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

EDUCATION: Teach children how to use their minds

Sunday, August 12, 2012

THERE is one fundamental question that needs to be addressed. Why do we send children to school? What do we hope the hours, months and years children spend in school will accomplish?

We need to accept that the product of education in its bare essentials is understanding, not rote performance.

The most important mission of schools should be to teach children how to use their minds — how to think and learn — so that as adults, they will be able to acquire whatever new knowledge and skills they may need. For education to become meaningful, tangible and practical, we need to understand much more about just what it means.

EDUCATION is a basic right. Every state or country is mandated to take full responsibility for the good and welfare of its citizens. Gone are the days when the chosen few were destined to be rulers, engineers, teachers and priests through education at the expense of the vast majority of peasants and labourers deprived of the privilege;

EDUCATION as an agent of change. It has been said that the heart of education is the education of the heart. As such, education is an agent of change: change of values, as well as structures. An educated person is one who has undergone the process of transformation. From a passive spectator of the events taking place in society, an educated person has become an active participant in the affairs of his/her community.

EDUCATION and development. Education leads to development. A skilled and knowledgeable citizen is key to development. Since education produces new knowledge, ability and skills in continuous improvement in all aspects, the growth of a national product is inevitable.

I believe it is time to open a can of worms pedagogically. Do we want to create a society of experts with knowledge an inch deep and a mile wide or would we rather have a society with surface knowledge of everything without expertise?

R. Murali Rajaratenam, Kuala Lumpur

Read more: EDUCATION: Teach children how to use their minds – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/education-teach-children-how-to-use-their-minds-1.123935#ixzz23O29rDMr

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, IPT, Rencana, Surat

College facilities enhance learning

Sunday August 12, 2012



I STRONGLY agree with the writer of the letter 
Weed out colleges in lousy premises
 (StarEducate, Aug 5).

Private institutions should bear in mind that education is not just about making money. It’s about providing quality education and producing well qualified graduates.

As it is, we have colleges in commercial and entertainment districts that offer lots of distractions.

Environment is important and should be conducive to learning and the pursuit of academic excellence.

Equally important are the facilities, including libraries and well-equipped study areas. I have witnessed students having difficulty with assignments because of the lack of photo-copy machines.

Colleges with poor facilities certainly shortchange their students who deserve access to the best facilities and equipment in this age of digital learning.

Promoting education through roadshows is one thing, providing quality education is another.


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

Connecting yet disconnected

Sunday August 12, 2012



I UNDERSTAND the people who question the wisdom and propriety of the Education Minstry’s proposal to allow students to bring handphones and other IT gadgets to school from January next year.

I am not totally against it as these gadgets, with their functions and benefits, are necessary in our modern, fast-paced world. Using them properly and responsibly makes us more productive, more connected and keeps us up-to-date with the latest happenings.

Having said that, I do have my concerns.

I am afraid that our society might lose its ability to connect with the person within and the people without.

Virtual interaction can never ever match actual discourse and human social intercourse.

Man by nature is a social animal. We grow together, not in isolation but through social interaction and within a given community.

The use of technological gadgets should only be a means to further explore, express, show and complete our humanity; but not, never, as an end in itself.

Abusing these technologies would lead us eventually to the abyss.

As stated by Lutz FJ in the letter A culture of disconnectivity (The Star, July 18): “It is not common to see people sitting at the same table fiddling with these gadgets or engrossed in conversation with someone not in front of them. This culture of ‘disconnectivity’ is fast producing a society incapable of holding a decent face-to-face conversation or discussion.”

Students go to school to study and learn. I believe that it would be utterly improper and inappropriate for any student to surf the Internet, send SMS to their friends or visit various social networking sites while class is in session.

The danger in relying on social networking sites to satisfy our basic social needs is getting hooked on it and not having the discipline to switch off. Virtual interaction can never ever be equated with real bonding and actual human intercourse.

The school is sacred ground for learning and the pursuit of knowledge. Parents must teach their children to be responsible and reasonable human beings.

As an academic and teacher, my policy is: No cellphone is allowedduring class. But as a radical and liberal teacher, I give them the option of putting the phone in silent mode, in case of family emergency.

The use of technological know-how must be tempered with discipline and respect.

I believe that the Education Ministry, in considering the matter and studying the impact and implications of allowing handphones in school, would consult parents, students and all stakeholders concerned.


