Displaying items by tag: Education

Tuesday, 19 November 2019 14:28

Seeking paradigm shift in education

The discussions to reform the education system are endless and, for too long, the need to change public debate has diverged, leading us into “dark alleys” which we cannot come out of.

Author David Price says the conversation on reforming the education system is fuelled by the idea of recreating the golden age of schooling, even as we head towards a radically different future.

Meanwhile, societal and technological changes, the kind never before witnessed, demand us to rethink every aspect of our lives.

The problem stems from the fact that we are not ready to bring the discussion forward on how schools should help children prepare for the future and what the education system can do for them. For that, we do not need more road maps but rather a paradigm shift that will change the direction of education.

When politicians state their commitments towards education, they usually talk about execonomic growth and job creation. If children work hard and are clever enough, they will land good jobs.

There is no doubt that education can improve the socio-economic status of the poor as it opens up a world of opportunities and employment for them.

But what we want are real reforms in our education system and amend flaws that have caused the quality of our education to deteriorate.

I would like to make some suggestions on how to bring about real changes:

FIRST, learning should not be about exams.

As a lecturer, I am always asked by students during the exam period whether “is it going to be a test because if it’s not, I don’t want to waste my time”.

I don’t blame them as I also asked the same question when I was a student. It is the system that placed examination results as important determinants of a student’s progress to higher education, as well as occupational opportunities.

Such a system, as Guy Claxton argued, “is designed so that a substantial proportion of youngsters are condemned to fail — through no fault of their own”.

The bad news is that exam grades are becoming irrelevant.

Nowadays, international corporations are no longer interested in exam grades. They are asking for applicants’ talent, network and portfolio.

We often cite the Finnish education system as a success story for not having many tests, apart from an exam at the end of the senior year in high school.

Schools in Finland do not have standardised examinations and their school curriculum is different from other countries.

Perhaps it is time we emphasised character building such as good values and attitudes, enhanced creative thinking skills and developed an interest in reading, and move away from an exam-oriented education system.

Studies show that there is a strong link between a child’s leisure reading and academic performance and career readiness.

SECOND , formulate a long-term vision for education.

Apart from the role of education in lifting people out of poverty, we need a long-term vision and paradigm shift in the teaching and learning processes to prepare the younger generation for the future.

The world is changing rapidly, hence our education system must transform too.

What and how we teach our children today will determine the values, beliefs and attitudes, as well as the skills, of tomorrow’s citizens. Creating a school culture that is based on reflection and learning is important.

Incorporating a creative thinking course at an early age into the curriculum could also help.

THIRD, more emphasis should be given to producing quality teachers.

There is a broad agreement among educationists that no matter what type of reform strategies we pursue, the quality of an education system rests on the quality of teachers.

We need to adopt policies to attract, prepare, support, reward, retain and advance high-quality teachers.

In rural areas, especially, more efforts are needed to attract and retain qualified teachers by providing basic necessities and
incentives in the form of allowance, salary increment and housing.

FOURTH, there is a need to globalise the education system.

In line with the increasingly interconnected digital world, towards which we are heading, our education system should go global.

If we combine our assets with the world’s best practices, we can develop a world-class education system for our children and grandchildren.

Some universities offer twinning programmes that allow students to study a portion of their course in Malaysia, and transfer to an institution in another country to complete their studies. Such programmes should be intensified.

An ICEF Monitor annual report states that “internationally mobile students are likely to gain employment compared with those who have not studied abroad”.

The time is right to move the education system forward and start a conversation on how the system can help our children to prepare for a fast-changing world.

The writer is assistant professor, Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia

Published in: The New Straits Times, Tuesday 19 November 2019

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/11/539871/seeking-paradigm-shift-education

The key to happiness could be as simple as being “respectful towards the sanctity of life” and practising mindfulness, according to Thakur S. Powdyel.

