June 28th, 2015

Usaha memperendah Dasar Pendidikan Kebangsaan

Gerakan terancang pihak tertentu untuk menjadikan bahasa Inggeris sebagai pengantar di sekolah bukan perkara baharu. Ini telah berulang kali dibangkitkan oleh beberapa pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) Cina di negara ini.

Ada beberapa hujah yang mewajarkan bahasa Inggeris dijadikan pengantar di sekolah yang maksud sebenar ialah menafikan Dasar Pendidikan Kebangsaan yang menjadikan bahasa Melayu sebagai pengantar.

Pertama, mengaitkan kegagalan mewujudkan perpaduan dalam masyarakat pelbagai kaum dengan dasar pendidikan sekarang. Kedua, membina persepsi bahawa bahasa Inggeris adalah bahasa ilmu dalam bidang sains dan teknologi.

Ketiga, menuduh dasar pendidikan negara ini menjadi faktor polarisasi kaum. Maka disarankan supaya bahasa Inggeris sebagai pengantar kerana bahasa Melayu tidak mampu menjadi penghubung dalam silang budaya antara kaum.

Keempat, mereka cuba mengalih perhatian kepada Singapura sebagai model negara yang pengantar bahasa Inggeris yang berjaya dalam ekonomi, sosial dan perpaduan.

Saya ada beberapa hujah untuk membuktikan alasan yang ditonjolkan itu tidak benar, atau setidak-tidak boleh dibahaskan. Bagi saya ini lebih untuk merendah-rendahkan dasar pendidikan kita. Ini adalah usaha yang berterusan oleh pihak tertentu bagi membina satu tamadun baharu bukan di atas asas yang telah terbina sejak sekian lama. Caranya dengan menolak bahasa Melayu yang terbukti menyatukan Nusantara suatu waktu dulu.

Sinonimkan bahasa Inggeris dengan kemajuan dalam bidang sains dan teknologi adalah helah mudah untuk mengaburi mata fikir masyarakat. Saya tidak pasti di manakah mereka merujuk bahawa bahasa Inggeris menjadi faktor utama penguasaan dalam bidang sains dan teknologi? Sebagai contoh yang dekat dengan kita, angkasawan Malaysia yang menumpang pengembaraan ke angkasa lepas pun terpaksa belajar bahasa Rusia, bukan bahasa Inggeris. Ini menunjukkan bahasa Rusia bukan sahaja menguasai sains dan teknologi malah bidang angkasa lepas di Rusia.

Contoh lain, negara-negara yang ke depan dalam bidang sains dan teknologi selepas Perang Dunia Kedua adalah dari negara yang mendokong bahasa ibunda. Malah mereka terhina bertutur bahasa Inggeris waima dengan orang luar bagi menunjukkan bahasa ibunda mereka sebagai teragung. United Kingdom atau Amerika Syarikat (AS) yang menggunakan bahasa Inggeris tetapi tidak muncul setanding dengan Jepun, Korea Selatan atau China dalam bidang teknologi.

Adakah ini faktor bahasa Inggeris atau iltizam yang tinggi sesuatu bangsa yang menjadi pendorong kemajuan dengan menggunakan bahasa ibunda? Pemimpin China tidak mahu bertutur bahasa Inggeris dalam persidangan antarabangsa tetapi mampu memacu China sebagai kuasa besar yang menyaingi AS dalam banyak sudut termasuk sains dan teknologi.

Suatu alasan yang tidak masuk akal adalah bahasa Inggeris bahasa perpaduan. Hujah saya, pada era 1950-an, 1960-an dan awal 1970-an, banyak sekolah pengantar bahasa Inggeris di negara ini. Tetapi pada dekad-dekad ini juga tercetus banyak ketegangan antara kaum. Antaranya krisis antara parti Melayu, UMNO dengan parti Cina, MCA tahun 1959, Singapura keluar dari Malaysia tahun 1965 dan rusuhan kaum terbesar pada 13 Mei 1969. Bukankah semua ketegangan antara kaum ini dalam masa bahasa Inggeris berada pada kedudukan tertinggi? Di mana perpaduannya?

Mereka juga mengambil Singapura sebagai contoh negara yang maju dengan menjadikan Inggeris sebagai bahasa pengantar selain menjadi alat perpaduan. Ini hanya satu kaedah untuk membina satu persepsi tetapi pada masa sama menafikan perkara realiti. Persepsinya formula Singapura berjaya kerana bahasa Inggeris menjadi faktornya. Tetapi realitinya politik, sosial dan populasi jauh berbeza dengan negara ini.

Di Singapura tidak ada sekolah vernakular. Sebenarnya tidak ada di mana-mana negara yang membenarkan sekolah vernakular kecuali Malaysia. Di sini jangan kata hendak dihapuskan, hendak berhujah pun tidak boleh. Soalnya kenapa tidak turut mencontohi sistem pendidikan Singapura menghapuskan sekolah vernakular yang menjadi faktor perpaduan?

Generasi muda Cina dan India di sekolah vernakular telah terpisah daripada nilai-nilai majmuk yang ditanam di sekolah kebangsaan. Menanam semangat cauvanis di sekolah vernakular telah memisahkan generasi daripada realiti sosial negara tetapi seolah-olah di negara China atau India.

Maka apabila berdepan dengan gerakan terancang ini, kita perlu berhati-hati supaya tidak terperangkap disebabkan kita terkena sindrom pemikiran tertawan. Telah dibuktikan golongan profesional yang dilahirkan oleh dasar pendidikan kita banyak yang berjaya ke peringkat dunia. Jangan percaya dakyah mereka bahawa bahasa Melayu kolot.

