Archive for the 'Education' Category

13
Apr
17

‘Show-cause to teachers violates government circular’

‘Show-cause to teachers violates government circular’

PPBM Youth leader says the move has infringed on the Federal Constitution and a Public Service Department circular in August 2010 that allows for teachers to engage in politics.

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) Youth has criticised the Education Ministry’s decision to slap show-cause letters on five teachers for partaking in politics on an opposition stage as being “autocratic” and in breach of a government circular that allowed such activity.

Mohd Ashraf Mustaqim Badrul Munir, the wing’s executive councillor in charge of education and university student issues, today said the move had infringed on the Federal Constitution and a Public Service Department circular in August 2010 that allowed teachers to engage in politics.

In a statement today he said the circular allowed government servants between grades DG41 and DG48 to become members of political parties or be directly involved in politics.

“In fact, they are allowed to contest or hold posts in any political party,” he said, adding that civil servants in high management and in professional management positions are only allowed to be ordinary members of parties.

Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid had announced yesterday that five teachers alleged to have criticised the government on an opposition platform were slapped with show-cause letters from the ministry.

“We live in a democratic country. We do not have a problem with anyone supporting whoever they liked,” Mahdzir was quoted as saying in a Bernama report.

“But the problem arises when a government official goes on an opposition stage and gives a speech to hit out at the government while he is holding a public post.”

Ashraf questioned how a minister could issue such a statement simply due to opposing political ideology. He claimed that it went against the provision set out in the circular and also violated citizens’ rights.

“In fact, Article 10 in the Constitution safeguards the rights of the five teachers,” he added, pointing out that it allows all citizens to have free speech and be able to voice out.

…more
‘Show-cause to teachers violates government circular’
March 28, 2017 – FMT

05
Apr
17

Chronology of building a white elephant – Knowledge Park in Terengganu

Chronology of building a white elephant

Will Knowledge Park in Terengganu, delayed by almost 10 years, still fulfill what it was intended to do.

FMT LETTERS

The Great Wall of China with all of its branches measure out to be 21,196km, and is the only man-made structure visible from outer space.

It was meant for the defence of territories in warfare, and also used to solidify rule in a region during peace time. It was built over several hundred years by successive Chinese dynasties.

It is now a great tourist attraction but there is nothing grand about it. Millions of lives were lost during its construction, which had not prevented invasions from the north.

Before you laugh at ancient dynasties for not learning from lessons of the past, we now have an entrepreneur-turned-president of a country that is building a border wall.

The initial length of the planned wall at the United States and Mexico border will be over 1,600 km, exactly half of the entire border length separating these two countries.

Malaysia is considering building a 141km-long electric fence along the Kelantan border with Thailand to combat smuggling, which would be effective if surveillance is tight on all boats.

South of the Kelantan border is the district of Besut in Terengganu. Here, in between Sungai Keluang Besar and the South China Sea is 280 hectares of land touted as Knowledge Park and meant to be an education hub.

It was the brainchild of Idris Jusoh, who was Terengganu menteri besar between 2004 and 2008. Work on the project started in 2007 and was planned to complete the following year.

But in 2008, Ahmad Said took over as menteri besar until he was replaced in 2014. In 2013, the cost of the project was estimated at RM400 million.

Initially, construction at the site was slow and some parts were at a standstill, but it was said to be nearing completion by 2014.

But two years later, many of the buildings have since been ransacked by looters, scavengers and vandals. Some ceilings have collapsed, which is quite common in buildings in Terengganu.

It started with the RM300 million Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin stadium in 2009, followed by a mosque in Kampung Batu Putih in Kertih a few months later.

In May 2013, it happened to another mosque in Kampung Binjai Kertas, followed by the Kampung Tebauk Mosque in Bukit Tunggal five months later.

But these ceiling collapses paled in comparison with what happened at Knowledge Park. The main administration building was demolished half-way after RM17.86 million had already been spent constructing it, due to substandard building materials and safety issues.

