Dr Hazreen, Dr Muhammad Yazid says it is vital for children to never skip their meals, especially breakfast. It sends your body into a state of “yo-yo” as sugar levels fluctuate, he stresses. Having timely meals allow children to grow well, subsequently helping them to better understand and absorb lessons taught in school, he adds.

“When we eat, we provide energy to our brain in the form of glucose; the main fuel for our body. A child sleeps for some eight hours, on average. This means, they have been fasting and their stomach is empty for that duration of time.

“When they don’t have breakfast, they end up breaking their sugar resources from other parts of their body and this is not good, compared to simply having a meal. Therefore, a good amount of calorie intake is necessary as it provides energy; nutrition plays a significant role in the development of a child,” he says.

The Nutrition Society of Malaysia (NSM) conducted a survey in 2014 on 8,705 school children across the country to study their breakfast habits. See Table 1 for key findings from the study.

In a World Health Organisation report published last year, it stated that 41 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2016.

For Dr Hazreen, this figure comes as no surprise as energy is not just derived from the food we devour, but from the type of beverages we consume. Instead of making fruit juices, for example, he suggests that parents feed the fruit to their children. One regular sized mug contains at least six teaspoon of sugar, he stresses.

“Unknowingly, parents feed their children excessive amounts of sugar, and this is just fruit juice. Can you imagine if their children consume carbonated beverages coupled with fast food?”

In our previous report, Dr Noor Hisham says food and beverages that are not allowed to be sold in school canteens are food and drinks that are high in sugar, fat and salt (sodium).

Carbonated drinks, sweets and chocolate, ice confections and ice cream and processed food such as burgers, nuggets, sausages, are examples of foods that are listed under this category, he explains.

In 2016, Dr Hazreen conducted a study on adolescent children and found that many teenagers consume too much sugar in their drinks and lack calcium and fibre in their diet.

“The reason behind this is multifactorial. There are cases where when a child is young and refuses to eat vegetables, parents give up reintroducing these foods to their children. Research suggests that when a type of food is reintroduced at least 15 times, the chances of the child consuming it is greater. Veggies are good not just to keep one’s cognitive functions sharp, but it is also beneficial for the bowel,” he adds.

Antioxidants in vegetables and fruits are also vital to ensure the smooth flow of blood to brain. Brighter fruits are better for one’s health as it contains more vitamins, he explains.

In an era where the fear of missing out on latest trends is astonishing and the inclination to believe messages forwarded over instant messaging apps are high, Dr Hazreen warns parents to do their research before succumbing to any sort of food craze.

“People enjoy following trends without understanding the rationale behind it. Be careful of what you are adopting, know if your child has any underlying diseases and always go back to basics such as looking into your child’s diet,” he adds.

Adequate sleep and meal prep

Dr Muhammad Yazid advocates the consumption of supper in small portions before a child goes to bed.

These include a glass of milk and one exchange of carbohydrate. It can be three pieces of biscuits or a slice of bread, provided they have a good dinner, he adds.

While a healthy diet for growing children is vital, he emphasises that sleep is of equal importance.

“Parents need to understand that a child requires a good amount of sleep per day, and they must sleep within a certain time to ensure their optimal growth. A child grows mainly during their sleep due to the hormones that are secreted during those hours.” He opposes the idea of children sleeping past midnight.

“Even if they get eight hours of sleep, it does not mean they will get the optimal hours as required, in comparison to a child who sleeps by 9pm.” Likewise, Dr Hazreen says inadequate rest coupled with unhealthy eating habits could cause a domino effect on a child and their academic performance.

He believes having a balanced meal is important, suggesting that parents follow the Health Ministry’s Nutrition Division Malaysian Healthy Plate recommendation of filling our plates in fractions or as they say, “Suku-Suku-Separuh”; a quarter is carbohydrates, another quarter protein (fish, poultry, meat and legumes) and the remaining half is vegetables and fruits.

Thanks to video-sharing websites such as YouTube and food networks such as Buzzfeed’s Tasty, busy parents are a click away from preparing simple meals for their children on days they find themselves racing against time.

“Parents can prepare something as simple as sandwiches, fruits and low-sugar cereals for breakfast.

Breakfast doesn’t necessarily need to be heavy, some parents even prepare oats with raisins for their children. For lunch, the children can have something light such as mee soup rather than nasi lemak as the latter has high contents of fat. Our stomach requires time to digest food with high fat content and when this happens, we often tend to feel sleepy,” Dr Hazreen says.
Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2018/02/11/dishing-up-healthier-options/#H4FmY2FoCWZzx6Vp.99

Gong Xi Fa Cai!

