September 19th, 2011

An educationist at heart

Datuk Dr Paul Chan of HELP University talks about the institution’s recent upgrade and its plans for the future. He also shares his thoughts on education and is fervent that human values and ethics must never be neglected in one’s pursuit of knowledge and success.

GAINING knowledge solely for the sake of wealth or personal gain is a folly that many get tangled in. They think that they have reached the pinnacle of success once they land a good job and get a fancy title, says educationist Datuk Dr Paul Chan.

“However, the truth is all this is trivial, and if you do not make an impact on society’s well being, then you are living a life of insignificance,” says Dr Chan.

“A student should keep in mind that being significant, counting for something in society, and being a thought leader is the goal of higher education.

A model of the university’s campus in Subang 2, which is expected to be complete by 2013. — File photo

“I am a firm believer that it is not enough to teach a student the relevant skills in his or her field, while neglecting human values and ethics,” shares Dr Chan.

He co-founded HELP with his wife Datin Chan-Low Kam Yoke in 1986.

Malaysia now has 26 private varsities with HELP University College being accorded university status.

Teaching is a noble profession and every student is unique. There is no such thing as a bad student ... what the student needs is perhaps a different teaching approach. – DATUK DR PAUL CHAN

With the upgrade, HELP – an acronym for Higher Education Learning Philosophy – will now be known as HELP University.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin presented the letter to Dr Chan inviting the institution to be upgraded to university status last week.

He says the timing of the move was apt as HELP had enhanced access to higher education for more than 25 years.

“This is more than an issue of providing seats and placement for students to study.

“Looking at things in a broader sense, it also means innovatively introducing new programmes to meet the current demands of industries and the labour market,” he says.

HELP has around 10,000 students from 80 countries.

“I was once puzzled why the varsity named itself HELP but the branding is apt as the varsity is ‘helping’ in every sense; helping the people and the country by providing affordable education,” he says.

Congratulating the university, Mohamed Khaled says that the varsity had also contributed immensely through its corporate social responsibility initiatives.

After 25 years of providing Malaysians with easy access to education, the varsity recognises the importance of values and ethics, says Dr Chan.

He says the moral compass of an individual determines his deeds and contributions to society, and a healthy compass always points in the right direction.

The varsity strives to inculcate its students and graduates with its philosophy so that that they become an integral part of society.

“In our globalised world we must look at the big picture and our students must contribute to solving problems,” adds Dr Chan.

“The campus should serve as the grounds to cultivate, develop and nurture alternative ideas.

“It should be a source of innovation and inspiration.

“It is our job and responsibility as a university to teach students how to reason and think critically,” says Dr Chan.

With a new road map to the future, the varsity should forge on despite the challenges and give its best to the students.

Dr Chan wants the varsity’s staff to be passionate about whatever tasks they take on.

He is also aware that hiring faculty staff is more than just looking at a prospective employee’s credentials.

In fact, HELP has been hiring academic staff from varsities across the globe including big names such as the University of California, Berkeley, Oxford University, Imperial College London and the Australian National University, of which Dr Chan himself is an alumnus.

“Teaching is a noble profession and every student is unique.

“There is no such thing as a bad student ... what the student needs is perhaps a different teaching approach.

“It is our duty to engage and help them succeed according to their strengths.

“When one chooses to be an educationist, he or she must understand the responsibilities and implications that come with it.”

Dr Chan says that every student has his or her own inclinations and strengths.

“My son did not take up a conventional course, he picked up Japanese Studies which took him to Japan to further his studies.

“A student must be given that freedom to pursue his or her passions and build their talents in that field.

“At the same time, international exposure is also important,” he shares.

Future plans

Dr Chan has more dreams for the varsity, among which is a plan to ensure that students get overseas exposure.

“We want our students to go abroad and gather the experience they need to mature. As is often said, the world is the real classroom.

“Our programmes will allow our students to spend a year or two overseas in order to achieve this goal,” he adds.

Dr Chan hopes that varsities in the United Kingdom, Singapore and Australia will send their students to Malaysia for exchange programmes.

“Our friendly invitation is an amazing chance for them to gain insights on culture and religion.

