September 20th, 2011

Valuing the IC

IN Western democracies, the concept of a national identity card, with which to register, identify, and track the movement of every resident within the country, is seen as a violation of the right to privacy and freedom from big government. In Malaysia, however, the identity card, which has been in existence for nearly 60 years, is one of the givens in life. In fact, to have one -- whether as a citizen or permanent resident -- is considered a privilege. Having a MyKad is an official acknowledgment of legitimacy.

The identity card was introduced by the British in the 1950s during its war against communist insurgents. Everyone in the then Malaya had to register and was given an IC that stated his name and permanent residence, and contained his photograph and fingerprints. Communist insurgents, however, dared not register. Possession of an IC thus served to identify lawful citizens, as it has done to this day. Though communism is no longer a threat to the country, every person is still required by law to carry a MyKad on his person at all times, and if asked to produce it for inspection by a law enforcement officer, has to produce it. Failure to carry or produce a MyKad can result in imprisonment for up to three years, or a fine of up to RM20,000, or both, upon conviction. It is also an offence for anyone but the owner of a MyKad to hold on to it -- even if it is given voluntarily.

That 102 MyKad were found strewn on a road in Kedah over the weekend is astonishing. Could these MyKad have become parted from their owners through theft or loan-sharking? A MyKad is more than just for identification; in many respects, it is a means by which to exist. Without it, a person cannot apply for a job, buy a house or a car, take out a loan, apply for a permit or a licence, claim parcels from the post office, vote, and, theoretically at least, buy alcohol or cigarettes. Anyone in possession of it has possession of the identity that comes with it. Yet, in March, the Home Ministry requirement for a police report to accompany an application for a replacement MyKad was scrapped, ostensibly to cut down on red tape and costs. Prior to this, the very thought of going through the bureaucratic hassle of making a police report was reasonably sufficient to make people dread losing their MyKad. Now, the costs may have been reduced, but has the value been, too?

Visit Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara For MyKad

Source: The NST Home OPED 2011/09/20

Teachers being made to do data entry for free

I REFER to “Slow data input system” (The Star, Sept 19). The system referred to is Nilam online, where every form teacher keys in the books read by students in the class. While online recording saves teachers from keeping track of reading records of their students, it takes too much of their time and it ends up with teachers doing it at home. Some get their spouse or children to help out.

There are several other online school applications introduced by the School Division of the Education Ministry with the objective of collecting information for their analysis. These were implemented without any consideration for teachers’ workload, forcing them most of the time to rely on home resources.

Under tremendous pressure from the school authorities, these teachers often enlist the help of their spouse and children. It has now been taken for granted that teachers continue such school work at home at their own expense.

Teachers don’t have time to do all these chores in school as they have to teach, mark books, carry out co-curriculum activities and attend meetings. I am surprised that the teachers’ union is not doing anything about it.

I heard from friends who have contact with ministry staff that more online applications will be introduced in the near future. The ministry is turning teachers into data entry clerks.

Would all these data entry chores improve the standard of teaching in schools? Many educationists are saying the standard of teaching in national schools is suffering with teachers spending more time in clerical work than teaching.

KOH TG, Subang Jaya.

The STAR Home News Opinion Tuesday September 20, 2011

Fatimah: Only board can determine if students fit to sit for exam

KUCHING: Schools have been told not to deprive their students of the chance to sit for public examinations if they are registered with the Malaysia Examination Board (MEB).

Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datin Fatimah Abdullah said as far as MEB was concerned, all students of secondary and primary schools who were registered for public examinations should not be kept out.

“This is the ruling, unlike in universities and institutions of higher learning where a student who does not achieve a certain percentage in attendance could be prohibited,” Fatimah said yesterday.

She was responding to a case where three pupils of SK Bandar Bintangor were left out of the UPSR examination because they were considered academically poor and could pull down the school’s overall performance.

A dilemma: Ting speaking at the press conference last Friday with (seated from left) Richmend, Edward and Idie.

On Sept 16, Meradong assemblyman Ting Tze Fui claimed that Idie Ganyol, Edward Ujoh Augustine and Richmend Mangi were locked in a remedial room while their classmates sat for the examination on Sept 13 and 14.

After the boys’ parents complained, they were allowed to sit for the exam on Sept 15 – the final day.

Fatimah said an investigation was carried out by the Meradong District Education Office while a police report was lodged by the boys’ parents.

“I cannot reveal the outcome as it is still under police investigation,” she said of the police probe.

Meanwhile, Bintangor police chief DSP Mohd Hafifi Mohd Salim, in confirming that a report had been lodged, said: “The pupils were locked in a room.”

DSP Hafifi was, however, quick to add that the parents had withdrawn the report and that the police had closed the case.

