…strength of mind can be stronger than you think

Archive for December, 2008

Will English be maintained in Science and Mathematics?

Posted by nuruliman45 on December 15, 2008

Final meeting tomorrow on teaching in English

By : Hamidah Atan

Da-tuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom says the topic will be discussed comprehensively
Da-tuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom says the topic will be discussed comprehensively

PUTRAJAYA: The last word in the debate over the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English will probably be heard here tomorrow.

More than 200 politicians, academics and representatives of non-governmental organisations and parent-teacher associations will meet to discuss the merits and demerits of doing so.

Education director-general Da-tuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the meeting would be chaired by deputy education minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

It will also see attendance by representatives of the Australian Qualification and Standard Assessment Body. Three papers would be presented during the meeting.

“I will be presenting an analysis of the 2008 Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) results.

“The experts from Australia will present their assessments on the standard of English as well as Mathematics and Science in UPSR while another paper will discuss the overall input and views obtained from the previous five meetings.”

Alimuddin added that the experts were invited to analyse the standard of English in relevant subjects.

“We will discuss all this comprehensively, but no decision as to whether it should be continued will be made.

“The input will be presented to Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein for him to act on.”

Hishammuddin had said that input from the meetings would be discussed by the cabinet before a decision was made.

Alimuddin said feedback from the meetings had not been conclusive towards continued using English in the teaching of Science and Mathematics.

“This is because we obtained all kinds of views.

“There were quarters who wanted the system to be continued and improved, but there were also those who wanted us to revert to the old system, that is, teaching of both subjects in Bahasa Malaysia.

“There were also those who said this should start from Standard Four or Form One. All this is for the cabinet to decide.”

On the threat by Chinese education group Dong Jiao Zong to launch a protest against the continued use of English in the teaching of the two subjects, Alimuddin said such an ultimatum should not have been issued.

“It is not appropriate for such a demand to be made as the matter is being discussed.

“We have not closed the door for discussion yet. In fact, it was one of those early groups invited to the discussion.”

He said it was free to express its views as Hishammuddin and the government were ready to listen.

Dong Jiao Zong, which comprises Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) and Jiao Zong (United Chinese School Teachers Association), said the government should revert to the use of mother-tongue languages to teach the two subjects in primary schools.

The protest threat was made by Jiao Zong president Ong Chiaw Chuan.

Hishammuddin was reported as saying that at the second and fourth roundtable discussions held on Aug 27 and Oct 21 respectively, most of the participants, including Dong Jiao Zong and educational and cultural groups from other communities, political parties, academics and former education officers, were not in favour of the “go English” policy.

The results of this year’s UPSR announced recently saw a significant increase in pupils who scored As in English.

There was a 4.4 per cent rise in the number of pupils who scored As in English, as compared with the national average of the past five years’ results.

There was also a 4.8 per cent increase in competent students (those who scored A, B or C) in the language.

About 46.6 per cent of pupils chose to answer the Mathematics paper in English, while 31.1 per cent were confident enough to tackle the Science paper in English, compared with 0.2 and 0.3 per cent respectively last year.

This year’s UPSR pupils formed the pioneer batch taught Mathematics and Science in English from Year One in 2003.

Pupils who sat the UPSR in 2006 and last year were only taught the two subjects in English when they were in Year Two or Three.

(Taken from NST Online 15th December 2008)

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Positive Influence from 9/11

Posted by nuruliman45 on December 15, 2008

ALLAH Opened the Hearts of 3 Individuals

I was touched watching this video.  It’s wonderful how individuals growing up in different beliefs found the true light of their life in Islam.  Anyone would feel ’empty’ till they find Islam, as explained by the three individuals in this video – how they felt something missing in their lives before finding this magnificent religion.  SUBHANALLAH.

Defending the newly adopted faith these 3 individuals found is not easy.  What change is easy?  Just imagine, your mother and father have taught you a certain faith your whole life.  Then suddenly changing to one different from them. But, because they found utmost truth in what they discovered, they keep strong in defending their new religion.

