2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Masalah Guru, Pembangunan Sekolah, Program, Subjek

US to send English teaching specialist to S’wak

Posted on September 6, 2012, Thursday

by Lian Cheng, reporters@theborneopost.com.

MARKING HISTORY: Richard Harvey, 63, (centre) who served in Sarikei, Sarawak as a Peace Corps volunteer between 1965 to 1966 pinning his story up on a board specially made for other members of the public with Peace Corps connections while Tourism Assistant Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip (left) and Jones look on.

KUCHING: In keeping with the voluntary spirit of the Peace Corps, the US government will be sending an English teaching specialist to Sarawak next week to work with local secondary school teachers and students on enhancing their English teaching proficiency.

“He is going to work with scores of Sarawakian Malaysian secondary school teachers and students, as part of the effort to broaden and grow our English language connections,” said US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul W Jones at the launch of the photo exhibition entitled ‘An Enduring Bond: Peace Corps 50th Anniversary Celebration in Malaysia’ .

In response to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s request to the US government on building closer educational ties, Terengganu, Pahang and Johor became the first beneficiaries of the Fullbright English Teaching Assistant programme.

This programme slated to be expanded next year has already seen 50 young American college graduates volunteering.

Yesterday’s launch of the photo exhibition is almost 50 years to the day the first Peace Corps volunteers group arrived in Kuching on Aug 23, 1962.

TRANSCENDING LANGUAGES: Jones was impressed with the publication and translation of his editorial in all three See Hua Group publications, particularly the Iban version in Utusan Borneo’s Berita Iban section shown by The Borneo Post features editor Margaret Apau.

The exhibition features the background history of the Peace Corps as well as personal stories published over the last few months in The Borneo Post as part of the US Embassy’s run-up activities to the launching.

The stories contributed by former Peace Corps volunteers and those who had personal connections captured the nostalgia of friendships that transcended borders and time.

The Peace Corps programme concluded in Malaysia in 1983.

The photo exhibition at the State Library here marks the first stop on its East Malaysian leg and will be open to the public for the next three weeks.

Jones said the first group of Peace Corps arrived in Sarawak in August 23, 1962 and over the 21 years, thousands more joined, making Peace Corps Malaysia the largest Peace Corps Programme in the world with almost 600 volunteers here during 1968.

“Most volunteers taught in schools, in Bahasa Malaysia and in English, helping address the urgent needs for teachers after Malaysia, opened secondary schooling to all in 1964.

“And others worked in healthcare, agriculture, all varieties of fields. Some made major contributions, for example, to university medical training programmes, or the documentation of flora and fauna of Malaysia, to name a few.

“Volunteers served in all Malaysian states, often in rural areas, far from towns and cities … sometimes only reachable by boat. Many studied Bahasa Malaysia for months before arriving and spoke the language in their daily lives.

“American Peace Corps are proud to play a small part in the great story of Malaysia development in the decades after independence,” said Jones.

Jones, however, pointed out that beyond their concrete contribution to education, health and development, perhaps the most significant legacy of the Peace Corps was the personal and human ties the volunteers formed.

He said the connection made was so strong that many volunteers actually stayed on after the conclusion of their programme, finding their lives permanently intertwined with their adopted Malaysian communities.

“Over my two years here in Malaysia, I was struck by how alive the connections are between Peace Corps volunteers and Malaysian hosts,” said Jones.

He thanked The Borneo Post management and editorial team for its participation and contribution in promoting the event and sharing the inspiring stories of Peace Corps volunteers and those with connections to them.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/09/06/us-to-send-english-teaching-specialist-to-swak/#ixzz25kBSLX56

2012, Arkib Berita, Keselamatan Pelajar/Kesihatan, Kurikulum, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Awal, Pendidikan Khas, Program

Consider needs of children requiring special education, ministry told

Posted on September 7, 2012, Friday

SIBU: The National Early Childhood Intervention Council (Necic) is urging the Education Ministry to consider the needs of children who require special education.

In an emailed press statement, Necic said it was grateful to the ministry for requesting feedback from the public and organisations on the needs and services to be provided to children.

However, with many pressing issues for education reform, from syllabus to homework volume and unhealthy focus on examinations, Necic wants to bring to the attention of the ministry and the public the large proportion of children with special needs.

Based on data and experiences, the gap between normal children and children with special needs starts when they enter Primary 1, the statement said.

It added: “If children who reach primary school going-age (6-year-olds) are not ‘school-ready’, they would enter school with problems and are difficult for schools and teachers to handle.

“The gap then continues to widen as they grow.”

