2012, Arkib Berita, Bahasa, Pembangunan Sekolah, Persatuan, Subjek

Call to air ‘Oh My English’ for free

Posted on September 9, 2012, Sunday

KUCHING: Sarawak Teachers Union (STU)’s president William Ghani Bina agrees that some educational programmes broadcasted by Astro should also be aired in one of the free television channels since education is supposed to be free for all.
In a phone interview yesterday, he said the request from some poor students to air popular programmes like ‘Oh My English’ should be taken into consideration.
“When these students make such a request, that shows they are keen and want to learn to improve themselves.
“I really agree with their requests. Education is supposed to be free for all and the government should support this. Educational programmes like this should also be aired in free channels and not only in paid channels. Not everyone can afford to subcribe to expensive educational channels,” he said.
He was asked to comment on requests by several students recently that the ‘Oh My English’ programme on Astro should be included in one of the free channels during the weekend.
Many students love the programme because it teaches English in a fun way but unfortunately, not all could afford to subscribe to the Astro package.
They felt English is actually not an easy language to master and as such employing the fun way of teaching could be a very effective strategy to inspire love for the subject.
Ghani also agreed with this and he said even the government is placing great emphasis on the importance of English as it is the global language of Science and Commerce.

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Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/09/09/call-to-air-oh-my-english-for-free/#ixzz262y8UQXJ

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2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Membaca, Perpustakaan, Rencana, Surat

Public libraries still important in 21st century

Email Print 08 September 2012 | last updated at 08:18AM

By JEAN FAIRBAIRN
jean.fairbairn@eifl.net 0 comments

COMMUNITY RESOURCE: Success stories should convince policymakers to fund them
THERE are more than 230,000 public libraries in developing countries. Known and trusted in their communities, staffed by trained librarians and increasingly connected to the Internet, they are uniquely positioned to change lives and build strong communities.
But this remarkable opportunity to reach people with vital information in areas, such as agriculture, health, employment and poverty reduction — in addition to education — is largely untapped.
Public libraries are mostly still viewed in traditional terms, as quiet spaces for books and study. As a result, they are chronically under-resourced. But there are plenty of success stories that should convince policymakers to unlock their potential.
National public library networks, funded by governments, have branches in cities, provincial towns and villages.
Some national networks also operate mobile library services that reach deep into rural areas.
For example, the Ghana Library Board deploys minibuses, some equipped with WiFi (wireless communications) and laptop computers, in each of Ghana’s 10 regions. Kenya National Library Services uses camels to reach nomadic pastoralists in the country’s arid north-eastern region.
In some countries, vibrant community library sectors have mushroomed over the past two decades.
The Uganda Community Libraries Association lists more than 80 community libraries as its members; there are about 100 community libraries in Ghana, as yet without a network.
These are largely funded with community support — a powerful vote of confidence in libraries as valued and needed institutions.
With economic recession and tough competition for shrinking public funds, public services everywhere are being forced to step up efforts to prove their value and purpose.
As a result, today’s public libraries are focusing more on local needs, and increasing numbers are starting to offer non-traditional services to particular communities. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) is building on this energy with our Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP). Since 2009, EIFL-PLIP has invited public and community libraries in developing countries and those in “transition” (moving to a free market economy) to apply for small grants to implement innovative services based on information and communications technologies (ICTs).
More than 500 libraries from 50 countries applied — indicating high levels of motivation and readiness — and EIFL-PLIP has supported 39 new services in 23 countries.
The services use traditional and modern ICT in creative combinations — print, radio, computers, the Internet, websites, video and, increasingly, mobile phones and smartphones.
For example, Ugandan farmers are using smartphones to send photographs of diseased plants to agricultural researchers, who respond with solutions by text messaging; health workers in northern Ghana use library computers to send advice via text messages to pregnant women; and three libraries in Uganda have created a database of young people, with information about their career plans and a text message opportunities-alert service.
A key part of EIFL-PLIP is to build the capacity of librarians to assess the impact of the programme, which each must do after 12 months. For example, in 2010, Radislav Nikcevic public library in Jagodina, Serbia, launched the AgroLib service — a network of four village libraries where farmers learn ICT skills and now sell their produce through an online market. The village libraries also host lectures and events where farmers can interact with agricultural experts and government support agencies.
This year, librarians are reporting steadily increasing numbers of farmers coming to the libraries — most are looking for information that helps boost yields and increases their income.
Evidence of impact is also emerging from Africa.
Two branches of the Kenya National Library Services have become important health information providers after establishing e-health corners with free Internet access.
In just one year, librarians trained 1,600 health workers, students and members of the public to use the Internet to research health information.
In 2010, EIFL-PLIP commissioned research on the perceptions of public libraries in six countries in Africa: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe. While an overwhelming majority of stakeholders, including library users, librarians, and government decision-makers, placed high value on public libraries as educational spaces, only five per cent of users and non-users associated libraries with ICT.
Most library users (85 per cent) rated librarians’ competence as good or very good — except in the area of technology.
But most also strongly believed that libraries could provide community development services in areas such as health, agriculture, e-government, employment and business.
EIFL-PLIP is now using these findings to support teams of librarians in Ghana, Kenya and Uganda to advocate for policy change and sustainable funding, so that they can afford ICT and provide new services focused on community needs, especially in rural areas.
In developing and transition countries, public libraries are small and under-resourced, lacking finance and technology.
Given their numbers, reach and proven potential, that should not be the case.
EIFL-PLIP’s experience and evidence of impact shows that many libraries are ready and able to provide services that change lives and improve livelihoods, with minimal additional support.
It is time to raise awareness and change perceptions of public libraries, provide the funding and training they need to offer these services, and encourage partnerships with other local development agencies.
It is time to bring public libraries fully into the development arena.
This article first appeared on http://www.scidev.net