2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Inovasi, IPT, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Subjek, Surat

Good English will get us far

Sunday August 12, 2012



I STRONGLY believe that schools should teach Mathematics and Science in English for a number of reasons.

To begin with, these subjects are taught in English in universities locally and globally. Scientific findings and research papers are usually published in English and our students can grasp their contents if they are strong in the language. In fact, tonnes of good reading material are written in English.

When it comes to job prospects, vacancies in the government sector are rather limited, so graduates look for employment with national and international companies. No matter what their academic achievements, those proficient in English will find themselves more marketable.

Another challenge we have to deal with is teachers. Are they up to it? Will they get out of their comfort zone and learn from scratch if they have to, in order to be competent in teaching Maths and Science in English for the good of our students?

I hope all those concerned can have an open debate about this, as well as sit down for a heart-to-heart discussion.

Those who don’t have the chance to study Maths and Science in English at school will find the subjects daunting when they pursue higher education.

I believe that proficiency in English helps us stay relevant, knowledgeable, competitive and on the cutting-edge,

I am an Iban. If we were to expect others to use and respect our language, we Ibans must first get the world to recognise us by doing well politically, socially and economically.

The same goes for other languages. Take the Japanese language, for example. Why is this language being taught in many schools and universities around the world?

The reason is because the Japanese people have created so many wonderful things that the world has no choice but to learn from them.

How did the Japanese become so successful in innovation? A key factor is their long collaboration with the Americans in technology. How did they understand each other? Through language or miming? I bet you know the answer.

The Japanese mindset is like this: They can make anything out of nothing. If you teach them to make something, they can make everything out of that something.

For example, they learnt from the Americans how to make the engine. Gradually, they came up with their own engine which was better than the American engine.

With this kind of mindset, Malaysians can advance in every field of endeavour. But first, we need to have a good command of the English language.


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

Investing in gifted children

Sunday August 12, 2012



Recognising gifted children and honing their talents and intellect through specialised education ensures that the best brains are nurtured for the country.

IT is most exhilarating to know that the PERMATApintar® programme provided by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Centre for Gifted Youths is getting recognition from luminaries at home and abroad.

Since the annual end-of-school camp for children aged between eight and 15 years began in December 2008, and the opening of its school for gifted students aged 15 to 16 years in 2011, a stream of visitors, including Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, education specialist Dr Maya Soetoro-Ng (the half sister of US President Barack Obama), and the first ladies of several countries, have visited the centre.

Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who initiated the programme, gave a keynote address at the 12th Asia Pacific Gifted Education Conference last month in Dubai. Struck by what she said, several Education Ministers called on her to enquire about possible cooperation.

The PERMATApintar® Centre, in collaboration with the Centre for Talented Youths, Johns Hopkins University in the United States, has also conducted an All-Girls Summer Camp for 20 students, aged 16 years, from the Mawhiba Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity in Saudi Arabia.

The PERMATApintar® programme is aimed at uncovering exceptionally-gifted children, said to be one in every 100,000 in the population, and giving them a holistic education that will nurture their innate abilities and talents.

No child left behind

To ensure no child is left behind, two online IQ tests, known as UKM1 and UKM2, and a face-to-face test called UKM3, have been used to identify close to one thousand gifted children over the past two years.

They come from all walks of life and geographical locations, some so remote that two or three types of transportation have to be used to bring them to the UKM campus. The notion that providing opportunities for the gifted is creating elitism should be dispelled.

In her keynote address, Datin Seri Rosmah said: “Giftedness is a blessing from God, and it is our duty to provide the right environment for children to grow to their optimum potential … It is imperative that we do so because gifted and talented individuals are valuable assets of any country. When groomed from young, their giftedness can be optimised to surpass the highest level of performance in any given field … That is why some countries are willing to offer scholarships and citizenship to attract these children.”

Appropriate education

In addition to developing their intellectual giftedness, appropriate education is needed for the children’s emotional development.

Gifted children are often misunderstood. Their behaviour can be misconstrued as mischievous, disruptive and undisciplined, thus alarming parents and teachers. If we fail to provide special education for them they may drop out of school or become misfits.

The PERMATApintar® Centre provides a broad, balanced and challenging curriculum designed to meet individual needs, interest and pace. This is essential because gifted individuals are not a homogeneous group; some are gifted in one or two domains and others in more. Delivered in a nurturing environment, the curriculum ensures both left and right brain development by balancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem), with the arts and humanities, multilingual competency, spiritual development, appreciation of the environment, leadership and volunteerism.

