Archive for category Education
Khairie Hisyam Aliman
The Malay Mail Online
September 16, 2013
SEPT 16 — Recently we heard that out of 60,000 English teachers nationwide, about 70 per cent of them did poorly when sitting for the English Language Cambridge Placement Test.
Last Monday, Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said these English language teachers, classified as “unfit” to teach the subject, had been sent to courses to improve their command of English.
“The ministry will also consider sending them overseas for exchange programmes to take up TESL (Teaching of English as a Second Language) courses,” a news report quoted him as saying, while adding that a good portion of these teachers had enrolled in local English courses.
Well, now talk last year of Malaysia possibly importing English teachers from India is put in a different perspective. But the core of the problem is also brought to light — what’s up with our teacher recruitment process?
While I am all for continuous self-improvement whatever your job title is, these “unfit” teachers have no business teaching English in the first place. If they are unfit to teach English to our kids and have to be trained further to be good enough, how is it that they became English teachers in the first place? Read the rest of this entry »
By Kee Thuan Chye
One of the brightest things to emerge in these gloomy days is the Education Ministry’s announcement that English will be a must-pass subject at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations from 2016.
This is something that has been a long time coming. English used to be a must-pass subject until it was stopped from being such so long ago that I can’t even remember when. But what resulted after that was a drastic drop in the standard of our competency in that language. Then the ripple effect caused the standard to drop even further as people who were not proficient enough in English came to be trained to teach it in schools. I have heard many horror stories emerging from that situation.
At one time, Malaysia was among the top countries in Asia that were proficient in English. But nowadays, most Malaysians can’t string a sentence together properly and without making grammatical errors. These include English-language teachers themselves – not just those teaching in schools but also those teaching students learning Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL), and even English Literature, in universities. This is embarrassing. Read the rest of this entry »
— Ravinder Singh
The Malay Mail Online
September 11, 2013
SEPT 11 — Well, well, thank you Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh for confirming what many Malaysians have long known.
He has spilled the beans, not realising that when you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing back at yourself.
Please tell us dear minister, how many children of how many elites in the country are attending Sekolah Rendah/Menengah Kebangsaan in Malaysia?
Do us a favour please. Besides having leaders of the country declare their assets, get them to also declare the schools their children are attending.
When the rakyat could see that the children of the leaders are also attending the local schools, you will not need any other promotional campaigns to tell Malaysians that our local schools are “setanding” (i.e. of equal standing) with schools in advanced countries such as Germany and the US. Read the rest of this entry »
– K Ranga Krishnan
The Malaysian Insider
September 06, 2013
A few weeks ago, as I was preparing to welcome our new batch of students to Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, I came across a wonderful and thought-provoking paper by Abraham Flexner — the educator whose report a century ago revolutionised medical education worldwide — titled The Usefulness of Useless Research.
I was struck by the clarity of the paper’s exposition on how research driven by curiosity leads to unexpected advances.
Flexner wrote this article in 1939 to address the growing discussion on why research has to be useful, a discourse that is happening to this day.
He recounts an illustrative interview that he had with George Eastman of Eastman Kodak fame. Flexner asked him who he thought was the most useful worker in science. Eastman said Guglielmo Marconi, the man credited with using wireless waves to produce the radio.
Flexner then pointed out to Eastman that the real credit belonged to James Clerk Maxwell, who predicted and developed the underlying principles of electromagnetism, and others like Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who detected and demonstrated these electromagnetic waves.
Neither of these men had any thought about how their work would be useful. Read the rest of this entry »
Aug 7, 2013
Every year we are told, certainly incessantly reminded, that it’s a `bulan mulia’, a holy month of reflection, much prayer, of being patient, and a month of respect and forgiveness.
Ramadan indeed is the month when Muslims flock to the mosques and suraus, especially at night, to bow their heads, prostrate even, in prayer and to seek forgiveness from the Almighty.
But, as we end this year’s month of Ramadan, really, much of what we’ve seen around us these past four weeks has run contrary to all that.
It has been a hate-filled month, bringing to shame whatever claims we may have to being spiritual or god-fearing.
Forgiveness? Well, there certainly was very little of that. Read the rest of this entry »
- Pope Francis
The Malaysian Insider
August 07, 2013
To Muslims throughout the World,
It gives me great pleasure to greet you as you celebrate ‘Eid ul-Fitri, so concluding the month of Ramadan, dedicated mainly to fasting, prayer and almsgiving.