February 11th, 2018
A good rapport among communities means Chinese New Year is celebrated by all. FILE PIC

MAK Limah called me over to her vegetable stall at this small rural wet market. Loudly, and with some pride, she invited me to a Chinese New Year open house next weekend.

This alone was enough to pique my curiosity. A Malay makcik invited me to a Chinese New Year open house!

This was a first time for me. Everyone at the stall turned to see who it was that Mak Limah shouted the invitation to.

“Jangan lupa datang makan masa Raya Cina ni. Ah Keong jemput semua orang yang Mak Limah kenal. Bawa anak bini sekali. Lagi ramai lagi meriah!” Mak Limah proclaimed for all to hear.

All Mak Limah said was she was asked by Ah Keong, one of the market’s fishmongers, to invite his regular customers to his makan-makan this coming Friday to celebrate Chinese New Year.

She said not to forget to bring all members of the family — the more the merrier!

I vaguely remember Ah Keong, an elderly person who sells all sorts of fish head ranging from tenggiri to kurau to kerapu.

Quite often, these fish heads find their way to Ghani’s restaurant, which is a favourite among locals.

Celebrating Chinese New Year in a small rural town can be fun. In Ah Keong’s case, he has such a big clientele that the annual affair is celebrated with much fun and laughter, according to Mak Limah.

A couple of weeks before the big day, Ah Keong already has boxes of mandarin oranges ready for distribution.

The whole market would wait eagerly for Ah Keong’s lokam.

Every customer is given one or two. Some take even more, especially those who have known him for a long lime.

Mak Limah, Ah Keong’s long-time friend and neighbour in the market, often helps to give away the oranges to customers.

Other Chinese retailers in the market do the same thing too, but Ah Keong looks to be the most popular one there.

This is partly because he was one of the pioneers of the market. His wife died a few years ago and most of his children have gone to major towns to work as professionals and entrepreneurs.

But, two of his sons are helping him to run the fish stall, ensuring his legacy will continue.

He has one son residing in Australia and a daughter in the United States.

Come Chinese New Year, they troop back to be with Ah Keong, making the old man and wife happy for a few days — just like the television commercial.

The return of these two was always a big affair. But credit to the two children — they remain humble and don’t forget their roots.

“Kalau kahwin orang putih, saya harap mereka jangan eksyen, (I hope they won’t change if they marry foreigners),” Ah Keong often said.

There was one year when Ah Keong, his wife and the two remaining boys celebrated New Year in Australia with his other son. They enjoyed the stay very much but Ah Keong returned early to open his stall.

After his wife died, Ah Keong preferred to spend the new year in his home.

The return of his children from overseas was always a major highlight, with a tinge of sadness as they recall the happier days when everyone was around.

This year, Mak Limah was tasked with preparing the ketupat and rendang. And many people know that her rendang is always a winner!

“Kesian tengok Ah Keong. Dia suka bila kawan-kawan datang makan. Macam-macam makanan dia tempah (We all sympathise with Ah Keong. But he’s happy when friends come over and join the feast. He has ordered plenty of food),” Mak Limah quipped.

In this particular semi-rural setting, the various communities do not always mix well. Each community keep very much to itself. They are mostly Malay rubber tappers, Chinese vegetable farmers and retailers.

Which is why Ah Keong’s gesture of goodwill is most welcomed. In the wet market where Ah Keong and Mak Limah conduct their daily businesses, there is good rapport among the communities.

They have a shared interest — to see their businesses prosper.

This is where the role of village headman is important. They are either referred to as Tok PenghuluTok Empat or just plain ketua kampung.

If they are proactive, relationships among the communities will certainly be better.

They are community leaders and should play the role well. There are those who take their job seriously. And, there are also those who do the minimum. The latter should be replaced. In fact, they shouldn’t have been picked in the first place.

In towns where there are residents’ association, more is expected of them. The leaders of such associations are picked by the residents and this must be done carefully. But, as we all know too well, there are associations and associations.

by AHMAD A TALIB.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/334365/gong-xi-fa-cai

Global connections imperative to education redesign

February 11th, 2018
(From left) Hamidah Naziadin, Shareen Shariza Abdul Ghani, Idris Jusoh, Mohd Ismail Abd Aziz and Charles Fine at the Redesigning Education Dialogue and soft launch of Going Global 2018. Picture by HALIM SALLEH

The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) is open to collaborating with and learning from other countries in redesigning Malaysia’s higher education system.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said establishing global connections in the sector is important to effect meaningful, beneficial and sustainable change within respective local communities. This is especially so as the nation prepares to face the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

“At the same time, Malaysia is home to more than 1.25 million students including 170,000 international students from over 150 nations which creates an imperative to nurture future-proof global talent,” he added.