Read more: Public libraries still important in 21st century – Columnist – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnist/public-libraries-still-important-in-21st-century-1.139848#ixzz262wruAZF

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Kesedaran Alam Sekitar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Program, Rencana, Surat

EDUCATION: Better teaching environment helps

Email Print 10 September 2012 | last updated at 07:37AM

By V.T. Lingam, Kuala Lumpur 0 comments

PARENTS, teachers and students are waiting eagerly for the launch of the National Education Blueprint as this is the first time when everyone’s views were consulted for such an important agenda.
Hopes are high for efficient implementation towards the betterment of the education system.
It is the desire of every parent to see that schools provide a conducive learning environment where knowledge and values are imparted side by side.
We should strive for a healthy, knowledgeable, well-mannered, civic-conscious society that is fluent in not only Bahasa Malaysia and English, but also other dialects to lift Malaysia to greater heights.
Parents are hoping for schools with teachers who are masters in their subjects. Students are looking forward to effective classroom learning to cut down on the need for tuition classes.
Teachers are crying to be left alone to teach in class and not be burdened by administrative duties. School administrators are calling for a more efficient data storage and management system with the district and state education offices.
For teachers to be dedicated to imparting knowledge and fulfilling the wishes of parents and students, there should be a separation of duties in the running of schools.
The administrative head, on the other hand, should have enough clerical staff to key in all school data, see to correspondences and organisation of all non-teaching school events.
I hope the National Education Blueprint is able to address the problems haunting schools for decades and break the vicious cycle of unnecessary paperwork leading to poor planning and teaching.

Read more: EDUCATION: Better teaching environment helps – Letters to the Editor – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/education-better-teaching-environment-helps-1.141614#ixzz262oF4Brn

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

When touching matters

Sunday September 9, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/9/9/education/11984968&sec=education
BY KAREN CHAPMAN
educate@thestar.com.my

TOUCHING is an important communication tool for the deaf. This is because deaf people communicate by “touching”. When they want to get your attention, they tap on your shoulders or hug.

Freelance sign language interpreter Lucy Lim said “it is important for them to know if a touch is appropriate or not”.

“As such, sometimes deaf kids are confused as to whether it is a ‘safe touch’. We teach them to rely on their instincts. For example, if a touch were to give them goosebumps, then it could be an inappropriate gesture,” she added.

There have been various news reports in the past on cases where deaf children and teenagers have been molested or raped. The reasons may be because many deaf children and teens may not know that they have been sexually abused or touched in an improper manner.