It is a tradition by now that, on this occasion, the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue sends you a message of good wishes, together with a proposed theme for common reflection.
This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders.
As you all know, when the Cardinals elected me as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, I chose the name of “Francis”, a very famous saint who loved God and every human being deeply, to the point of being called “universal brother”. He loved, helped and served the needy, the sick and the poor; he also cared greatly for creation.
I am aware that family and social dimensions enjoy a particular prominence for Muslims during this period, and it is worth noting that there are certain parallels in each of these areas with Christian faith and practice.
This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education. Read the rest of this entry »
Free Malaysia Today
August 6, 2013
What do the Chinese want? It’s pretty amazing after 55 years in the same country that our leaders still have no clue to the answer to this question. And even more amazing is the demand for Chinese to go back to China, and in the meantime, Indians go back to India too. I’m not sure what makes them think China or India would take us ‘back’ in the first place. Both countries are so populated, the governments there would not only deport us, they might ask us to take some of their own citizens back with us while we’re at it.
This is my attempt to answer this apparently very elusive question. I apologise if my views don’t represent those of all Malaysian Chinese, but I believe that for most of us, going ‘back’ to China, even if we legally could, is nowhere on the list. I’m also about to highlight some negative perceptions about the Chinese, which I’m not afraid to point out being a Chinese well, as I believe it’s important to be able to acknowledge when your own people are doing something wrong and not be afraid to criticise it…. Something that quite a few people in this country seem to be unable to do and would rather ignore the wrong others are doing just because they are of the same race or religion.
China may be making a name for itself as a technological powerhouse, but the country is run by a dictatorship. There is no freedom of speech, and there are heavy restrictions on use of the internet, the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of assembly. There is a huge disparity between rich and poor in China, social injustices are high and people have become so indifferent to each other that people can walk pass an injured and dying toddler on the road and not be bothered to help. Basically, everything we don’t like about Malaysia, is a lot worse in China.
For my Indians friend, it’s pretty much a similar case in India. If we did leave the country, why go to a country where life would be more difficult? If we migrated anywhere, we’d rather go to Singapore, America, Australia, United Kingdom, which may not be perfect, but there is more equal opportunity, more freedom, higher pay and a good chance at a better livelihood. But for a lot of us, we’d rather stay in Malaysia, simply because most of our happy memories, friends and family are here. Plus the food here is just too good. Read the rest of this entry »
by Dr. Lim Teck Ghee
Saturday, 27 July 2013
As soon as one academic government yes-man appears to retire from the public scene, another all too quickly rushes to fill the vacancy. The latest academic political wannabe is Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Prof. Teo Kok Seong who has said that the course would benefit the Chinese, and that Chinese leaders should support its introduction.
Offering little in the way of empirical evidence or intellectual argument, he has provided the breathtakingly brilliant and original insight that “TITAS in private higher institution is to resolve the issue faced by citizens who do not know our history and civilisation. The ultimate purpose is to create better understanding, foster unity and inculcate the development of a national identity.”
According to Prof. Teo as reported in Utusan Malaysia (23 July 2013), the compulsory teaching of the subject is to streamline the social sciences in public and private universities and to foster humanism in the undergrads.
And to drive home the importance of the compulsory subject, he links his defence of it to the lack of understanding among private school students “of the country’s history and the basics in the country as [seen in] the sex couple Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee….”, said a Malaysiakini report headlined ‘ Titas would benefit the Chinese, says don’ (July 23).
Prof. Teo appears bent on justifying his position as Research Fellow of the Institute of the Malay World and Civilization and the conferment of a Datukship on him.
If that is his intention, he should have gone further and asked perhaps for the public flogging of the couple and the withdrawal of citizenship of those against the Ministry of Education’s effort to create better understanding and greater unity among students. An even harder line would endear him more to the higher ups and secure greater official recognition. Read the rest of this entry »
By Kee Thuan Chye
26th July 2013
The intake of students into Malaysian public universities is a sad, sad story. A story that has been around for decades. A story that doesn’t want to end.