“At the same time we gain in the field of language and understanding of methods and common practices in their countries,” Dr Chan adds.

HELP University is also embarking on a project to set up a centre for adult learning, a common practice in Australia and the UK.

“The centre will offer flexible courses that can fit into the busy schedules of working adults. It will also be utilising the blended learning method.

“The centre will benefit the university as well as by allowing the working adults to share their knowledge with academic staff and other students,” Dr Chan explains.

Every university needs to have a focus. It needs to have a field in which it can excel and offer the very best courses and produce the best graduates, he says.

One of the biggest and most far-sighted plans in store for HELP University’s future is the establishment of the Elm Business School, he says.

“Elm stands for Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management. This business school will be tied to the whole framework of the university.

“It will help students and lecturers develop their research finds or products and make them marketable,” he adds.

The school will have many functions apart from its traditional role of teaching and learning, he explains.

One of the first areas of research that Dr Chan wants the university to look into is the proper documentation of Malay entrepreneur success stories.

“Before any research can be done, documentation is the first step.

“I hope we can work with the relevant agencies,” he says.

Dr Chan, who enjoys reading and is a writer himself, is a man of many abbreviations as apart from Elm, he has also coined IIE.

“IIE stands for Integrity, Intelligence and Energy. These are the qualities by which we will be steering HELP University as it sails into new waters.

“We want to be transparent in the things we do.

“Help us to improve, share your ideas and add value to our institution,” says Dr Chan.

HELP’s new green technology campus is in Subang 2 and due to be completed in 2013. It will be a merger between man and nature to produce an environment that is conducive to learning.

“The new campus has been our aspiration for a long time.

“At only 9.3ha, it is rather small, but so are many renowned colleges in the United States,” he adds.

By AMINUDDIN MOHSIN Sunday September 18, 2011

Source: The STAR Home Education September 18, 2011

English language: Pick only the best to teach

THE teaching and learning of English in Malaysia has always been subject to scrutiny.

Recently, the deputy prime minister, who is also education minister, suggested the English language curriculum used in schools be reviewed as students' mastery of the language was deemed unsatisfactory, even after learning it for 13 years. 

The DPM's claim has triggered comments from various individuals. National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan argued that the reason for poor mastery level lies not in the curriculum but with the teachers ("Lack of trained English teachers the cause" -- NST, Aug 8).

He stated that many English teachers were not proficient enough and this had a domino effect on the students. 

According to him, the new generation of English language teachers was the product of Malay-medium education and their proficiency level is apparently not up to par with their older counterparts, who had an English-medium education. 

While decisions have been made with regard to the medium of instruction in Malaysian schools, his comment about teachers' level of proficiency has its merit.

As educators who teach future English teachers, my colleagues and I sometimes have to deal with undergraduates whose proficiency level does not befit their status as future English teachers. 

When students join a Teaching of English as a Second Language (TESL) programme, their command of English should be above average and throughout their three or four years of study, their proficiency would be harnessed and enhanced which, in turn, may make them good English teachers. 

As such, there is a need to carefully select only those with a high level of proficiency and who have a very positive attitude about becoming teachers for all TESL programmes.

This may require additional time and effort but if we do not want the deteriorating standard of English to prolong, there is no other choice but to be selective over the choice of English teachers in the future. 

Hiring native speakers may not solve the problem of low English proficiency among students in the long run. However, the aim of our English language curriculum is "intelligibility", not native-like production. What we need is not native speakers but proficient English language users who can teach the language effectively. 

Good English teachers are not always native speakers. Despite a low proficiency level among some English language teachers, our local universities and teacher training institutes have produced proficient and committed teachers. 

In Malaysia, English is supposed to be taught communicatively, in line with the principles embraced by the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach adopted in the curriculum. One of the basic elements of CLT is opportunities for communication and to provide our students with enough opportunities to use English. 

English teachers have a daunting task of dealing with students who come from various backgrounds with different needs for the language. 

The fact that there are too many students in the class may make it impossible for teachers to ensure that each student has an equal opportunity to use the language. Many activities suggested in the syllabus and textbooks may not be implemented. 