Lim says it is important for children to know if a touch is appropriate or not.
Lim said some deaf adults got together to form a group known as Deaf Against Child Sexual Abuse (Dasca) several years ago.

“We conduct workshops on a regular basis for deaf teens and children in primary schools. In addition, we also hold talks for parents with deaf children,” she said.

Sign linguist Ho Koon Wei said Dasca was formed to educate deaf students and empower them by sharing information about their own bodies, teaching communication skills and providing understanding about sexuality abuse.

Depending on the age group of the children involved, administrative executive Jessica Mak said the workshops would inform and teach them about changes in their bodies as they approach puberty, and dealing with relationships and safety concerns.

Ho who is deaf, said: “We use visual aids such as pictorial materials, role play, group discussions and video clips.”

The workshops are usually held over three or four days and have been carried out in Johor, Penang, Sarawak, Sabah, Negri Sembilan, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, she added.

Empower ing stu den ts: Informing and teaching her charges about changes in their bodies is among the topics that Mak (middle) discusses at the workshops.
Mak who is also deaf, said most of the activities were hands-on. The Dacsa team developed and customised the curriculum to accommodate the needs of the deaf. There are group discussions and role play which are carried out by deaf leaders themselves.

The team also works with teachers for the deaf and other relevant organisations.

Ho said it is important to empower them by sharing information about their own body, teaching communication and decision-making skills.

“We want them to know the simple rule ‘No, Run and Tell’ which is to say ‘no’ to those who touch them inappropriately and then seek help by running and telling someone they know or trust,” she said.

“They are also taught to identify persons whom they trust, and asked to memorise their telephone numbers,” added Ho who said that children need to know the proper signs so that they could relate the correct information.

Lim said that the team produced a book entitled Signs for Sexuality sponsored by the Malaysian Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

Deaf children, she said, often remained silent when they were sexually abused.

“Usually it is difficult for deaf kids to reveal the truth as their perpetrators could be people they know. In addition, most parents are not fluent in sign language and as such, they are not quick enough to grasp what their kids want to express.

“Some deaf kids also do not have sufficient sign vocabulary to describe the incidents,” she added.

According to Lim, the feedback overall had been positive as parents said the workshops made the children more confident and taught them how to keep themselves safe.

For more information on the workshops, e-mail
lucylim64@gmail.com.

2012, Arkib Berita, Forum, Masalah Pelajar, Pembangunan Sekolah, Pendidikan Reproduktif, Rencana

Frank and factual approach

Sunday September 9, 2012
http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/9/9/education/11991812&sec=education

BY PRIYA KULASAGARAN and KANG SOON CHEN
educate@thestar.com.my

Sex education is not about corrupting children, it is about giving them a holistic view of sex, sexuality and reproductive health.

TWELVE-year-old Ali* says that he knows exactly where babies come from.

“No, my parents and teachers never said anything. My friends and I talk about it in school.

“My friends also showed me videos from the internet,” says the pupil from the Klang Valley.

What sort of videos might these be?

“You know… the ‘dirty’ ones,” he replies in a hushed, serious tone.

Meanwhile, secondary school student Angie Yeo* feels that she is still not getting the information she wants despite the sex education talks organised in her school.

“ I didn’t think the talks were very informative.

“Most of the information mentioned during the talks can be easily found in textbooks and other reading materials,” says the lass from Kedah.

What does she want to know more about?

“I think topics like rape; before those rape cases in the papers, I didn’t know much about such things,” she says.

Yeo is referring to the wide media coverage of the recent statutory rape judgments of former national youth squad bowler Noor Afizal Azizan and electrician Chuah Guan Jiu.

There is still a dearth of in-depth nationwide study of just how much young people know about sexual and reproductive health.

Young love: Teens should be taught to respect each other’s boundaries when it comes to sexual behaviour. — Posed photo
Ali and Yeo’s comments however, reflect the recommendations of the few studies available — there is an acute need for more effort in equipping youth with the right tools and knowledge to make good decisions.

A survey conducted by Universiti Sains Malaysia researchers in Kelantan last year for instance, offers alarming insight of the naivete of students when it comes to the birds and the bees.

