for the ministry of education, it is quite a bleak malaysia day with three upsr papers to be resat, one headmaster arrested and detained with three other teachers, and a director with her deputy suspended. there was this girl who wrote to Star expressing her disbelief that people go to all sorts of extend to to get the exam papers. that means we still a long way from convincing our public about the change in our so called exam oriented system. we are still nowhere near possesing the kind integrity that our teachers should have. if you have prepared your children well enough come wind or high water, they should be ready. why is there the need to spot or look for leaked questions. whoever posted the questions through the social media should be wise enough to know that it is against the law to do so. are our teachers that ignorant? this kind of thing happen almost every year. but this time the leakage was bad. why is it our parents and teachers putting so much pressure on the 12 year olds still baffle me. they are not even guaranteed a place in boarding school if they do well. most would progress to next door secondary schools. and they still have another five years of schooling to go. didn’t the teachers know that student assessment now include pajsk and ps and not upsr alone. in this sense, we have failed to inform the public on the changes that we hve done to the system or the effect of the chnges are still trickling down.
i had this uneasy feeling going into the second half of the week. Hopefully kota kinabalu would be kind to me and cure me of this incessant cough and fever. the last time i felt this bad was after i came back from tawau and semporna in april. it did not last this long. the doctor in Tanglin clinic suspected that i had contracted the dreaded dengue and she insisted that i went for the second blood test in hkl. i took an easier option in hospital ampang where i do not have to battle for parking space. what seemed like an easier option took long’er than it normally would, the pathology machine broke down (So said the apologetic announcement) i had to wait for three hours to get the result. the doctor cleared me of dengue, my blood’ count is normal. it was a normal flu. just continue’ your medication, she said. it has been three days since and the medication had ran out. i am still coughing and bouts of fever still coming. once a day. fortunately it is not severe, no headaches or dizziness. just plain high temperatures and phlegm. i just hope it will clear up soon, there are a lot of things coming these few weeks, what with the boss retiring in early october. i really need a real broad and sturdy shoulder to carry on. insyaallah the new boss would come back to back in early november. deputising is no easy task. happy malaysia day everybody!
To say i was shocked when i heard the news last night was an understatement. Worse still when i saw photos of the two of them splashed across this morning media. it look so surrealistic. i was thinking to myself it could have been me. what if the powers that be suddenly decided that the school are not getting their internet connection as they should be and i would be suspended pending investigation. the two poor fellas are paying the price of other people untrustworthiness. Teachers and parents should understand that it is only UPSR. The kids still had another five years of schooling. This is a classic example of how the pressure on exam is taking its toll on common sense. Why is there the need to find the real exam questions? So that students can practice answering them and do well. But exam is all about testing your level of achievement, not how well u practiced. Imagine the students who were not really up to mark with their achievement but due to this so called ‘aid’, they did extremely well in the exam. Imagine these same students were then selected to go boarding schools. Believe u me, they would be struggling to cope, their morals would be battered. In the end they suffered and the advantage of having straight A’s would be meaningless. I am talking through experience in my boarding schools days. A few students were found to be struggling even though they had straight A’s. Upon further investigation, they admitted that they got help during the exam from their teachers. In end, after couple of years and much fruitless remedial classes, they were transferred to daily schools. Imagine the indignation that they have to go thru’. The ministry really need to make an effort to depressurize the UPSR.
I was in Kuching this morning to attend the 4th Annual Conference on the Trust Schools (Sekolah Amanah). After four years, this is the first time I had the chance to attend such a conference and I came out with some burning questions which I did not have the chance to ask the sstudents, teachers and trustees due to the busy schedules. The morning session immediately after the opening ceremony was a forum ably mediated by the Astro Awani’s kamarul Baharin. The speakers were electic mix of Prof Dzulkifli Razak (Former USM and AlBukhary Uni VC), Richard Curtis (CMS CEO), Prof Ibrahim Bajunid (former IAB’s director), Dyg Fatimah Tom Abang Saufi (fashion desinger) and a head boy from SMS Kuching as well a female student from SMK Seri Setia in Tabuan Jaya. As usual Prof Dzulkifli was in his very philosophical self, invoking the ideas of the term insan, ethics, success, university not being a vocational training centres, and basic meaning of education. Richard Curtis, being a lawyer turned entrepreneur, talked mainly on the sorts of potential employees he is looking for and what education system should provide them with. Ibrahim Ahmad bajunid never failed to mesmerise us with his high clouds and deep deep corpus of knowledge. He was talking about education system with a fixed target but deeper and wider, broader aims – whatever that means. It is really tough to understand this guy. Would I ever be in the same plane as his thinking? I do not think so. Tom was talking about the education that she had in St Mary School, Kuching where there was dancing and costume drama activities that prepared her for life as an appreciator or the arts. What really caught me were the two students. I am not sure whether they were typical of the trust schools product or a select few who have been coached for this forum. They were eloquent, independent, and talkative. At that age and thrusted onto a stage with such a group of commanding figures and 200 over boisterous crowd I would have frozen or even peed in my pants! Even now I had butterflies in my tummy every time I want to ask question or presenting papers in meetings. These two kids were cool calm and collected. I can understand the boy from SMS Kuching. Being a head boy from a boarding school, he naturally had the training, but the girl from Kuala Kubu Baru is astoundingly cool.
