A busy year for education


  • Education
  • Sunday, 29 Dec 2019

Maszlee (middle) at the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 Annual Report 2018 launching ceremony. With him are (from left) Amin, Teo, Mohd Ghazali and Siti Hamisah.

WITH two days to go till we usher in the New Year, StarEdu reflects on the education milestones that affected young students, their parents and 419,904 of the hardworking teaching community.

The year saw a total of 2,727,068 pupils enrolled in primary school and another 2,007,692 students enrolled in secondary school, according to the Education Ministry data.

JanuaryThe ministry launched the Ziarah Cakna programme to broaden the caring schools (Sekolah Penyayang) concept and reinforce the relationship and mutual respect between parents and teachers.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin said parents should expect a friendly house call from their children’s school teachers as the ministry wants to boost cooperation between the school and parents.

The “zero reject” policy which requires all schools to accept special needs students and prepare an individual education plan for every child, was launched. This was to ensure equal access to learning.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced that from 2019 onwards, teachers will no longer have to prepare and file multiple copies of documents such as classroom attendance and subject committee records. FebruaryA 10-minute assembly module involving arts and crafts, and special projects, was developed by a group of lecturers and students to make school assemblies more engaging.

Module team leader and Institute of Teacher Education (IPG) Kampus Ilmu Khas communications lecturer Norani Abd Rahim said their intention was to change the perception about assemblies and make it attractive for students.

The ministry allocated RM100mil to assist 32 schools in Sarawak for the rebuilding of dilapidated schools in the state.

In addition, RM25.7mil has also been allocated for the maintenance and upgrading of 135 schools (including dilapidated schools) in need of structural and minor repairs.

The ministry announced that water safety will be included in 2020’s Form Four Bahasa Melayu (BM) textbook.

Maszlee said the Life-Saving Skills Programme and Water Safety and Rescue Awareness Module for Malaysian Schools was introduced to instill discipline in students so that they follow safety procedures before taking part in any water activity.

MarchMaszlee announced that a more comprehensive law is set to replace the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971 (UUCA) in 2020 to restore academic freedom and power to students.

A total of 111 schools in Pasir Gudang, Johor, had to temporarily cease operations due to closed due to the toxic fumes from Sungai Kim Kim which caused hundreds of students to suffer from breathing difficulty, nausea and vomiting.

AprilThe Ministry announced plans to increase the number of counsellors in schools, district education offices (PPD), state education departments (JPN) and within the ministry itself.

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said it is important to recognise that any education system must include the mental development of children and teachers.

Teo announced that stateless children could finally enrol in school, provided they have documentation - such as birth certificates or court order that state the children were born in Malaysia - to show that their fathers are Malaysians.

The National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) invited the public to give feedback on how best to collect the money owed by defaulters.

PTPTN chairman Wan Saiful Wan Jan said the body would conduct townhall and roundtable sessions to discuss ideas, as well as public consultations “focusing on loan repayment mechanisms”, after revealing 51% of the two million borrowers had not started servicing their loans or had paid inconsistently.

It was found that many borrowers wanted the corporation to maintain their current repayment methods.

MayThe country’s first Malaysia Tamil Language Standardisation Council was set up to improve and develop Tamil Language Education (TLE).

Teo said the council, which consists of Tamil language experts from the ministry, Examinations Syndicate, and various parties, will be in charge of generating vocabularies, translating books and documents, publishing impactful material, and enhancing grammar skills.It was announced that non-English language option teachers have to sit for the Malaysian University English Test (MUET) – a qualification they must have to teach the language.

Teo said the move was necessary to allow such teachers, apart from the minimum C1 qualification they were required to have from the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to teach the language.

The move was also to enable such teachers who had other subject options to upskill themselves to teach the English language.

The announcement received negative reactions from various parties including NUTP and teachers.

However, the directive requiring non-English language option teachers to sit for MUET was to review their English proficiency level and in line with the requirements set out in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

The TVET Empowerment Committee, headed by Maszlee, would develop a new policy that is more relevant to industrial needs.