The cost of the project had run to RM746.26 million but would require another RM230.6 million to restore it to just 60% of its original target.

Would the occupants of these buildings, if any, take pride in such a wasteful project? Can knowledge and education hubs be built overnight using only bricks and mortar?

If we cannot get our education system right, such education hubs are nothing more than the continuation of rote-learning in schools.

The quality of teaching staff and students determine the standard of educational institutions. Focussing on opulence and extravagance shows only gross ignorance.

Last month, Terengganu Menteri Besar Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman said the Knowledge Park is expected to start operations in October, and the state government is working with the higher education ministry, now led by Idris, who is also the Besut MP.

But under Budget 2017, the operating expenditure for the top 10 public universities had been slashed by RM1.467 billion.

With finances and resources stretched thin at many tertiary institutions and Federal government agencies, they are unlikely to contribute significantly towards the success of Knowledge Park, which is likely to be another white elephant, until it is carted away brick by brick.

It makes one wonder whether mammoth projects are aimed at benefitting those handing out contracts, ending with contractors cutting corners to make some profit.

Such practices will continue as long as there is too much greed and too little shame or guilt.
…more
Chronology of building a white elephant
March 17, 2017 – FMT

29
Mar
17

Nearly RM1 billion down the drain as Besut education hub ravaged by vandals

Nearly RM1b down the drain as Besut education hub ravaged by vandals

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — The education hub dubbed Taman Ilmu, or Malay for “Knowledge Park”, near Besut, Terengganu had been near completion in 2014, after years of neglect caused by dwindling funds and lack of political will.

But just two years later, the 280-hectare complex that ostensibly cost RM746.26 million has again fallen into ruin after it was ransacked by vandals, looters and scavengers.

A leaked report dated October 2016 and sighted by Malay Mail Online this week estimated that it will now take another RM230.6 million simply to restore the project in the seaside village of Tembila to just 60 per cent of its original target.

The report also revealed the extent of the damage that the project — initially an initiative by former Terengganu mentri besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh to transform rural Besut — has suffered.

Photos in the leaked report showing damaged ceilings in the building.Photos in the leaked report showing damaged ceilings in the building.Apart from the park’s RM60 million grand mosque that has been open to public since 2014, the rest of the project was stripped down in one way or another, from its library to even its district cooling system and sewage treatment plant.

In many of the photos purportedly showing the interiors of the buildings there, ceilings were seen collapsed, revealing bare steel bars. Cabinet doors were ajar, and many were broken into.

At the track-and-field sports complex, a floodlight tower was shown lying on the ground, with shards of glass and sprawling cables surrounding it.

Photos showing damages to the track-and-field sports complex.Photos showing damages to the track-and-field sports complex.A cost summary included in the report stated that RM872.5 million was budgeted for the project, more than double from the RM400 million estimate back in 2013.

Shockingly, a RM38 million main administration building was simply demolished half-way after RM17.86 million had been spent on it, due to substandard building materials and safety issues.

Of the total budget, only RM144.1 million remains, hardly enough to cover the refurbishing cost.

Malay Mail Online is seeking verification on the project’s status from Idris and Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman.

Photos showing damages to the district cooling system.Photos showing damages to the district cooling system.

Last month, Ahmad Razif was reported saying in Malay daily Berita Harian that the project is expected to start operations this October.

Ahmad Razif said the state government is working together with the Higher Education Ministry led by Idris, who is also Besut MP, to realise the project.

Photos showing damages to the sewage treatment plant.Photos showing damages to the sewage treatment plant.In 2013, Malay Mail Online reported that construction at the site had been slow and, in some parts, even came to a standstill after Idris’ successor and political rival Datuk Seri Ahmad Said took over administration of Terengganu. It was originally planned to be completed by 2008.

During Malay Mail Online’s visit then, there was no visible security presence, and neighbourhood youths were free to explore the site on bicycles unhindered.

Work on the park started in the middle of 2007, about three years after Idris succeeded in wresting back Terengganu from a short-lived PAS rule, and a year shy of the election that would see state Ruler, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, replace him with Ahmad.

