A whole new world awaits

EVERY path you walk ends somewhere, but at every end is yet another branch of roads that must be traversed in your life.

Do you remember the first day of college? Did you pack a little too many pens for that day? Did you get lost on campus because of its size?

Did you feel like the first day of college was your first day as an adult? For many starting college, it was the early days of true independence from parents. Undergraduates, like me, were on a path that would finely mould us into the people who could one day enter the workplace, armed with the knowledge acquired over several wonderful years in college.

And I am sure those of you in college now are finding this newfound independence a world of fun despite the stress of academia.

Yet, all that fun has to come to an end unfortunately.

You will attend your final class and you will put on your academic dress and cap, and you will graduate if you have persevered throughout the years.

On May 12, I graduated with a BA in English and Creative Writing with a minor in Cinema from The University of Iowa in the United States.

I accomplished a milestone many years in the making and saw the smiles of my family members in attendance at the commencement ceremony.

So, how does it feel to graduate? And is it worth it?

To be honest, graduation felt odd. Perhaps it was the extreme lack of sleep in the weeks leading up to graduation, staying awake to finish many essays. Or was it the absurd amount of coffee I consumed to stay awake? And I don’t even like coffee.

I sat in the middle of a large stadium where the graduation ceremony was taking place, among hundreds of students graduating on that day. And though I had no mirror, I knew I was looking at the same blank stare etched upon many of the faces around me.

Many of us had expended an incredible amount of energy and willpower to be granted the right to attend the ceremony. I suspected that many of us had not reserved any energy to sustain us through the two hours we had to sit there. Many of us were probably just coming to the realisation that we were at the end of a path.

And for most of us, the time we spent studying and stressing over exams was a slog, where time sometimes felt like it was just standing still — an unmoving river we were merely drowning in. Yet in the final weeks leading up to graduation, it suddenly all zoomed right by at the speed of light. It was suddenly nearly time to say goodbye to that messy dorm room, campus streets and wonderful friends gained over those years.

And it was time to bid farewell to writing essays and homework. Perhaps all these culminate in the odd feeling at graduation. Suddenly, everything we are familiar with is ending.

A way of life will be left behind all of a sudden.

Suddenly it is a whole new world and you do not quite feel like an adult anymore. You are not ready and you really do not want to leave. But you must.

I knew all along that the feeling of oddity was caused by emptiness. It was a void created from the realisation that I was saying goodbye to so many things, leaving me deflated. I was sad. I am back in Malaysia now, returning to a country ruled by a new government and filled with many new structures and changes to the streets I was once so familiar with. I left behind in America some best friends and I suddenly realise that my heart now exists in two places.

And the strain may take some time yet to heal. I believe many fresh graduates are feeling similar emotions.

And those of you who will graduate in the future will know these flood of feelings too. The void is scary and it is overwhelming to think about. Your heart will feel heavy and you will need time to heal just as I do.

A coin has two sides, but both are part of a single coin. The emptiness comes with the feeling of pride and accomplishment gained from how far you’ve come. You will look at your certificate and remember good times in college.

The stress, the laughter, the tears, the smiles — these go hand-in-hand and are a package.

The certificate is a reminder that you have experienced so much and are educated enough to realise that there is still so much to learn from the world, and you can now tackle all that with confidence because you have graduated.

So back to the question, is it worth it? And, I must say, it definitely is. The years to get to that graduation ceremony were filled with pain but as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain”. The world opens its arms wide open for graduates, it is your duty to face it head on.

And you should be proud that you have done something great, you are fantastic for having completed your college degree and I am proud of you.

And for those of you who are still on the path, keep working at it as it is worth it.

And for those of us who haven’t had enough at the undergraduate level, we can always pursue higher levels of education. I suspect that too will be worth it.

Emillio Daniel has just graduated from an English and Creative Writing course at The University of Iowa in the United States. Email him at education@nst.com.my

Source: The New Straits Times

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Right step in mastering English

PETALING JAYA: The recent call by the Prime Minister for top civil servants to sit for English competency tests once again highlights the importance of the lingua franca.

