An education redesign in progress

WE hear of many cases where fresh graduates are unable to gain employment upon graduation; nor do they have the relevant skills and opportunity to strike out on their own.

This generally occurs when their education and training are either sub-standard, not forward-looking and rendered obsolete upon graduation or cannot be translated into practice at the workplace.

This scenario in the country takes on more urgency in the face of a fast-changing globalised world prompted by rapid technological advances and the impending impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) took action to circumvent the issues in 2015 via the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education) 2015-2025 which sought to transform the higher education system to be among the best in the world that will enable the country to compete globally.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh declared in his mandate in January that 2017 is the year of Redesigning Higher Education — a follow-through and continuing of existing efforts designed to produce holistic graduates who are highly employable — resilient, innovative and are present and future-ready for the unpredictable job market.

Education, he said, should be made current, relevant and can translate academics into practical output.

And to have the education that is able to deliver all these, he added that tertiary institutions have to better understand the needs of students in relation to the current state of the world where technology is prevalent. Therefore, there is a need to change the concept of teaching and learning at the higher education level.

This year, the ministry has looked towards embracing technology as a means to jumpstart a paradigm shift in higher education.

Idris also declared 2017 as the year of “translational research” — translating academic research into practical solutions to benefit the industry, academia, government and society.

To inculcate the spirit of volunteerism in undergraduates, the ministry implemented a Gap Year programme at eight public universities to give them the chance to volunteer at government agencies.

The ministry continued to be committed to the mainstreaming of Technical and Vocational Education (TVET), and worked on to improve the quality of TVET to make it a popular choice among students.

All in all, Mandate 2017 focused to improve the overall quality of the higher education system as well as the calibre of graduates from both public and private tertiary institutions.

Students are encouraged to volunteer with agencies like the police for their gap year.

GAP YEAR

In general, a gap year is a one-year break from studies or work for an individual to pursue other interests, generally different from his regular life or line of work. The term is usually applied to students who take a year (or less, rarely more) away from their studies to better prepare for the workplace.

Malaysia’s Gap Year 2017 programme announced by MOHE early in the year involves eight universities — Universiti Utara Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sabah. UKM and UiTM were identified to kick-start the programme which began in September.

Under the programme, students take time off from studies to pursue their interests and are particularly encouraged to volunteer with agencies such as the army, police, Civil Defence Department and especially those under the National Blue Ocean Strategy.

It is part of the ministry’s efforts to produce holistic graduates, with good academic results, vast experience in the industry and love for the nation.

Other than gaining experience, the programme is expected help to inculcate patriotism in students. A student allowance for the duration of the programme has been proposed.

GAME-CHANGING TECHNOLOGY

The enhancement of the existing Malaysian Research and Education Network’s (Myren) online ecosystem to Myren-X — a 100-gigabit high speed broadband infrastructure — in October is set to be a game-changer for the local higher education sector.

Designed to be a dedicated network for research and learning activities with its own separate and independent gateway to the Internet, Myren-X increases bandwidth capacity at public universities to a maximum of 100 gigabits per second (Gbps) and for other institutions under the MOHE, up to 10 Gbps.

It also offers a bandwidth of more than one megabit per second per student.

MOHE deputy secretary general (management) Datuk Kamel Mohamad, who is also its chief information officer, said the higher overall bandwidth speed and bigger capacity under Myren-X allow huge amounts of data to move at higher speed, which is a requirement of teaching and learning activities.

Myren-X also enables big data research and experiments which consume huge network bandwidth and capacity like those in the fields of genome, telemedicine and particle physics.

“Myren-X is expected to further spur the implementation of programmes under the Redesigning Higher Education initiative stipulated in Malaysia’s Education Development Plan (Higher Education). It will facilitate new ways and methods in 21st century teaching and learning such as collaborative online learning, virtual classrooms and Massive Open Online Courses.

“In addition, it will not only allow Malaysians to access overseas education online, but also enable foreigners to access education in Malaysia and bring Malaysian education overseas.

“Researchers in the country can collaborate with research communities as well as have access to international research labs in real-time,” he added.

