January 20th, 2016

Tidak perlu asing pelajar mengikut tahap kepandaian

MENURUT Albert Einstien, sistem pendidikan itu bukanlah sekadar pelajar menghafal semata-mata, akan tetapi hakikat yang sebenar adalah untuk melahirkan manusia yang sentiasa berfikir demi kebaikan semua.

Sijil yang dikeluarkan tidak akan menjadi erti sekiranya ilmu yang dipelajari tidak diamalkan oleh pemegangnya.

Menurut laporan daripada Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), sistem pendidikan di Malaysia adalah antara tercorot di dunia, menduduki tangga kedua tercorot di Asia Tenggara, dan mempunyai kedudukan terkebelakang berbanding Vietnam dan juga Thailand.

Sudah tentu ini menjadi tanda tanya kepada kita bagaimana Vietnam yang sumbernya cukup terhad, infrastruktur kurang baik dan ekonominya lebih kecil dari Malaysia tetapi berjaya melonjakkan mutu pendidikan sekolahnya.

Sudah pasti ada yang tidak kena dengan sistem pendidikan yang telah dikelolakan oleh menteri-menteri di Malaysia.

Jika keaadaan ini dibiarkan berterusan, potensi pelajar kita tidak akan dapat dibangunkan sepenuhnya pada masa akan datang.

Untuk menjadikan sistem pendidikan di Malaysia lebih baik, ianya perlulah bermula dari zaman prasekolah lagi.

Guru prasekolah sepatutnya diberi pendidikan yang betul dan dijaga kebajikan mereka sewajarnya.

Kebanyakan di negara maju seperti Finland, Sweden, New Zealand dan Singapura, guru-guru prasekolah mereka dilatih dengan amat teliti supaya mereka ini dapat mendidik anak-anak kecil dengan baik dan berkesan.

Dengan ini, kanak-kanak dari kecil lagi akan mendapat pendidikan yang terbaik dari guru prasekolah mereka.

Apabila anak-anak kecil ini menjejakkan kaki ke sekolah rendah, perkara yang perlu kita tanam dalam diri mereka adalah pengamalan nilai-nilai moral yang baik.

Sekolah-sekolah di Jepun, para pelajar mereka tidak mengambil peperiksaan sehingga darjah 4 (umur 10).

Mengapa? Ini kerana matlamat tiga tahun pertama adalah bukan untuk menguji pengetahuan dan pembelajaran mereka, sebaliknya mereka lebih menumpukan pembangunan nilai yang baik dalam diri para pelajar.

Oleh itu, adalah amat baik sekiranya anak-anak kecil ini dapat kita didik sehingga mereka ini tidak melanggar peraturan walaupun tiada siapa yang melihat mereka.

Selain itu, kebajikan guru di sekolah rendah dan menengah juga mesti dijaga. Kerajaan di Malaysia dari dahulu lagi menjanjikan supaya kerja guru umpama kerani akan diatasi, akan tetapi masalah ini masih berlarutan malah lebih teruk lagi pada hari ini.

Guru bukan hendak mendidik haiwan, tetapi hendak mendidik manusia. Oleh itu, kebajikan mereka itu sendiri perlu dijaga agar mereka dapat melaksanakan pengajaran dan pembelajaran yang terbaik kepada pelajar.

Sebaiknya, sejak dari awal lagi seorang pelajar itu disalurkan ke arah yang betul. Sistem persekolahan di peringkat rendah sepatutnya sudah berjaya mengenalpasti potensi pelajar, sama ada perlu disalurkan ke bidang akademik dan profesional, ataupun ke bidang vokasional dan teknikal.

Dengan itu, kita tidak perlu lagi memaksa pelajar yang tidak sesuai di bidang akademik belajar perkara-perkara yang tidak diminati oleh mereka. Sebaliknya mereka boleh terus disalurkan ke bidang kemahiran yang sesuai dengan potensi dan minat mereka.

Cara yang paling baik untuk melaksanakan sistem ini adalah dengan menukar 50 peratus setiap sekolah menengah menjadi sekolah vokasional dan teknikal.

Semasa di tingkatan dua, mereka sudah boleh memilih haluan masa depan mengikut minat mereka. Bukan seperti sistem pendidikan kita pada hari ini yang pelajarnya menentukan arah dan minat mereka bermula pada tingkatan 4.

Selain itu, pelajar juga tidak perlu diasingkan mengikut tahap kepandaian mereka seperti di Finland (sistem pendidikan yang terbaik di dunia).