But the session left me wondering, what was it the Sekolah Amanah had provided that the normal school could not do. We have been talking about student centred learning for ages now. We have been embedding HOTS since our KBSR and KBSM days. The boy and girl were saying, since the school have been “converted” to amanah school, they had more collaborative and cooperative learning sessions. Teachers are more cool and give them more freedom to ask questions. Teachers do not use chalk and talk that much anymore. They are being facilitators now. Oh wow! after 18 years of preaching this idea in the smart school concept, it only possible now? Remember the mantra “Guide by side rather than sage on the stage” that we preached 18 years ago that teachers thumbed their noses at. And is that only happening in the 30 amanah schools? I was wondering, aren’t these things were supposed to be employed by every teacher in this country by now, amanah or not. We have been preaching these for years. What is stopping non amanah schools from doing these? Or are they being practiced but not highlighted? The boy was saying, before this they did not enjoy learning and sekolah amanah has changed that. I am grateful for that but what is it so dramatic that has been introduced by the amanah schools that changed the teachers to practice what we have asking them to do all these years? Autonomy?, Incentives?, recognition?, facilities?, coaching? mentoring? Do these teachers do not have to worry about finishing the syllabi anymore, Don’t they have to worry about exam results anymore? Don’t they have to worry about JNJK or BPK monitoring team anymore? Don’t they have terrible non teaching work loads anymore? These are some of the excuses that we got from the teachers every time we asked why didn’t they practice collaborative learning or student centred learning. I have to find that out soon.
It wouldn’t be right if I did not write something about the Greatest Show on Earth. The first few days created a few surprises. But nothing beat the thrashing of the reinging champion, Spain by the Oranje. The sight of Robben and RVP celebrating after each of them scoring two goals were unforgettable. I can take it if Spain lost by one or two goals but a four-goal margin is unthinkable. I don’t know how Del Bosque would rally his ageing troops for the next match.Maybe the defeat itself would fire the world and European champion to pull their act together. Surely Cassilas needs to be replaced. Give Reina or De ghea a chance.
The Costa Rica versus Uruguay was another upset of an epic proportion. How could a tiny nation like Costa Rica could beat a former champion with star like Forlan. Granted Suarez was missing but it takes more than Suarez to make a team. I am rooting for more of this underdog wins. A good thing none of the matches so far ended in a draw even worse scoreless draw. The England – Italy match was quite exciting. Hodgson definitely need to take a long hard look at his captain. His passes has gone astray one too many and he committed too many mistakes. Unless he needs him for his experience and guidance, he might as well be replaced with a more useful player. I am really looking for theward to German – Portugal match.