According to him, the Education Department has been informed and that the parents agreed to withdraw the report after being assured that action would be taken against the school principal.

Fatimah, meanwhile, stressed that it was not up to the school to determine whether the pupils were fit to sit for the exam.

“MEB has the prerogative, not the school,” she added.

Asked if students who had been absent from lesson for long period could be kept out of examinations, Fatimah said: “MEB may have to make a stand on whether it wants the ruling to be based on a student’s attendance.

“I think it is unfair for schools to allow students absent from classes for long to pop up only for the exams.

“I personally feel that schools have been entrusted to prepare students for exams, but if the students are absent for long, how can the teachers and schools carry out their responsibility?”

Source: The STAR Home News Sarawak September 20, 2011

DPM: Let 'weak' UPSR students sit for exam

DUNGUN: The Education Ministry wants the three students of SK Bandar Bintangor in Sarawak, who were prevented from sitting for the UPSR, to sit for the examination.

Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Examination Board would prepare questions similar to those given earlier for the students.

"As Education Minister, I have the power to allow the students sit for the examination," he told reporters here.

Newsaper reports said the students were prevented from sitting for UPSR as they were considered weak and the school feared they would affect its overall performance.

The Education Ministry is investigating the case and would take appropriate action against the school's administrator.

Muhyiddin said in their quest for incentives, the school had prevented weak students from sitting for UPSR to enable it to achieve excellent results.

"Students have rights and parents are also entitled to know their children's achievements. Don't deny students the right to sit for examination."

Source: The STAR Home News Nation September 20, 2011

UPSR school shame

(From left) Idie Ganyol, Edward Ujoh Augustine and Richmend Mangi from SK Bintangor in Sarawak were not allowed by the school to sit the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah last week.
(From left) Idie Ganyol, Edward Ujoh Augustine and Richmend Mangi from SK Bintangor in Sarawak were not allowed by the school to sit the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah last week.
3 prevented from sitting exam to safeguard its performance

KUCHING: An overemphasis on good academic results could be the reason three Year Six pupils of SK Bandar Bintangor were prevented from sitting the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination 

The three boys, regarded as “academically weak”, were locked in a remedial classroom from 8am until noon while their classmates sat the exam on Sept 13 and 14. 

The school, located 600km from here, was said to have resorted to this to ensure the boys did not “pull down” its overall performance.

The three were identified as Idie Ganyol, Edward Ujoh Augustine and Richmend Mangi. 

Bintangor district police chief Deputy Superintendent Mohd Hafifi Mohd Salim confirmed the case and said police reports were lodged by the boys’ parents last week. 

“They were locked in a room to prevent them from sitting the exam because they were said to be academically weak and this would affect the school’s performance.” 

However, he said, the case was now considered closed as the parents had agreed to withdraw their reports after they were given an assurance that action would be taken against the headmaster. He added that the state Education Department was aware of the incident. 

National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan said what the school did was wrong. 

“The children have every right to sit the exam, notwithstanding their poor academic record. It is not the school’s business to handle the matter in such a way as this would ruin the pupils’ future. 

“At the end of the day, it’s not all about achieving As in exams but our capability as teachers to ensure they become good citizens who will contribute 
to the country. 

“If the pupils did not do well in their studies, there must be something 
wrong with the school’s teaching methods.” 

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, who is president of Parents Action Group for Education (Page), shared similar sentiments, saying it was wrong to stop the three boys from taking the exam. 

“The rule in every school is clear; every child needs to be educated.” 

She said there were ways to handle pupils with special needs, including 
the autistic and mentally disabled. 

“There are few schools with special classes for dyslexic children but there 
are ways to handle these children instead of shutting them out.” 

Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datin Fatimah Abdullah expressed her concern, saying UPSR was an important examination. 

“However, I have not received any report (about the incident) yet. Let 
the police investigate. 

“As far as I am concerned, no pupil should be deprived from sitting any exam, regardless of their academic perfor mance.” 

Bernama quoted Fatimah as saying that the Malaysian Examination Syndicate had been asked to study whether there were any regulations to stop candidates from sitting the UPSR because of problems like truancy and indiscipline. 

The school and state Education Department officials, however, could not be reached for comments. 

Meradong assemblyman Ting Tze Fui, who was approached by the boys’ parents, claimed the boys were only allowed to sit the exam on the final day on Thursday. 

Ting said the school had been unfair to the boys. 

“On receiving the reports on Wednesday, policemen who went to the school found the boys locked in a room. They were eating and playing there.” 

She chided the school for denying the pupils the right to take the examination. 

“Not everyone is born smart but they can learn. That is why we need education. No discrimination should exist in our education system.”

Source: The NST Home Topnews September 20, 2011