This comes as public universities will see their combined operating budgets for this year slashed by about 19 per cent, or RM1.5 billion, a bigger cut than 2016’s budget.

…more
Nearly RM1b down the drain as Besut education hub ravaged by vandals
March 15, 2017 – MMO

16
Feb
17

Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC

Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC

Ghauth Jasmon says the university is already dipping into its reserves and will need to cut 2,000 jobs to survive.

SUBANG JAYA: The oldest university in Malaysia may be bankrupt in three to five years if “the right people” are not hired to raise funds for its operations.

This comes after the government slashed its funds by half, said former Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor Ghauth Jasmon.

He said UM received government aid of RM550 million yearly before funds were slashed two years ago.

“Now, UM face cuts of RM270 million. They are now dipping into their reserves as the top management are academicians (vice-chancellors or VCs).

“These VCs, appointed by the higher education ministry, have no clues as to how to raise money. They only have another three to five years’ of savings.”

He was speaking on the final day of the Asia Public Policy Forum 2017, co-hosted by Harvard Kennedy School and Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia.

Ghauth, who was the UM VC from 2008 to 2013, said there was no “income replacement” for the budget cuts. This was despite the university being informed by the government a decade ago of the intended reduction in aid.

He said UM has 5,000 academic and administration staff. To survive these budget cuts, they will have to remove 2,000 people.

“It’s not only UM. Other public universities are also facing the same problem. Professors going to retire or on contract have been told to end their services.”

There is a big crisis in universities but none of the VCs have the answers to cope with the huge budget cuts, he said.

“… Not the board or the top management of academicians. They are still renting out the gymnasium or organising competitions at the swimming pool. That is the sort of things they are doing (to raise funds).

“What is the solution? The public university is waiting to die. That’s is how I see it because I have not heard of any solutions.”

Ghauth predicts public universities will be forced to sell off their assets to make up for the shortfall.

He said this may lead to a large number of school leavers unable to continue their tertiary education, causing a huge social problem.

As for Universiti Teknologi Mara, it is facing cuts of RM946 million a year.

“UITM has 200,000 students. With almost RM1 billion in cuts from the operating budget, they might not be able to keep that (high a) student number. Where are the school leavers going to go?”

…more
Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC
January 19, 2017 – FMT

14
Jan
17

How budget cuts affect public universities

University Budget 2017

How budget cuts affect public universities

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 ? The austerity drive in public universities has resulted in a conundrum between providing quality education and working within a much tighter budget compared to previous years.

Under Budget 2017, public universities will see their combined operating budgets slashed by about 19 per cent, or RM1.5 billion, a bigger cut than last year’s budget, and out of the 20 public universities in Malaysia, 10 of them will be facing massive cuts ranging from over 10 per cent to over 31 per cent.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh has reportedly said that public universities have become too dependent on government funding, and that a decade ago, it was a fraction of what was now given.

But what do the budget cuts mean? What is the feasibility of public universities sourcing out alternative funding? Will it compromise the quality of education being offered in varsities?

Seeking funds in turbulent times

Professor Emeritus Datuk Abdul Rahman Embong believes that public universities should be allowed to continue providing education and training and serving the community as best they can, and that reducing their operating budgets will affect this.

“Reducing the budget for public universities and demanding that they raise their own funding has the effect of turning the principle of education as a public good on its head.

“I would like to state a fundamental principle that education is a public good, and that it is the responsibility of the government who is supposed to represent the public interest to ensure it is offered to the public from the judiciously managed taxpayers’ coffers,” Abdul Rahman, who is adviser to the Malaysian Social Science Association and Principal Fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

He said that while some universities will find ways to cope with the budget cuts by collaborating with each other in terms of aspects like facilities, there will be a tight race between varsities to source out alternative means of funding.

“Some will succeed while some others will not be as lucky. It is a crowded market out there with hopeful fund-seekers while funders hold tight to their purse especially during these turbulent times,” he added.