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran who is part of the committee said specific focus would be given to the implementation of TVET in training institutions across the country including Industrial Training Institutes (ILPs) and vocational colleges.

He said the special focus involved various aspects including better allocation and infrastructure to produce skilled manpower.

Maszlee announced that English exam papers of PT3 this year would be aligned to the CEFR, which is standardised and used internationally to determine English proficiency levels.

This means students who sat for the Form 3 Assessment (PT3) this year faced an English exam paper that is of international standard.

PTPTN’s Public Consultation Independent Advisory Panel revealed that the body will not be able to sustainably provide loans in the future given its current financial scenario.

Students keen on applying for PTPTN loans in the future may need to turn to other scholarship funds, said the panel’s chairman Sheikh Shahruddin Sheikh Salim.

JuneThe Examinations Syndicate announced that a Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus will be introduced to secondary schools next year to boost proficiency in the language.

Form Four students will study the syllabus in January and sit for the SPM exam with a new format in 2021.

The 18-month curriculum is drawn from 10 poems, one novel or six short stories, and one drama.

Among others, students will read The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), The Clay Marble (Minfong Ho), and Embracing Your Shadow (Chua Kok Yee).

The poems would include To Autumn (John Keats) and When You Are Old (William Butler Yeats).

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) appointed two students to be part of its senate for the very first time.UiTM vice-chancellor Emeritus Prof Dr Mohd Azraai Kassim said student representation in the senate is vital as they make up the largest stakeholders in any higher-learning institution.

JulyThe ministry announced it is working with the Election Commission (EC) to improve current topics on the country’s democratic processes and elections in schools by teaching it in the History subject from Form Four.

Maszlee said the ministry wants students to deeply understand the parliamentary and democratic system, as well as the history of democracy.

The Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) Policy Team will propose the setting up of an independent education committee to oversee educational issues that do not fall under the Education Ministry’s purview.

Task force chairman Eddin Khoo said an independent education committee should consist of experts who ‘interrogate’ issues of education, asking the important questions and finding a suitable solution.

AugustCivics Education 2019 was rolled out to instill good values into young students starting from pre-school.

Maszlee said a new module, concept and approach which emphasised literacy and practical teaching, has been implemented in schools nationwide since June.

Civics was previously taught as a subject, but it has now been integrated into other subjects so that children would learn integrity, honesty, hard work, discipline, the dangers of bullying and respect for each other’s differences.

It is taught for an hour on the fourth week of each month during Bahasa Melayu, English, Islamic Education, Moral Education and History as well as during assembly and co-curricular activities.

The ministry announced that all 2.7 million primary pupils in the country will enjoy free food under the government’s breakfast programme to kick off in January.

Maszlee said pupils would also be taught proper eating habits and discipline, such as washing their hands and cleaning up, through the programme.

Between RM800mil and RM1.67bil has been allocated for the programme.

Maszlee confirmed that Jawi, which is included in the Standard Curriculum and Assessment Document (DSKP), would not be tested during examinations but taught as part of the BM syllabus as it is a “national treasure”.

SeptemberThe annual “haze season” closed down 2,459 schools in Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak, affecting a total of 1,732,842 students.

Higher Education director-general Datuk Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said the ministry would introduce blockchain technology to prevent the forgery of “No Objection Certificates”, which are used by students who don’t meet the criteria to study medicine abroad.

The national-level TVET Empowerment Committee developed 20 strategies and 15 recommendations based on five key pillars - governance, financing, industry, quality and branding - to propel the country’s TVET forward.

Maszlee announced that all public higher education institutions (IPTAs) must become completely differently -abled people (OKU) friendly within the next decade as part of the OKU Inclusion in Higher Education Institutions Policy.

OctoberEducation Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), a wholly-owned company of the Education Ministry, announced that over 30,000 international students have been arriving here annually over the past few years, creating an international learning environment for local students.

The UEC Policy Team met with MPs to seek their views on the UEC. The final report on the recognition of the examination certificate is currently undergoing an internal discussion.