Kelas yang ada tidak perlu dibezakan tahap kepandaian agar murid tidak berasa rendah diri apabila berada bersama rakan-rakan yang lain. Bagi orientasi pembelajaran pula, ianya perlulah lebih seimbang dan tidak hanya fokus pada peperiksaan semata-mata.

Bagi pembelajaran di universiti, kerajaan boleh mewajibkan setiap pelajar mengambil subjek pengurusan kewangan agar mereka dapat mencari duit sendiri dan menguruskannya dengan efektif.

Selain itu, kerajaan juga boleh membuat kajian yang terperinci terhadap universiti-universiti terkemuka di dunia. Hasil kajian ini boleh dijadikan panduan bagi melahirkan lebih ramai lagi pelajar yang dapat bersaing di peringkat antarabangsa.

Langkah-langkah di atas dapat dilaksanakan oleh kerajaan bagi menambah baik mutu sistem pendidikan di negara Malaysia.

Kita bukanlah hendak melahirkan golongan penghafal ilmu semata-mata, akan tetapi apa yang hendak kita lahirkan adalah golongan pemikir yang baik dan dapat menyumbang kepada negara pada masa akan datang. Muhammad Effendi Isnail Sinar Harian rencana Pendapat 18 Januari 2016

Kedah Umno leaders declare: We want Mukhriz out

ALOR STAR: Kedah’s Umno leaders, state representatives as well as members of Parliament today collectively declared that they have lost confidence in the leadership of Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

Speaking at a press conference here today, deputy Kedah Umno chairman Datuk Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah said all 15 of the state’s division leaders and wing leaders were seeking Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s intervention for a change in leadership in the state.

"Firstly, Mukhriz has failed to unite the party leadership and machinery at al levels in the state.

"Secondly, there has been no strategic party planning to face the 14th general elections.



Kedah’s Umno leaders, state representatives as well as members of Parliament today collectively
declared that they have lost confidence in the leadership of Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

"He has failed to lead and move the party machinery after taking over the party leadership in Kedah, as well as failed to administer the state government effectively," he told a packed press conference here today.

Ahmad Bashah appealed to Najib for an immediate change to the state's top party leadership as well as the Menteri Besar.

Present at the press conference were 14 out of 15 division leaders, state wing leaders, as well as state and parliamentary representatives. Ahmad Bashah did not field any questions from the media after the press conference ended. Mukhriz, who is the son of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has been the Kedah Menteri Besar since 2013.


Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir. Pix by HAFIZ SOHAIMI

When 'sharing' isn't necessarily caring

WE all have that one friend.

The one we suspect of having a cell phone as an extension of his or her hand, the one who we think views the world via a glorious 1080p screen, and whose phone camera is in selfie mode by default.

That one friend for whom a glass of kopi O is reason enough to justify an Instagram upload, complete with a plethora of dazzling filters and a profusion of hashtags (#blessed #mamak4life #gengkopimurah #gajibelummasuk).

And every once in a while, there are those who take things up just a notch higher. If you’ve been anywhere near Facebook or Twitter last week, there is little chance that you had missed the epic circus that took place when a Malaysian woman uploaded a selfie of herself breastfeeding her child.

Naturally, that triggered a flood of responses from supporters as well as detractors.

Some feel that breastfeeding is one that is sacred between mother and child, and need not be turned into a social media occasion.

Others, meanwhile, believe that she has every right to do so, and that it is a celebration of her womanhood and motherhood. Besides, they opined, if you don’t like it, then don’t look at it.

The episode was deemed substantial enough to warrant a response from Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, who said that while breastfeeding is a noble act, it is one best left out of public view.

Other Malaysians, meanwhile, passed around the popcorn.

So, what exactly constitutes “too much” sharing and why do people do it? Academics believe that “social media narcissism” is an actual thing and can be used to measure a person’s level of self-esteem.

A research by York University of Toronto measured activities, such as photo sharing, wall postings and status updates, as well as the frequency of the posts.

It established that narcissists and those with lower self-esteem are more likely to spend an hour or more a day on Facebook, and were also more likely to post self-promotional pictures and “promote” themselves via status updates and wall activity.

A 2012 study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior also suggested that self-conscious people compensate for low self-esteem by trying to appear more popular on social media sites.

But, while it is tempting to dismiss such behaviour as pure narcissism, other researches suggest that the conclusion isn’t as cut and dried.