It is important to note that for many students, the only time they have exposure to English is when they are in their English classes. 

Thus, it is essential that the limited time is put to good use. This may be achieved if the number of students in a class is small, thus enabling teachers to focus their attention on the students' individual needs, monitor their progress and plan suitable activities to support their language development. 

Improving the standard of English in Malaysia has to be a continuous effort. It needs the support of various parties, ranging from the ministry to parents and the society at large. 

I believe that being proficient in English does not in any way jeopardise the sovereignty of Bahasa Malaysia as our national language. 

A good command of English helps our students to keep abreast with the fast-moving world we live in today.

DR MAIZATULLIZA MUHAMAD, English Language and Literature Department Faculty of Languages and Communication Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Tanjung Malim, Perak 2011/09/19

The NST Home Letters to Editors 2011/09/19

English language: System needs overhaul

I READ with interest the letters by Hassan Talib and Dorothy Chong, "Bring back English-medium schools" and "Children misled" (NST, Aug 15). I am happy many people are calling for a stop to the rot in education.

First, if we were to bring back English-medium schools, I am sure every parent would want to enrol his child in these schools. Therefore, we need to look into the problem of over-enrolment.

Second, where are we going to find the pool of English-educated teachers to teach in English? Definitely, we would have to rope in the retirees.

Third, are the administrators of education going to be the present lot, many of whom can't speak simple English? 

Fourth, bringing back English-medium schools would be similar to creating international schools in our education system. 

I am a product of an English-medium school in the 1960s. My parents, although illiterate, were farsighted enough to see the benefits of enrolling three of their children in such schools.

The other two, who went to a vernacular Chinese school, had a completely different nurturing. 

The three of us were deemed outspoken, blunt, bold and defiant to the extent of being rude. I suppose it was the result of our English-speaking background.

Although we had no one to converse in English with at home, we took to the language like ducks to water and had no qualms about speaking the language wherever we went.

Once, we were even told by our parents to stop speaking in English as people would think we were speaking ill of them since they could not understand the language. Imagine, we were told to stop using the language outside of school. 

Despite that, we survived and are fiercely independent adults today. My two other siblings, however, are more introverted. 

Which is the reason I don't believe in teaching English using another language; the same goes for Bahasa Malaysia and Mandarin. 

In order to get the hang of a language, we need English educators for English, Bahasa Malaysia educators for Bahasa and Mandarin teachers for Mandarin. As we can see, our education system has produced generations of bilingual speakers.

The entire system is in need of a complete overhaul.

LIM BEE HOON, Batu Pahat, Johor

The NST Home Letters to the Editor 2011/09/19

Teachers who go above and beyond

Schoolchildren from a Teach For India school. — Picture by Ankit Saraf of Teach For India
Schoolchildren from a Teach For India school. — Picture by Ankit Saraf of Teach For India
The writer highlights the need to improve teacher effectiveness to influence student achievement

IN September 2010, the global management consultancy firm, McKinsey & Company, released its education report Closing the Talent Gap: Attracting and Retaining Top-Third Graduates to Careers in Teaching , a follow-up to its 2007 study on How the World’s Best School Systems Stay on Top .

Resoundingly, through in-depth research and a series of consultations with education leaders, the reports demonstrate that of all the factors that can be controlled in an education system, the most important, by far, is the effectiveness of the classroom teacher.

Improving teacher effectiveness to shift student achievement has become a major theme in education improvement initiatives globally.

In Finland, a country recognised as having one of the world’s best school systems, an extremely competitive process is used to select school-leavers for teacher training cour ses.

Those successful are typically from the top 20 per cent of the national graduating cohort. Teaching is the most popular profession among top graduates in Finland, surpassing law, medicine, finance or engineering in rankings.

In a 2008 survey, Finnish men gleefully shared that teaching is the most desirable position for a spouse (in contrast, women ranked male teachers third, behind medical doctors and veterinarians).

Apart from a rigorous teacher selection process, Finland does something else differently. They give teachers a notable level of autonomy in school policy, curriculum application, student assessment and school management.

The national curriculum prescribes a guiding framework of what students must learn, but teachers and schools h ave autonomy in meeting these goals.