I remember growing up in the US where I was surrounded by friends of  all sorts of backgrounds – Catholic, Jewish, athiests, etc – all because of their bring ups.  How wonderful would it have been if they had seen the truth in Islam (there’s still hope).  So listening to the respective experiences of Ian, Nadira, and Whitney above made me imagine as if my friends then had embraced Islam.  How great the Workings of ALLAH of changing man’s hearts  for the better 🙂 … SUBHANALLAH.

“O ye who believe!  Guard your own souls: if ye follow (right) guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who stray…”

[Surah Al-Ma’idah: 105]

There’s a positive side to 9/11?

The September 11th Tragedy: an event which gave a large impact towards every part of the world.  Up till today has this event changed the world’s perspective on Islam, whether for good or for worse.  Even without reliable evidence had this mishap been pointed the blame right at Muslims, thus EVER-WRONGLY labeling Muslims as terrorists.

Those whom unfortunately blindly believed all the false media-play sank into this deceitful idea.  However, there were many who wittedly questioned this idea of Islam encouraging terrorism (preposterous – what religion would promote such a thing!), thus investigated.  For sure, those who used the right sources didn’t find terrorism in Islam at all; rather, found an unexpected truth in the religion.  Quite hard to believe, but as a matter of fact all the negative media on Islam helped publicize ISLAM everywhere (although negative, yet helped spread the name ISLAM).  Those who had never heard of Islam were then informed of the existence of the belief.  Those who knew so little of Islam grew to know more of the religion.

In Malaysia, of course, everyone knows that followers of Islam pray five times a day, fast during the month of Ramadhan, and that Muslim women wear the hijab.  In the US and other countries, on the other hand, there are many who didn’t know (there are probably still people who still don’t know) the basic practices of Muslims.  To take as an example, when I was in the US, quite a number of people would bravely approach my Mom and I, while shopping or something, and ask if we were ‘church sisters’ because we covered our heads.  My mom would kindly explain to them that we weren’t Christian, but are Muslims, and wore the hijab as a must in Islam.  I respected them for their politeness in satisfying their curiousity.  They obviously thought only nuns (correct me if I’m wrong) cover their heads.

The point I’m trying to make here is that there were people who had no idea what Islam was about, but after 9/11 were made known.

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‘Intellectually Weak’ Malaysian University Students -DEWAN RAKYAT

Posted by nuruliman45 on December 12, 2008

The article below (from NST Online) caught my attention. There are still studentspeople out there blaming political influence for the weakening academic potential of Malaysian university students.

It was argued how University students should be focusing on their academic studies first, only then give attention to other things… like politics. Mind them that its matters like these that help these students’ minds mature.

Another point made was that university students do not read beyond their notes and textbooks; they enter exam halls with merely the knowledge they digested in the lecture halls and from their notes. True. But there’s a reason behind this. It goes back to what exams demand. If exams were totally based on measuring students’ creative and analytical thinking – where students are encouraged to go beyond what are in their textbooks – then it would be rational to put a fault on students for not ‘going out there’ in search of extra info.

Unfortunately, the time for students to do extensive reading is seized by the time they need to memorize their textbooks! Exams nowadays are mostly demanding rote memorization…! Questions request students to show their skills in memorizing lists and lists of things they would only find in university-recommended books.

So whose to blame?

DEWAN DISPATCHES: The political war to shape ‘intellectually weak’ Malaysian university students

By : Azmi Anshar

DEWAN RAKYAT Dec 11, 2008:

The Malaysian education “systems” (note the enhanced plurality) are a primeval sub-division for contiguous political power play in that students are not allowed to join political parties but can be politically active and run for student office. As pawns and rat labs for socio-education engineering, they are perfect foil for politicians of all stripes bidding to push their parochial agendas.

The continuing battle to ensure dominance of languages to the grudgingly bitter acceptance of English as a crucial medium of instruction to the balkanisation of vernacular teaching guarantees that education, in whatever form necessary, is the hotbed of a nervous political war to shape the minds and mindsets of the young, in this case anyone generally below 23-years-old, the age where most students on a linear progression in life graduates from universities.

Nothing is taken for granted when it comes to our children’s education. While the focus is always on the sacrificially aggressive parents with no qualms of mortgaging their homes to pay for their child’s expensive education, very little attention is paid on their kids’ foetal political growth. The perception is that the Universities and University Colleges Act, 1971 had successfully blunted political growth while the child is still on a fixed studying programme.