Since the establishment of the quota system for Bumiputera students in 1973, non-Bumputera ones have had to take part in what is virtually a lottery when they apply for places. They may not get admitted, or they may not get the course of study they applied for even though they have the best results.
When the system was introduced, 55 per cent of places were reserved for Bumiputeras, although apart from Universiti Malaya and Universiti Sains Malaysia, other universities reportedly admitted more Bumiputeras than was specified in the quota.
Non-Bumiputera families that couldn’t tolerate the unfairness of the system decided to emigrate with the chief aim of securing higher education for the young. New waves of emigration have since followed, resulting in a massive brain drain that is highly disadvantageous to the country’s development.
Those who stayed gave up on public universities as they did not want to put up with uncertainty over their children’s future. They resolved to work harder to earn money to send their children overseas.
This caused a huge flow of currency outflow. So to stem it and also to make Malaysia a future net exporter of tertiary education, the Government instituted the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act in 1996 that led to the sprouting of private colleges and universities locally. Read the rest of this entry »
– Rama Ramanathan
The Malaysian Insider
July 26, 2013
Two articulate writers, both lawyers, both Muslims, both patriots, have commented on the Pristina primary school incident, which I too have commented on.
Art Harun’s piece is titled “Once we were beautiful.”
Art reminisces about his schooldays in a mixed race, English-stream primary school in the sixties. He names some of his Chinese, Indian and Malay teachers. He affectingly recalls being corrected by some of them. He notes it was then normal not to fast till year 5 and it was even normal, not disrespectful, to snack while walking about.
Art recounts his move to a “mixed” boarding school. He studied, played, ate and made mischief with friends who weren’t Malays. Inter-communal mixing was normal.
Art laments that “non-Muslims don’t send their kids to national school anymore,” preferring vernacular and private schools. He points out that now national schools require students to recite morning prayers, have walls adorned with Quranic verses and are filled with Malay/Muslim students.
Art’s point about the state of our schools today is:
“The small number of non-Malay kids also gives a sense of false superiority complex to the Malay kids as well as teachers. Thus, my race and my religion are more important than you, your religion and everything else.
Art says the superiority complex is the reason why “many national schools” close their school canteens during Ramadan, though that’s not the publicly offered reason. Read the rest of this entry »
by The Malaysian Insider
July 24, 2013
How did Malaysia come to this point? Where billions have been spent on national unity programmes, Bangsa Malaysia initiatives and grandiose 1Malaysia schemes and yet EMPATHY for each other is so glaringly missing from daily life.
The Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Some may see it as “standing in someone else’s shoes” or “seeing through someone else’s eyes”.
Whatever the definition, implicit in it is a feeling of compassion for another.
If the feeling of empathy courses through the veins of Malaysians, we would be very slow to ridicule the religious practices of another or even place each other in racial pigeonholes. Very slow. Because we would feel the hurt that a wayward word or action could cause another group of Malaysians.
In addition, we would be quick to condemn or disapprove of behaviour not in keeping with our national psyche. Read the rest of this entry »
At last, the cat is out of the bag – “meritocracy”student intake system into public universities “more quota than quota”
At last, the cat is out of the bag – that the university “meritocracy” student intake system which replaced the ethnic quota system for entry into the public universities in 2002 is “more quota than quota”.
According to the MCA Youth leader, Datuk Dr. Wee Ka Siong, the intake of Chinese students for eight major courses in public universities – medical, dentistry, pharmacy, electronics and electrical engineering, chemical engineering, law and accounting – has been declining in recent years from 26.2% in 2001 to 25.3% in 2001 and 20.7 per cent this year.
I commend Wee for finally making the public admission that the so-called “merit system” which replaced the quota system in 2002 was an even worse form of quota system in reality, resulting in the dropping of Chinese students to 19 per cent from more than 30 per cent in the early years, and the general drop in non-Malay students in the eight critical courses in public universities.
In May 2002, I had sent an urgent email to all Cabinet Ministers asking them to rectify the injustice of the so-called “merit-based” university selection system, as the formula used to match the matriculation results and STPM grades was “unprofessional, unfair and gives meritocracy a bad name as it is without any professional merit”, like comparing an apple with an orange.
