2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Awal, Rencana, Surat

Humility above individuality

Sunday July 22, 2012


THE sentiments expressed by Valentine Cawley in his letter Denying a child’s individuality (Let’s hear it, July 15) disregard the many values imbibed by pupils in early childhood education.

Sounding like a disgruntled parent, he voiced his frustration and anger about an event which the children enjoyed being part of.

The sweeping statements he made only reflected his irritation and dissatisfaction over the children’s performance at a charity concert.

As a researcher in the area of giftedness among children, Cawley has failed to see the positive side of the concert.

While speaking about individuality, he has forgotten about humanity, and that the sacrifice of individuality is humility.

As a representative of the Association of Professional Early Childhood Providers, I was invited to witness this mammoth effort by children for charity. I can say that this colossal effort was not easy to manage, let alone stage.

The parents and teachers who painstakingly fulfilled everything that was necessary to put on such a great performance should be commended.

Enquiries with the preschool revealed that there was no force or compulsion for anyone to take part.

In fact only 25% of the total school population took part and that, too, on a voluntary basis, with the consent of parents.

It was not a school concert but a charity event in aid of underprivileged preschoolers. The aim was to instil in children good values like kindness, love, caring and sharing.

More importantly, through their “little” efforts they were able to make others understand the huge value of charity.

Cawley has overlooked the subtle learning points that come from participating in a charity event.

The children, including preschoolers, learnt the meaning of working together, being considerate toward one another, and helping each other in ensuring they do their best. They learnt what it is to be an ambassador for charity.

To my knowledge, the children were informed of the reasons for the charity event. Knowing that there were less fortunate children who could never dream of attending a quality preschool, enabled them to empathise, be generous and give from their hearts.

As a parent, Cawley would have to agree that his child has learnt some good values and morals while at the centre.

Furthermore, children in this particular programme are known to be well-mannered and respectful towards their elders, while being expressive, articulate and inquisitive.

Being an expert in his field, I am sure Cawley has high expectations and demands for the progress of his son, and I would say kudos to the principal and teachers for being able to satisfy his requirements these three long years.


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

Chinese education truly an asset

Sunday July 22, 2012


I WAS impressed that a Malay family was keen to learn the Chinese language and Chinese culture after reading the article “Fluent in non-native tongue” (StarEducate, July 7).

Chinese education has always been a priority for the Chinese community and it goes back to the time long before the country’s independence.

Despite the challenges, Chinese education has had a role to play in adding value to the nation’s education system.

Most Chinese parents send their children to National Type Chinese Schools and Independent Chinese schools.

There are some who have allowed their children to pursue tertiary level courses at the three Chinese institutions of higher learning in the country.

Even Malay and Indian parents have recognised and acknowledged the importance of the language globally.

Many are even sending their children to Chinese schools as can be seen from the Zulkarnain siblings, who were mentioned in the article.

The article mentioned 19-year-old Zainatul Fadhilah’s determination in becoming a dentist and her keen interest in mastering Mandarin so that she could communicate with her patients in the language.

It had also mentioned that her brother Zulfakar Arif, 21, a third year medical student at Universiti Malaya was of the view that learning the language had boosted his confidence.

Malaysia, as I see it, is the only country in South East Asia that has a complete Chinese education system right from primary school to university level and we must take pride in this unique achievement.

There is no doubt that many Chinese educated students have done well and excelled in their careers both locally and internationally.

A case in point is Datuk Pua Khein Seng who was from a Chinese school in Sekinchan, Selangor. Pua later went to Taiwan in 1993 to complete his degree in Electrical Engineering at the Chiao Tung University.

He founded Phison Electronics Corporation which created the Pen Drive, the world’s first USB “flash removable disk”.

And in view of China emerging as a world economic giant and political power, our ability in being multi-lingual, will certainly give us an advantage and make us more competitive than the others.


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

Mobile phones in schools – yay or nay?

Sunday July 22, 2012




Errr… No. Although all these gadgets are really handy, it’s going to be ridiculously difficult to control how students use them.

Even if you restrict students from using them during lessons, it’s hard to say that all students will obey their teachers on this. Besides, it defeats the purpose of using the gadgets as learning tools.

At the same time, students could easily be playing Temple Runwhen they’re supposed to be looking for info online or something.