Providing autonomy requires high levels of trust, responsibility and accountability from teachers and schools.

For Finnish schools and teachers, this autonomy has worked. Statistically, there are no low-performing schools in Finland; the bottom 10 per cent of their schools outperforms the median scores of schools in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.

In Malaysia, a cluster of High-Performing Schools (HPS) currently enjoy increased autonomy, and are provided the discretion to inform decisions pertaining to curriculum adaptation, instruction methods as well as the selection and redeployment of teachers.

The HPS is a key initiative in the Education National Key Results Areas under the Government Transformation Prog ramme.

Since the start of this initiative, 52 HPS have been selected by the Education Ministry, with the overall goal of enlisting 100 schools by next year.

The process of being selected as an HPS is rigorous, with schools required to meet stringent criteria in academic performance and alumni strength, while demonstrating international recognition and a strong network of external relationships.

After visiting one of these selected schools recently, I found its achievements to be outstanding in almost every category based on the principal’s report — be it in academia, sports or other leadership activities.

The few students that I observed here were very engaged in their activities — most of them had been selected to join the school after doing exceptionally well in their national examinations. In this school, the chances are strong that even without heavy investment or extraordinary motivation, the default and likely path is that the majority will finish university and end up with a long list of professional options.

Reflecting on the schools that Teach For Malaysia will partner with next year, it was easy for me to see the glaring differences.

Students from our school partners predominantly come from low-income households, and face significant barriers in attaining access to a quality education, that at times are compounded by the social problems that poverty presents.

Unless the majority of students and their parents in these schools demonstrate extraordinary and sustained effort, chances are strong that they will not gain a good university education, and will not enjoy the breadth of educational, economic and life opportunities that they deser ve.

In these schools, the effectiveness of the classroom teacher is of much higher importance. For teachers here, the challenge is greater.

None of the schools that Teach For Malaysia fellows (participants) will serve are high-performing, nor have they been granted autonomy.

However, fellows can exercise a different kind of autonomy, one that allows them to redefine the role of an effective teacher.

Our fellows know that they themselves have the means to shift the achievement of their students, many of whom are far from receiving the education opportunities that they deserve.

In choosing to go above and beyond, and refusing to accept their students’ circumstances as their destiny, fellows will become effective teachers in their challenging contexts, leading their classrooms to transformational outcomes.

The writer is co-founder and executive director of Teach For Malaysia. Email him at keeran.sivarajah@

By Keeran Sivarajah 2011/09/17

The NST Home Learning Curve 2011/09/17

'Caught’ rather than ‘taught'


 The writer looks at the term 'curriculum' from different angles

EDUCATIONALISTS make a distinction between “curriculum” and terms such as “course”, “programme” and “syllabus”.

“Curriculum” refers to why (reasons), how (mechanisms), when (relevance), where (situations/circumstances) and with what (associations) while “syllabus” refers only to what is to be taught. Syllabus is essentially a list of contents, for example facts, skills and attitudes. We can look at curriculum from different angles: Conceptual view of curriculum In his book The Curriculum (1918), John Franklin Bobbitt described curriculum as an idea that has its roots in the Latin word for “racecour se”.

He explains the curriculum as the course of deeds and experiences through which children become successful adults of society.

He adds that the curriculum encompasses the entire scope of formative deeds and experiences occurring in and out of schools; experiences that are unplanned and undirected; and those intentionally directed for the purposeful formation of adult members of society.

In recent times, Ronald M.Harden (2001), a renowned medical educationalist, defined curriculum as “a sophisticated blend of educational strategies, course content, learning outcomes, educational experiences, assessment, the educational environment and the individual students’ learning style, personal timetable and the programme of work”.

J. M. Genn (1995) summarised curriculum as everything that happens in relation to the educational programme.

Operational view of curriculum Curriculum is the coherent, purposeful, integrated design and delivery of managed learning to enable students to become competent and capable practitioners in whichever field they are in.

“To be effective, the curriculum should be broad, balanced, flexible and well-resourced.

“It should be able to maintain continuity between key stages or phases of learning and should be able to offer learners a sense of progression in their own lear ning” stated Boyle and Chr istie from School of Education, University of Manchester (1998).