I had argued at the time that it was quite absurd to compare the results of the STPM and matriculation courses as they are completely different systems, with different kind of evaluation procedures. Read the rest of this entry »
— Lim Teck Ghee and Din Merican
The Malay Mail Online
JULY 23, 2013
JULY 23 — We owe a debt of gratitude to Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli and other supporters of the proposed Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) course for opening the Pandora’s box on the educational value and desirability of this officially decreed course previously imposed on public universities and now planned to be extended to private universities.
For now, there has been nothing offered by way of justification or in defence of the course design by the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and his subordinate, Higher Education Department director-general Morshidi Sirat, to allay the concern that the introduction of the course is politically motivated to serve the ruling government’s agenda, and not the interest of our young.
We should have no illusions that even with the spotlight of public criticism strongly on it, the authorities will not continue with the planned enforcement of the course. The political stakes are too high for the minister of education, soon contesting the Umno elections, to do an about-turn.
Recognising that it is well-nigh impossible to expect the authorities to withdraw its proposal, we urge Rafizi and others in favour of the course to support the following measures to ensure that TITAS does not become another platform to load our young with politically, racially or religiously skewed knowledge. A narrowly conceived, ethnocentric and politically biased TITAS is counter-productive in a world characterised by diversity and pluralism and in our homeland which is one of the major cultural and civilisation crossroads of Asia.
If indeed the intention is noble and aimed at instilling cross cultural learning and appreciation of the major civilisations of the region among all students, Malays and non-Malays, surely no one in their right mind will object to the safeguards below to ensure that this intention is achieved and not subverted. Read the rest of this entry »
– Aerie Rahman
The Malay Mail Online
July 22, 2013
JULY 22 – In an article dated July 22, Rafizi Ramli admirably tried to defend the forced implementation of TITAS in private tertiary institutions. His primary argument is that TITAS being made compulsory is a vehicle that is able to promote greater understanding among the various cultures in Malaysia.
Rafizi dissected the content of TITAS and concluded that the implementation would be of benefit to all. I would like to commend Rafizi’s direct clarification on this matter. Unlike Khairy Jamaluddin who only tweeted on this issue, Rafizi recognises the importance of discourse that is not confined to mere sound bytes and ipse dixit assertions.
I agree with Rafizi that if there is an issue with the syllabus, we should amend it to make TITAS palatable to all cultures. This is a practical point and not a principle concession. If Islamisation is the problem like what Dr Lim Teck Ghee is worried about, then the syllabus should be revamped to ensure that Islamisation doesn’t happen.
However, my concern with Rafizi’s article is twofold. Rafizi did not address the negative consequences of compulsion. Rafizi also failed to answer the point of practicality; does TITAS have any utility to students, who need to accumulate essential skills to secure a job upon graduation. Read the rest of this entry »
— Rafizi Ramli
The Malay Mail Online
July 22, 2013
JULY 22 — I must begin by conveying my gratitude to Dr Lim Teck Ghee and S. Thayaparan for their views on the position I took with regards to the implementation of TITAS at private tertiary institutions (IPTS).
While the ensuing exchange of views on the matter had earned me many labels from some of the readers of Malaysiakini (including lumping me as another Umno prototype), I look at it positively. If Malaysia were to progress, we must be able to debate openly and accept criticisms both ways.
I will explain the basis for the position I had taken before I respond to some of the issues brought by both of them. Read the rest of this entry »
By Tunku Abidin Muhriz | JULY 19, 2013
The Malay Mail Online
It’s not just me: students who I meet at innumerable forums tell me that their history textbooks (and the inane methods of learning) are more likely to induce catatonia than an appreciation of our past; retired soldiers who I meet at war memorials and regimental dinners forlornly remark that important battles of a generation ago are completely forgotten; and retired bureaucrats, senior judges and politicians of the “old school” I have the pleasure to know are resigned to the fact that their heroes — King Ghaz, Tun Suffian, Dr Mohamed Said — will never be household names again.
As for those names which every Malaysian does know, it can be argued that they are simply put on pedestals without sufficient appreciation of their life stories. Ironically, there are many excellent biographies, autobiographies and collections of the writings of our early patriots (the books of Tunku Abdul Rahman could constitute a whole course!), but they don’t seem to be used as teaching materials.
Read the rest of this entry »
by Dr Lim Teck Ghee
18th July 2013
Pandan Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli’s support of the proposal by the Ministry of Higher Education to make the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) course compulsory in private tertiary institutions (IPTS) is a disappointment. More disappointing is the reasoning behind his support for the introduction of the subject.