Apabila menteri diserang idea

Saya masih ingat pada pertengahan 1990-an dulu ketika tercetusnya gejala sosial gadis ‘bohsia’ di Kuala Lumpur, seorang menteri melontarkan idea supaya remaja tidak dibenarkan keluar rumah selepas pukul 10 malam. Idea itu baik tetapi tidak praktikal.

Akhirnya idea itu hilang begitu sahaja. Bagi saya, kita bukan sahaja berhadapan dengan masalah sosial tetapi juga menteri yang dilanda idea-idea luar biasa. Mereka melihat jangka pendek dan jalan mudah untuk mengatasi sesuatu isu tanpa memeriksa perkara-perkara yang fundamental.

Baru-baru ini pula seorang menteri mengesyorkan supaya semua restoran ditutup pukul 12 malam. Sebabnya (mengikut kata menteri ini) restoran yang beroperasi 24 jam menyumbang kepada permasalahan sosial. Saya bukanlah ahli 'kelab lepak' tetapi saya musykil adakah saranan ini boleh mengatasi masalah sosial.

Memanglah banyak kes pergaduhan di restoran 24 jam. Tetapi kalau ditutup sekalipun perkara tersebut mungkin berlaku di tempat lain. Lagipun restoran 24 jam bukan pusat judi atau hiburan.

Saya percaya beliau juga telah diserang idea. Bagaimanapun bagi saya isu masalah sosial adalah suatu yang sangat kompleks. Untuk mengatasi isu seperti ini bukanlah semudah memetik idea semasa terbangun daripada tidur.

Melepak di restoran sampai dini hari tidak baik untuk kesihatan dan produktiviti. Senang cakap, benteras dulu pusat judi dan hiburan barulah boleh bercakap isu moral. Kalau baling batu jatuh atas pusat judi, apa cerita? - Ku Seman Ku Hussein Utusan Malaysia Rencana 28 Jun 2015

Bisik-Bisik Awang Selamat ~ Berwaspadalah, Cauvinis, bola, biarkan, ramadhan, IMDM

Parti cauvinis

Kenyataan Presiden Pas, Hadi Awang baru-baru ini bahawa parti itu sedia menjalin kerjasama dengan mana-mana parti politik kecuali yang cauvinis, menarik perhatian.

Walaupun tidak menyebut nama mana-mana parti tetapi ramai tahu ia merujuk kepada DAP. Sememangnya apa yang Hadi cakap tidak dapat disangkal lagi. Buatlah apa pun, imej DAP sebagai parti rasis masih tebal. Sepanjang kerjasama pakatan selama ini, peranan Pas sedikit sebanyak dapat membantu 'memulihkan' persepsi dalam kalangan sebahagian orang Islam ke atas DAP.

Kini dengan terburainya muafakat antara kedua-dua parti itu, DAP terpaksa bergantung kepada usahanya sendiri selain PKR untuk mendampingi dan meyakinkan orang Melayu.

Awang dapat tahu, langkah-langkah sedang diperhebatkan untuk mempengaruhi golongan muda Melayu terutama yang liberal, dengan apa sahaja cara.

Apatah lagi parti itu ke hadapan dan menguasai pengolahan permainan persepsi dalam isu-isu semasa. Mudah untuk menangguk di air keruh termasuk bagi menjadi juara kepada orang Melayu.

Sudah berulang kali terbukti dalam mendapatkan sokongan Melayu, DAP bersandiwara. Sejarah tidak pernah menipu. Dari dulu lagi, para pengasas parti itu sanggup bersongkok, bersimpuh di tangga surau dan 'menjiwai' Melayu seperti di Singapura. Begitu juga dengan generasi baru DAP yang sanggup menggunakan ayat suci al-Quran dan Hadis serta jolokan tokoh pejuang Islam silam. Apabila sokongan diperoleh dan kemenangan dalam pilihan raya dicapai, kepentingan Islam dan Melayu dinafikan, dihina, dibiarkan terpinggir dan lemah. Lihatlah juga apa berlaku di Pulau Pinang. Slogan demokratik, kebebasan dan keadilan untuk semua, adalah muslihat semata-mata tetapi akhirnya DAP lebih menjaga kepentingan satu kaum sahaja.

Buatlah kajian tentang kedudukan dan kuasa dalam parti itu hinggalah soal pendirian, polisi dan rekod perjuangannya. Aneh, DAP mendabik dada sebagai parti pelbagai kaum tetapi Melayu, India dan etnik lain sekadar picisan malah menjadi alat untuk mengabui masyarakat. Rata-rata orang Melayu dalam DAP akan keluar dengan penyesalan. Itulah hakikatnya. Seperti kata bekas Naib Pengerusi DAP, Zulkifli Mohd. Noor, harga Melayu kepada DAP hanya 50 sen. Adalah amat memalukan, dunia telah lama berubah tetapi DAP masih di takuk lama. Keterbukaan yang ditunjukkan untuk menarik ramai Melayu hanyalah kosmetik tetapi lebih kepada menjayakan agenda agung satu kaum. Jadi, belum terlewat untuk Pas bangkit tersedar sebelum mudarat lebih besar.

Awang setuju dengan Hadi, yang meyakinkan lagi kita padahnya berkawan dengan parti yang cauvinis.

Biarkan...

Harapan untuk melihat krisis MIC yang berlarutan berbulan-bulan lamanya, untuk kendur dan selesai, nampaknya tidak kesampaian.