Basically, children can be divided into three groups in terms of their education ability and needs, according to the statement, which also stated that 70 to 80 per cent of children are in the first group.

“They have most of their educational resources in the country for they do not have great difficulties in learning.

“Three to five per cent of the children have a major disability and are identified early by health professionals, usually at birth or before the age of five.

“This group requires special education. Generally, there is some provision for them in the education system, although the quality and distribution (access) of the services is questionable.”

The statement said 15 to 20 per cent of children had more subtle problems.

“They have milder disabilities or problems of specific learning disorders, such as Dyslexia, high functioning Autism, ADHD, emotional problems and environmental deprivation.

“They have normal intelligence but with many barriers to education, often known to have behaviour problems, poor school performance, school failure and so forth.

“Thus, Necic believes that it is important to recognise the third group, in which the current education programme has failed to do so.

“Necic believes that the problem occurs in the system and the Key Performance Index (KPI) than with the children.”

Necic found it inappropriate that the system allowed these children to fall into disabled children category when they failed to meet the criteria as required in the mainstream education system.

Necic also urged the ministry to emulate the models or ideas from other countries to include all children within mainstream education instead of segregating them to disability syllabus.

The statement said among the ideas to be adopted are recruiting the best students to become teachers, providing the best teachers for the most educationally challenged children, offering better school environments for these children through smaller classes in mainstream education and recognising that they have special needs.

Necic is a registered coalition of parents, therapists and professionals from NGOs and government agencies.

It is involved in and advocates early childhood intervention as a right and is keen to optimise the learning and development of children with special needs.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/09/07/consider-needs-of-children-requiring-special-education-ministry-told/#ixzz25kApUXVH

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

STU suggests more locals be trained as English teachers

Posted on September 7, 2012, Friday

by Peter Boon, reporters@theborneopost.com.

William Ghani Bina

SIBU: More locals should be trained as English teachers to cover more areas in the state and ensure that rural students get the opportunity to learn the language.

While lauding the move by the US government to deploy an English teaching specialist to Sarawak, Sarawak Teachers’ Union (STU) president William Ghani Bina said training more locals to teach the language would help the government meet the long term objective of having sufficient number of such educationists in the state.

“We are all for such initiative but STU suggests that more local teachers be trained to teach the language instead as a long term measure to elevate the standard of English among students and ensure steady supply of such expertise.

“This among others, include exposing local teachers to more workshops to hone their skills in the teaching of the language,” Ghani told The Borneo Post when contacted yesterday.

He was reacting to a statement by US Ambassador to Malaysia Paul W Jones that the US government would be sending an English teaching specialist to Sarawak next week to work with local secondary school teachers and students on enhancing their English teaching proficiency in keeping with the voluntary spirit of the Peace Corps.

On the initiative, he opined that it would go a long way in helping teachers improve their skills in teaching the language while enabling students to master it.

Meanwhile, educationalist cum businessman Felician Teo said the proposed move was one of several initiatives implemented to improve the teaching of English in our local schools.

He noted there were now 50 English Language Teaching Assistant (ETA) volunteers posted in Terengganu, Pahang and Johor under an American project sponsored by the US government and Fullbright that started in 2010.

“In Sarawak, under the funding of the Ministry of Education, the British Council has been undertaking the
English Language Teacher Development Project across 600 primary schools in East Malaysia based on the new National Primary English Language Curriculum since 2011.

“A parallel training programme called “fellows mentoring” for teacher trainers of English language teachers at the IPGs or teacher training colleges is also in progress. Both projects will run until 2013,” Teo noted.

He said all these programmes were aimed at providing a sustainable development and support system for Malaysian teachers of English.

He also disclosed that a similar but more holistic school enhancement project sponsored by Khazanah was being piloted in 14 government schools in Sarawak and Johor.

“The short and long term outcomes of these initiatives have yet to be measured but certainly our local schools have been inundated with an influx of English native speakers, much like the bygone days of the American Peace Corps volunteers some 30-40 years ago,” Teo concluded.

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/09/07/stu-suggests-more-locals-be-trained-as-english-teachers/#ixzz25kAMh1n5

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Keselamatan Pelajar/Kesihatan, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Khas, Rencana, Sistem, Surat

EDUCATION: Don’t ignore the needs of disabled

Thursday, September 06, 2012

PRIME Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Education Ministry have repeatedly invited public feedback on the revision of our education system. We value these requests and many of us have responded.

The National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC), a registered coalition of parents, therapists and professionals from a large variety of non-governmental organisations and government agencies advocating the needs of children with special needs, sent a memorandum to the ministry more than four months ago.