His argument that “politically, it’s not helping when it’s made too much of a fuss, because it fits the Malay right-wing argument that the Chinese and non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything Islam” smacks of crude political opportunism.
Members of the public who see him as a potential future leader expect him to take on and not surrender to Malay right wing opinions that are based on irrational and mischievous thinking.
Rafizi should know that the religious and socio-cultural conflict in the country is not because the non-Malays refuse to understand and look down on everything that is Islamic. The great majority of Malaysians respect the faith of their neighbours even if they may not understand it. What they resent and oppose is the state-sponsored assertion of dominance and superiority of a religion that is different or not their own. Read the rest of this entry »
- Tunku Munawirah Putra
The Malaysian Insider
July 17, 2013
The Islamic Civilisation and Asian Studies (Titas) could have been an enlightening liberal arts subject, had it not been forced onto students to take it up. It is most unfortunate to see it being robbed of its purity with the kind of politics entrenched in its enforcement.
It is like experiencing the abolition of PPSMI (the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English) all over again, in terms of how and why the decision was made.
The Titas issue seems to be following a similar pattern as the abolition of PPSMI, which was done close to a by-election. Titas and the Kuala Besut by-election is just like PPSMI and the Manik Urai by-election. Both decisions were made known about a week prior to the date of the by-elections. Hence, however well-meaning the decision could be by certain quarters, it is still a controversial decision that got bulldozed through, in an attempt to appeal to the voters in the area. Why else is it announced just before the by-elections, when it could have been held back until the by-elections are over to avoid such suspicion? Read the rest of this entry »
- Lok Kong
The Malaysian Insider
July 16, 2013
No one would like to belittle the ones who make decisions and policies in the Ministry of Education. But these no-brainers were and still are making bias, useless and stupid decisions/policies.
Anything against their whims and fancies are taboo. They abruptly abolished the English schools left over by the British; they abruptly U-turn to teach Science and Mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia in all national schools; they suddenly make 3 subjects compulsory at private tertiary institutions. They are (!) Islamic and Asian Civilization, (2) Ethnic Relations and (3) Malaysian Studies. They must be taught in Bahasa Malaysia just to name a few major ones. All these stupid policies will retard the progress of Malaysia for many years.
Being no-brainers, they cannot cognitively think these policies are bad for the country as a whole generally and the Rakyat in particular. Being no-brainers, they are unable to think of good policies to educate the students to be useful and productive. Being no-brainers they enact policies that cause the huge brain drain in this country. Being no-brainers they eventually doom Malaysia.
Education is the most important for the nation. It takes good education policies to educate the Rakyat in many years. In Chinese culture it has been said that it takes 100 years to educate meaning very long time. How can the PPSMI show results after very short time? It was started in 2003 (Form 1), the first cohort can only graduate with first Degree in 2010 or 2011 and with MBBS in 2013 or 2014. It is very stupid to make 100% U-turn to stop teaching the Science and Mathematics in English and in Bahasa Malaysia instead. This flip-flopping within short time is not acceptable. What is the basis for doing so is best known to them. These no-brainers are nuts. Read the rest of this entry »
Ed Pilkington in New York
The Guardian, Friday 12 July 2013
‘They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,’ says Malala, 16, at UN to push campaign for girls’ education
When the Taliban sent a gunman to shoot Malala Yousafzai last October as she rode home on a bus after school, they made clear their intention: to silence the teenager and kill off her campaign for girls’ education.
Nine months and countless surgical interventions later, she stood up at the United Nations on her 16th birthday on Friday to deliver a defiant riposte. “They thought that the bullet would silence us. But they failed,” she said.
As 16th birthdays go, it was among the more unusual. Instead of blowing out candles on a cake, Malala sat in one of the United Nation’s main council chambers in the central seat usually reserved for world leaders.
She listened quietly as Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, described her as “our hero, our champion”; and as the former British prime minister and now UN education envoy, Gordon Brown, uttered what he called “the words the Taliban never wanted her to hear: happy 16th birthday, Malala”.
The event, dubbed Malala Day, was the culmination of an extraordinary four years for the girl from Mingora, in the troubled Swat valley of Pakistan. Read the rest of this entry »