Malah situasi makin buruk dan kompleks. Jabatan Pendaftar Pertubuhan (ROS) telah mengesahkan Presiden MIC, G. Palanivel bukan lagi ahli parti itu berdasarkan Artikel 91 Perlembagaan MIC. Ini bermakna, kelayakan beliau sebagai presiden parti dengan sendirinya terbatal, yang pastinya memberi kesan kepada kedudukan dalam Kabinet. Awang pun tak faham kenapa Pengarah ROS tidak tampil menjawab persoalan dalam isu yang kritikal seperti itu. Ini bukan era sembunyi diri dalam menangani isu.

Berbalik kepada MIC, kini, ada dua kem A dan B. Satu diketuai oleh Palani dan satu lagi oleh Timbalan Presiden, Dr. S. Subramaniam yang kini memangku jawatan Presiden.

Awang percaya masyarakat terutama ahli MIC dan kaum India sudah bosan dengan krisis MIC yang berpanjangan. Terlalu banyak masa dibuang untuk pergolakan sedangkan kaum India perlukan parti yang berwibawa dan bersatu bagi membela mereka.

Lebih memburukkan keadaan, Palani enggan akur keputusan ROS dan makin agresif mempertahankan kedudukannya.

Awang tiada formula tetapi sewajarnya Palani berjiwa besar dengan berundur. Utamakan kepentingan parti berbanding diri sendiri. Beliau tidak akan kelihatan kalah sebaliknya akan dihargai dan dikenang kerana sanggup berkorban demi parti. Atau, Palani dan Subra sama-sama jika gagal berdamai, umum bersara daripada politik. Jika kedua-dua masih enggan dan mahu terus mengheret MIC ke ambang kehancuran, biarkanlah.

Masyarakat India mempunyai pilihan bernaung di bawah parti politik lain. Namun adalah malang bukan musuh atau pihak lain yang membunuh MIC, sebaliknya pemimpin-pemimpin parti itu sendiri. Biarkanlah.

Berwaspadalah

Kuwait dan Tunisia yang selama ini tenang dan bebas daripada ancaman keganasan, menjadi sasaran terbaru.

Awang sedih dan sangat terganggu dengan perkembangan itu, lebih-lebih lagi berlaku ketika umat Islam berpuasa pada bulan Ramadan.

Dalam serangan bom di Masjid Imam Sadiq di bandar raya Kuwait, lebih 27 terkorban dan mencederakan ramai lagi yang ketika itu sedang solat Jumaat.

Di Tunisia, 40 maut apabila seorang lelaki melepaskan tembakan ke arah sekumpulan pelancong di tepi pantai bandar Sousse.

Terdapat laporan kumpulan Islamic State (IS) mengaku bertanggungjawab. Namun tiada siapa boleh menolak teori tangan ghaib di belakangnya yang mengatur percaturan menggugat negara-negara Islam.

Marilah berdoa agar Malaysia terpelihara dan dijauhi kejadian seperti itu, yang perpaduan ummah adalah salah satu perisainya.

Apa yang berlaku di Kuwait dan Tunisia wajar dijadikan renungan dan kepada pihak berkuasa kita - berwaspadalah. Jangan biarkan tanah air tercinta ini dikejutkan.

Ramadan dan bola

Entah kenapa Persatuan Bola Sepak Malaysia (FAM) mengadakan perlawanan Liga Super dan Liga Perdana pada bulan Ramadan. Sukar hendak faham. Sebab itu, Awang setuju dengan pandangan beberapa persatuan bola sepak negeri yang meminta FAM menangguhkannya.

Sebagai sebuah negara yang majoriti penduduknya beragama Islam, sepatutnya FAM lebih sensitif dalam hal tersebut. Di negara Islam lain termasuk jiran Indonesia, tiada aktiviti liga bola sepak utama berlangsung pada Ramadan. Ketika umat Islam dituntut lebih beribadat termasuk solat sunat tarawih, adalah kurang wajar para pemain yang juga kebanyakannya beragama Islam dibiarkan beraksi di stadium. Sudahlah mereka berpuasa pada siang hari, agak keletihan untuk bermain lewat malam selain tidak dapat memberi tumpuan pada ibadat. Penonton pun tidak ramai. Sedangkan ia sekadar sukan bola sepak yang masih boleh diubah jadual, tidak seperti urusan tanggungjawab sebagaimana tugas tentera, polis dan lain-lain yang mendesak keperluannya termasuk pada Ramadan.

Seandainya, ia melibatkan penganjuran oleh badan bola sepak dunia seperti FIFA, kita boleh faham tetapi ia di bawah kuasa FAM. Lagipun, terimalah realiti sukan bola sepak kita bukan seperti di Brazil, Sepanyol, Jerman, England dan Itali. Pencapaian skuad negara juga makin merudum dengan penganjuran liga yang ada tidak banyak membantu. Negara-negara Arab termasuk Palestin yang membelasah Malaysia 6-0 baru-baru ini, tetap hebat walaupun tiada liga pada bulan Ramadan.

Awang sebenarnya menyokong pengurusan FAM di sebalik banyak kritikan yang dilemparkan kebelakangan ini tetapi usahlah proaktif ke arah negatif.

Dugaan 1MDB

Awang tidaklah teruja untuk membuat rumusan berhubung tertangkapnya bekas eksekutif PetroSaudi, Xavier Andre Justo di Thailand, baru-baru ini sehingga siasatan mengenainya selesai.

Namun berdasarkan maklumat yang telah disahkan setakat ini, ternyata perbuatan Justo telah membawa banyak mudarat kepada Malaysia dalam isu 1MDB.