Idris was speaking to the Press after the soft launch of Going Global, an annual international conference for leaders of higher and further education that serves as a platform to discuss key issues facing further and higher education. Held for the first time in the Asean region, the conference will be co-hosted by the British Council and MOHE in Kuala Lumpur from May 2 to 4.

Idris said the event themed Global Connections, Local Impact: Creating 21st Century Skills, Knowledge and Impact For Society-Wide Good is apt for the current Malaysian higher education scenario.

Idris Jusoh and Sarah Deverall sharing a light moment.

“Through this conference, we hope to improve education in Malaysia and work with other country participants, particularly in the areas of mobility and keep up with the latest trends in education.

“MOHE is proud to co-host Going Global 2018 with the British Council. We believe this synergy is indicative of the important collaborative nature required within the education space to raise the education ecosystem of the nation and the region to the next level.”

British Council Malaysia director Sarah Deverall said: “Malaysia is a natural choice of venue for this year’s Going Global with its strong worldwide connections, growing reputation as a regional education hub and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We are proud to deliver this year’s conference with co-host MOHE, and the Asean Secretariat as supporting partner. This is a very fitting way to celebrate 70 years of continuous British Council presence in Malaysia.”

She added that Malaysia has a fantastic story to tell with its 10-year National Blueprint for Higher Education that aims to nurture talent, reinforce global standards and develop graduates for 21st century life, as well as a growing reputation as a higher education hub in the region.

“Asean recently realised a five-decade dream of bringing together its 10 member states to form an economic community, bringing social progress, stability and greater opportunity to the region. With 15 million students enrolled across the region, at the heart of this transformation is the role of tertiary education and the contribution to society and cultural understanding, economic growth and employability.

“And as a gateway to Asean, people are looking towards the conference in Kuala Lumpur to find out how the region is addressing the gaps between people with more opportunities and those with less in pursuing education.

“Everybody is at a different stage — where education redesigning is concerned — and things are changing so rapidly that we really don’t know whether we ready for the future. One of the features of this conference is the student voice — those still studying and newly

graduated who are wondering about the skills they will need for the future.”

Up to 150 expert speakers at Going Global 2018 will address how leaders and policy-makers can develop a well-understood role for institutions to meet the future needs of students, employers and communities, as well as the priorities needed to ensure national tertiary education is fit to shape societies of the future.

By ROZANA SANI

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/02/332938/global-connections-imperative-education-redesign

Dyslexia didn’t stop pilot from achieving dreams

February 11th, 2018
Captain James Anthony Tan with the ‘Spirit of Malaysia’ in London in 2013. FILE PIC

KUALA LUMPUR: Who would have thought that the man who dared to travel solo around the world in a single-engine Cessna 210 Silver Eagle aircraft at the age of 21, was once a victim of bullying.

Captain James Anthony Tan, 26, who was enrolled at a national-type Chinese primary school, recalled that he was scolded and caned by his teachers because of his poor performance. He was also made fun of by classmates.

He said he had difficulty following the learning process in the classroom, and could not read or write until he was about 9 years old.

“This caused me to have low self-confidence, and soon I became naughtier and more defiant.

“However, I always knew that the way my mind worked was different from other kids,” he said.

His mother, Olive Beverley Tan, noticed that Tan had difficulty speaking, had poor body movement and lacked hand-eye coordination.

Olive, who was puzzled by Tan’s condition, reached out to her sister, who was in the United Kingdom, for advice.

“At that time, it was very difficult to get information or help.

“There were limited reading materials on the topic (of learning disability) and the Internet was not available yet.

“Even the teachers were not aware of such a condition.

“Instead of trying to understand the situation, the teachers would blame the child for not paying attention.

“So, I spoke to my family in the UK.

“Then, my sister started sending me books on the relevant topics.

“That what started me on the road of education,” said Olive, who later pursued a Master’s Degree in Special Education.

James was diagnosed with dyslexia at 8, and was enrolled in a special course under the Dyslexia Malaysia Association (DMA) in the pioneer batch, for one year.

Tan also attended a one-to-one class under an American teacher, who was based in Singapore, for about two weeks.

“My problem was I couldn’t ‘see’ the alphabets.

“The only way that I could register the alphabets was by using all three senses — sight, hearing and touch.

“So, what we did was (during the class session) we used clay to make the alphabets, which helped me to imagine what an ‘A’ looked like and what it represented,” he said.

Tan said his mother used to ferry him to DMA in Titiwangsa from their home in Kajang daily, easily spending three to four hours on the road, just so he could attend the special course.

