Arkib Berita, Pembangunan Sekolah, Program

Unicef gives inclusive education priority

 Posted on June 26, 2012, Tuesday

by Jane Moh,

OUR PRIDE AND JOY: Children are the country’s future leaders and initiators of the country’s development.

SHIFTING FOCUS: Unicef wants inclusive education to be a priority in the rural areas.

Dr Victor Karunan

SIBU: Realising the importance of early childhood education, United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is making inclusive education a priority among children with special needs in the rural areas.

According to Unicef Deputy Representative and Senior Social Policy Advisor Malaysia Dr Victor Karunan, this focus had been given in other countries for quite a while; Malaysia started last year.

“Our country’s programme would run from 2011 until 2015. Right now, we are still at the early stage. We have been working at the federal level with the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and Social Welfare, talking to them on how Unicef could support,” he said.

Unicef had a global framework and guidance, the United Nations Convention Rights of Disabled People, for the government to address the problem.

Dr Victor was speaking to The Borneo Post recently during his visit here for the 4th National Early Childhood Intervention Conference at Kingwood Hotel.

He said they were working with the ministry, helping them in developing policies on disabled children.

This includes services for special needs children, capacity development for teachers, care-givers and others dealing with special needs children, and in terms of partnership, ways to facilitate for the nation’s government, private sector, non-governmental organisations, and so forth.

Although there was still no programme at the state level, Unicef had started discussion with the National Early Childhood Intervention Conference (NECIC) on what Unicef could help.

He said they were also looking at supporting programmes in Sabah and Sarawak.

According to him, this shift of attention was based on the experiences in India, the Philippines, and Thailand, where they focused on the disabled children, particularly on the poor and vulnerable community.

“We have been using this approach for the last 10 years or so, advocating for inclusive education for disabled children,” he pointed out.

According to him, Unicef has been using the equity approach in their effort towards inclusive education.

Through this approach, Unicef has realised there is a need to focus on the vulnerable and marginalised children, which involves the rural areas in different countries.

He said Unicef was trying to advocate for inclusive education in the mainstream schools in the towns, and particularly in the rural areas due to the problem of access to education for children in general and even more so for the disabled children.

Unlike in the rural areas, he said there are opportunities in towns where families could afford to send their children to school to enjoy better facilities, more services, and so forth.

“But, in the rural areas, and particularly we look at the places such as those in Sarawak, we have mountainous indigenous people.

“For them, access is a big issue. So, Unicef is working towards providing opportunity for these children to go to school,” he said.

To see its fruition, he said it would take some times because it involved a change in the mindset and institution.

Giving Thailand as an example, he said with strong partnership with the government, NGOs, and other religious groups, Unicef had helped to remove the stigma from these children.

“We have that in Malaysia as well. When you have disabled children, you tend to hide the children from the community and therefore, the stigma becomes interiorised within the children.

“That is one area where progress has been made because of more media campaigns. It has really changed the public perception,” he said.

He believed that rural areas in countries such as Thailand and the Philippines faced the same challenges as in Malaysia especially among the different minority groups.

“But they produced good results. We facilitated the exposure for government officials and others to other countries, to see how they’ve done it, so they can learn from each other and this is what we are proposing here for the government of Malaysia.

“It is good to expose what other countries are doing and to learn from that experience,” he said.

As for Sarawak, he said Unicef would conduct a comprehensive study about the situation of children with special needs in the state next year.

He said one of the challenges they faced was insufficient data and information.

He said the study would look at all aspects including health, education, protection, family situation, government programmes for children, NGOs programmes, foundations, and so forth.

“We need to understand who the children are, where do they live, what services they have access to, how many go to schools and how many are not going to schools, and why, and others.

“Unicef never jumps into the programme. That is not our policy,” he said.

Read more:

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Masalah Guru, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Surat

GOOD TEACHERS: A good salarywill help

Sunday, June 24, 2012

By Marisa Demori, Kuala Lumpur 0 comments

I REFER to the report “What makes a good teacher?” last Sunday. I think what makes a good teacher is a good salary.

Teachers, like other workers, work for money and the better they are paid, the more passion they will have for the job.

A teacher has his or her own needs plus those of their families, and these needs must be satisfied before the teacher can be effective in the classroom.