Tohmahan mengenai isu 1MDB yang berulang kali dilaporkan Sarawak Report dan turut dijadikan rujukan kumpulan media The Edge dan pembangkang terdedah selepas Justo ditahan di Koh Samui atas tuduhan cuba memeras ugut bekas majikannya sendiri PetroSaudi, baru-baru ini. Hasil siasatan, mendapati sebahagian e-mel dan dokumen yang disalurkan kepada Sarawak Report adalah maklumat palsu yang telah dipinda terlebih dahulu. Ia diperakukan oleh badan pakar bebas antarabangsa dalam keselamatan dan perisikan siber, Protection Group International (PGI). Awang sebenarnya tidak terkejut, lebih-lebih lagi dengan kecenderungan portal itu memburuk-burukkan kerajaan selama ini. Sebelum ini, bekas Ketua Menteri Taib Mahmud menjadi sasaran dengan agenda mahu menjatuhkan kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) di Sarawak. Usaha itu gagal tetapi pengasasnya Claire Recastle Brown, tidak mahu berhenti kerana ada keyakinan beliau boleh menjual sentimen di Malaysia dengan dorongan dan percaturan pembangkang. Dengan terdedahnya salah laku Justo maka terbongkar sebahagian konspirasi menggunakan isu 1MDB untuk menjatuhkan Perdana Menteri, Najib Tun Razak.

Seperti biasa, Najib menangani isu IMDB dengan tenang dan sabar biarpun menerima banyak tekanan, kritikan dan disalahertikan. Dalam sejarah kepimpinan, setiap pemimpin akan pasti berdepan dengan dugaan dan mengharungi krisis. Najib tidak terkecuali. Kini Perdana Menteri bertungkus lumus untuk memulihkan 1MDB, ujian terbesar beliau sebagai pemimpin. Berjayakah Najib? Memetik ungkapan Haruki Murakami, sesiapa dapat mengharungi ribut dan badai besar di lautan, dia akan menjadi insan berbeza, yang lebih kuat. Sejarah mantan Perdana Menteri, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad telah membuktikannya. - Utusan Malaysia Rencana 28 Jun 2015

Doing better in Pisa

A NUMBER of initiatives implemented in recent years, such as the Higher Order Thinking Skills, should be able to help Malaysia improve its rankings under the Programme for International Student Assessment.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin expressed hope that Malaysian students will perform better.

“One of the criteria used in Pisa is evaluating the thinking skills of students, meaning that they're not supposed to simply give answers.

“We've implemented HOTS over the past two years, so we're hopeful that our students will be able to achieve better Pisa results this year,” he told the Malaysian media after concluding his working visit to the Bahamas.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, represented Malaysia at the19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (19CCEM) that was held in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, from June 22 to 26.

He said that HOTS had featured in both the SPM and PT3 examinations.

Muhyiddin said a presentation on Pisa at the Nassau conference indicated that being among the lowest ranked countries did not mean that a country's education standards were low.

“There are other factors at play that we'll need to look into,” he said.

There have been concerns over Malaysia's performance in Pisa, with the country placed in the bottom third, ranking 52 out of 65 countries in the 2012 survey.

1. International delegation: Muhyiddin (standing, seventh from left) during a group photo with part of the 53 Commonwealth member countries who attended the opening of the 19CCEM in The Bahamas.2. Learning from each other: Muhyiddin and Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof (third and second from left) during a session at the conference. – Bernama photos
International delegation: Muhyiddin (standing, seventh from left) during a group photo with part of the 53 Commonwealth member countries who attended the opening of the 19CCEM in The Bahamas.

Pisa is administered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development every three years on 15-year-olds in both member and non-member countries.

At the 19CCEM proceedings, Muhyiddin delivered a speech focusing on education, skills and employment.

He presented Malaysia’s contribution of USD200,000 (RM750,000) in a bid to help fellow Commonwealth countries better the quality of education and training as it shared the measures being taken to elevate the quality of international education.

Addressing the 19CCEM, Muhyiddin said Kuala Lumpur realised the tremendous potential in experience- and knowledge-sharing.

In this regard, he expressed Malaysia’s dedication to help the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the recipient of the contribution, achieve its goals.

COL, which has its headquarters in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, encourages the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.

“Malaysia looks forward to further engagement, cross-fertilisation of ideas and smart partnerships between Commonwealth members,” he said.

Muhyiddin told conference attendees that to elevate the quality of education, Malaysia was currently embarking on the most comprehensive education transformation exercise to date.

He highlighted the Malaysian Education Blueprints covering basic education rights through to tertiary level and lifelong learning, under which multiple initiatives were being put in place in various areas.

“This includes strengthening basic literacy and numeracy, implementing curricula that are benchmarked internationally, embedding HOTS as well as a strong focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” he said.

Muhyiddin shed light on efforts to consolidate Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) offerings and pathways in bringing about greater clarity and efficiency, among other things.

“TVET is being positioned as the most important avenue for upscaling Malaysia’s skilled human capital base as the country aspires to reconfigure the skilled workforce to remain competitive and innovative,” he said.

He said that Malaysia needed to have both the quality and quantity of STEM human capital that would enable the country to adopt the right economic model in order to achieve the longer term economic and societal aspirations.

He further said that the quality of Malaysian teachers, lecturers and academic leaders must be of a high standard, and that efforts were being made to ensure the right people of the desired “horsepower” and behaviour were in the right jobs in driving transformation at various levels within the education delivery ecosystem.

Elaborating on the national education system that would take students from “cradle to career”, he said it would help them achieve their potential, inculcate a love for lifelong learning, make them globally competitive, and prepare them for life.

Malaysia, he said, placed equal emphasis on nurturing balanced and holistic individuals who could meet extraordinary challenges, with the right ethics and morality, and had the knowledge and skills to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.