Developmental view of the cur riculum The following are different types of curriculum: Formal curriculum refers to everything that cur r iculum developers intend to include in it.

It relates to knowledge, skills and attitudes, which students are expected to learn. It is in the form of a written document or a book.

Informal curriculum includes extra-curricular activities, for example debates, sports, involvement in student bodies or editing student magazines.

Hidden curriculum is what the institution has not set out to teach for mally.

This is a curriculum which is “caught” rather than “taught”. It is closely related to the learning climate in the institution, for example the environment-friendly policies in the college, the way teachers treat their students and discipline imposed.

Null curriculum is what a school does not intend to teach its students.

It defines the boundaries of a curriculum, such as an undergraduate medical curriculum is not set out to teach students to maintain the equipment in a medical laboratory or to change bed sheets for a patient.

Implementation view of the cur riculum Discipline experts suggest recommended curriculum.

A written curriculum is what the institution has produced based on the recommendations of discipline experts.

Taught curriculum is the one which is delivered by teacher s and the way it is delivered in the classroom.

Learned curriculum is what the students gained in these sessions.

In an institution where the curriculum is carefully developed, meticulously implemented and vigilantly monitored, there will be little gap between the recommended and learned curricula.

Relevance view of the cur riculum Core curriculum is deemed central and usually made mandatory for all students; that which should be mastered by them. It is an essential component of each subject.

A student who does not satisfy the core requirements may not be allowed to move to next level of the course.

Special study modules are also called electives. These areas of study are chosen by students with the help of teachers.

The modules provide opportunity to study the chosen areas in depth. It is preferred that the topics or areas of study not only enhance knowledge and skills but also help in the overall personal and professional development of the student.

Hidden curriculum needs special attention of institution managers.

In his article, Super-complexity and the Curriculum, published in Studies in Higher Education ( Vol.25), Ronald Barnett wrote: “Curricula in higher education are to a large degree ‘hidden cur r icula’… They have an elusive quality about them. Their actual dimensions and elements are tacit. They take on certain patterns and relationships but those patterns and relationships will be hidden from all concerned, except as they are experienced by the students.” Students’ observations of behaviours are a far greater influence than prescription for behaviours offered in the classrooms.

The norms, values and social expectations indirectly conveyed to students by the styles of teaching, unarticulated assumptions in teaching materials and the organisational characteristics of educational institutions influence students’ behaviours significantly.

Hidden curriculum is more related to the actions of the staff and students, and policies of the institutions.

Does the institution provide equal opportunities to all students? Is there clear policy and actions to discourage racial discr iminations? Do classes and meetings start at scheduled times? Do all participants get equal opportunity to voice their opinions? Are there separate bins available for recyclable materials? Are there efforts not to waste water and energy? Do the canteens provide only healthy foods? Are students encouraged to take part in sport and physical activities? These are few examples of the hidden curriculum. 

The writer is Professor of Paediatrics and curriculum coordinator of the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Teknologi MARA. Email him at

By Alam Sher Malik 2011/09/17

Source: The NST Home Lerning Curve 2011/09/17

Performances rely on motivation


THE critical question that animates discussion in regard to the discourse of performance and productivity in higher educational institutions is to what extent the culture of performance assessment — itself a result of an all-pervasive audit culture — acts to dissipate and diminish forms of social capital such as inter-subjective trust, cooperative values, honesty, integrity and inclusiveness.

Does Key Performance Index (KPI) culture crowd out “other regarding” values (forms of social capital) such as collaboration and teamwork within an institution because of the implicit values of individualism and competition that characterise the way our identities as academics are influenced and constructed by the culture?

Scholars such as Frey and Jegen argue that in many cases the reduction of motivation to extrinsic rewards (in our case KPI), may lead to a diminution and crowding out of intrinsic motivation. (See Frey, Bruno S. and Reto Jegen, 2001, Motivational Interactions: Effects on Behaviour, pages 1-32. Zurich: University of Zurich, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics.)

One critical issue in respect of the introduction of KPI frameworks in tertiary education is the extent to which these frameworks act to erode values in higher educational institutions that are not individualistically competitive.