STEPPING UP ENGLISH PROFICIENCY

Realising that Malaysian graduates need the right combination of knowledge and communication skills, and more than academic qualifications alone to compete effectively in the job market, MOHE introduced the Malaysia English Assessment (MEA) which is embedded in the Ecosystem for English Language Learning and Assessment in Higher Education to nurture holistic, entrepreneurial and balanced graduates.

Tertiary institutions play an important role in raising the standard of English of the country’s graduates and future generations, and MEA is the platform to do this.

The MEA has three development phases. The first phase, which started in September, involves the construction of the Higher Education English Language Test Repository system — a “question bank” — developed by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris.

This question bank will be used to construct standard Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) exam questions for the English empowerment programmes in public universities at the end of Semester 1, Session 2017-2018.

CEFR was originally developed to improve language teaching in Europe and it is recognised in practice as the international standard worldwide.

The second phase is the construction of test specifications for formal and informal assessments while the third phase outlines the MEA Guidebook and Test Repository Manual for users.

These developments are expected to be completed in stages by end of next year.

At the launch of MEA in October, Idris said assessment is not only critical to learning as it provides a bridge between teaching and learning, but it can also enhance the latter and drive a student’s educational experience.

MOHE’s aim is to produce graduates who are resilient, innovative and are present and future-ready.

STRENGHTENING POSITION

AS REGIONAL EDUCATION HUB

To achieve the nation’s goal of becoming an education hub in the region, MOHE believes it is important to harmonise public and private higher learning institutions rather than have them seen as separate entities. Therefore, it is important that private higher education institutions adhere to a strict set of regulations that will ensure their quality.

Institutions in the private higher education sector consist of diverse types, sizes, capabilities and capacities. There are 487 Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs) in the country and this makes regulation challenging. Hence, ACT 555 was enacted in 1996 to regulate the operations of PHEIs.

In order to address the current transformation and challenges in the private higher education sector and facilitate the operations of these private institutions, Idris said it is imperative to amend ACT 555.

The amendment of ACT 555 came into force on Nov 28 and it is expected to lead to better regulatory practice that will allow the improvement of the quality of PHEIs through a performance-based regulation. The Malaysian Quality Evaluation System for Private Colleges (MyQUEST) is an example of a performance-based rating system to evaluate their quality.

MyQUEST informs the private institutions of their performance compared to others which facilitates competition and drives value; enables individual institutions to engage in self-reflection and identify areas of improvement; enables potential students and their parents to make informed choices when it comes to the pursuit of knowledge; and enables stakeholders, such as sponsors, to determine education sponsorships.

MyQUEST also enables the ministry to ensure that private institutions operate within the regulatory framework and meet the goals of providing the best education that Malaysians deserve.

An improved performance in MyQUEST will boost the reputation of the colleges, as well as raise the public’s confidence in the nation’s ability to provide quality higher education.

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Kembar sambung ijazah bersama

PASANGAN kembar, Nurul Nadiah (kiri) dan Nurul Najwa menunjukkan surat tawaran ketika tiba pada hari pertama pendaftaran pelajar baharu UTM sesi 2017/2018 di Kolej 9, UTM, Skudai. – Foto NSTP/Hairul Anuar Abd Rahim

JOHOR BAHRU: Selepas tiga tahun bersama di peringkat diploma, sepasang kembar sekali lagi teruja apabila ditawarkan Ijazah Sarjana Muda, juga dalam jurusan sama di Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).

Pasangan Nurul Nadiah Abdul Halim dan Nurul Najwa Abdul Halim, 21, kini menyambung pengajian dalam jurusan Pengurusan Sumber Manusia.

Pasangan yang berasal dari Johor dan kini menetap di Bangi, Selangor itu sebelum ini menuntut Diploma Pengurusan Teknologi di UTM Jalan Semarak, Kuala Lumpur.

Nadiah berkata, beliau bersyukur kerana sehingga kini tidak berpisah dengan adik, Najwa.

“Walaupun kali ini bilik bersebelahan, saya bersyukur. Boleh ulang kaji dan belajar bersama adik, tambah pula kursus sama.