“We’ll instil an entrepreneurial mindset throughout Malaysia’s higher education system and create a system that produces graduates with a drive to create jobs, rather than to only seek jobs,” he said.

Muhyiddin also took the opportunity to highlight Malaysia’s intention to join the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (Unesco) for the 2015-2019 term.

He said a number of countries had stated their support for Malaysia over its Unesco bid. – Bernama

New system for teacher transfers

THERE will be less uncertainty on whether a teacher’s transfer request will be accepted, thanks to the newly implemented Traffic Light System.

The system, which took effect during the June 2015 transfers, allows teachers to know their chances of being transferred to a certain state or district before they send in their requests online.

Education Ministry education operations sector deputy director-general Datuk Ahmad Tajudin Jab said there will be two colours - red and green - to show the possibility of teachers having their transfer request approved.

“This new system has proven to be effective and shows teachers how many ‘competitors’ there are if they are trying to transfer to a certain area,” he told reporters when announcing details of the new system on Tuesday.

Teacher transfers are carried out twice a year — in January and June, and involves transfers both within and between states and districts, he added.

“The Education Ministry has implemented this system into the e-GTukar Module as an innovative way to inform teachers of vacancies (in states and districts) and subject option needs,” he said.

Green, he added, means that there are vacancies while red means all vacancies are filled.

However, Ahmad Tajudin said, teachers can still put in a request for a transfer to areas marked red but their chances are very slim.

“Their chances will depend on whether there are teachers transferring out (of the area),” he added.

“The ministry has empowered and given the responsibility to the state education departments and district education offices to decide on the transfers,” he said.

The ministry, he added, will monitor the system to ensure it is carried out effectively.

Ahmad Tajudin also said that transfer requests still have to follow the standard operating procedure (SOP) that is based on the MS ISO 9001:2008 quality assurance system.

“There are three main criteria — service needs, vacancies and subject option requirements — at the states and districts that will help determine the transfer,” he added.

It will also be based on a merit point system where certain criteria are allocated more weightage.

These include length of service, separation from spouse or family members, and critical illnesses.

Education Ministry schools division director Abdullah Mad Yunus said the traffic light system will also show teachers vacancies based on their subject options and will show real-time numbers. He said that Johor has the most number of vacancies while Perak has the most number of applicants as of June this year.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Datuk Lok Yim Pheng said that the union has not received any complaints about the system.

She said the benefit of the Traffic Light system was its transparency as “teachers can easily see the number of vacancies in any location.”

“However, the real ‘test’ will be when the end of year transfers take place,” Lok said, adding that more teachers apply for transfers during that time.

She hoped that the system will be able to cope with the heavier user traffic that is bound to occur then.

The e-GTukar Module can be found at http://epgo.moe.gov.my. The STAR Home News Education June 28, 2015

The price of proficiency, The demand for English

GOOD teachers who are proficient in English are being sought after, with some international schools offering huge monthly salaries and perks to attract the cream of the crop.

With international schools now a booming business, some operators have resorted to poaching as demand soars for top-notch teaching staff. There are now some 100 international schools in the country with an enrolment of about 40,000 students.

Recently in an exclusive interview with The Star, the Sultan of Johor made a strong case for English to be used as a medium of instruction in schools in our national education system.

Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar spoke about the importance of the English language, which he described as a “neutral language” that can be used to unite the people regardless of race or religion, and a “universal currency” accepted even in countries where the people don’t speak English well.

The Ruler noted that the international and private schools in Malaysia, where English is the medium of instruction, are only available to those who can afford it.

These schools are set up to meet demand but are business entities that charge high fees, making them inaccessible to the ordinary Malaysians.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subra­ma­niam said teachers are being pinched and offered high salaries because of their English proficiency.

A teacher who masters the language will have a job waiting beyond retirement, he said.

“There has been a shortage of good English teachers for some time now so it’s not surprising that international schools are prepared to pay their staff handsomely.

British science teacher Anoop Rai, 42
The spike in demand for teachers is expected following the mushrooming of international schools. - Anoop Rai

“Even middle-income families are doing whatever it takes to send their children there because they feel it ensures a brighter future,” he said, adding that the main reason international schools are popular is because the teaching medium is English.

He called on the Government to “go back to the drawing board” and chart the country’s future in education, adding that there is an urgent need to train more English teachers.

“Countries like Thailand, Taiwan and China are stressing on English and their teachers speak the language well,” he said.

Association of International Malaysian Schools (AIMS) former chairman Margaret Ann Kaloo said parents send their children to international schools because of the medium and method of teaching.

She said the number of international schools has already exceeded its target but more are coming up.

The Education National Key Economic Area under the Economic Transformation Programme has targeted the setting up of 87 international schools by 2020 with an enrolment of 75,000 students.

“Do we really need that many international schools? It would be much better to improve the education system,” Kaloo, who is also the chief executive officer and founder of the elc International School, suggested.

She said teaching staff salaries, ranging between RM7,000 and RM12,000 per month, represent 70% of a school’s costs.

“It is a teachers’ market, young teachers are always on the lookout for better deals, with some being paid phenomenal salaries.

“Staffing is a horrendous headache made worse by staff pinching. Don’t poach gainfully-employed teachers”.


The price of proficiency

DESPITE charging fees that can go as high as RM100,000 per annum, international schools are popular as parents who can afford them believe their children will be more globally competitive, well-rounded and proficient in English.

Businesswoman Sherina Ch’ng said teachers at international schools have a different approach, ability and skills compared to those at government schools.

“International schools have become a necessity rather than a luxury. There are various types offering a range of fees, so parents need not be super rich to send their children to one,” she said.