I could never identify with the school of thought that teachers are social workers who would go overboard to inspire and motivate their students, even to the point of establishing a personal relationship with them and their families.

A teacher is simply the medium between the book and the students. The relationship between the teacher and his or her students is a professional one, not a social or a friendly one. Teachers who want to be respected must keep their distance and their privacy.

A trained teacher has at his or her disposal all the tools to conduct lessons and to make sure that students learn.

With a trained teacher there is no possibility of the students not learning or failing an exam.

A true teacher is serious, disciplined, just and firm. A good teacher commands the respect of his or her students and has no problem completing the syllabus.

My final observation is that a good teacher cannot be a teacher for long.

He or she will want to progress the same way students progress. And so after five or 10 years of teaching a good teacher will want to become a head teacher, a head of department and perhaps even a principal.

Read more: GOOD TEACHERS: A good salarywill help – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Masalah Guru, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Surat

GOOD TEACHERS: Experience and passion matter more

Sunday, June 24, 2012

By R. Murali Rajaratenam, Kuala Lumpur 0 comments

TEACHING is the profession that teaches all others and the cardinal mistake is to think that qualifications make a good teacher. They don’t. When you’re faced with 30 to 50 truculent students, qualifications do not count for much.

If you don’t have the right personality, you’ll suffer in the bear-pit of today’s classrooms. An article in The Guardian some time back stated that there were four types of teachers who were effective: the despot, the carer, the charmer and the rebel.

Despotic teachers are literally “The Terminator” of teaching; the tough guy or gal who everyone turns to when the going gets really tough. They are nearly always very experienced teachers who know not only all the pupils but their parents as well. Most “books” don’t advocate this approach to teaching, but I have to admit it can be very effective, even if morally dubious. Despotic teachers often extract fantastic work from their pupils, and rarely have to use their full armoury. Their reputations are usually enough. They are often highly organised, making their classrooms into small fortresses.

Carers take on the role of surrogate parents to their pupils. Many don’t have degrees, and have been appointed as “mentors” or “support teachers” to help struggling pupils plan out their lives. Usually, pupils love seeing their mentors, and learn from them the vital skill of “taking responsibility for their own learning”.

The “charmer”, one that I subscribe to in my approach to teaching, is quite different from both the above examples. They can be a disorganised species, living off adrenaline and wit. They are frequently highly academic, seeking to be mates with their students and to understand them and play with them. With this sort of teacher, the classroom becomes one great big, bouncing playground of learning.

The most controversial but often most effective kind of teacher is the rebel. These teachers see school as a place that should aim to transform society. Unfortunately, they have become a dying breed.

But, the crucial point here is that none of these teachers learned their skills by getting a good degree; they learned them on the job. All can ­improve by watching other good ­teachers in the classroom and learning from their techniques. Research shows that all the best teachers motivate their pupils to work hard and assess them regularly.

So, instead of demoralising teachers with ill-informed comments about what makes a good teacher, the authorities should commit themselves to putting enough money and time into training teachers.

The current policy, if implemented, won’t improve the standard of teaching and will instead further dishearten an already deflated profession.

Read more: GOOD TEACHERS: Experience and passion matter more – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Masalah Guru, Pembangunan Sekolah

GOOD TEACHERS: Offer a shoulder for students to lean on

Sunday, June 24, 2012

By David Tih, Malacca 0 comments

EDUCATORS play a very important role in nation-building. There is no doubt that they have taught many students, who later go on to become successful professionals, such as doctors, engineers and lawyers, holding important positions in society and the nation.

.Nor Azlida Mohamed of SK Sungai Berua, Terengganu, teaching Orang Asli children to read and write. Educators play a vital role in nation-building.

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Without teachers, it would be very difficult, if not impossible for society to develop and advance.

However, besides the basic duty of teaching, a good educator is someone who can nurture his or her students’ potential and turn them into all-rounders.

A good and respected teacher is also a good companion, friend and counsellor to students, people that can be depended on in hard times.

Today’s demanding lifestyle sometimes leave students tense.

If students can talk to teachers and vent their frustrations, it will help curb depression and suicide among students.

As pointed out by William Doraisamy in an interview last week, one need not be a graduate to be a good teacher. Many non-graduate teachers have proven that they possess the ability to teach and make their lessons interesting, and fun.