A special committee to look into the education needs of the Orang Asli community is being set up to improve the attendance record of Orang Asli students, said Maszlee.

The ministry is bringing back retired English language teachers to be Highly Immersive Programme (HIP) mentors in schools.

Maszlee said he will request the Government to provide retired English language teachers, who voluntarily take part in the programme, with incentives such as allowances.

The Sabah government declared that it has recognised the UEC because it decided it was “in the interest of Sabah to recognise it”, making it the fifth state in the country to give the nod for the examination taken by students at independent Chinese schools.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said that the state Cabinet made the decision to recognise UEC certificate holders for enrolment into local institutions of higher learning as well as employment in the state civil service.

Maszlee announced during a work trip to Frankfurt, Germany, that the ministry is doing away with streaming in schools.

He said the streaming system currently carried out in Form Four resulted in many students entering a stream they were not interested in.

NovemberForm Four students will be given subject package options instead of being forced into science and arts streams from next year.

Deputy director-general (policy and curriculum) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim said these subject packages will cater to students’ interests and capabilities, but “is not a totally open and flexible (system)”.

Students will not be allowed to pick and choose subject combinations that tickle their fancy but are instead given the option to choose specific packages that are designed to meet tertiary education entry requirements and a student’s preferred career path.

Besides the fixed packages, students can choose an elective subject (with school counsellor’s help) based on their interests after considering their Form Three Assessment, school-based assessment and psychometric test.

Siti Hamisah was appointed the new Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (Mestecc) secretary-general as of Nov 29.

Half of the estimated 1,200 rundown schools scattered around the country has been fixed by the ministry.

Secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas said RM1.98bil had been used so far to repair or rebuild 600 of these dilapidated schools, which are now safe for occupancy, undergoing work or pending approval to start renovation or reconstruction.

An event titled #KidsTakeOver Parliament: Kita Peduli, organised by the Education Ministry, Unicef Malaysia and Project ID in conjunction with World Children’s Day, allowed a rare chance for 40 teenagers to speak out against bullying in schools and share policy recommendations on the issue with lawmakers in Parliament.

TVET students can now be trained at IBM with the arrival of its global P-Tech education programme in Malaysia.

The collaboration to better connect secondary school, university and industry to develop stronger academic, technical and work-ready skills among Malaysian youth, was sealed with the signing ceremony between IBM Malaysia, the Education Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), on Nov 19.

Education Ministry deputy secretary-general (strategic planning) Datuk Kamel Mohamed said this would help make TVET mainstream, alongside the academic curriculum.

SPM students were caught off guard with difficult Additional Mathematics questions and a delay in getting their Chemistry Paper 3.

Sarawak’s Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin announced the state was ready to start teaching Science and Mathematics in English for Year One pupils in 1,026 primary schools.

He said 2,853 teachers who are being trained would be ready to teach by Jan 2.

Monitoring will be done and a committee will be set up to guide the teachers and ensure they are teaching both subjects in English.

The ministry launched a new lifelong learning portal called the National PSH Portal. Teo said it will act as a one-stop centre for all agencies that implement lifelong learning.

Teo annonunced that students would learn about statutory rape and related issues including child grooming and sexual harassment beginning 2021.

She said the syllabus would be included in textbooks for Year Six and Form Five students because it is important for students to know that sex is not allowed at their age even if it is consensual.

DecemberMalaysia finally broke into the middle of the prestigious Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), improving significantly in all three Pisa literacies despite a lower overall global average. Improvements were especially significant in mathematics and science compared to 2009 and 2012. The ministry presented its report card for the year.

Some achievements outlined include an increase of 526 classes for special needs children and an increase of 4,821 of special needs students compared to 2018; a special entrance pathway to public universities which saw 51,191 students getting into public institutions of higher learning and public and private skills training institutes; abolishment of exams for Years One to Three; getting 4,369 dropouts back in schools; and registering 2,636 children without documents.

Teo announced that the proposed Education Act 1996 amendments which includes making it compulsory for parents to send their children for primary and secondary education and introducing vocational training as an option, are currently being perused by the National Education Policy Committee.

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