He then attended the Cempaka International School for O Level, before pursuing his studies at the Western Australia Aviation College in Perth.

He then attended the Bournemouth Commercial Flight Training and Oxford Aviation Academy in the UK.

Tan said he began his first professional job as a ferry pilot at 18 or 19, where he was given the responsibility of delivering junk planes to various countries, before becoming a private jet pilot.

Tan is also running several companies in various fields, including an alternative learning academy in Kajang that caters to children with learning difficulties.

“Because of my learning difficulties, I was very bad. I was a horrible pilot actually.

“I had bad hand-eye coordination and my learning difficulties still, in part, interfered with my studies.

“But, having a dream is vital to succeed in the face of life challenges.

“Thanks to help and guidance, I was able to learn the basics, and get better (in my studies in college).

“The most difficult part is always the starting point,” he said.

By MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING

Dyslexia: ‘Growing up, I was labelled lazy and stupid’

February 11th, 2018

HE was often punished for his poor grades at the Chinese primary school he attended in Penang.

“I had short attention span. I daydreamed and played a lot in school.

“My grades throughout my school years were either average or below average.”

But, Fitri excelled in sports, music and story-telling. He was even made head prefect in secondary school.

It was only when he was 25 that Fitri was diagnosed with dyslexia by a lecturer when he was studying at Oxford Brookes University in the United Kingdom in 1997.

The lecturer noticed Fitri had symptoms of dyslexia as he had difficulty putting his thoughts in writing.

This was when he was working on a dissertation and had to do a presentation.

“I still remember during the last week of my final year examination, my lecturer met me to discuss my dissertation.

“During the meeting, he pointed out that I showed symptoms of being dyslexic.

“What he told me that day completely changed my life.

“I was lucky that the university had teaching staff who were trained to identify people with learning disabilities, and was equipped with the tools to support students with dyslexia like me,” he said.

Fitri graduated with a degree in Computing and Software Engineering and is now working as a manager at the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronics Systems Bhd.

He is also the president of Pertubuhan Sokongan Ibubapa Dyslexia Malaysia.

By MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/exclusive/2018/02/334404/dyslexia-growing-i-was-labelled-lazy-and-stupid

Dyslexia: Are we reading the problem right?

February 11th, 2018
Children with dyslexia performing at an annual concert organised by the Dyslexia Malaysia Association in Kuala Lumpur in November last year. PIC BY MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING

KUALA LUMPUR: IT takes a trained eye to identify a child with dyslexia and, more often than not, many are passed off as lazy or unintelligent.

In Malaysia, only one per cent of the schools have teachers trained to deal with such students. There are also concerns that many children with dyslexia may not be identified early enough.

Early detection gives children with dyslexia the opportunity to develop to their full potential. Failure to do so, can be disastrous.

The Dyslexia Malaysia Association (DMA) and Pertubuhan Sokongan Ibubapa Dyslexia Malaysia (PSIDM) believe the solution lies in training more teachers for these children.

There are 100 schools with special classes run by qualified teachers to support children with learning difficulties, including those with dyslexia, nationwide.

PSIDM president Ahmad Fitri Isahak said more teachers, both in primary and secondary schools, needed to be trained — to be able to recognise the symptoms of learning disability.

“The training to identify learning disability, including how to differentiate them, should not be confined only to special education teachers. This should be incorporated into teacher’s training at the diploma level,” he said.

He said PSIDM had received complaints from parents that their dyslexic children were rejected by schools, which feared that they might affect the schools’ overall grades and performance.

“Such incidents can be a traumatic experience for both parents and children.

“This should not happen, as schools should offer equal education opportunities to all children without prejudice,” he said.

Fitri said a new education policy was needed to ensure that equal education opportunities were given to all, including those with learning disabilities.

DMA president Sariah Amirin said it was crucial that children with dyslexia be properly diagnosed and exposed to appropriate teaching methods, particularly during the early stages of schooling.

She said early intervention was vital for a child to learn to deal with his learning disability.

“Dyslexia may affect the learning ability of a child to read or calculate (dyscalculia or mathematics disorder) for instance, but that does not mean he lacks intelligence.

Che Noor Julita Hazleen Che Kar, a teacher at SK Taman Maluri in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, attending to dyslexic pupils in class. FILE PIC

“A child with dyslexia can be as capable and smart as other children. Some of our former students are lawyers, pilots and engineers now.

“The brains of dyslexic children work differently from normal children and, hence, they require different teaching techniques. They require more stimulation,” she said.

By MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/exclusive/2018/02/334408/dyslexia-are-we-reading-problem-right

Building capacity to increase English proficiency

February 7th, 2018
The roundtable in session. In the front row (from left) are Supyan Hussin, Ganakumaran Subramaniam, Zuraidah Mohd Don, Siti Bahijah Bakhtiar and Nor Faridah Abd Manaf.

There has been a lot of concern for a long while now on whether Malaysian graduates and school-leavers have the English language proficiency levels that will enable them to compete in a globalised world where trade and commerce are mostly carried out in English and academic research findings are largely authored in the language.

Two years ago, the Ministry of Education (MOE) launched the Roadmap for English Language Education in Malaysia spanning 2015 to 2025 to align the standard of English taught in schools and institutions of higher learning with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) — an international standard that focuses on producing learners who can communicate and interact in any language, in this instance, English.

The roadmap takes a cohesive approach where the English language curriculum, teaching and learning process and materials, and teacher training are integrated. With an emphasis on the ability to communicate, CEFR spells out the learning outcomes/skills (e.g. understand, read, write, communicate) students should attain at every stage of learning and puts the student, teacher and parent on the same page where expectations and results are concerned.

While the focus on the alignment with CEFR standards has been very much school-based, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, in his 2018 mandate, proposed that the Malaysia English Assessment (MEA) be CEFR-aligned and integrated into the communication component of the iCGPA in public universities.

This move underlines the fact that where English language education is concerned, there is a themed continuum from preschool to tertiary studies.

Textbooks form one of the core components of an education curriculum.

To accelerate efforts to elevate the standard of English in schools, MOE announced the introduction of foreign textbooks in English language classes at public schools starting this year as part of its initiative to align the English language curriculum with CEFR standards. This move involves those from preschool, Years One and Two pupils, and Forms One and Two students .

While some — politicians, teachers and parents — opposed the move due to a multitude of reasons, there are also those who strongly feel that this initiative will enhance English language proficiency.

Issues such as the content not being culturally suitable for students in rural areas especially and lack of consultation with stakeholders like teachers and parents on the use of such textbooks were raised. Some also pointed out that the abrupt decision by the ministry may not augur well.

Superminds, the CEFR-aligned textbook used by preschoolers, Years One and Two pupils, is published by Cambridge University Press, while Form One and Two students use Pulse 2 published by Macmillan Publishers.

Matter of Contention:

International Islamic University Malaysia’s (IIUM) Department of English Language and Literature organised a recent roundtable discussion to provide a platform for academicians to extrapolate issues from angles as diverse as those from the grass roots, parents, teachers and universities to policy-makers but with an eye on building a constructive effort to address the concerns of all Malaysians effectively.

Professor at Sustainability of Language Science

Professor Supyan Hussin of the Sustainability of Language Sciences Research Centre in Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia kicked off the session by sharing the findings of a survey he conducted in October last year via social media which received 727 responses from the public to gauge whether they agree with the move to import textbooks from the United Kingdom to teach English.

Some 64.5 per cent did not agree with the idea of importing foreign books to be used in schools while 25.2 per cent agreed with the move and the rest were not sure.

From the survey results, concerns revolved around the cost (which many believe is too expensive), cultural elements (how foreign elements will affect the way students think and act), credibility of local writers (the country hascredible writers to write textbooks), and whether imported books are compatible with the curriculum.

“Some say it’s not so much the textbooks but whether teachers are able to use them to teach,” said Supyan, adding that a curriculum is designed with an education philosophy in mind and, in the case of Malaysia, materials must be in line with the National Education Philosophy.

“Based on the National Education Philosophy, we should conduct needs analysis and address the requirements of the Z and Alpha generations. The books need to fulfil the learning objectives for specific lessons. Delivery is tested and student assessments are conducted to see whether the outcomes match the objectives. Then we decide whether to adopt or adapt. That’s how we select materials for teaching and learning,” he added.

Malaysian English Language Teaching Association president Professor Ganakumaran Subramaniam, who is also the Asia Teaching English as a Foreign Language vice-president and School of Education head at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, said that textbooks alone cannot improve waning standards of English in schools.

Other elements that come into play include teacher competence; the learning environment in terms of context and opportunities to use the language; teaching strategies comprising methodologies, strategies and activities; a carefully thought-out developmental syllabus; student motivation; and learning-related matters such as personality, readiness, learning styles and strategies.

Like Supyan, Ganakumaran said textbook suitability should be measured by its compliance with the National Education Philosophy and aligned with the English curriculum goals; English Language Teaching pedagogical consideration; and technical and publication consideration, among others.

By ROZANA SANI.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/education/2018/02/332968/building-capacity-increase-english-proficiency