To what extent does KPI culture radically transform and challenge the motivations academics have? To what extent are the identities that many academics have of themselves — as scholars committed to the pursuit of truth as a value rewarding in itself or as engaged academics pursuing social justice — undermined by a competitive extrinsic KPI rewards culture? 

The key here is that non-pecuniary and intr insic motives are critical to understand in the context of comprehending a large part of academic behaviour and performance.

The extent to which performance cultures gel with non-instrumental and non-economic motivations in academic staff is critical to understanding the success of universities and, equally importantly, their cohesion as social institutions.

“Other regarding” social capital and values of reciprocity, and caring are critical for institutions of higher learning both in terms of ensuring a social environment that is conducive to intellectual productivity and also in ensuring the social cohesion of the organisations themselves.

Tertiary institutions rely on social capital for their productivity, identity and internal social cohesion.

Drawing upon this insight in regard to social capital and intrinsic motivation seems increasingly significant given the need for higher educational institutions to both innovate and provide values leadership for their respective societies.

The significance of positive social capital to organisational performance and the performance of individuals within institutions is now well established in contemporary research literature.

Given the importance of social capital to innovation, cohesion and academic identity; performance indicator culture, if followed crudely and without reference to a deeper understanding of human motivation, can act to crowd out forms of “other regarding” social capital and inadvertently reduce the possible sources of motivation in univer sities.

We have to be aware that extrinsic rewards or financial incentives for performance may have a crowding out effect on other intrinsically important forms of motivation.

A significant cohort of people in higher educational institutions is motivated to action and productive innovation for intrinsic reasons which are not necessarily finding a place under the sun in current KPI culture.

Academic identity itself has historically possessed moral and intangible character istics.

These norms and the culture of the academy, which have sustained hard work and creativity, are central to why many academics became academics in the first place.

What if an unintended consequence of KPI motivational structures is to crowd out “other regarding” social capital and intrinsic motivations and both undermine innovation and contravene the deeply held beliefs, identities and values of many academics? 

What if it leads to large scale dissent and a breakdown of cohesion within the academy? The problem here is not performance indictors as such although some critics do see the problem lying at the root.

Rather the issue is the depth of sophistication and understanding that goes into building and assessing perfor mance.

Grasping the significance of intangibles to performance in higher education and realising the critical importance of social capital and “other regarding” values is a first step.

Recognising the critical function of intrinsic values is fundamental.

Osterloh and Frey make a key point: “…it is difficult to think of a leading scientist who was not mainly, and sometimes entirely, motivated by his or her curiosity.

Just consider the greatest natural scientists of the world, such as Newton or Einstein, or the greatest social scientists, such as Schumpeter or Keynes.

“The problem is that the intrinsic interest in doing research is crowded out when academics are evaluated based on extrinsic rewards that are contingent on indicator s.” (See Margit Osterloh, Bruno S.Frey, Are More and Better Indicators the Solution? Scandinavian Journal of Management (2009) 25, page 226.) 

Two critical questions confront us when we consider the problems of key performance indicators.

Firstly, to what extent is performance reliant on non-tangible forms of social capital: “other regarding” values and intrinsic motivation? 

Secondly, to what extent does the current culture of KPI’s crowd out forms of social capital and intrinsic motivation in universities? 

An awareness of the role that intangible values and forms of social capital have on work and performance is critical to under stand.

Addressing the possibility that KPI systems in organisations can possibly crowd out intangible forms of motivation such as “other regarding” behaviour, civic motivations, altruism, group solidarity or simply personal passion and curiosity is important to grasp.

We need to understand both tangible and intangible motivations for performance. Both are necessary for innovation and cohesion within the academy? Perhaps we should read headlines in regard to higher education with this in mind.

The writer is a Lecturer in Education in Australia and author of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Sustainability and the Struggle for A Vital Centre in Education, Penerbit USM 2011. Email him at

By James Campbell 2011/09/17 

The NST Home Learning Curve 2011/09/17 

Heritage: A peek into the past

  Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris National Education Museum in Tanjung Malim offers visitors a history lesson on the development of education in Malaysia from pre-independence to the present time. SHARIFAH ARFAH writes.