Eco World Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the Government is taking a step in the right direction.

“However, before we talk about top civil servants sitting for English competency tests, I think it is important to start with the younger generation.

“Schools are where we need to seriously build a good language foundation,” he said.

Lee said this at Menara Star after presenting a mock cheque for RM30,000 as sponsorship for Step Up pullouts to Star Media Group editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh.

The English education pullout, which comes with a copy of The Star newspaper, will benefit 60 selected schools across the country.

The 24-page colourful resource Step Up features Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia translations of difficult English words.

“Education has always been a priority to Eco World Foundation since its inception in 2014,” he added.

This is the third time that the foundation has stepped in with the sponsorship.

Lee said: “We have decided to invest in education because education is of primary importance to the development of the future generation.

“We feel Step Up is a very good programme for pupils, especially those from underprivileged families and who are poor in English literacy.

“With this sponsorship, pupils can learn new vocabulary with Chinese and Bahasa Malaysia translations besides gaining knowledge from stories and articles in the newspaper.”

Lee stressed the importance of English.

“English is an international language and it is important for our students to master it.

“The faster and easier way to learn is through newspaper reading. I sincerely hope that the newspaper will be put to good use,” he said.

He added that The Star’s NiE (Newspaper-in-Education) and Step Up pullouts help to provide opportunities for schools to encourage a reading culture.

“One way to improve language is to read as much as possible. By making The Star newspaper available to pupils, this will provide an avenue for them to read more.

“Nowadays, youngsters seldom read. By working together with The Star, we hope to do our part in supporting a very good cause – that is to help pupils in national and Chinese primary schools acquire a good command of English,” he said.

“We also hope that teachers will give time and attention to encourage pupils to read. Teachers have a role to play to help pupils to acquire a good command of the language,” he said.

For details on The Star’s NiE school sponsorship programme, call The Star’s Customer Care Unit at 1300 88 7827 from Monday to Friday (9am–5pm).

Source: The Star Online

Kekalkan fungsi IPGKTHO – Alumni

BATU PAHAT 6 Jun – Persatuan Alumni Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Tun Hussein Onn (IPGKTHO) merayu kerajaan mengkaji semula keputusan menukar fungsi kampus tersebut menjadi Kolej Vokasional.

IPGKTHO yang beroperasi sejak 1992 hingga kini melahirkan seramai 10,367 guru sehingga dua tahun lalu yang mempunyai prasarana lengkap dan sesuai sebagai pusat latihan pendidikan guru.

Seramai 200 ahli persatuan tersebut hari ini hadir bagi memberi sokongan agar kerajaan mempertimbangkan semula keputusan yang dibuat terhadap IPGKTHO, sebelum ini.

Mengikut perancangan, peranan IPGKTHO yang melatih para guru akan berakhir menjelang tahun 2020 sebaik sahaja kumpulan pelatih guru ketika ini tamat mengikuti kursus masing-masing.

Yang turut hadir, Penaung persatuan itu, Dr. Hamzah Ihsan yang juga bekas Pengarah IPGKTHO; Pengerusi Jawatankuasa persatuan, Halif Md. Saleh dan Setiausaha Kehormat Kesatuan Perkhidmatan Perguruan Kebangsaan (NUTP) Johor, Tee Wee Meng.

Facing a new phase in life

SPM results – done. Interview – done. What else is there to anticipate other than the results of the interviews I have gone through and Unit Pengambilan Universiti (UPU) applications I have submitted? Probably nothing else.

I couldn’t believe that this particular chapter in my life–where everyone parts way after secondary school to attend different universities and meet new friends – is actually coming faster than ever. A few of my friends had already gone to university and I know this may sound exasperating but I cannot accept the fact that we are growing up. I have always had the chance to meet my friends at school after certain holidays but now; everyone is all grown up and becoming more mature than ever. I cannot hide the fact that I wish everything would slow down just a notch.