Their passion, humility, dedication, emotional maturity, experience, strong personality, knowledge, wisdom, and courage enable them to teach with distinction. These teachers are truly the nation’s unsung heroes.

Read more: GOOD TEACHERS: Offer a shoulder for students to lean on – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times

2012, Aliran, Arkib Berita, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah

‘Remove class a waste of time’

Monday, June 25, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Remove class is a waste of time and should be scrapped, said Tamil School Headmasters Council chairman P. Doraisamy.

“It affects the confidence  of these students, who study in isolation.”

Doraisamy, 58, said poor competency in Bahasa Malaysia  and  English  among Tamil and Chinese  school students was also attributed to  remove classes.

“BM is  taught (in Tamil and Chinese schools) at a standard lower than that  in national schools.

“The students should be put in regular Form One classes to allow them to mingle with others and improve their language proficiency.”

Doraisamy said  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had  met the council  and discussed issues concerning remove classes early this year.

Dr K. Jegathisan, 28,  said:  “The students  must know that they, too, have equal opportunities to progress.  I was in a remove class  and I didn’t find it useful at all.”

Read more: ‘Remove class a waste of time’ – General – New Straits Times

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, ICT/Teknologi, Pembangunan Sekolah, Program, Rencana, Surat

Step up to digital dare

Sunday June 24, 2012

One-off training sessions and workshops do little to help teachers become tech-savvy in this new era of teaching. Continuous hands-on training and technical support is what they need to make the most of what technology has to offer.

ARE we doing the right thing? Are our teachers ready to move towards a digital classroom?

My teenagers come home from school every day only to tell me how boring lessons were for that day. They would imitate the way the teachers spoke and almost always kind of knew beforehand what the teachers were going to say as it all only came out of the textbook they had in front of them!

The vast majority of teachers still do not feel adequately prepared to integrate technologies into their classroom teaching. Therefore they rely on traditional methods of instruction, leaving their technology tools unused!

Regular coaching: Exposing teachers to tools such as the SmartBoard helps create a change in classroom practice and makes learning fun and creative.

A lot of questions

We have been harping on using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in schools, teachers being technologically-savvy, training and more training … many a time at the expense of sacrificing teaching and learning in schools, classrooms left without a teacher, all in the name of “training”. Is this all working out? Has there been an uphill performance of teachers in class?

To teachers who attend training on use of ICT in teaching and learning: Has the training been useful? Are you applying what you learnt during the training sessions? Has the training benefited the students in enhancing their learning process? Or, are we still at the same phase we were in some 30 years ago, when you and I were in school? Do we still teach in the same way our teachers did with us? Can we do better?

Obviously classrooms have not changed very much despite all the efforts in providing teaching tools of the new era. Despite being “connected”, we remain unconnected or do not connect to our students as we should. Although research has proven that technology integration in teaching and learning can help students develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills, yet the technology provided in schools is not fully utilised.

Traditional sit-and-get training sessions or one-time-only workshops have not been effective in making teachers comfortable with using technology and integrating it into their lessons. Professional development for teachers is a key issue in using technology to improve the quality of learning in the classroom.

A well-planned, ongoing professional development programme that is tied to the school’s curriculum goals, designed with built-in evaluation, and sustained by sufficient financial and staff support is vital if teachers are expected to use technology appropriately to promote learning in the classroom.

Dr Termit Kaur: Just knowing how to use a computer is not enough. Teachers must become knowledgeable about technology and be self-confident to integrate it effectively in the classroom.

Professional development activities should not be seen as a career leap but a leap in student learning. How many of us teachers go for training with improvement in student learning in mind? The ultimate goal of professional development of teachers should be to improve student learning.

Research shows that teacher quality is the factor that matters most for student learning. Teachers should therefore be provided with abundant opportunities to become fluent in using technology to bolster instruction and help students develop higher-order thinking and problem-solving skills.

As research suggests, there are various essential components in the professional development of teachers with regard to technology use. Examples include connection to student learning, hands-on technology use, a variety of learning experiences, curriculum-specific applications, collegial learning, active participation of teachers, sufficient time, administrative support, adequate resources, new roles for teachers, and technical assistance and support.

The essentials

Let’s look at some of these essential components and see how this can help benefit students’ learning.

