[lg policy] Thank you, everyone

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Wed May 15 12:26:51 EDT 2019

Thank you, everyone
The focus of education is on the students, which is the third pillar.
-NSTP/File pic
By Dr Maszlee Malik <https://www.nst.com.my/authors/dr-maszlee-malik>
May 13, 2019 @ 9:58pm
[image: Dr Maszlee Malik]

THIS article is specially penned to elucidate the milestones that have been
achieved by the Education Ministry.

Our milestones are neither perfect nor have we been able to solve the
challenges at hand but we have got off to a good start. Riding strong on
the people’s mandate, we shall work tirelessly to deliver results to them.

*PILLAR 1: Benefits for Students from B40 Backgrounds*

The Education Ministry has outlined nine core milestones. These milestones
are focused on nine priority groups that we have identified. First, we want
to ensure a balanced and equitable access to education so that no one is
left behind, and in doing so, shall give undivided attention to the B40

Besides the 60 per cent placements at fully residential schools and
matriculation centres, beginning this year, B40 students shall also enjoy
preferential access to public universities, as well as scholarship and
financial assistance. This initiative is expected to benefit 23,895

*PILLAR 2: Primary Focus on Teachers*

The second pillar shall be teachers; our primary focus. We acknowledge that
teachers are the real heroic agents of change whose plight cannot be
ignored. We are taking a two-pronged approach on this.

*FIRST*, in the interest of teachers’ welfare, the MOE is holding
consultation with stakeholders to draw up a standard operating procedure to
ensure teachers’ safety and wellbeing when taking students off-campus.

The MOE is also beefing up the roles and functions of the Inspection and
Quality Assurance Board to boost teaching and provide better learning
experience for students.

*SECOND*, we recognise that our teachers are bogged down with various
duties. Starting this year, we have introduced five initiatives to reduce
the teachers’ burden. Among others, these initiatives seek to eliminate
overlaps and redundancies so that teachers can focus on teaching and
learning, thereby increasing classroom interaction or facetime, which is a
critical element in education and talent development.

We are also looking at several long-term solutions to tackle more complex
issues which require revising the existing rules and policies, upgrading IT
facilities and infrastructure. This includes the working hours for
teachers, Internet penetration in schools, information system integration,
administration and implementation at schools and teachers’ allocation.

*PILLAR 3: Students at the Core*

At the core of education is, of course, the students. Our third pillar is
to give full attention to them. Examinations during the first phase of
primary education (standards 1-3) have been abolished.

We want pupils to look forward to going to school and to have inquisitive
minds. They must be able to learn without being pressured or forced.

We want fun learning to facilitate better knowledge absorption among
pupils. This is part of our aggressive push towards a new paradigm of
pupil-centred learning.

For children who are born to Malaysian parents, but who do not have the
proper documents, they now can attend school. Some 2,635 children have
enrolled since the beginning of this year under this policy.

Our principles are clear — education is the right of every child regardless
of who they are or where they come from. Previously, upon being denied
their rights to education, children in this group would often be out on the
streets. Education would be able to save them from falling prey to crime
and social ills.

This is in line with the ministry’s zero-dropout policy — *Program Sifar
Murid Cicir* — a programme where no child is left behind.

Under this programme, 26.1 per cent or 262 students at secondary level have
returned to schools.

*Pillar 4: Commitment to Dilapidated Schools*

We must also strive to future-proof our education, especially in meeting
the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution. Towards this, MOE has pledged
to always invest in our most basic infrastructure and facilities, all of
which are vital for our children’s decent education.

The fourth pillar, therefore, is our biggest commitment today; to address
the issue of dilapidated schools, something that I have personally
witnessed on the ground. I have set up a dashboard in my office so that I
can always get updates on this.

Of the 394 dilapidated schools, 301 have been refurbished and obtained the
certificate of practical completion while 93 are in the process.

*PILLAR 5: Full Attention to Special Needs Children*

Our fifth focus requires special and frequent attention. Children who are
disabled or with special needs will not be deprived of education.

In January, we had 1,486 special needs children who registered with us
manually at schools, having missed the opportunity to do so online. On
April 8, the number rose to 10,948. This is more than a 10-fold increase
and is a huge achievement.

Those with disabilities can also continue their studies in public
universities. Public universities are required to implement
disabled-friendly policies on campuses. This will also be rolled out at
private universities nationwide.

*PILLAR 6: The Competence of Higher Education Institutions*

We have implemented six initiatives under this, which are:

*Abolishing* Section 15(c) of the Universities and University Colleges Act
1971, which is the prelude towards totally replacing the act in 2020 with a
more comprehensive legislation.

*Campus* elections for the first time were organised by students themselves
after over 30 years.

*A students’ union* at each of the universities.

*October 5th* every year shall be Academia Day, something which academics
themselves proposed to better recognise contributions that they make
towards the academia.

*Higher education institutions* will be completely open for intellectual
discourses, forums and debates for scholars and politicians alike.

*RM455.35 million* is allocated towards research.

*To give* students a more prominent voice by allowing them participation in
a university’s decision-making.

The MOE is shifting the university’s trajectory towards becoming a solution
or a problem solver for our society. Universities must be a competent
social agent that drive social discourse.

*PILLAR 7: More Collaboration in Higher Education Institutions*

A roadmap specifically for this sector is being drawn up. Private HEIs
will, for the first time, be involved in the crafting of policies that
include them.

The MOE is also seeking to further strengthen efforts to internationalise
the higher education sector. Among countries which will be involved are the
United Kingdom, Japan, Jordan, France, China, Morocco, Indonesia, United
Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Brunei. MOE is also in the process of signing
memorandum of understanding to further collaborate in higher education and
to push towards becoming the region’s education hub. We hope to make
Malaysia the premier education destination.

*PILLAR 8: Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)*

MOE has convened a TVET Empowerment Committee in June last year. For the
first time, we have implemented a harmonised accreditation and quality
assurance system which allows for a flexible pathway for TVET article-ships
up to level 6 and 7.

This is also the system that will be used by the Malaysian Qualifications
Agency (MQA) and Department of Skills Development (JPK) to accreditise
courses offered by public and private TVET institutions within the
Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF).

*PILLAR 9: Upholding Language, Culture and Literature*

The ninth and final pillar is to address issues surrounding language,
culture and literature. This is closely related to Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka
(DBP), the Malaysian Translation and Books Institute (ITBM), the National
Book Council of Malaysia (MBKM) and Kota Buku Incorporated.

We have so far run the “Sasterawan di Universiti” (Laureates at
Universities) programme where poet and laureates are placed at each
university. This programme will be expanded to polytechnics, teachers’
training institutes (IPGs) and later at schools. Among others, we seek to
make National Laurates more visible and play a bigger role in our society.

We also would like to make Malaysia a reading nation by 2030. For this
purpose, we are running a National Reading Decade campaign with over 36,000
activities planned nationwide.

The MOE is also in the process of drawing up the National Book Policy and
National Literature Policy, as well as revising the National Language
Policy to promote language, culture and literature.

I believe these nine pillars will be the stepping stone for us to work
towards higher achievements. The people have spoken, and their voice shall
be our strength and guide.

*The writer is education minister.*


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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