Of the 1,034 secondary school students surveyed, only 30% correctly answered that just one act of sexual intercourse could cause pregnancy.

This may not be surprising as 64% of the students surveyed said they received knowledge about sexuality from friends – only 6.5% saw their parents as a source of information.

Safer sex: While maintaining that abst inence is the idea l, the ministry’s sex educa tion guideline s also provide information about contraceptives.
In Malaysia, elements of sex education have been part of the secondary school curriculum since 1989, and subsequently introduced in primary schools in 1994.

While not a stand-alone subject, sex education was meant to be covered across the curriculum, in subjects such as Biology, Science, Moral Education and Islamic Studies.

Currently, sex education in the local curriculum is known as Pendidikan Kesihatan Reproduktif dan Sosial (PEERS, or Social and Reproductive Health Education) – previously it was called Family Health Education (1989 – 2002) and Sexuality Education (2002 – 2005).

Guidelines

The name change occurred in 2006, when the Cabinet passed a comprehensive set of guidelines outlining how the subject should be taught in schools.

These guidelines were painstakingly formulated over the course of three years, and involved the Education; Women, Family and Community Development and Health Ministries.

It also included educators, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), health professionals as well as religious authorities.

Former Education Ministry parliamentary secretary Datin Paduka P. Komala Devi was among the individuals involved in coming up with the guidelines.

“The books (modules) were meant to help educators teach students, not the students themselves,” she says.

“The idea was that we give them reliable information so as to prevent them from seeking it out from the wrong sources.

Komala Devi further points out that sex education is not “about the mechanics of sexual intercourse”, but rather a holistic view of sexuality and reproductive health.

“We need to teach them about their own bodies, to have self-respect and respect others, sexual abuse prevention, and having healthy relationships.

“Of course, abstinence is presented as the best and ideal option, but we also need to give young people realistic information about contraception,” she says.

A review of the guidelines reveals a range of modules dealing with not just sexuality, but also gender, health and societal values. The modules outline age-appropriate content for the various topics, slowly building students’ knowledge as they mature.

For example, primary school children may start by learning about making good decisions and accepting responsibility for the consequences of their choices.

Then in secondary school, sex is introduced into the equation and students are encouraged to base their decisions from the health, legal, religious and social perspectives.

For teenagers in particular, the guidelines repeatedly acknowledge the emotional turbulence and pressures of being an adolescent and spell out ways of managing stress and peer pressure.

When detailing potentially controversial topics, the guidelines try to carefully reconcile frank discussion with cultural sensitivities.

The sexual orientation module for teens for instance presents the topic of non-heterosexuality in a neutral manner, but in the same breath states that homosexuality is against religious norms.

The guidelines recommend that children as young as four be taught to recognise sexual harassment and violence, and how to seek help should such assaults occur.

An example of this is the “touch continuum” that encompasses the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”, as well as the difference between good and bad “secrets”.

In the overall discussion of sexual assault, the guidelines indicate a genuine effort to curb victim-blaming and dismantling stereotypes of sexual assaults.

There is also a great deal of emphasis on building self-esteem and treating others with respect.

Issues of body image are targeted at pupils from Year One, with the key lesson being that every individual is unique and deserves to be free of discrimination.

Media literacy is also brought into the picture, where children and teens are made to question the standards of beauty as well as gender stereo-types illustrated in mass media.

Implementation

What remains unclear is how exactly these guidelines have trickled down into policies and the school curriculum.

The issue of sex education may be brought up every so often when there is public uproar over social ills; once the debate dies down, things appear to return to status-quo.

Education Ministry sources claim that the real cause of ineffective implementation is the lack of political will.

A telling evidence of politics coming into play is highlighted in Malaysia’s Global Aids Response Country Progress Report 2012 published in March.

Claiming that comprehensive sexual reproductive health education was still at “an impasse”, the report adds that: “Though it has been under discussion by various levels of government, implementation of this policy has been erratic due to opposition from various parties on moral and religious grounds.”

One concrete example of the guidelines’ influence so far is the KSSR – or Standard Curriculum for Primary Schools – which started with Year One pupils in 2011.

Under the KSSR, PEERS is taught within the Health Education subject, comprising 75% of the subject’s curriculum.