NURUL Nadiah (kanan) dan Nurul Najwa mengemas barangan keperluan di dalam bilik kolej ketika tiba pada hari pertama pendaftaran pelajar baharu UTM sesi 2017/2018 di Kolej 9, UTM, Skudai. – Foto NSTP/Hairul Anuar Abd Rahim

“Cita-cita kami juga sama dalam bidang sumber manusia dan harapan kami untuk mendapat anugerah dekan pada setiap semester pengajian di sini,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Naib Canselor UTM, Prof Datuk Ir Dr Wahid Omar, berkata seramai 6,101 pelajar ditawarkan untuk melanjutkan pengajian ke peringkat sarjana muda dan pascasiswazah di universiti itu.

“Ia membabitkan 4,012 pelajar sarjana muda dengan pecahan 3,612 penuntut tempatan, manakala baki 400 lagi pelajar antarabangsa.

“Bagi pascasiswazah, seramai 1,235 membabitkan 1,015 pelajar tempatan dan 220 pelajar antarabangsa ditawarkan pengajian peringkat Ijazah Sarjana, manakala 854 lagi peringkat Ijazah Doktor Falsafah (PhD),” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian pada sidang media selepas mengadakan lawatan ke Kolej Rahman Putra, di sini bagi meninjau suasana hari pendaftaran, hari ini.

Sumber: Berita Harian

Do not ‘hide’ bullying cases, schools warned

Kamalanathan shares a light moment with SMK Taman Bunga Raya (1), students after launching the campaign.Looking on is MIC Putera chief, M. Uvaraja (right).

BULLYING incidents in schools should not be swept under the carpet.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan warned that action would be taken against school officials, if they failed to report such cases, in their interest to protect the school’s image.

“They will be in trouble. The ministry will not hesitate to take action as there are guidelines on behaviour and conduct for civil servants and that includes those in the school administration,” he said after launching an anti-bully campaign in SMK Taman Bunga Raya (1), Bukit Beruntung, Rawang, Selangor on Tuesday.

The campaign which involved all secondary schools in the Hulu Selangor district, was organised by Putera MIC.

Kamalanathan said the percentage of students who committed bullying-related offences from 2012 to 2016 had dropped from 0.08% to 0.06%, while as of June this year, the numbers were at 0.02%.

He said the ministry’s objective was to educate, prevent and eradicate bullying which was a social ill in schools. There are guidelines and they must be strictly adhered to at all times, he reiterated.

When contacted, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said some schools protect bullies as they are mostly older students.

“It also doesn’t reflect well on the principal’s key performance indicators (KPI), if senior students have bad records.

“This is especially so in premier schools with good students, so teachers would not want to show records of any student dropping out,” she added.

Noor Azimah said such practices are done at the expense of the victim.

“A victim remains a victim, and more often than not, schools wait for them to voluntarily transfer out, or they endure (the pain and harassment) until the seniors leave the school.

“There should be zero tolerance towards bullying. It is unfortunate,” she said.

Noor Azimah said that many bullying cases go unreported as victims were aware of the lack of intervention from school administrators. She hoped that schools will take note of the deputy minister’s statement and act accordingly.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said the union does not condone any bullying acts and if they are kept under wraps, and away from the authorities.However, he stressed that teachers are not enforcers.

“The line between bullying and other criminal activities, as well as students merely ‘monkeying’ around, is a thin one.

“Some students don’t always tell the truth and if their cases are brought up, what will happen to their future?

“Sometimes, students make mistakes and we must give them a chance to change,” he said.

Tan added, if there are repeated offences and offenders, reports should be lodged. They should also be investigated thoroughly. However he questioned if it was necessary to do so in one-off instances.

National Union of Heads of Schools (Selangor branch) chairman Hor Jun Hin said no school should hide cases in which students are bullied and victimised. Instead, they should find a way to solve the problem.

At the event, each secondary school in the district received a brief guidebook along with a complaint box.

Source: The Star Online

Engage with your hearing impaired child

PARENTS are the most important and primary source of early language input to their children.