The memorandum advocates inclusive education as a national policy as research has proven that this will benefit all students, not just those with special needs.

Malaysia has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Article 24 of the convention stipulates that “persons with disabilities shall not be excluded from the general education system on the basis of disabilities”.

This has also been enacted in Clause 28 of the Malaysian Persons with Disabilities Act 2008.

Unfortunately, there is no indication that the ministry officials have considered its contents.

We suspect this may also be the case with others who have forwarded suggestions on improving our education system.

An important issue, such as the revision of our education system, should not be carried out behind closed doors and then presented to the public as a completed package.

It is essential that there is meaningful on-going dialogue, with opportunities for change, involvement, critical review, and holistic challenge.

Too many of our recent initiatives have been flawed because of a lack of a meaningful dialogue.

Preliminary plans should be provided to the public and concerned organisations for critical review and opportunities for change before they are implemented as law.

The NECIC, on behalf of children with disabilities and their parents, appeals to the ministry to listen and respond to feedback from the public on the education system.

In this 55th year of our independence as a nation, the new education system must liberate and empower our children, including those who are disabled, to be who they truly can be and not hinder their growth.


Datuk Dr Amar Singh (president), Khor Ai-Na (vice-president) and Dr Tan Liok Ee (committee member), National Early Childhood Intervention Council, Kuala Lumpur

Read more: EDUCATION: Don’t ignore the needs of disabled – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/education-don-t-ignore-the-needs-of-disabled-1.137863#ixzz25k8QYFZi

2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Forum, Kurikulum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Sistem, Subjek, Surat

EDUCATION: Will blueprint stand the test?

Friday, September 07, 2012

By Sandra Rajoo, Ipoh, Perak 0 comments

PEOPLE seem eager over the education review blueprint which is due to be made public on Tuesday. Some even have prematurely hailed it as the best thing since sliced bread, and this is before they even know its content.

Let us hold the applause until after we read the document and see where it is taking us. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

Will this “mother-of-all-solutions” blueprint stand up to scrutiny? Is it going to be a solid, excellent-for-education master plan or will it be a glitzy, complex and tricky-to-implement blueprint?

A plan is only as good as its implementation, and judging by the Education Ministry’s track record, execution has never been its strong point.

This effort at revamping the education system, which is long overdue, has to be commended though. Nevertheless, I am not holding my breath.

Decades of failed endeavours by the ministry tend to make people cynical, and I am wary of those who throw out feel-good statements to pacify a sceptical public.

Clearly, there is an inability to look at education holistically and plan accordingly.

Recall the time the ministry tried to design a curriculum aimed at producing creative and critical thinking (CCT) learners. Unfortunately, the majority of teachers had no idea what CCT entailed. So, that became a failed venture.

The Teaching of Maths and Science in English Policy (PPSMI) is another issue that causes cynicism. From its inception about 10 years ago until today, it has been fraught with difficulty and mired in controversy.

Another point was the proposal that English Literature be incorporated into the curriculum. This was heralded as the panacea for all our English language woes. But literature has been in the curriculum for a decade or so already.

English woes aside, we need to also ensure that our children receive proper instruction in Bahasa Malaysia. The haphazard way in which BM is being taught in schools does not augur well for the present and coming generations.

When English was the medium of instruction, it created many proficient and competent users of the language which cut across all ethnic groups. The same cannot be said about BM. How many are really competent in the language?

This problem has been neglected for too long. Let’s see what the new education blueprint has in store for us. The implementation of the blueprint will stretch over 13 years. Is the ministry committed to carry the momentum over this long period?

I hope any critique given by the public is looked upon as feedback to how things can be improved.

Ultimately, it is not the blueprint per se that can save our education system, it is whether officials and educators can save it through a good understanding of their roles and commitment.

We want to reach a stage in our education where we can say with pride that our children are bright and capable because of the education system, not despite it.

Read more: EDUCATION: Will blueprint stand the test? – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/education-will-blueprint-stand-the-test-1.139243?cache=03D163D03edding-pred-1.1176%2F%3FpFpentwage63Dp%3A%2Fhe3D03Dn63Frea-rti3D19.3D163D03edding-pred-1.1176%2F%3FpFpentwage63Dp%3A%2Fhe3D03Dn63Frea-rti3D19.111w5ii%2Fed-1.1176%2F%2F2.2525%2F2.2525%2F1.331200%3Fcache%3D03D16%3Fkey%3DMalaysia#ixzz25k7gXQwg

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Kurikulum, Pembangunan Sekolah, Rencana, Sistem

School-based assessment gaining popularity

Friday, September 07, 2012

SEPANG: The school-based assessment (SBA), which replaced the exam-oriented teaching methodology, is gaining popularity among teachers, students and parents.