Learning by doing

Students develop higher order thinking through the concept of “learning by doing”. Independent learning is encouraged to help boost self-identity and promote self-confidence, essential qualities of future leaders.

A unique feature is the mentoring by UKM professors which arouses and nurtures their curiosity as well as develops research skills. Students have shown their research prowess by winning research competitions abroad.

UKM is collaborating with the New York Academy of Sciences to develop a Nobel mindset programme for PERMATApintar® students. Nobel laureates will visit Malaysia, and the gifted children will have a chance to work in their laboratories and enjoy the rich arts and culture of New York.

Such pedagogical approaches develop a deeper awareness of global problems and an appreciation of the ethical ways in which technology can be developed and deployed, as well as foster intercultural understanding for global peace, harmony and stability.

The more capable students are also given the chance to take university-level courses in Algebra and Calculus and Advance Placement courses in Statistics, Biology and Chemistry approved by the American College Board. In addition to the national examination, students take the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Ten 16-year-olds who scored well in the SAT have been offered admission into prestigious universities in the US.

Optimising potential

The outcomes of the PERMATApintar® programme have shown wise investment in talents. We either help them grow exponentially or we suffer brain drain, and lose out in the race to create transformational progress in our technology-based environments.

In this endeavour we are lucky that the Government, the Prime Minister in particular, has shown commitment by providing support and funding for the programme.

This has allowed UKM to build a school, embark on research and postgraduate programmes, and train teachers for gifted children below 15 years of age. The PERMATApintar Centre serves as the referral centre for disseminating teaching approaches and support for teachers and parents.

More importantly, the experience of the PERMATApintar® programme should serve as practical input for the national revamp of our education system into one that will optimise learning opportunities for Malaysian students.

As Franklin Roosevelt once said: “While we cannot always build the future for our youth, we can build our youth for the future.”

> Prof Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin is Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia vice-chancellor.

2012, Arkib Berita, ICT/Teknologi, Keibubapaan, Keselamatan Pelajar/Kesihatan, Pembangunan Sekolah, Persatuan

Wee: Permission needed for schools to raise funds

Friday August 10, 2012


IPOH: Fully-aided government schools must obtain approval from their respective state education departments to carry out fund-raising activities, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

He said the Education Ministry welcomed such initiatives from the schools or from its parent-teacher association (PTA).

“It is normal for a school or its PTA that wants to have better sports facilities or conduct academic improvement programmes to ask its students to collect donations.

“However, the requests need to be looked into by the department for a decision to be made accordingly,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

On another matter, Dr Wee said Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would decide at year-end if students would be allowed to bring their handphones or IT gadgets to school next year.

“The ministry is still collecting feedback from various stakeholders, including students, parents and the schools, on the announcement,” he said.

2012, Arkib Berita, Keselamatan Pelajar/Kesihatan, Pembangunan Sekolah

Puad: Only students above 16 can collect donations – with parental consent

Friday August 10, 2012 MYT 6:40:00 PM



BUKIT MERTAJAM: Only secondary school students above 16 years old are allowed to solicit for public donations, and only with their parents’ consent, said Deputy Education Minster II Dr Mohd Puad Zarkarshi.

He added that prior to asking for donations, their schools and Parent-Teachers’ Associations (PTA) must get approval from the state Education Department, which would then notify the nearest district police on such activities.

“Students are also not allowed to collect funds during their school hours,” he told reporters after presenting a grant for RM200,000 from the ministry to rebuild a burnt building in SMA Al-Ahmadiah Al-Ijtimaiah here on Friday.

On Tuesday, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said government schools should not make students solicit public donations.

Its president, Hashim Adnan, said government schools were restricted from doing so even if they had obtained permission from their respective education departments. Hashim said such activities had risks for both primary and secondary students, adding that there was no reason for schools to resort to such means of financial sources when the government provided them with financial assistance.

Mohd Puad said all schools must strictly abide by the Education Ministry’s circulars pertaining to collection of public donations.

Mohd Puad said the ministry would take necessary action against schools that did not abide by the circulars when carrying out fund-raising events.

“Public donation collection outside the school involves the safety of the students, and we do not allow students below 16 years old to go out and solicit for funds,” he said.

He also cited cases where parents brought their children’s school jogathon fund-raising cards to their workplace to solicit for funds from among their peers, which was also not right.

He urged parents to lodge reports with the ministry and called on the NUTP to provide information on recalcitrant schools that made use of underaged students to collect public donations.