The topics covered are health and reproduction (mostly dealing with the physical and mental changes that occur during puberty); substance abuse; mental and emotional mangement; family issues; relationships; disease prevention; safety.

Additionally, the Health Ministry and Women, Family and Community Development Ministry together with NGOs have been steadily increasing their community outreach programmes and workshops targeted at children and teenagers.

Misconceptions

Educators say that public opinions and misconceptions are still major factors barring effective sex education.

“Many parents don’t even realise that we have health education in schools.

“Some still think that ‘sex education’ means teaching children how to have sex!” laments one primary school teacher from Johor.

A secondary school teacher claims that he had to face a pair of angry parents after a lesson on the human reproductive system.

“The parents thought I was telling my students to go out and run wild because I had taught them a lesson on contraceptives!

“Thankfully I managed to appease them by explaining that I was just stating the facts, because I made sure to emphasise our society’s values with regards to pre-marital sex,” he says.

For the most part, it seems that teachers generally shy away from broaching the topic – only two of the 10 students interviewed by StarEducate say that they were taught sex education in school.

At the mention of the word “sex”, one Form Two student exclaimed that she did not how to respond and balked at answering any further questions.

Hailing from an all-boys school in Perak, Form Four student Wei* says that he appreciates his school’s direct approach to sex education.

“My school also organises workshops (on sexuality) from time to time; we had a speaker who had us in stitches with the stories he shared.

“Even though he made us laugh a lot, somehow he was successful in getting his message across,” he says.

A religious teacher from Negri Sembilan says while the topic is seen as taboo, teachers need to overcome their fears and address sexuality issues openly with their students.

“I initially felt uncomfortable talking about it with my students.

“But in this day and age, we can’t just keep things away from youth or they will try and find out information through unsavoury means.

“My approach is to give them the facts and explain why religious and moral values are important — by teaching them the right things, we have to trust them to make good decisions,” she says.

In light of the recent rape cases involving underage girls, All Women’s Action Society (Awam) president Ho Yock Lin says the organisation is planning to increase its outreach programmes for students with an emphasis on respect between the sexes.

“This is because many students are not aware of the power relations between males and females — in most situations, the boys are making more decisions while the girls are generally submissive to demands by the boys.

“Parents must understand that it is not possible to restrict the movements of their children … this is why it is important to teach children ways to keep themselves safe,” she says.

* Names have been changed.

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

Whither the soul of education?

Sunday September 9, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/9/9/education/11961717&sec=education
By LUCILLE DASS

Emphasis should be placed not only on academic achievements, but also on the core values of character formation.

THE examination of the quest for meaning among today’s adolescents is both daring and needed.” — Howard Gardner.

I find it difficult to forget a painful experience at a mall where an adolescent being chased by his friend had crashed hard into my shoulder.

I let out a yell at the excruciating pain I felt and for a moment, I thought I had dismembered my shoulder bone!

What happened next was equally unexpected and painful to the heart.

The youth in question stopped in his tracks, looked me in the face, slapped his thighs and roared with laughter!

Yes, he laughed out loud as did his accomplice. No apology. Zilch.

The duo then turned around and resumed their game, perhaps claiming more casualties along the aisle.

I failed to trace the parents in the crowd.

The above incident, together with other growing behavioural disorders, increasing violence and crime activities by the young that we have now sadly grown accustomed to hearing, had me pondering on the character education of the millennial generation.

Where and why have we failed? What has happened to the traditional Asian family with its longstanding boast of high values in education?

Have families abdicated their role? Has the school also abdicated its role of educating students?

Many go to school but fewer are coming out educated in the true sense of the world.

Why are we pretending to forget that the key purpose of education is to nurture a human being?

This means the school is tasked with developing in the learners the knowledge, skills and attitudes that are related to humanity.

Only then in turn, can the young be expected to exhibit the same.

We have dehumanised education by placing a heavy premium on academic content and competitive performance while neglecting to nurture the core values of being human.

By neglecting human formation, we have robbed education of its soul.

For the good of the nation and to meet the demands of the 21st century, academic competence must go hand-in-hand with human formation.

This is a task for all concerned — the education authorities, teachers and parents.