On the FA Cup final day, I was half expecting it to be shown on Korean TV. After all Korea is supposed to be a footballing nation. They were in World Cup Final many times. And they even had co-hosted the world cup with Japan in 2002. It was a bit strange, Korea is in the World Cup finals but you could hardly see the excitement either on the streets or on TV. The sports channel are more interested in showing baseball matches. I was told, Korea are crazy about baseball at this time of the year. The only spot about world cup on TV is the cartoon advert regarding Park Ji Sung and an advert involving the legendary Cha Boon Keum. The hotel had 30 tv channels, five of them are sports channel but none of them mentioned anything about world cup or FA cup final. I was thinking I’ll be missing the Arsenal-Hull match and resigned to the fact that I had to watch it streamed on the internet. While waiting for the match to start I had dozed off and at around 1.09am I woke up and imagine my excitement when the SBS channel was showing Arsenal versus Hull. Of course evrything was in Korean. The commentators, the credits, the crawlers, graphics and even teamline ups and the scores. I can only tell the team by virtue of my knowledge about the two teams. So when Jack Wilshere and Podolski scored, I posted abou it on Facebook. The matches ended 3-0 in favour of Arsenal. I fell asleep that night thinking that Arsenal had won handsomely. On the bus to the field trip the next day, I mentioned the score to the Bruneian participant. He was surprised. He was checking the net and confirmed Arsenal had won 3-2!. Suddenly it dawned upon me that the match that was shown by SBS that night was a rerun on premier league match played by the two teams earlier in the year! Suddenly I remember something was odd about the match on the SBS that night. Both Arsene Wenger and Steve Bruce were not wearing suits as the norm for Wembley event. The signature Wenger’s black suit and white shirt was missing. The flashing graphics of FA cup wasn’t there either for the replays. I felt so foolish and embarassed. How could they do this to me. I did not get to see the 2014 FA Cup Final after all. But the pain is even worse when I knew that I saw the wrong match thinking it was the right one. My kids and friends were laughing their heads off at my Facebook postings. Ouch. Anybody knows the SBS CEO?
I was in Busan and Seoul to attend the 29th APEC e-learning training under the auspicious umbrella of APEC. Malaysia was given the privilege of sending three delegates whereas Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Russia, had two and Mexico, Indonesia and Peru had one. The course mainly focussed on developing attendess ability to forge collaboration and nurture collective intelligence. As the normal case for courses like this, there were a few site visits to break the monotony and to enable trainees to savour the Korean success stories. Two of those places are i-real Park in Busan and Digital Pavilion in Seoul. i-real Park is a private entity is basically an edutainment theme park. The place showcased Korean expertise in augmenting its electronic wizardries. Likewise the Digital Pavilion in Seoul but the focus is more on the use of electronics for improvement of quality of life. You got the chance to see robots dancing to the tune of Gangnam Style and Gentlemen. Interesting to see that all the programming and setting up were done by Koreans. We were also taken to a school where nine of the classrooms were equipped with various IT equipment such as netbooks, CCTV, smart TV, 200Mbps internet connectivity (yes 200 is the average, it could go up to 300!). The teaching and learning part was not so inspiring or innovative despite all the gadgeteries. However I noted that the ICT teacher had no assistant and he had to attend all ICT issues in the school including training the teachers. He looked so harrased when I asked him a few questions about his role in the school. Somehow it sound so familiar to our counterpart in Malaysia. It is interesting to note that he had undergone 200 hours of training beforehand. The school is using digital textbook on trial basis. Mind you Korea has been experimenting with digital text book concept for almost 15 years and still thay have not decided on the actual concept and design. According to the MoE official, they will decide in one to two years time.
Busan is the second largest city in Korea, so I was told. I arrived at Busan International Airport a little past nine am last Friday. The APEC e-learning team were at hand to receive us. Very cheerful and helpful lot.Arriving with us were the team from Thailand and Vietnam. After a brief introduction we were packed into a Starex that took us to the Ibis Hotel Busan, and we were there in 40 minutes. As usual Busan’s streets are crawling with Kias, Hyundais, and SyangYongs and only a handful of foreign cars, notably Chevy (which I believe had a collaboration with Daewoo. I was also told, the reason why Koreans own Korean cars is not so much due to sense of patriotism or something like that, but it is mainly due to price of imported cars were so high, average Koreans cannot afford them. Not unlike Malaysia in the early Proton days prior to the liberation of AFTA agreement.
Unfortunately, it was too early to check in and i had my first taste of Busan’s food instead. Typical Korean food, a lot vegetables, soup and not much oil. Busan is a maritime city and famous for its octopuses. You know that wriggling squid with blobbing head and tentacles with suckers. I heard many Koreans eat them alive and raw, dipped in some sauce. Also, I reckon, Korean loves coffees. In the city like Busan,there is a coffee shop at almost every 500m, and during meal hours the places were packed. Behind the hotel there is a big wet market and I saw many stalls selling the octopuses. The Hotel right in front of the entrance to the underground Bujeon Station. There is a bustling underground shopping complex in Bujeon area. But I observed that, unlike other major cities, Busan is almost half dead by 10pm.
Arrival at GimHei, Busan
Pretty rubbish bin in Busan airport
A dentist in Busan