I’m not saying that all students will misuse these gadgets, but I am saying that it’s an unneeded temptation. As to safety and communications, there are public phones in school and parents can always call up the school if there’s any emergency. It’s an unnecessary allowance that will cause more disciplinary problems, in my opinion.

Wu Yee Pheng, 17, Penang Chinese Girls’ High School, Penang.

Nay with a capital N. if you actually knew us teens well enough, you would think twice before making this amendment. Furthermore, the traffic on sites like Facebook and Twitter and not forgetting Instagram would increase tremendously. I don’t trust myself not to go on social networking sites if i were to be allowed to bring my mobile phone, or any other IT gadget to school. Now the question is, do you?

Aneeshaa Choudhury, 16, SMK(P) St.George, Penang.




There is no right or wrong in bringing mobile phones and IT gadgets to school. It is how they use it. There is benefit to those who bring mobile phones as they can easily inform their parents when their class and school activities end. So, parents would not need to worry about their children. Besides, mobile phones have many uses.

Students can use the dictionary app to check the meaning of words that they don’t know. Whenever they can’t copy the notes quickly from the whiteboard, they can capture it. It is so fast and efficient. Can’t grasp what teachers teach in class? Students can record what the teachers say! As for IT gadgets, they can learn a new style of studying.

Students can use those gadgets for e-learning to read notes, do exercises and check answers.

Students can also google to find more information. The disadvantage of having those gadgets is that students tend to pay less attention to teachers, spend more time Facebooking and neglecting their studies. They have the right to bring the gadgets to school but they must be able to control and use them wisely.

Tan Hui Jin, 19, SMK Tmn Connaught, Kuala Lumpur.

The lifting of the handphone ban is long overdue. Our priority is the safety and security of our children. Especially after school ends and they are no longer in the school premises. What if they are being followed, assaulted or nearly kidnapped?

Mobile phones can also be used as tracking devices so that parents know where their children are.

Other countries have already allowed children to bring iPads and iPhones to do their homework and some countries have abolished textbooks as these gadgets have become the books. We have to move with the times. We can’t be in the dark ages while other countries have moved on. I am all for it!

Parent Nik Elin Nik Rashid, Kuala Lumpur.

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, ICT/Teknologi, Keselamatan Pelajar/Kesihatan, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Surat

Safer technology in schools

Sunday July 22, 2012


IT IS important that we implement safe school policies and practices, in order to safeguard the health and development of children and help boost their interest in learning.

More scientists and medical doctors, many of whom work on the biological effects of wireless technologies, have voiced their concerns about the safety of wireless devices for schools.

The Austrian Medical Association, for example, recommended WiFi-free school environments.

Based on a report – Safe Schools – published in June, Dr Gerd Oberfeld, from the association, said WiFi environments would lead to high microwave exposure for students and teachers.

He added that it could also increase the burden of oxidative stress which in turn could slow down the energy production especially in brain cells. This could lead to concentration difficulties and memory problems in certain individuals.

Dr Igor Belyaev, the head research scientist, Cancer Research Institute, Slovak Academy of Science, Slovak Republic, said that the usage of WiFi and mobile phones in the classroom should be either forbidden or reduced as much as possible.

Several authorities have already advised limiting the usage of mobile communication by children and have called for their protection from wireless technologies.

In an appeal in 2002, medical doctors in Germany requested that a ban be imposed on mobile telephone and digital cordless telephone use in both preschools and schools.

This included a ban on mobile telephone use by children and restrictions on use by adolescents. They also called for education of the public, regarding the health risks of electromagnetic fields.

Prof Dr Alvaro Augusto A. de Salles of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil, said that responsible governments should act firmly to avoid the use of mobile phones and WiFi in schools.

The reasons he said were due to the scientific evidence already available in various publications like the Bioinitiative report,Pathophysiology 2009Interphone report, showing health risks even at low-level exposure to the non-ionizing radiation.

Instead of a wireless connection, he recommended other fixed connections such as twisted pairs, coaxial cables and optical fibres that should be made available for each student.

He warned that if serious and responsible decisions were not taken, the price in terms of public health for the generations to come could be very high.

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

A tough call to make

Sunday July 22, 2012



While the use of mobile phones in schools was allowed and later withdrawn some years ago, current feedback from students, teachers and parents has been encouraging although some parties have reservations.