Family institutions and schools must provide mutually supportive instruction to help the growing young develop their belief system.

The quest for meaning in life by the young must be tempered and tamed by adults who themselves hold holistic perspectives of human development.

The ability to discern right from wrong must be nurtured from young.

Responsible adults must guide the young to connect with their “inner life” — their souls — for wholesome development.

Human formation, which gives soul to education, is in fact at the core of our National Education Philosophy; “… developing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, so as to produce individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonic, based on a firm belief in and devotion to God ….”

“Belief in God” is also the first principle of our Rukunegara with “Courtesy and Morality” forming the fifth principle.

Why then are we not giving honest attention to realise these principles by enhancing students’ personal values and personal integration within an academic setting?

Yes, we have moral studies in school — but enough has been said about its ineffectual attempts to inform behaviour and reform recalcitrance.

There is an urgent need to bring back the lost values of character education at all levels.

Let us be earnest about putting soul back into education before it becomes too late.

> The writer is a former teacher educator and university lecturer. She is currently a freelance trainer in teacher development.

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

Producing effective teachers and critical learners the focus of national blueprint

Saturday September 8, 2012
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/9/8/nation/11990180&sec=nation

By Leanne Goh
newsdesk@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: The focus of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 will be on the making of effective teachers and critical learners.

The two elements will get greater emphasis in the transformation of the education system, under the blueprint to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Measures, some old and some new, will be taken to ensure that more effective teaching takes place in the classroom to produce students who are more than mere rote learners.

In acknowledging weaknesses in the system and how below average our students rank in international assessments, the Government will review and improve primary and secondary school curricula to produce learners with better thinking skills.

There is concern over the declining performance among students in external tests although there are pockets of high achievers and international award-winning students, as well as excellent schools, including the 66 designated High Performing Schools.

To achieve teaching excellence, the teaching profession is likely to be made more attractive to draw high calibre graduates with more avenues for promotions and career growth.

These are among some of measures that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is expected to share when he unveils the preliminary blueprint. The event will be aired live over RTM, TV3 and Astro at 10am.

The blueprint is expected to take stock of both the successes and shortcomings of the education system and from there, chart an action plan to move it towards world-class education.

With Malaysia being one of the countries with the highest percentage of the national budget (16% in 2011) set aside for education, there are high expectations for the returns on the investment.

The ministry is expected to review this under the blueprint and look for more effective ways to get value for the money spent, in terms of student outcomes.

Unlike the previous education reform that paid greater attention to physical infrastructure and systems, the blueprint for 2013 to 2025 looks at teachers as the driving force behind a superior education system. Hence, teacher training, retraining and “up-skilling” will be priorities.

For example, 70,000 English teachers have to sit for the Cambridge Placement Test and those found to be low or non-proficient would be given intensive “up-skilling” courses.

Steps such as this have already been taken to get the ball rolling even before the official implementation of the blueprint under the purview of Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

After the document is made public, the Education Ministry will continue to gather feedback from stakeholders.

The information will be fine-tuned and compiled in the final blueprint to be submitted to the Cabinet by December.

It has been a ground-breaking achievement for the ministry to put together the preliminary blueprint, after garnering views of international bodies like the World Bank and Unesco, local universities and organisations and most importantly, engaging the people through roundtable and townhall discussions over the past year.

Naturally, stakeholders from parents and the community to the private sector as well as state education departments should have a say as well as a role in raising the bar for the country’s education system.

A worrying development is the growing homogenous learning environments with the mushrooming of private and international schools in addition to existing vernacular and agama schools. Thus, programmes that foster national unity are likely to get much-needed attention.

Another concern is the gender achievement gap, as shown by the fact that 70% of the country’s undergraduates are females. Questions are being asked as to why boys are lagging so far behind in school.

This has been an issue the ministry has been grappling with and is expected to be redressed under the blueprint.

There is greater awareness that our students will be best served in a global workforce if they are bilingual, if not trilingual, hence the need to brush up on English – the language that Malaysian students are generally weaker in.

Najib has already expressed his desire to see English Literature in the school curriculum and this has already resonated well with parents and teachers.

Interestingly, in the preparation for the blueprint, the document was completed in English before work began on the Bahasa Malaysia version.