The former education minister of Bhutan, the country which sparked worldwide interest in its unique index, the Gross National Happiness (GNH), was recently at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) as a guest speaker.

Thakur is recognised for his dedication to education and has been awarded with, among others, the Coronation Gold Medal in 2008, the Gusi Peace Prize for Life-time Contribution to Education (2011), Global Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to Education (2012) and the Institutional Award: The Honour of Druk Thuksey (2012).

His philosophical approach to education, as written in his book My Green School, has been translated into Spanish, Catalan, Vietnamese, Japanese, Kannada and German, with translations in several other languages under way.

He is instrumental in the development of the GNH concept, inspired by the fourth king of Bhutan, Jigme Singye Wang-chuck.


“Some people said to me: ‘The Bhutanese must be the happiest people on earth.’

“Well, the world ranking says otherwise,” Thakur said in his lecture at IIUM recently.

He said instead of being pressured to compete, the Bhutanese government was focused on achieving balance between the material and non-material.

This, he said, was done by adhering to the four pillars of GNH, namely sustainable socio-economic development, environmental conservation, cultural preservation and promotion, and good governance.

“Culture, for instance, gives us identity. It gives us a sense of who we are. It gives us a sense of belonging. It is the core of human beings, fundamentals of a meaningful life, if you may.”

He said most countries were focused on the gross domestic product (GDP), which meant everything was based on the market value of goods and services.

“GNH is founded on a broader base, the major factor that contributed to the wellbeing of the people.”

He said while GDP growth was important, it “is not everything”.

“GDP is important, we need it, but it is not everything. What is important is GNH and developing with values.”


Thakur said children and youth were a nation’s most precious segment, and the right investments in the next generation of leaders would determine the future and direction of a nation.

“We were innocent and life was simpler. Then Bhutan opened up to the world, received more tourists. And, as they learnt more, the youth became arrogant,” he said, explaining what life in Bhutan was like prior to modernisation.

This, he said, was where green schools played a role in nurturing the next generation of leaders, who were well balanced as individuals and worked well in a community.

Thakur’s green school concept espoused a holistic idea of education, which went beyond academic achievements.

“With all the good that it has done, modern education leaves much to be desired.”

Thakur, who was an educator, said it produced successful young people who excelled in academics and got ahead of their peers, but often felt isolated from themselves and others.

“A wise person once described education as the ‘Noble Sector’ and called upon others to help children and youth cultivate the nobility of the mind and the nobility of the heart, which would lead to the cultivation of the nobility of action.

“As things stand, there is an urgent need to restore education to its core function as the ‘Noble Sector’ that seeks to harmonise the gift of the head, the heart and the hands, thereby enabling young men and women, children and youth to develop into well-integrated individuals who are at peace with themselves and at peace with the world around them.

“We learn to live together and learn together, respecting our uniqueness and our commonality. We learn to care and to share and to succeed together.

“Life is to be celebrated. If somebody is lagging behind and feeling down, we give them courage and bring them along. If somebody has reasons for joy, we celebrate it together.”

He said these virtues must be developed and shared in schools as they were crucial for the unity and strength of the country and the world.


“As you look around the world, there’s so much going on in the name of education, but not much of it is educational.

“Education is such a large engagement for any society, for any country. It engages the largest number of young people around the world, and it keeps them in institutions of learning for a long time.

“Education must be meaningful. Today, most education efforts are, at best, limited to the intellectual element of human beings. Most parents would like their children to excel and succeed in life, and that they must score high marks, get good jobs; that is important.

“But what is more important is what happens to their lives as a result of spending long years learning different subjects in institutions of learning.

“I look at education from a different perspective, or (rather) planes or dimensions.

“Today, education looks only at the intellectual dimension. But we are more than the mind or the intellect.”

He said humans were not just social, but also cultural, emotional and spiritual beings.

“We have aesthetic sensibilities and ethical dimensions to our lives.”

He said the green school concept began with the obvious and most fundamental of the elements, which was natural greenery.