Recalling my last year at school in 2017, I remember having had a conversation with my friends about what I wanted to pursue, which university I wanted to go to while still hoping that I would have all my friends by my side. However, reality is a sugar-coated dream that has a bitter filling. Just like what John Green said: “Life isn’t a wish-granting factory”. I haven’t really thought about continuing my life as a university student without my close friends around but that’s what life teaches us do to – to step out of our comfort zone, embrace the uncertainty that we all claim are frightening.

Our parents, seniors and teachers often say that a university qualification is the main key in securing a stable, promising career. Youths have a tendency to strive to stand out among others, forgetting to enjoy their remaining time being young and carefree. True, a university degree is important but so is staying happy. This state of happiness cannot be overlooked and in my opinion, the relationship between family and friends with us are the main influences that affect our mood.

It doesn’t matter that the university you attend is near or far from home, family is top priority. If we have the time, then why not spend it by checking up on our family?

Sure we would be busy with assignments and all those stuff at university but a call just to ensure that they are doing fine wouldn’t hurt.

Although engaging in social interactions with our new friends at university is what we look forward to, we must bear in mind that despite the fresh start we still have our high school friends that deserve remembering. People come and go, and that is only a fragment of what life has to offer, but the best stays even if storms and thorns come in their way. I have also lost a few friends over the years – who doesn’t? But the great thing is that some came back regardless of what people think or say to them, and I am forever grateful to be blessed with such understanding and motivating friends.

If people were to ask me what my feelings are when dealing with these changes then I would say I am sad yet excited to see what is in store for me. To seek a better me in the future for my own, well let’s just say everyone hopes for the same. Sure moving onto a new phase in life is difficult despite how attached you are to a certain person or memory is in the past but given the chance to have a new start, where new memories can be made with other people, well why not give it a go?

To my friends who are already in university or have just got into one or are waiting for offers, stay safe no matter where you are. And if any one of you feels like the weight of the world is anchoring you down, I am always there to share the burden with you. Despite the distance between us, I can promise each and every one that whatever happens, whomever I befriended – I will never forget the bond we shared together through thick and thin.

To others out there who will be friends or best friends with any of my friends, please do take care of them. They can be a pain in the ass most of the time but trust me, deep inside they actually have a kind heart and all it takes to see it is just your sincerity in being friends with them.

And to my beloved friends – more precisely, my batch Gloriafelicis – have fun exploring outside your comfort zone but be safe at the same time. Things are way different than what we are used to back in school and like I said previously, it is sad to see how far we had gone together, seeing everyone growing up but I trust that you guys will be fine out there.

I would also like to express a huge amount of gratitude to my teachers from my primary and secondary schools for shaping me into who I am today. Honestly, my friends and I could not have done it without all of your sacrifices and support.

Not to forget my teacher who uncovered a passion I never knew I had. I shall be forever grateful to Puan Roziana for giving me the opportunity to write. My biggest appreciation also goes to those who helped me throughout my journey, be it directly or indirectly.

Source: New Straits Times

Nurturing interest in STEM

SCIENCE, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) permeate every aspect of today’s world, and the innovations that emerge from these fields underpin much economic development leading to the establishment of creative enterprises and rewarding careers.

People working in STEM are changing the face of the world we live in everyday, whether it is by making life-saving drugs and devices, researching new cures for cancer or creating new technologies that keep us healthier, safer and of course, entertain us.

Our education system plays a key role in equipping students with the knowledge, skills and dispositions to effect these changes.

“We need a national focus on STEM education in our early years settings and schools to ensure we have an engaged society and a highly-skilled workforce in place.

“This requires a clear understanding of STEM education in the Malaysian context. The embedding of this understanding across our education system will help transform the STEM education experience throughout the schooling years,” said Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin.