“Middle-income families can afford to send their children if they save or cut down on other unnecessary expenses,” added the mother-of-two who pays about RM40,000 yearly for her son’s Year One tuition fees at an international school in the Klang Valley.

The amount does not include meals, special classes, school trips and uniforms.

A check by StarEducate showed that international schools in the Klang Valley charge each pupil between RM12,000 and RM78,000 per annum at nursery and kindergarten levels, and between RM14,000 and RM84,000 at primary level. At secondary level, fees ranged from RM17,000 to RM105,000 per annum, depending on the location and reputation of the schools.

elc International School chief executive officer and founder Margaret Ann Kaloo
Bring back English-medium schools and focus on training local teachers. - Margaret Ann Kaloo
The sums quoted are for tuition fees alone and do not include the deposit, building fund levy, as well as application, registration, enrolment, installation and boarding fees.

Working mother J. Tan, who pays about RM50,000 per year for her son to study the American syllabus, feels it was “worth it” as her 12-year-old had improved academically and became more self-confident.

“Since he started attending international school more than a year ago, he has also excelled in extra-curricular activities like sports and music. He would not have had such opportunities in a national school where there’s an over-emphasis of academic-based grading,” she said.

Thomas Gomez, 39, claimed that international schools provide “better classmates and environment” but those with quality teachers and good teaching methodology cost a bomb.

With international schools mushrooming now, even those who do not love teaching are hired to fill vacancies, he said.

“Many new schools are set up to make money and teacher-pinching is rampant.

“Parents feel short-changed because some of their kids have even endured not having a teacher for one whole month,” he said.

For those who cannot afford international schools, another option is to homeschool or send their children to learning centres that teach the same syllabus.

Bank officer and mother-of-three Irene Tang, 48, said she and her friends send their children to such centres which charge about RM12,000 per year.

“Rather than force my daughter to study something she is not interested in, I enrolled her for a British education, which is more to her liking,” she said.

Wooing teachers

AUSTRALIAN Ray Martin, 42, who has been teaching in the country since 2002, said one new international school was offering a whopping RM15,000 salary for its teachers.

He said expatriates currently working in Malaysia would probably be paid a lower allowance compared to those who are headhunted to come.

Admitting that some teachers are overpaid, he said some friends who were lured overseas to teach were later disappointed, as the “fat paychecks” did not last.

He noted that most international schools prefer expatriate teachers, which he described as “quite unfortunate”.

After teaching here for two years New Zealander Michelle Jane, 34, was approached by a few headhunters but money and location are her main priorities.

“There are not many female physical education teachers around so I can be a little more selective,” she said, adding that she would probably move for 30% to 50% more (money).

British science teacher Anoop Rai, 42, was approached to leave his current school.

“For me, it’s not just about the money.

“I wouldn’t be happy in a school with thousands of students,” he said.

Secondary school teacher S.L. Lim, 52, said government school teachers over the age of 40 draw between RM8,000 and RM9,000 per month, and would only move if offered significantly more as they would not want to lose their pension.

“The younger teachers earn about RM3,000 plus allowance, so they would probably be targeted to jump to an international school.

“The high salaries offered by international schools should be an eye opener for the Government to better reward teachers,” he said.

He said the high demand for teachers augur well for retirees who still want to contribute.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Hashim Adnan agreed.

He welcomed higher salaries for teachers but reminded civil servants to consider their options carefully.

“International schools are willing to pay good money but failure to perform means you are out,” he said.

Taylor’s Schools president B.K. Gan said hiring expatriates was not a problem if the pay offered was regionally competitive.

“Local teachers are, however, a greater challenge to find. So, Taylor’s University trains locals to provide our schools with a steady stream of teachers,” he said.

The group employs 750 academic staff, most of whom are expatriates.

Admitting that staff retention is a challenge because the grass always looks greener on the other side, he said the group provides equitable packages and professional development opportunities.

UCSI International School (Subang Jaya) principal Alice Ong said salary increases have been steady in some areas and much higher in others.

A good teacher should be rewarded, she said, noting that salaries depend on factors like age, education level, experience, student evaluations and subjects taught.

She said globally, there’s a shortage of foreign teachers for maths and science subjects.

UCSI schools in Subang Jaya and Port Dickson employ a fully expatriate (teaching) staff.

Association of International Malaysian Schools (AIMS) ex-chairman and former Australian International School principal David Kilpatrick said recruiting qualified and experienced teachers is “not yet” a problem, adding that there’s a genuine willingness among international school heads to work together for mutual growth and development.

“As the number of international schools in Malaysia increases, we will see more and more teachers moving from one school to the next.

“This is a sign of the country’s education community maturing.”

AIMS chairman Andrew Dalton reminded its members to be ethical when recruiting teachers.

“In the last four years, the growth in demand for international schools has been phenomenal across Asia.

“Recruitment is very competitive and in the years to come, it will be even more difficult to source for good, qualified teachers.

“Employers need to be ethical when recruiting and teachers should think twice whether they want to accept offers that aren’t ethically made” he said.   The STAR Home > News > Education Sunday June 28, 2015 MYT 9:24:45 AM

Keep sexual harassment out of the workplace

SEXUAL harassment is no longer as clear-cut as it used to be. Today, especially with easy access to social media, even a simple act of communication between two colleagues on a smartphone can be seen as a form of flirtation bordering on sexual harassment.

Labour law experts in the country are now grappling with these new issues and employers and employees alike should pay heed to the new developments.

We must take heed that a working environment characterised by pervasive sexual harassment can make employees uncomfortable.