The quantity of language input from the parents during the early years of child’s growth is related to children’s language development which can have long- lasting implications for overall academic success.

The critical period for language development is generally regarded as the first three years of life. Children learn to talk by listening to speech. In order to learn the language, these children must be able to hear clearly. But, how can a deaf child hear and talk?

The average age of identification of the hearing loss in children is about 2 1/2 years. Parents of children who are deaf have better chances to develop their children’s oral language skills with the use of a hearing aid or cochlear implant depending on the severity of the hearing loss.

The hearing aid/ cochlear implant provides access to speech cues that are essential for the development of spoken language.

The hearing aid/ cochlear implant improves hearing thresholds, where children learn to understand speech sounds, which further improves and promotes communication, influencing positively the patient’s quality of life.

Implantation of infants as young as 12 months of age can be achieved safely and has been reported to be encouraging and positively improving.

Indeed, children who receive implants during infancy are more likely to achieve age-appropriate spoken language development compared to those who receive implants later.

For more information about hearing aid/cochlear implant for your child, consult a professional.

However, for the development of spoken language, parents of children with hearing aid/ cochlear implant must learn to support their children with their language input in the early stage of development for effective verbal communication.

Parents must make it a point to speak especially if the child is using a hearing aid or has undergone a cochlear implant as such input affects the children’s communicative development. Parents also need to:

• Improve the child’s speaking ability.

Children continuously absorb language while speaking to their parents. This will help them to improve their understanding of sentence structures.

• Enhance a child’s emotional development.

Children usually express their feelings through words. They match their feelings and emotions to words and convey them to their parents which may help them resolve their problems. They may become frustrated when unable to do so.

• Understand your child

Children share their dreams, hopes and fears through talking to their parents. This will enable the parents to gain a more in-depth understanding of their child. At the same time, children feel that there are heard and valued.

• Understand instructions

Children are continually being given instructions by their parents. It is easier for them to absorb short, direct instructions at regular intervals.

• Keep track of your child’s development

Children go through different key stages and parents will have a clear idea of their children’s progress, while talking to them.

Here’s how to equip yourself while talking to your child who wears a hearing aid or cochlear implant.

You have to first make sure that your child’s hearing aid/ cochlear implant is functioning properly and your child can hear you. This can be done by calling out his name or telling him to do something simple and watch his response. If he responds or is able to do it correctly, then the implant is functioning.

• Listen! Listen! Listen!

Stop whatever you are doing when your child wants to say something. Neglecting him will make him feel that you don’t care and don’t have time for them. Use words such as ‘Wow!, I am here, I know, Tell me more!, Good job and Great’, when communicating with them.

• Power in choice

Give your child a choice when talking to him. Let him feel that you are talking and asking him rather than talking and telling him.

Make a healthy two-way conversation and be actively engaged in the conversation. If you are in a noisy environment, try to reduce the noise by lowering the volume, eg; TV or radio, or talk nearer to him, as your child might not be able to hear you clearly.

• Avoid false statements and words out of anger

Speak to your child truthfully and calmly. Your child will learn to listen and believe in your words. Trust and respect come from honesty and sincerity. Don’t say something when you don’t mean it.

• Source of encouragement

Children should feel inspired, recharged and relieved when they speak to you. They should not feel sad. So, offer your ears and encouraging words when they share their problem or situation with you. Use encouraging words such as ‘Think it over, You will figure this out, Don’t worry, I am here to help you and I know you can handle it’.

• Place of comfort

When your child comes to you with a problem, think before you react. Try to put yourself in your child’s shoes and step away from being the parents. An ‘implanted’ child might feel different from his normal hearing friends. Tell him that the hearing aid or the cochlear implant is to help him.

• Avoid lots of questioning and drill routine

When your child shares something with you, as a parent, you might need to give your view and opinion.

Try to address the behaviour or action and not the child. If your child feels like he is disappointing you, he might not share anything in the future.

• Be the initiator

It will be exciting for your child when you follow up on a previous subject of interest before your child comes to you. This will bring you into your child’s circle and show him that you care.