Lauding the Education Ministry’s efforts to create a more holistic education system, teachers said they had noticed an improvement in their students.

SK Taman Putra Perdana teacher Jumilah Ahmad, 41, said her students were more confident and outspoken after being exposed to the Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR), which goes hand in hand with the SBA.

“Students are not stressed as they do not have to strive for one particular examination.

“The assessments are ongoing and they are a part of their daily learning,” she said after a media briefing on SBA here yesterday.

The Bahasa Malaysia teacher, with 15 years experience, added that the students’ improvement in understanding the subject matter also had surprised many parents.

“A parent was close to tears when her Year One child wrote essays as her other children were only able to do so in Year Four.”

She said the modular approach for language subjects to sharpen students’ listening, speaking, reading and writing skills also had allowed them to master the subjects more easily.

The new system incorporate “language art” in Bahasa Malaysia and English syllabus where they were taught songs, story-telling, poems and acting.

SBA was introduced last year for all government and government-aided primary schools, and for all government and government-aided secondary schools this year.

The teachers are given guidelines to grade their students according to their performance academically and based on co-curricular activities, as well as their innate and acquired abilities.

The programme assesses students based on different evidence markers, like their ability to read or count, and is based on a certain grade or “band”, starting from Band One to Band Six.

Malaysia Examination Board examination director Dr Na’imah Ishak said SBA had received positive feedback despite a few hiccups.

“Some schools are still not clear about the system and we are conducting continuos assessments and training to ensure that the system is delivered well in all schools,” she said.

Read more: School-based assessment gaining popularity – General – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/school-based-assessment-gaining-popularity-1.138986#ixzz25k6SN7NQ

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

Do away with trial exams

Friday September 7, 2012


I REFER to the issue of the school trial exams that are drawing near “Bent on acing exams” (Sunday Star, Sept 2) and “Investigate if exam leaks are true” (The Star, Sept 5). In my opinion trial exams as practised now should be done away with.

In yesteryears, schools had their own trial exams. These were very much like the annual end-of-the-year exams.

The exam schedule was such that a minimum number of days were used. This was to ensure that there would still be time for revision/remedial classes before the real exams.

Then, came the “transformation”! Some thinkers thought it right to have common trial exams for all schools.

It was argued that some schools might not have experienced teachers to set questions of good quality and standard. Their students might thus be disadvantaged.

Also, students should have a “run and feel” of the real exam. Therefore, all subjects should have the full number of papers as in the real exam.

In addition, not only were there trial exams at state level, there were also trial exams specially catered for residential schools, science schools and technical/vocational schools.

As a result, students in such schools would sit for more than one trial exam.

A trial exam for PMR/SPM/STPM may take up to two/three weeks or more and they are usually held a least a month before the real exams.

Time has to be allocated for the actual trial exam, teachers to mark the answer scripts and remedial classes after that.

What is the reality on the ground? The long trial exam period together with its “severity” gives students the impression that formal lessons are over.

After the exams, the students are in no mood to go back to school.

They stay home purportedly to do self-study and wait for the real exams to begin.

With the abundance of past year exam papers and sample questions books available in the market, I do not see the need for a trial to give students the “run and feel” of a real exam.

Students can easily purchase these books and teachers can use them for practice in class.

As for questions leakages, this is not to be unexpected.

After the papers are set, a district or state level committee is designated to print and distribute the papers to all the schools.

Normally the printing is outsourced. Schools, district education offices and even the state education department have not the status, amenities, and the “power” of the official Ministry-level Examination Syndicate/Council.

The question papers and the whole administration of trial exams do not fall under the ambit of the Official Secret Acts (OSA).

No one can really be prosecuted for “leaking” trial exam questions.

There are many reasons why questions are and can be “leaked”.

Students (and their parents) unduly worry that their performance in the trial exam may affect their chance of being selected for scholarship awards or admission to college/university.

No scholarships or admissions of substance are granted purely on trial exam results.

The awards and admissions are always based on the actual exam results.

Without the trial exam, students get more time for their lessons.

Teachers instead of marking answer scripts should use the time to discuss past year exam questions in class.

Full scale exams as are done now actually deprive students of valuable learning time.

And, most important of all, without the trial exams, schools do not get into exam, “no-lesson” mode too early.

It is time to seriously consider doing away with all trial exams.