A study by Bruce McKinney, from the University of North Carolina, and published in the journal Communication Research Reports, concluded that such postings may be not as indicative of narcissism as once thought.

He believes that it can actually be time to redefine narcissism, as it has evolved to become the social norm for younger people. There is, unfortunately, a price to be paid when one’s yardstick for social acceptance hinges on the number of “likes” and “followers”.

The effects may not be seen now, but may manifest itself in new problems in the not too distant future. Already, there are indications that sharing of information, too much or otherwise, can lead to big problems.

NST Opinions 19 JANUARY 2016 @ 11:00 AM

Life of hard knocks at varsity

When Nik got an offer to do his bachelor’s degree in Translation and Interpretation at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Gee, his secondary school English teacher, was overjoyed.

She bought him a dictionary as a gift. But, on registration day, Nik returned the dictionary to Gee, asking her to instead give it to someone who would benefit from it, as he was not taking up the university’s offer.

Deterred by the high cost, Nik confessed that there was no way he could afford it, even with the salary from a job he had taken, hoping to aid him in this pursuit of life.

With a sickly mother and no other source of income except from his sister, who also had to postpone her final year of studies to take care of their mother and work at the same time, there was no way for him to even think about continuing his studies.


New expenses have stretched funds for tertiary education farther than the basic costs of accommodation, food and drink.


However, with Gee’s persistence, which included driving Nik all the way to Penang on the same day, he made it for the registration.

What he did not know was that USM has initiatives to help underprivileged students like him until his study loan is approved.

I frequently hear similar stories of struggling students like Nik from friends like Gee working in the academia, but never to the extent of starvation, as alleged by some parties from a non-governmental organisation’s survey among university students recently.

The claim that three out of four students were too broke to eat had invited manifold discussions on social media — from students’ bad spending habits resulting from low financial literacy to their lack of tenacity.

While many agreed a student’s university days has never been a time for students to splash the cash, some were also nostalgic of their own experiences as students during the earlier era of higher education, when tuition fees could probably be paid by working odd jobs during semester breaks if one wanted to.

This stereotyping of students — having the latest handphones, hanging out at coffee joints and travelling to college in their own cars — is very familiar, but it needs updating.

As it is, tuition fees are not as what we used to pay, scholarships are not in abundance as they used to be and our expectations have risen on how much we think universities should do to prepare students for the job market.

Today, having a part-time job is not only a financial necessity for some students; many are also working to increase their future employability.

The real issue for students (and parents who have to fork out the money) is not starvation, but survival and managing finances.

Students like Nik do not suddenly become wealthy when they enrol in university and study loans sometimes fall far short of covering their full cost of attendance, which might result in them eating less than what their bodies need or cutting meals to make ends meet.

Parents are often sandwiched between caring for elderly parents and their own children, while trying to meet their other obligations. So, the burden gets heavier.

Higher education nowadays requires stretching funds farther than the basic costs of accommodation, food and drink. New expenses have appeared over the last few years, which are easily overlooked.

For invaluable technology, money has to be set aside for an entry-level laptop. Many, like Engineering, Information Technology and Design students, understandably want to invest in more powerful devices.

In the same vein, smartphones or tablets are a student expense unique to the last few years or so.

While assuming that each institution has free Wi-Fi connection, Internet access was not a necessity for previous generations like it is today.

Although textbook costs are not a new expense, they remain largely overlooked.

While for some courses students only have to print out a few essays in black and white, some assignments require colour diagrams that are expensive to print.

Clearly, the true cost of tertiary education is greater than anticipated.

Financial aid from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) — the country’s main funding agency set up to ensure that all who are eligible to enrol in institutes of higher learning get a fair chance to do so — provide a “life-changing experience of university” for Malaysians like Nik.

Maximum funding is only for students or parents listed as recipients of the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M), in which the monthly household income of recipients must be lower than RM4,000.

Students from a household with a monthly income of not more than RM8,000 can get 75 per cent funding, while students from families with a monthly household income of more than RM8,000 are eligible for 50 per cent funding.

It is an “investment” into the future that many students are not in a position to make without taking on punishing debt, and some cannot manage once they graduate.

PTPTN claims that more than 500,000 borrowers have yet to start repaying their loans.

PTPTN has now had to reduce the amount of loans by five per cent for public universities and 15 per cent for private universities.

With borrowers not making repayments, the funds will be drained and cannot revolve.