STEM is at the heart of a new wave which is transforming the way we live and the way we work. STEM will help a competitive country to be part of the world’s developed countries.

The World Economic Forum’s report states that as many as 65% of children in primary school today will work in new, STEM-based fields in the future when they enter the workforce.

Let’s do it: Dr Amin (second from right) launching the STEM Colloquium in Kota Kinabalu.

Let’s do it: Dr Amin (second from right) launching the STEM Colloquium in Kota Kinabalu.

The Education Ministry has taken steps by introducing the Enhancing STEM Education initiative through the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to encourage pupils to venture into STEM fields in secondary level and tertiary education.

It is vital as strong fundamental skills in STEM enables students to think critically and solve problems thus preparing them as highly skilled workers needed in the industry.

The initiatives to enhance STEM education have considered the six students’ aspirations and how to provide qualified and adequate students in the STEM field through three steps:

* Increase students’ interest through the new teaching and learning approach and the strengthening of the curriculum;

* Improve teachers’ skills and abilities; and

* Improve student and public awareness.

STEM education is multi-faceted and goes well beyond the main disciplines that constitute the acronym STEM.

The foundations for STEM education begin in early childhood. From the earliest years through their play experiences and family environment, children engage with the world in ways that can promote learning related to STEM.

“Young children naturally engage in early STEM exploration through hands-on multisensory and creative experiences.

“By engaging in these experiences, young children are developing curiosity, inquisitiveness, critical-thinking and problem-solving capacities which are built on through their primary and secondary school experience,” said Dr Amin.

Dr Azwan: All stakeholders need to work together to develop a connected learning network to benefit STEM education.

Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) Student Learning executive director Dr Azwan Abd Aziz said that various activities and programmes are planned and will be implemented under the Enhancing STEM Education initiative.

The initiative targets to increase student’s interest in STEM subjects through the new teaching and learning approach and curriculum enhancement, improving teachers skills and abilities and raising student and public awareness on education and career in the STEM field.

The ministry hopes to produce students with the ability to think logically, are inventive, technology-savvy and are able to solve problems creatively and innovatively.

To sustain a supportive STEM education ecosystem, all stakeholders will need to work together to develop a connected learning network which is advantageous to all.

Multiple stakeholders have a role to play in supporting the STEM education experience of our young people so that we, as a nation, can overcome current misconceptions concerning ability and/or gender. Creating a sustainable STEM education ecosystem is the responsibility of the wider society and will play a key role in enabling and encouraging learners to become active and responsible citizens.

Improving teachers

The objectives of the STEM Education Colloquium are to create interest and awareness among teachers on the importance of STEM in schools, as well as to improve the skills of STEM teachers through hands-on activities. The colloquium is in collaboration with higher education institutions, government agencies and the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) industry players, as they provided the complimentary venue and industry experts who contributed voluntarily for the colloquium.

The STEM Education Colloquium theme is “Education Through Exploration”.

In 2018, STEM education colloquium will be implemented in four zones – Sarawak, Sabah, Kelantan and Perak – involving nearly 1,200 participants in each zone.

The university partners in each zone are Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan, and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris respectively.

This is a continuation of the colloquium that was implemented in 2017 in the Central Zone (Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia), Eastern Zone (Universiti Malaysia Terengganu), Northern Zone (Universiti Sains Malaysia) and Southern Zone (Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia) involving more than 6,000 teachers.

Source: The Star Online

Do you need a college degree to succeed?

Debuting his first ever Tedx talk at TedxINTISubang, INTI International College Subang’s Academic Dean, Eric Lee Chan Yu, took on an interesting yet seemingly controversial topic about the need for (or lack of ) a college degree to succeed in life.

Surrounded by a crowd of puzzled college goers, Eric set the stage for his topic, which stemmed from a dinner conversation with a close friend, who bluntly stated that attending college was a waste of time unless it was for a technical or professional degree, which required certification. Eric’s talk was recently featured on Tedx Talks, the main and official YouTube channel for Tedx, which has over 11 million subscribers.