THE ONE thing that Form Five student Marissa Rahman (not her real name) remembers to do when she arrives at school every morning is to switch off her smart phone after her parents drop her off at the school gate.

Then she walks over to keep the phone in a locker, one of many that were built after the ban on mobile phones in Marissa’s school was relaxed two years ago.

Marissa and her schoolmates who bring mobile phones to school, strictly abide by school rules as otherwise their phones will be confiscated.

The students are only allowed to retrieve their phones from the lockers, which are secured by two padlocks and monitored by three CCTV cameras, when school ends each day.

Despite the strict regulations imposed, Marissa believes the rules are fair since the students are allowed to bring their mobile phones to school.

“Having my mobile phone around gives me a sense of security as I can contact my parents easily whenever I have to stay back in school.

“We only have one public phone in the school compound which breaks down all the time and is not calibrated to accept new coins,” says Marissa, who is studying at a government school in the Klang Valley.

The principal of the school says the decision was made after taking into consideration the concerns of parents who worry about the safety of their children.

“The location of the school is in a secluded area and it gives me peace of mind to know that students can use their mobile phones to call for help if anything should happen to them,” says the principal.

The recent announcement by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong to allow students to carry mobile phones and IT gadgets to school from next year has drawn mixed reaction from stakeholders such as teachers, parents, students and even the school administration.Students would be allowed to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets to school after rules and regulations under the Education Act 1996 were amended, he said.

The move, he said, was in line with the implementation of the virtual teaching and learning programme, dubbed 1Bestari which offered free WiFi services.

Currently, students in government schools are not allowed to carry mobile phones to school.

Stringent guidelines

Dr Wee said the draft of the amendment would be submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chambers wit­hin a week and that “stringent” guidelines on the use of electronic gadgets in school would be enforced to prevent misuse of such technology. School authorities and parents especially are concerned about the abuse of mobile technology and “freedom” given to students during school hours which could lead to issues such as lack of concentration in class, cyber- bullying (filming of school mates) and thefts.

Sri Kuala Lumpur Secondary School (Sri Kuala Lumpur) principal Chew Teck Ann says the move to allow mobile phones in government schools is timely.

“Since some students are going to bring the phones to school with or without permission, it is better that they are allowed to do so openly,” he says.

Sri Kuala Lumpur, a private school in Subang Jaya, has relaxed the ban on mobile phones about seven years ago.

“Mobile phones are so entrenched in the modern lifestyle, it would not be realistic to keep such gadgets away from school in the long run,” says Chew.

The move to enable students to bring mobile phones to school is not new.

In fact, the arguments over students having mobile phones in 2005 are akin to the current situation.

In December 2005, then director-general Datuk Dr Ahamad Sipon issued a circular on the conditional use of mobile phones by students in school, citing the increasing number of students owning mobile phones.

He had said that the Education Ministry did not want to prevent the use of mobile phones in schools but their use by both teachers and students must be controlled so that the teaching and learning process was not disrupted.

The Ministry’s decision to lift the ban on mobile phones in schools caused an uproar at the time.

Barely three weeks later, the circular was revoked based on feedback by then Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

Nevertheless, some schools, including Marissa’s had later taken their own initiative to enforce strict rules and identify a safe place to keep the mobile devices.

Being responsible

Educators like Chew feel that this is actually an opportunity to instil a sense of responsibility among schoolchildren.

“Allowing mobile phones in schools may bring about a positive change in students as they learn about responsibility and taking ownership of their actions,” says Chew.

“Students must understand that they have to be responsible for their own items and they only have themselves to blame if their phones go missing.”

Nevertheless, he points out that students are not encouraged to bring mobile phones to school and those who do so, are required to switch off their phones during lessons.

Victoria Institution student Felix Culas believes that schools must be absolved of any responsibility over students’ belongings.

“If students want the privilege of bringing mobile phones to school, they should be responsible enough to ensure that their phones are safe and used properly. After all, schools are there for character building,” says Felix, 16.

Many students are thrilled that they will be able to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets from next year but have urged their peers to exercise self-discipline when using the gadgets in schools.

Student Yap Seng Chun, 19, says carrying expensive IT gadgets like smartphones and tablets to schools could lead to other issues.