• Time to share

Have some sharing time with your child. Drop everything and spend some quality time with thim like doing homework together or going out for holidays especially when you are a busy working parent. Nothing wrong in apologising.

Say sorry if you do or say something that you shouldn’t have. If you make a mistake, admit it. This will teach your child to admit their wrong doing too.

• Love

Tell your child that you love him. Express your feelings to him. Spend time and let him know that being with him is the best time spent.

Dr. Deepashini Harithasan

Institute of Ear, Hearing and Speech (Institute- HEARS), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

Institute HEARS is a service institute that provides ENT, audiology and speech therapy services for individuals with hearing Loss.

Source: The Star Online

How can you tell if your child has depression?

Depression in children appears to start as early as age 11, according to a new study published in the journal of Translational Psychiatry.

How can parents tell if a child that young is depressed?

“The child may not say, ‘I’m sad’,” says Dr Victor Fornari, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York, in the US.

Depression often begins in children as high anxiety, Dr Fornari says.

They may refuse to go to school or may worry about a parent dying. They may have headaches, stomach aches or pretend to be sick. They may be afraid to fail or be rejected.

They may not feel comfortable doing things they once felt comfortable doing.

“With 11- or 12-year-olds, usually you look for a change in functioning,” Dr Fornari says. It could be a change in sleep habits or appetite, or a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed.

“Irritability can be a hallmark of depression,” he says. “Everything annoys them. They fight with the parents. They fight with siblings.”

Parents think it’s a discipline issue, but at age 11, kids aren’t usually so rebellious, Dr Fornari says. “They’re having a problem; they’re not being bad,” he says.

Children may have negative thoughts about themselves or their bodies. They may be extremely sensitive to being teased. “When people are feeling bad, comments can really feel like harpoons,” Dr Fornari says.

If parents suspect depression, they should contact a paediatrician or family doctor for an evaluation.

Talking to the child’s teachers can also help, because they may also notice changes in behaviour or demeanour.

A child can be referred to a mental health professional for cognitive behavioural therapy or medication if necessary. – Tribune News Service

You can find a local directory of counselling services on the Malaysian Mental Health Association website

Source: The Star Online

A milestone for varsity and grads

The graduates posing with Downes and Bell (eighth and ninth from left) after the ceremony.

IT was a proud moment for graduates who received their scrolls at the recent inaugural graduation ceremony held at the University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) in Educity, Johor.

A total of 11 students were awarded the Bachelor of Science in Finance and Business Management at Henley Business School Malaysia after completing the three-year programme at the UoRM campus, while the rest, all Malaysians, completed undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University’s campus in the United Kingdom (UK).

“I am extremely proud to be a part of UoRM and hope the varsity will maintain its track record of excellence and enable its students to contribute to society for generations to come,” said 22-year-old Ooi Dai Jing.

She was presented with the Educity Award for Outstanding Achievement, courtesy of Educity@Iskandar, for the best overall results from the cohort of Finance of Business Management at the event.

“The trading simulation sessions were especially compelling and have given me invaluable exposure to financial markets,” she said.

Ooi who studied at the university’s UK Campus in her second year, returned to complete her final year at UoRM.

She shared that her overseas experience had moulded her to be more mature and independent. It also gave her a better perspective of the world.

Graduate Yovindran Kanezin, who delivered a speech on behalf of his peers, expressed his gratitude to the lecturers for encouraging students to think critically.

They instilled in the students the need to be motivated and confident.

“Many of the lecturers have had industry experience prior to teaching, so they were able to give us an insight into the workings of the business world. That helped us face various challenges in the working environment,” he said.

The 22-year-old, who has already secured a job as a proprietary trader in Kuala Lumpur, said that it was the university’s ranking besides the Henley Business School holding triple-accredited status from leading accrediting bodies like the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS), the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) in business and accounting, and the Association of MBAs (AMBA) in the UK, Europe and the United States that attracted him to the institution.

“Its reputation and state-of-the-art facilities especially its Dealing Room, where live trading simulation sessions are carried out instantly attracted me to study at the university.”