An office environment that encourages the free flow of jokes with sexual innuendo and the rampant use of coarse language is sending very dangerous signals that may embolden employees, and even the employers to move from words to action.

As our report, “When playful behaviour turns into harassment” (The Star, June 27) indicate, there is a really fine line between flirting and sexual harassment.

While the Human Resources Ministry has set out clear guidelines in its Code of Practice on the Prevention and Eradication of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace, many employees are sometimes reluctant to lodge reports, even if they are offended.

Although we are supposed to be spending time on work while in the office, the reality is that few workers can honestly say they work every minute of the workday. And this is where the pull of social media is rapidly becoming stronger.

Some workers may think it is totally harmless to share a story, an image, or a video clip, laced with sexuality to colleagues, but this is not the case. The assumption that the receiver will be as excited about such material as the sender is seriously flawed.

Sexual harassment, by today’s standards, can no longer be limited to actual physical acts. Every worker should be aware that every such form of communication and every flirtatious remark with regard to dressing and looks can be deemed as harassment.

And with our new corporate culture where many women hold top positions, we also cannot assume that all forms of sexual harassment are male-initiated. The power of authority, whether held by a male or a female, can put many an employee in a spot.

Companies must do their part to make everyone aware of the Code of Practice.

It was, after all, set up to provide practical guidance to employers, employees, trade unions and others relevant parties on the protection of the dignity of men and women at work.

The aim is to ensure that sexual harassment does not occur and, if it does occur, to ensure that adequate procedures are available to deal with the problem and prevent its recurrence.

Not only should the Code be widely disseminated, but new behavioural patterns that can potentially lead to sexual harassment must also be highlighted.

A workplace free from sexual harassment is a condition of work which employees of either gender are entitled to expect.

Let us never compromise on that. The STAR Home > Opinion > Columnists The Star Says Sunday June 28, 2015 MYT 7:37:53 AM

The pull of the 'teh tarik'

The 24-hour mamak shops are very much a part of Malaysian life for people to gather and chit-chat the night away.

NOT many are aware that in a bustling city like Sydney, the popular shopping precincts are open only from 9am to 5.30pm, except on Thursdays when many shops stay open until about 9pm.

So, you can imagine why Malaysians based in Sydney like to shop till they drop each time they are back here, as our malls are bustling with life until at least 10pm every day.


It’s the same with their eateries where late-night eating just does not happen.

Now, we can understand why our 24-hour mamak shops are such an attraction, not only to Malaysians who have migrated, but also to tourists and local Malaysians.

I have a family member who migrated to Australia many years ago and each time he visits, either alone on work or with the family, the first thing he will draw up is the teh tarik schedule.

Every night, without fail, there must be a hangout at a teh tarik joint. And of course, we will always joke with him at such gatherings and ask how he can possibly survive in a place like Sydney where the only tea he can have after 8pm is what his wife brews for him at home.

The 24-hour mamak shop has become an iconic part of our culture because it serves cheap food, at all hours, which can be consumed by anyone of any race, and with any dietary preference.

I have a regular group of former colleagues and we are as muhibbah as they come, and there are also vegetarians in the group. So, what better place to meet than at the 24-hour mamak shop?

I have noticed that the typical crowds at such joints are not only multi-racial, but they also include families; it is nice to see a large group comprising elderly grandparents to very young toddlers.

Occasionally, you will also see policemen taking a break and enjoying their nasi lemakand roti canai with the teh tarik. I doubt you can see such a scenario anywhere else in the world.

So, I am really glad that good sense has prevailed and the Prime Minister has reassured us that existing rules will not be changed, and we can continue to patronise these outlets anytime, day or night.

If there is one thing that really draws Malaysians together, it must surely be our love for food.

In a diverse country like ours, we get to not only savour food that is culturally linked to us, but also feast on the delicacies of our fellow Malaysians.

I love my Peranakan dishes as much as I love other ethnic cuisines. Even within the Chinese community, there is much diversity among the dialect groups.

When I first met my wife, the Hakka food the family served was quite different from the Penang fare that I grew up on. But when you are courting, everything tastes wonderful.

But to really get a flavour of multi-cultural Malaysia, there is nothing like the mamak stall where you can find good company and free flow of drinks.

My wife sets only one condition for me when I go for a late night teh tarik rendezvous. No tea or coffee or you won’t be able to sleep, she reminds me. Well, milo kosong is fine with me, too.

Not the answer to all our ills

WHILE the desire to improve the standard of English in schools is commendable, some of the arguments made on behalf of the language in the media recently are deeply flawed.

I shall focus briefly on three of them. Some of the champions of an English-medium school system have given the impression that such a school system is a panacea for all our ills.

It is because of its English-medium school system, they opine, that Singapore has made such remarkable progress. It is true that within the prevailing global capitalist order, Singapore has done well in terms of its ability to ensure a degree of economic prosperity for a significant segment of its population.

The national language helps to bring together diverse ethnic and sub-ethnic groups

This is due largely to its competent, dedicated political leadership, its effective implementation of public policies, its determination to curb corruption and willingness to recognise and reward ability and excellence. The English-medium schools would be a minor factor in this accomplishment.

To appreciate this, one has to look at another Asean state which uses English widely within and without its education system. For decades, the Philippines has been burdened with abject poverty, huge social disparities and widespread corruption.

Even in our case, it is problems such as the increasing gap between the “have-a-lot” and the “have-a-little” and corruption that we should be focusing on. It is also argued that English-medium education is vital for the mastery of science and technology.

If we look at the list of nations that has developed a strong scientific foundation since the World War 2, the majority have done so through languages other than English. This would include countries such as China, South Korea and Cuba.