The other elements, he said, were academics, aesthetics, culture, intellect, morality, society and spirituality.

“Being able to appreciate this earth on which we walk is a great education because we depend on the earth.

“Green is more than a colour; it is a metaphor for everything that support and sustain life.”

Published in: The New Straits Times, Wednesday 18 September 2019

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/09/522297/green-schools-are-future-says-ex-bhutan-minister



The Ministry of Education has long acknowledged the emphasis in improving the quality of English proficiency amongst students as well as teachers through the introduction and implementation of several key policies.

The policies, which include Upholding the Malay Language and Strengthening Command of English (MBMMBI) introduced in 2010, outline the plan to strengthen English proficiency in students as the international language of communication and knowledge.

This was followed by the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB), which sets the aspiration for students to be proficient in both Bahasa Malaysia and English. Although the MEB outlines key steps needed to be taken to achieve its aspiration, there was also a need to empirically understand the level of English proficiency when it is benchmarked against internationally recognised standards.

Hence, the Cambridge Baseline 2013 commissioned by the Education Ministry and carried out to evaluate English learning, teaching and assessment from preschool to pre-university levels. The report suggested that the level of English language education system may only be sufficient for the needs of the past. However, it also indicated that the level of English is not sufficient for us to succeed as a nation in a globalised world that requires English for international communications of all kinds. Hence, what we really need to do is to reform the entire national programme for the teaching and learning of English from preschool to graduation.

Genuine change can only be brought about by the adoption of a holistic and integrated approach. This can be carried out by putting together a coherent programme that encompasses every component of the education system relating to the delivery of the English language programme — curriculum, teaching and learning, and assessment.

This is what the English Language Road Map 2015-2025, led by the English Language Teaching Centre, sets out to do. To ensure that learners achieve what they are capable of achieving, we need a continuous and sufficient supply of high-calibre English teachers, learning materials of international standard, and a conducive and supportive learning environment.

The formal learning of English has to be supported by a highly immersive English-rich environment (e.g. the Highly Immersive Programme at school level, and the ecosystem for English Language Learning at tertiary level), which extends learning to spaces beyond the classroom, so that learners can apply what they learn in the classroom to real-life situations.

The road map provides an overview of English language education in Malaysia, covering all stages of learning from preschool to tertiary education, from pre-service to in-service teacher training, and the development of coherent learner-oriented programmes at every stage complemented by reliable and valid methods of assessment. It sets proficiency target levels (generally known as aspirational targets) for learners at all stages, and includes an implementation plan to ensure that learners progress from the current situation described in the Baseline Study in 2013 to the 2025 target.

The baseline study as well as the Cambridge Evaluation Study 2017 evaluate where our students and teachers actually are when referenced against the 2025 Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) aspirational targets. Components of the CEFR include the global proficiency scale and the “can do” statements. The CEFR distinguishes five communicative skills, namely listening, reading, spoken interaction, spoken production and writing. Although the CEFR is targeted at understanding students’ English proficiency, English language teachers too have an important role to play in the implementation of the reform and will have to be at a certain skill level.

The same goes for teacher trainers (i.e. lecturers at the Teachers Training Institutes and universities) who deliver the courses to pre-service teachers. This is important to ensure that teachers are fully familiar with international standards in language teaching and learning.

The adoption of the CEFR at school level will have consequences for Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs). The primary and secondary curriculum for English language has been aligned to the CEFR progressively starting with Primary 1 and Form 1 in 2017 through the revised Standard Curriculum for Primary Schools (KSSR) and new Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM).

Students will take the English language paper in the national assessment that is aligned to CEFR in 2021 (for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) and 2022 (for Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) respectively. English language programmes in HLIs are also being aligned to the CEFR, so that the learning experience provided for secondary students going up to university is integrated and continuous. HLIs will, therefore, retain the responsibility to devise their own CEFR-aligned English language programmes.