“It is great to have a UoRM degree in my resume as it instantly gives me an edge when applying for jobs, since its is part of a globally renowned business school,” said Yovindran, adding that he had a better understanding of the finance and business sector.

He also said that he gained invaluable experience during his internship programme with Perdana Fellows, where he served as an executive intern to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai. Yovindran was mainly involved in the aviation and logistics sector.

During the event, Iskandar Regional Authority Development chief executive officer Datuk Ismail Ibrahim was also conferred an Honorary Doctor of Laws.

The ceremony was presided by the University of Reading vice-chancellor Sir David Bell, who said that it was a significant day for UoRM and Henley Business School Malaysia, as they celebrated the inaugural cohort of graduates at Reading’s first multi-discipline overseas campus.

He said that 14% of its total student population received their education from countries across the world, away from the main campus in the UK.

“Malaysia forms a very important part of that, and we also have a Henley Business School campus in South Africa and major teaching partnerships in China.

“I believe that the global reach is good for every student in our university whether they are from the UK or elsewhere because there are benefits from the diversity of backgrounds, nationalities, cultures and interests.

“Whoever you are, whether you are being brought up in UK or Malaysia, your life will be influenced by things that are happening around the world. The more international we can make our education, the better it is for our students,” said Bell.

UoRM provost Prof Tony Downes also congratulated the graduates, adding that the university here had reached a milestone by awarding degrees to its first cohort.

“From the outset, the university has been committed to delivering first-class teaching with the aim of giving our students the experience, knowledge and skills to excel. We have shaped and produced a fine group of graduates who are well-equipped for successful and rewarding careers,” he added.
Source: The Star Online

Promoting hygiene among kids

Kamalanathan demonstrating the seven steps of hand washing to pupils at the school.

DETTOL, together with the Education Ministry, kicked off the Mission for Hygiene (MFH) school programme to promote hygiene habits among children.

The programme, which is being held for the fourth year, educates and empowers children to play a part in keeping their school and home clean, ensuring a safe and healthy environment.

“Dettol understands how good hygiene and sanitation can improve health. This is why it is important for the brand to lead hand hygiene education from a young age,” said Reckitt Benckiser Malaysia and Singapore (RBMS) marketing director Tiffany Tang at the campaign launch at SK Seksyen 7 in Shah Alam. “We strongly believe that one should start young (when it comes to) practising good hygiene habits.

“MFH is designed to educate school children on the importance of good hygiene habits, which includes the seven steps of hand washing.

“We hope this will raise awareness of hand, foot, and mouth disease in Malaysia and how hygiene practices can keep it at bay,” she said.

In the past four years, MFH has benefitted close to 350,000 pupils. The campaign aims to reach 2.7mil primary school children in Malaysia in the next 10 years. This year alone, Dettol hopes to reach out to another 150,000 students in 200 primary schools and 50 kindergartens in Malaysia.

This year, participating primary schools are encouraged to conduct a series of ‘gotong-royong’ activities related to toilet cleanliness. Schools taking part in the Gotong-Royong contest will have to submit ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of their toilets.

There will also be activities such as sketching sessions, and demonstrations on the proper way of washing hands, called the seven-steps of hand washing. Posters and education leaflets will also be posted up in schools and handed out to parents and pupils, as reminders for them to follow good hygiene habits.

During the opening ceremony, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan said: “Studies have shown that the school environment can affect attendance rate and pupils’ achievement.”

“Therefore, it is imperative for schools to be tidy and clean, in order to provide pupils with a conducive learning environment,” he added.

“It’s crucial to practise good hygiene habits at school to prevent harmful micro-organisms from spreading. “Besides regular efforts from the school administration and our hardworking janitors, our pupils must also play their respective roles in keeping their school environment clean and healthy,” he added.

Selangor state education department head of quality assurance sector Abdul Latiff A. Aziz said: “That’s why schools are the perfect places to heighten awareness about hygiene, and at the same time educate pupils on the basic rules of having a clean learning and living environment.”

Source: The star online