Some students may not be able to focus in class while there may be others who may resort to stealing such devices.

“We need such gadgets to expand our scope of learning and to call someone during an emergency,” he says. Student Loh Suet Kee, 18, says school-goers must avoid becoming dependent on such gadgets. “Students can use the gadgets when working on group assignments. But they must not abuse it,” she says.

Form Two student Teah Lee Tat, 14, says those learning would benefit from using different sources and approaches including books and gadgets.

“It can be rather dull to study using a book. With a gadget, I could record my teacher’s lecture and save it for revision at home,” he says.

However, teachers and parents are not entirely convinced that students should be allowed to bring mobile phones and IT gadgets to school next year.

A headmaster in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, says it is not realistic to expect schoolchildren to pay full attention in class if the mobile devices are allowed during school hours.

“It is common to see children texting and playing with their phones during meals, even when their parents are with them. So these devices can be a distraction,” he says.

He says teachers, especially, have voiced out strongly against the announcement because students or teachers could end up being victims of cyberbullying.

“With a mobile device, students can film their teachers when they reprimand a student for wrongdoings and later upload the clips online which would subject the teachers to public scrutiny,” he says.

Parent Selina Rogers has voiced her reservations on Facebook.

“As much as I agree on the practicality of carrying handphones, I tend to think about the other consequences. For one, I feel for those parents who can’t afford to get their kids even the most basic of handphones, what more the tablets and such? As for the safety of the kids, wouldn’t such gadgets draw the attention of those who don’t own any? More reason for bullies to strike, right?”

Another parent Beverley Hon believes that schools should dictate the types of phones that students can bring.

“If the phones are going to be of the same model, you minimise the possibility of theft and there’s no worry about keeping up with others. Anything that’s more expensive or ‘fancier’ should be confiscated,” she says.

Note: It was reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Thursday that the Education Ministry will consider the opinions of all parties before making a decision on whether students can bring mobile phones and electronic gadgets to school. He said the proposal was at the committee level and had yet to be submitted to him.

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

Mobile phones in schools not smart

Monday July 23, 2012


I REMEMBER comparing the brands of schoolbags and shoes during my school days long ago, and it looks like these days comparing mobile phones and other IT gadgets may soon become a reality.

I’m sure allowing students’ mobile phones in school will cause pain for some parents if their kids were to demand smart phones and other IT gadgets once schools allow children to bring them into class.

I see more negative impact from schools allowing students to do so. I do not see any constructive reason for the use of mobile phones for educational purposes, other than getting distracted and to develop a “show off” culture among students.

If parents were to argue that they need to contact their kids for security purposes, I suggest that the Education Ministry allow students to carry a mobile phone after introducing “jammers” in all schools to function during school hours.

This is to avoid students from using their mobile phones during school hours. I believe teachers should not be burdened further with having to keep students’ phones or with devising ways to control them from using their phones.

Valuable time would be saved for teachers and students to conduct their core business of teaching and learning, without any distraction from students using their phones.

The students are still contactable by their parents after school. It also makes the teachers’ lot much easier in not having to worry about being distracted by these issues.


Chennai, India

2012, Arkib Berita, Keselamatan Pelajar/Kesihatan, Masalah Pelajar

Parents of boy in alleged assault mull legal action

Saturday July 21, 2012


IPOH: The parents of a religious school student who was allegedly assaulted by 18 schoolmates are mulling legal action against the school for negligence.

Azian Ismail, 40, claimed the school in Kampung Gajah had not only failed to take any action against the culprits but had asked her son to retract his accusations against them.

“The school has called to ask us to settle the matter privately many times. Why are they protecting the culprits?” she told reporters at the Barisan Nasional Canning Garden Public Services and Complaints Centre here yesterday,

It was reported that Azian’s son was kicked and punched by the group at the school’s dormitory for allegedly stealing RM100 from another student last Saturday.

The victim had a swollen face and bruises all over his body and was forced to walk with a limp.

Perak Tengah OCPD Supt Mohd Fakri Che Sulaiman later revealed that the group had put the money there as a bait to entrap the victim.

Azian, a housewife, said that as far as she knew, the school had not started any investigation into the matter.

“Bullying is a serious matter but I have yet to hear of any investigation by the school or the Perak Islamic Affairs Department,” she said.