Continuous professional development should enable teachers to implement new teaching techniques using technology and to help students work collaboratively, and develop higher-order thinking-skills. Teachers, in other words, must become “fearless in their use of technology” and empowered by the many opportunities it offers.

Time is often one of the many factors hindering teachers from using technology in their teaching and learning. Research shows that most teachers want to learn to use technology effectively, but they lack the time, access, and support necessary to do so.

The use of technology by teachers can encourage students to be engaged in the learning process and expose them to a broad range of information and experts.

Recent research has shown the importance of current professional development emphasising hands-on technology use. Teachers who receive technology training in the most recent times are more likely to integrate technology into their classroom lessons than teachers who have not had training.

Teachers who have continuous technology training feel better prepared to use technology in their teaching process. Hence they are more likely to use and rely on digital content for instruction. They are also more likely to spend more time searching for websites to use in class and to spend more time trying out software to be used for teaching.

Long-term learning

Teachers are given a one-off sit-down training workshop which obviously is not bringing any change to the teaching and learning process. Teachers are still not at ease to use existing technology, what more new technologies in the teaching and learning process thus making learning in classrooms a boring process.

It is time to make learning a little more interesting! Ongoing and continuous professional development experiences is what is needed to help teachers incorporate technology in ways that support powerful instruction.

Traditional workshops and how-to training sessions do not support teachers in making change happen in the teaching and learning process. Research proves that professional development for effective technology use can come in a variety of forms, such as mentoring, modelling, ongoing workshops, special courses, and structured observations.

Based on adult learning theories, professional development for adults would require relevant, concrete experiences with adequate support, appropriate feedback, and long-term follow-up. Research shows that this nature of professional development is poles apart from traditional one-time teacher workshops. It indicates that teachers discover and integrate new information best when it is presented over a long time frame instead of a single session.

Is it time to re-think our teacher professional development? It is time we move away from the one-off training sessions and one-off workshops that bring hardly any impact on the teaching and learning process. If we want teachers to integrate technology into their teaching and learning process, professional development has to be re-defined in our system.

Another important component of effective professional development for technology is access to on-site technical support personnel who are responsible for troubleshooting and assistance after the technology and lessons are in place.

When teachers are trying to use technology in their classrooms and they encounter difficulties, they need immediate help and support. Technology that is not easily accessed and implemented will not be used. Teachers will return to more traditional ways of teaching if the problems they encounter cannot be solved quickly and efficiently. Schools, therefore, have a vested interest in providing technical support.

Lack of professional development for technology use is one of the most serious obstacles to fully integrating technology into the curriculum. Whether technology should be used in schools is no longer the issue in education. Instead, the current emphasis is ensuring that technology is used effectively to create new opportunities for learning and to promote student achievement.

The bottom line

The transformation of classroom technology from hardware, software, and connections into tools for teaching and learning depends on knowledgeable and enthusiastic teachers who are motivated and prepared to put technology to work on behalf of their students.

Yet, many teachers do not have the technical knowledge or skills to recognise the potential for technology in teaching and learning. Just knowing how to use a computer is not enough. Teachers must become knowledgeable about technology and self-confident enough to integrate it effectively in the classroom.

A high-quality professional development programme has to be conducted as an ongoing process, not a one-shot approach. Teachers need continued practice to become comfortable with and to implement change, especially in technology use. Professional development for technology use should provide opportunities for teachers to become comfortable and effective in using technology in their teaching.

Teachers should create a spark in the classroom by using new strategies during routine school days in the classroom. There has to be a change in practice. Teachers must use the new skills they acquire during professional development. However, follow-up support as well as opportunities for ongoing discussion and reflection on the new procedures is essential in ensuring change in the teaching and learning process.




2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

Don’t be afraid of history

Sunday June 24, 2012

I REFER to the letter “Certainly not the business of history” (Let’s hear it, June 3). The writer is aghast that instead of history, business is the topic of a History project which her daughter has to work on in her Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) year.

My guess is that this is because matters of race, religion and tradition have become highly sensitive to the Malaysian public.

History, when misinterpreted can be highly controversial.

Nevertheless, business has no place in a History lesson, and the writer is right in saying that a History project should be about history. Good educators would have no problem formulating relevant projects for History students.

Ultimately, it is my hope that the Education Ministry will not fear history but rather learn from it, and employ good teachers.

Indeed, the main lesson of History is that those who get ahead are always those who pay the price.