Today, Nik is halfway through his studies in USM, financed by a PTPTN loan and supplemented by a good sum of money through a part-time job at the university, inputting data for research.

He is required to start repayments six months after completing his studies.

Students like him, in which education will be a means to social mobility, are working harder than ever before, combining academic and financial pressures to develop balance and hone employability skills.

In two years’ time, Nik will be out and ready for the job market, with a university degree and also a meaningful reminder, permanently written by Gee on the same dictionary, of how far he has reached in life.

It says: “When the going gets tough, the tough gets going.”

We're thinking big if we make thinking a school subject

SCHOOLCHILDREN have begun their schooling again and university students completed their examination last week.

There is much hope when we see our children go to school or university, as a nation’s success and prosperity partly lie in them.

Universally, the goal of education is to transmit knowledge and develop children. But challenges faced in each era give birth to different goals of education.

For instance, the general goal of education in ancient Sparta was to produce soldier citizens. In ancient Athens, it was to produce individuals good at the art of peace and war.

In ancient Rome, the goal was to produce good orators. In the 19th century, the goal of education in Europe was to be good at reading, writing, and religion.


Learning To Think, from Anthony Gormley’s Suspended and Gravity Works, 1984 to 2012 collection, which treats the body of the room as if it were a filled swimming pool.


In America, it was to be good at science, nature studies and matters of everyday life.

In the 20th century, as conditions of the world changed, the goal of education was to produce industrious, well-informed and innovative individuals.

Having this goal made the United States the strongest nation in the world.

Now, the world’s population has grown manifold and life’s complexities have increased.

To survive or to stay in power, nations clamour for resources.

In this light, the more suitable goal of education is to produce individuals who can think to manufacture merchandise for international markets.

We need to prepare individuals to be thinkers and innovators. Edward de Bono, a thinker who originated the term “lateral thinking”, suggested that thinking be made a subject.

Considering how great a part thinking has played in the feats of mankind, will it help if we introduced thinking as a subject to our young?

Providing a focus on thinking can be an impetus to creating thinking people. Thinking may sound like it is suitable only for adults but it may not be so.

The content and tools of thinking can be fine-tuned to the age of learners.

At present, the training of thinking is mostly practised in linguistics, philosophy or psychology courses taught in universities.

But, learning thinking in this setting may not produce thinkers, as the learners, in this case, are more focused on mastering the subjects, not the thinking.

If thinking were to be made a subject, it would encourage learners to treat thinking and their other subjects equally.

Having it as a subject also offers the young “thinking time” in which thinking can be a foundation to create a habit of thinking.

The thinking subject would also prompt students to read, as thinking will develop as they read.

Correspondingly, the understanding of content during reading deepens thinking.

In the thinking subject, learners will be required to think beyond the common descriptions of a phenomenon.

It helps untie one’s way of seeing things from the confines of past descriptions.

In this case, learners will be more aware of the variations of scope of information.

For example, if a cat chases a mouse, the common description is that the mouse will run in front of the cat horizontally.

But, instead, can we train a child’s mind that if the mouse is chased by a cat, it may also run downwards or upwards (vertically)?

To do so, a child should be exposed to information out of the ordinary. A thinking subject can train the young to consider other variables and information when observing and expecting any occurrence.

Hence, in the case of cat-chases-mouse, we can tell a child that the mouse may also run downwards or upwards if it is chased on a tilted column.

Or, ask where would the mouse run if it is chased in outer space, such as at the International Space Station.

Other than the range of information, the methods of thinking to be taught can be collected, merged or isolated from the various fields, such as linguistics, philosophy or psychology.

Other methods of thinking that have been invented and written can be included, such as the one taught in seminars, classes or short courses, like mind-mapping, or how to think scientifically, critically or intuitively.

Solving riddles requires thinking, too.

We may recall our teachers throwing riddles at us. To solve the riddles, we thought deeply and attempted to answer many times. Whether we were correct or wrong, we laughed excitedly.

The use of riddles can be a fun way of encouraging children to think beyond the norm. Projects that require trial and error can be included in the subject of thinking.

Samples of projects done all over the world, which are so richly shown on certain TV channels, such as National Geographic, be shown to learners.

However, thinking is an activity that will not bring immediate commercial value or tangible results.

Hence, to execute it, there must be a group of people who have a keen belief that thinking can be taught explicitly, and who will work on the design of thinking tools for each level of student.

The affairs of education such as this requires patience and perseverance. But we will reap what we sow.