Citing a vast variety of resources available via the Internet and the volumes of books available today, Eric started his talk by sharing a conversation he had with a friend, Ryan, who was adamant that there was no need for a degree. Having completed a degree in hospitality, and then moving into an entrepreneurial role with his family and eventually starting a music school with his wife, Ryan shared how he learned the ropes of human resources (HR) and eventually developed a HR programme using online resources and books.

Through this learning process, he realised that there was a market for small companies that required HR software but were not be able to afford current products. As a result, he became a HR software provider and built his career without a formal college degree in business or entrepreneurship.

While Eric felt his friend made a point, he took time to reflect and realised that his friend had missed a few key things which cannot be learned from a YouTube video or a text book. In his Tedx Talk, Eric shared how college is a space for students to develop soft skills beyond the usual communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking skills we often hear about, citing instead “boss management” as one of the major skills to be gained while in college.

“Consider your lecturers like your practice bosses because when you go out to work, you will come across all sorts of them. You have the good, the bad, the boring, the task drivers, the slave masters and so on.

“The key is learning how to manage them and college is the place to practice. These lecturers can be your mentors and even your friends eventually. So take the good, the bad, the boring and so on and learn how to manage their expectations. Always ask the right questions and don’t be afraid of your lecturers,” shared Eric. He also elaborated his point by talking about the need to collaborate with different departments and adapting to different requirements, expectations and policies, which are reflective of most working environments.

Eric said the role of college was to provide a safe space for students to try and fail. During his talk, he explained that college students are not expected to get things right the first time around and that college gives them the opportunity to make mistakes, fail and learn from them.

“You have between two to four years to make mistakes and fail at the various things you try in college either in class or in social activities. In college, these mistakes will only cost you time or at worst, money. However, making the same mistakes at work may cost you your job or even your career within that industry. So make the most of this time to try everything and anything that you would like to explore.

“As students, you have more time and freedom to make mistakes now compared to those who are already working, because the margin of failure when you go out to work is very small,” said Eric.

Beyond that, college is seen as a space for self-discovery. Drawing from his own experience as an academician, Eric shared how students should use their time at college to discover their strengths, weaknesses and limitations. Via this self-discovery, students are able to reach out to their lecturers or “practice bosses” to seek advice and guidance.

Eric said that the ultimate reason to attend college and pursue a degree is because college provides a safe space for ideas to grow and develop. He described them as places to share ideas with people from different backgrounds and different perspectives, helping students find good ideas that can change the world in small or revolutionary ways. Eric emphasised that ideas need action, therefore putting them into practice makes it possible for changes to happen.

He quoted the likes of Steve Jobs, who credited Mac’s multiple typefaces and fonts to having attended a calligraphy course at Reed College; Mark Zuckerberg, who created a cultural phenomenon through an idea he developed in his dormitory at Harvard with a group of friends; and even Indonesian students who rallied together in 1998 and occupied the parliament which led to former President Suharto stepping down from his position. These are among the many examples of individuals and groups of students being empowered to make a difference even while at college.

“Ideas spark, develop and receive exposure through college clubs and societies, talks, workshops, in classrooms, and among groups of friends and classmates. You learn new ways of seeing and doing things which you would have never discovered before.

“Exposure is key in experiencing different views and prepares you for the workplace where your environment is full of different people with different views and ideas,” said Eric who encouraged the young crowd of college students to make the most of their time in college, to get out of their comfort zones, experiment, and unleash something great within them.

Source: New Straits Times

Harnessing higher educationfor the greater good

Tertiary institutions today are both globally connected and locally engaged as they play their roles in helping to develop globally-minded citizens,acting as conduits to international partnerships, helping to create the conditions for industry collaboration and social innovation, as well as be agents of social change, inclusion and mobility.

But what are the priorities in ensuring national tertiary education is fit to shape societies of the future and meet the future needs of students, businesses and communities amidst issues such as new technologies and changing boundaries?