Azmil Tayeb, a senior lecturer with the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) School of Social Sciences, said that the cuts have resulted in university staff being deprived of basic work needs like office telephones and desktop computers.

“A few lucky ones get hand-me-down computers that have seen better days and in most likelihood slow and near obsolete. As the minister has clearly stated, he wants public universities to depend less on government and increase alternative sources of funding.

“That statement in itself is acceptable but the drive for alternative funding should not be done at the expense of diminishing the main function of a public university as a public good serving as the engine for social mobility for the less fortunate. Public universities should not be run as a business entity, where only the bottom line matters,” he told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

…more
How budget cuts affect public universities
January 11, 2017 – MMO

25
Dec
16

Report on Malaysia’s PISA disqualification underway

Report on Malaysia’s PISA disqualification underway

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 – The Education Ministry is preparing a report to explain Malaysia’s disqualification from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, its deputy minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said.

He added that the ministry committee in charge of Mathematics, Reading and Science will release the full details to explain the inadequate sampling which resulted in the disqualification, The Star daily reported today.

“The committee conducting the PISA will come up with a report on the issue” Chong was quoted telling a news conference yesterday.

Despite Malaysia’s disqualification, Chong asserted that the country’s results showed improvement compared to previous years.

The Education Ministry came under criticism after it was reported to have touted an improvement in Mathematics, Science and Reading with Malaysian students allegedly scoring higher in PISA 2015 compared to 2012.

In actual fact, Malaysians were disqualified from the ranking last year as it there was insufficient data supplied for the assessment and low number of schools that responded.

…more
Report on Malaysia’s PISA disqualification underway
December 16, 2016 – MMO

16
Dec
16

Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores

MP: Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores

Education Ministry officials who attempted to “cheat” the Programme for International Students Assessment (Pisa 2015) should be sacked, said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

Pua said the official explanation by assessment organisers had strongly implied that Malaysia’s disqualification from the Pisa 2015 overall ranking had to do with the manipulation of assessment results.

Pisa 2015 Results Volume 1 (Excellence and Equity in Education) report released earlier this month had recorded Malaysia’s mean score for science, reading and mathematics.

However, the mean score was not ranked against other countries on Page 44. The official explanation for this, as stated on Annex A4 on page 304 of the report, is as follows:

“In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD.

“However, the weighted response rate among the initially
sampled Malaysian schools (51 percent) falls well short of the standard Pisa response rate of 85 percent.

“Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years.”

Inaccurate sample

This, to Pua, was evidence to allege that Education Ministry officials had attempted to manipulate the results by using a biased sample of schools.

“(The sample used) will not present a fair and accurate reflection of students’ performance in Malaysia,” said Pua.

Pisa is a triennial international survey produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to benchmark the performance students worldwide.

In 2015, over half a million students, representing 28 million 15-year-old students in 72 countries, took the internationally agreed two-hour test.

They were assessed in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy.

Previously, Serdang MP Ong Kiang Ming had claimed that the Education Ministry had over-represented data from High Performing Schools (HPS) and Fully Residential Schools although they represented a fraction of Malaysia’s student population for Pisa 2015.

Real ‘transformation’ needed

Pua said the alleged manipulation by Education Ministry underscores how the authorities are more keen on pursuing statistical benchmarks and are not interested in real substantive quality and performance of students.

“Without a real transformation in the mindset of our officials in-charge of our education system, the quality of our schools will continue continue to deteriorate and we can only expect our students to be even worse off over time.

“As long as these officials who are only interested in artificial forms to pat themselves on the back and suck up to their superiors, no amount of beautifully crafted transformation blueprints will be able to ‘transform’ the system for the better,” said Pua.

In view of this, Pua urged Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid to take action against ministry officials who were complicit in the alleged attempt to manipulate the assessment results.

“This will send a strong message to the entire ministry that the government is only interested in substantive quality of our students and not fake performance outcomes,” he said.

…more
MP: Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores
11 Dec 2016 – malaysiakini




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