Nevertheless, political activism in higher education is an exponential battlefield, the invasion coming from all sides of the well-intentioned to the eclectically-intent political parties to the body with the most extreme views. However you cut it, universities are a pervasive dreamscape of political manipulation and in the attitudes of politicians with the highly infectious doctrines, there is no better avenue than to influence and shape a youngster’s hungry curiosity for knowledge, expression and rebellion, as long as their learning curve is bent towards the politician’s ideology and demagoguery.

Kids from six years on to teenagers of pubescent innocence to those with the juvenile angst, and then to the seriousness of college humdrum and mind-boggling competition, are subtly exposed to the realpolitik of how they should be taught the basics of alphabets, maths, science and life in a multitude of languages and dispensatory control. Case in point is the Chinese educationists’ threat to hold street protests if the Government continues teaching Science and Maths in English and the Malay educationists who insist on teaching the two subjects again in Bahasa Melayu.

Officially, our students must be taught basic information from approved syllabuses but unofficially, the incessant drilling of political doctrines is widely intrusive. Some political parties have successfully drummed up abundant support among students as the cesspool for future support, votes and even candidacy.

It would be fair to assume that not every student is susceptible to this aspect of political inducement, just the ones with the hardiest rebellious streak while the rest are content with earning their degrees unobstructed, perhaps learn a trick or two in academic acumen and then proceed to join the distressing rat race amid the severe global economic doldrums.

This had been the mantra for students for all those 37 years since the UUCA was conceived, and it is also why the troublesome Datuk Tajuddin Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) rose today in the House to label undergraduates as “intellectually weak”, not because of their busy politicking schedule, but because they are, not to put a fine point to it, “plain lazy”.

While debating the Universities and University Colleges (Amendment) Bill 2008, here was how he dazzlingly characterised the “intellectually weak”: “They don’t go to the libraries and pursue additional knowledge to improve their minds. They are even lazy to read reference books as it is in English. They said it is difficult, gives them a headache. They only went for exams equipped with knowledge obtained from the lecture hall.”

And how did he arrive to this tenuous verdict? Tajuddin based his abrasive remarks on interviewing undergraduates for employment in his company. “Many had little general knowledge simply because they did not read enough,” he lamented while somehow acknowledging that as political activists, our students need no prodding.

“I am not saying politics is not important. I am saying they should concentrate on improving their minds first. This country needs engineers, accountants, industrialists, entrepreneurs,” he asseverated.

Does politics have a correlation between academic excellence and a dolt of a student who nevertheless has high political ambitions? The Oxfordian Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) does did not think so, contending that there should not be double standards. He even espouses the ideal situation where the Government allows opposition parties to be active in local universities.

If this is the ideal that Khairy is advocating, then it may be academic: political parties have long penetrated universities to expand their doctrinal base. The students’ rebel rousing protests against exotic female singers performing in their campuses can be regarded as proof of these parties’ triumphant reach.

But Malaysian educators might consider Tajuddin’s brazen raking of our college boys and girls through the coals as obnoxious. Are they so I-Robot like that they are capable only of reading notes provided by lecturers or procured at tutorials as a means to progress?

However, truth be told, even if it is spewed by politicians of Tajuddin’s ilk who are in need of buckets of mouthwash in lieu of his earlier scatological escapades in the House, it is one of the more damning observations a politician can inject during an inflective moment when the whole Malaysian education system is in peril of gross mistreatment by political marauders, opportunists and instigators looking for the next populist issue.

But, ingratiating politicians aside, Tajuddin’s point should be contemplated as an indictment of the whole education system where rote learning, memorising and question spotting has bubbled into a vibrant industry where knowledge, understanding and enlightenment is as unthinkable as imploring our children to play professional sports.

Tajuddin’s allegory is actually unoriginal and unsurprising: children have over the years been reduced to simply attending school and universities to only pass examinations and earn degrees. That’s why books on literature and the great knowledge have become historical dustbins. And that is why workbooks to pass examinations flourish commercially, championed and pitched by principals and teachers with an eye on their next commission.

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