These were among the questions raised at the recent Going Global 2018 higher education conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Held for the first time in the Asean region since its inception in 2004, this year’s conference was co-hosted by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MOHE) and the British Council, with the Asean Secretariat as supporting partner. The conference theme Global Connections, Local Impact: Creating 21st Century Skills, Knowledge and Impact For Society-Wide Good was discussed at 40 sessions over three days.

Welcoming guests at the opening ceremony, British Council Malaysia director Sarah Deverall said it was fitting that the conference was held in the Asean region which has focused on harmonisation of higher education over the last few years with great success.

“With a combined population of more than 600 million, Asean is the third largest global market for education. Asean recently realised a five-decade dream of bringing together its 10-member state, including Malaysia, to form an economic community, bringing social progress, stability and greater opportunity to the region.

“With 15 million students enrolled across the region, at the heart of the transformation is the role of tertiary education and its contribution to society and cultural understanding, economic growth and employability.”

Deverall, who highlighted Malaysia’s achievement in attracting international students, added: “Malaysia has taken a long-term approach in its commitment to education, with a growing reputation as a regional education hub in Asean. With a goal of 250,000 by 2025, Malaysia has attracted approximately 170,000 international students to its institutions, creating diverse student bodies and rich cultural educational environments.”

Figures recently released by the United Kingdom’s Higher Education Statistics Authority show that Malaysia has raced to the top of the table in hosting transnational students pursuing UK qualifications internationally. Numbers sourced from the 2016/17 academic intake show that Malaysia boasts 74,180 students, with China coming in second with 70,240 and Singapore third with 48,290.

MOHE secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur gave an overview of the

Malaysian higher education landscape, home

to 1.2 million students.

“Malaysia’s gross enrolment ratio in 2016 of 44 per cent is higher than most of the Asean countries and higher than the world average of 37 per cent. We are very proud of our success stories on the global front,” she said while emphasising the importance of establishing global higher education connections for the benefit of local communities as they face the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Vongthep Arthakaivalvatee, deputy secretary general for socio-cultural community at Asean, said the handling of issues that impact education depends heavily on international cooperation as much as national action.

SARAH DEVERALL

“We need to make sure our education system is marked by quality, credibility and innovation,” he said, adding that education and training for qualified human resources is the key factor for social and economic development in a globalised world.

Dr Ayesha Khanna, co-founder and chief executive officer of ADDO AI, an artificial intelligence advisory firm, said that with the disruptive challenges of artificial intelligence and automation come as many opportunities. Predictions of job losses in numerous white-collar sectors such as banking and law can be scary, but new jobs are also inevitable and open exciting possibilities.

“Any kind of work that is repeatable can be mimicked by a machine,” Ayesha said. “However, creativity and humanity have never been in more demand as technology performs the routine and the mundane.”

The challenge for learning institutions is to find the right balance between theory and applied learning, because artificial intelligence depends on sector expertise.

Another speaker, Professor Janet Beer, trustee of British Council and president of Universities UK, said: “We have an exciting and challenging agenda at Going Global. Universities have always drawn ideas from far and wide… in their local and international context. Here in Malaysia the value of transnational education is very well understood. But how can higher education better connect with, and serve, people across all levels of society?”

Sam Gyimah MP, UK Minister of State for Universities, Science and Research, addressed the conference by video.

He said: “We are particularly keen to help students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from international experiences which is why the Department for Education here in the UK recently doubled the number of internships for disadvantaged young people through the British Council’s Generation UK programme. At the same time we are welcoming record numbers of international students to the UK.”

Education is at the heart of the Malaysia-UK bilateral relationship with five UK branch university campuses and 80 Malaysian local and private universities which have partnered with UK universities.

Going Global 2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the British Council presence in Malaysia.

The event featured 150 speakers, 30 exhibitors and attracted 1,000 participants.

Source: New Straits Times