The idea of the ecosystem is that the different components (including classroom and beyond classroom activities) work smoothly together to optimise the learning experience for the student.

The ultimate goal is to create a favourable campus-wide ecosystem for learning English, placing the students in a collaborative learning atmosphere and requiring them to put into practice what they learn in the classroom, so that they are able to develop their skills and knowledge in line with the expectations of the jobs market.

Dr Amin Senin is director general of Education and Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir is director-general of Higher Education, Education Ministry

Published in: The New Straits Times, 22 May 2019

Source : https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/05/490405/rethink-revamp-teaching-and-learning-english

In the past, fasting was attributed to human spiritual belief in worshiping God for meditation reasons. It has been practised for thousands of years in serving various purposes of life. It is still a practice today. Generally, the practitioners are subjected to certain dietary procedure which trains them to be better disciplined to gain better self-control.

Fasting to Muslims is a practice of abstaining from food and drinks, sexual contact, arguments and unkind language or acts from dawn to sunset. It is the fourth pillar of Islam. 
Sunday, 17 December 2017 13:39

The knowledge factory

The university — as an institution that explores the many facets and meanings of existence through its manifestations of knowledge, and its efforts to imbue its charges with the critical and analytical faculties to fathom the multiplicity of creations — is a thing of the past. This institution is no longer a sanctuary to explore esoteric ideas and thoughts, and engage students in critical and dialectical discourse in exploring the physical, metaphysical, metaphorical dimensions of knowledge.......................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)


Thursday, 23 April 2015 15:00

Starving for wisdom

"We are drowning in information while starving for wisdom". That epigram from E.O. Willson captures the dilemma of our era. Yet the solution of some folks is to disdain wisdom. "Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists?" Rick Scott, the Florida governor, once asked. A leader of a prominent Internet firm once told me that the firm regards admission to Harvard as a useful hueuristic of talent..................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)
Published in Media Articles
Saturday, 04 April 2015 14:53

Producing values driven graduates

The much anticipated Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education) is expected to further encourage a change in values in the current national education environment. Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) Chair of Islamic Leadership Professor Tan Sri Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said it was vital for the nation to.................Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)


Published in Media Articles

Education is a means of gaining knowledge and developing good habits. There is no greater asset that a young person can obtain than a good a education. An uneducated or poorly educated person is unlikely to have a good life. Talented individuals may find ways to servive, but for the uneducated........... Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:41

Are our varsities still relevant?

OUR universities play an indispensable role. They are factories for the country’s talent, ideas and innovation. Thereby, they contribute to economic growth. Their teaching nurtures impressionable and young minds to become better citizens and future leaders. The impact of a university education on the student’s intellectual capacity is enormous. It expands minds and the capacity for thinking and comprehension. One can readily sense the contribution of each progressive level of academic study to the intellectual capacity of an individual. Universities improve cultural and political understanding by offering a safe environment for dialogue and debate. With their democratisation, universities have become vehicles for social mobility.….......Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

Published in Media Articles
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 10:00

Modern education for Muslims

The infamous Boko Haram sect erupted on the world stage in 2009 with their aim to establish an Islamic State. Since their subsequent radicalisation resulting from harsh treatment at the hands of State security forces, they degenerated into harassing  innocent civilians, especially schoolchildren. Boko Haram’s approach is aligned with certain influential opinion-makers in the Muslim states, who teach that receiving a modern education is evil and forbidden as the popular name of “Boko Haram” implies............ Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)


Thursday, 06 September 2012 14:47

GOD AND SCIENCE: Life is not series of 'accidents'

I have been a mariner for many years and what makes me stand in awe of the creator is the realisation that the planets and stars consistently do what they are doing so that the navigators (on ships) of the world can navigate safely from one point to another. The elevation of the stars above the horizon, its bearings, its time of rise and set have all been tabulated. The heavenly bodies can only be tabulated by man if there is a power that holds and directs them all together with such precision............. Download the full article in pdf attachment (below)

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