MANY students have come and gone from Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris in Tanjung Malim, Perak.

Academician Tan Sri Awang Had Salleh, former Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Ghafar Baba and novelist Harun Aminurrashid are among former students of the institution, popularly known as UPSI.  

A selection of teaching aids from a Chinese school

The university is the oldest existing teachers’ training college in the country and was upgraded to university status in 1997.

It was established in 1922 by the then deputy director of Malay schools R. O. 

Winstedt and named Sultan Idris Training College (SITC) after Sultan Idris Mursyidul ‘Adzam Shah I, the 28th Sultan of Perak who ruled from 1887 till 1916.

Gas lamp and notes in Jawi script from a Malay school

The institution’s history and evolution is now available for all to view at UPSI National Education Museum which was launched recently by Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Bainun Mohd Ali, who is also UPSI chancellor. 

It is housed at Suluh Budiman Building — an understated structure inspired by the then popular Dutch-Gothic architecture — which is opposite a multi-purpose field for students who need a break from their studies.

When it first opened in 1922, Suluh Budiman Building was the institution’s administrative centre; lectures were also held here.

Models wearing primary school uniforms make up part of a diorama in one of the exhibition halls

It is fitting that the education museum should be in a building that is associated with the origins of UPSI which is part of Malaysia’s national heritage. 

To accommodate the objects of historical interest, Suluh Budiman Building was renovated at a cost of RM9.58 million and in accordance with the National Heritage Act 2005, right down to the colour of the paints on the walls.

The museum comprises 21 exhibition areas, a research room, the curator’s office and a large hall in the centre of the building.

The museum traces its history back to the early Fifties when it was only a “small room” displaying a few artefacts. It was actually a repository of SITC’s history and a valuable source of information for Malaysians.

When the Education Ministry agreed to establish a museum at SITC in 1986, the “small room” was upgraded to a museum which has since evolved into the UPSI National Education Museum. 
Its development is consistent with the evolution of UPSI from a teachers’ training college into a full university in 1997. 
The education museum moved to Suluh Budiman Building when renovations were completed early this year.

“Those with no inkling of the national education system will get an idea of it by the time they conclude the visit,” says Safna.

Posters, dioramas, miniatures and interactive touch-screen computers provide easily accessible information for all visitors.

Among the exhibits that will attract visitors are the various teaching aids used in the days before the advent of computers and other electronic devices. 

“The museum is also a resource centre for those interested in the history of and development of education in Malaysia,” says Safna.

Contributions of various education systems such as the Malay and English mediums, vernacular schools and sekolah pondok (Islamic religious schools) are also highlighted. 

The challenge for the museum is to secure artefacts especially from the Fifties and the years prior to that.

Ishak Saat

UPSI National Education Museum director Associate Professor Ishak Saat says that the museum aims to preserve Malaysia’s education heritage. 

“It hopes to educate people on the need to appreciate the contributions of teachers and educators,” says Ishak, adding that teacher training and education at SITC had contributed to the development of national consciousness in the run-up to independence.

“About 70 to 80 per cent of those who participated in politics during those days were teachers,” he says.

Among them was Malay language linguist Tan Sri Zainal Abidin Ahmad (also known as Za’ba), who has a gallery dedicated entirely to him. 

His stint in SITC as a translator and teacher led to a writing career and some of his thought-provoking articles goaded Malayans into action during the Colonial era. 

Each exhibition room at the education museum focuses on a specific theme from Early Education in Malaysia to Science and Technology in Education. 

The main hall, usually empty, is open to other exhibitors for a limited period.

Safna Asaruddin

UPSI National Education Museum curator Safna Asaruddin says visitors will learn about the development of education in Malaysia from pre-independence to the present time. 
A museum visitor can use touch-screen computers to view quick facts about the museum exhibits

The museum, which opens from 9am till 4pm daily, is closed on Sundays and public holidays. Admission is free. For details, call 05-450-6680/6332/6661. 

Sharifah Arfah 2011/09/17

Source: The NST Home Learning Curve 2011/09/17