Substantive investments in research and development, active promotion of patents, sustained support for academic research and the production of academic papers and continuous emphasis upon the creation of doctoral graduates in Mathematics, Science and Engineering explain their success.

Malaysia lags behind in all these spheres of scientific activity. There is a third fallacy that is associated with the English-medium school. It is said that such schools promoted national unity in the past.

As I pointed out, in an article dated May 27, 2013, since a number of urban and semi-urban schools in the 1960s had students from different ethnic backgrounds, there was some interaction across ethnic boundaries.

Unfortunately, these schools became less and less multi-ethnic from the 1970s as more and more Chinese parents chose to send their children to Chinese-medium primary schools.

A negative attitude towards education in Bahasa Malaysia, declining standards in national schools from the late-1980s and the transformation of many of these schools into preponderantly Malay-Muslim entities that emphasised Islamic rituals since the 1990s, would be among the reasons why  Chinese and, to a lesser extent, Indian Malaysians have abandoned national schools.

It is because the national schools, both in terms of students and teachers, have become mono-ethnic — and not because of the language medium — that they are no longer capable of promoting inter-ethnic interaction.

In fact, as a language, Bahasa Malaysia has a superb record of facilitating inter-ethnic interaction and integration reflected in its role in bringing diverse ethnic and sub-ethnic groups together in the entire Nusantara region over centuries.

This is why it has been hailed by linguists as an outstanding example of a language of inter-ethnic communication. It was through the national language that small Chinese communities (the Peranakan) in pre-colonial Malaysia integrated into Malay society and even helped to shape Malay culture.

This is why we should be cautious about drawing conclusions about either Bahasa Malaysia or English and national unity.

Wouldn’t it be silly to suggest that English is a language of disunity simply because the principal actors in the three major inter-ethnic eruptions that occurred in the late-1950s and 1960s — the MCA-Umno crisis in 1959, the separation of Singapore from Malaysia in 1965 and the May 13 riots in 1969 — were all English educated men, products of English-medium schools?

It goes without saying that the real reasons for these eruptions were embedded in the socio-political environment of the time. It underscores the importance of examining the challenge of the declining standard of English from a much broader and deeper perspective.

Our general level of performance and competence as a nation and how it impacts upon the school system and how shortcomings in the school system have influenced the teaching and learning of English need to be addressed with sincerity.

The Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025) comes to grips with some of the issues. But, more has to be done to produce a generation of Malaysians who can function effectively in both the national language and English.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar,Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Yayasan 1Malaysia

Instil sincere desire to understand, appreciate

THERE has been a lot of talk about mutual respect and how it can be the cornerstone in our efforts to build a harmonious society. I can testify to that from personal experience.

Growing up from kindergarten to secondary school in Kulim, Kedah, some of my friends were George, Vignan, Chittarajan, Chandran, Hock Seang, Lai Hock, Bokhari, Azrul, Shamsul and many more.

We conversed in the Kedah dialect of Bahasa Malaysia, with the occasional English or Manglish word, and in our respective mother tongues when at home.

It did not, in any way, diminish our identities, as some social experts fear or have cautioned in recent years. We knew each other’s families and mingled cordially, with genuine mutual respect, despite, perhaps at the time, not being consciously aware of it.

These values have stayed with us, despite it having been a few decades since we were all brought up in such an environment.

Conditions, however, have changed. We can observe the difference in our society’s psyche now, in terms of how such values which promote mutual respect are nurtured, as compared with those years when we were the younger generation.

By right, current technological advancements in communication and social interactions should have given the new generation an advantage to be better than we had been, but that is not the case.

Open young minds to more discovery and better appreciation


Where did we go wrong as a society?

FIRSTLY, our parents talked less than we do when it came to topics, such as being patriotic, about religion or even ethnicity.

But their actions undoubtedly demonstrate they understood the meaning of those words much better than us. In contrast, we talk more now and constantly about all those things, compared with our parents’ time.

We can also do it in varied forms made possible by today’s technology. But our actions show that we still do not understand the true value of acceptance in achieving and maintaining harmony.

Our thoughts and sensitivities towards each other are wanting, and not based on genuine universal good values. We tend to talk about each’s respective race and religion in terms of which is more superior. Instead of just talking, we should now practise it more.

Thirty years ago, we didn’t need slogans on T-shirts or billboards to remind us who we are as citizens of this nation.

It was in our everyday interactions and actions that we could sow the seeds of harmony and not just through repetition of slogans or jingles.

SECONDLY, in today’s world, information can be accessed from anywhere, just by a touch on a display screen.

Thus, logically, the new generation is exposed to different cultures and religions, much more than can be expected from the same demographic 30 years ago.

Ironically, instead of opening their minds to more discovery and better appreciation, they tend to look for faults and weaknesses in others.

We must train society to not just become seekers of information, but to make the effort to understand the differences and diversity of our society and be proud of them, rather than making them an excuse to pitch hatred against each other.

More information on its own means nothing if we do not put it to good use. Rightfully, the abundance of information should make us more appreciative of the differences between our cultures and religions, which should promote harmony instead of discord or conflict.

Finally, it is the value of sincerity which carries our intentions and actions a long way. We have erred by ignoring the fact that such values need to be inculcated as well.

Doing something because one sincerely feels it is the right thing to do beats doing it for any other reason. Perhaps, in the quest to promote mutual respect and, as a result, to get closer to achieving harmony as a society, we unconsciously became too focused only on the melancholic part of it.

Values and habits are not matters which can be achieved only through paperwork, seminars or bombardments of slogans. All efforts towards achieving such ideals must also have roots in the sincere desire to seek understanding, and then practising it in our daily lives.