Thursday, 17 May 2012 17:02
NEW YORK: Malaysia is preparing national level education reforms based on a methodology pioneered in the US that has successfully raised student success throughout the school system, from the very early childhood through completion of university or college.
The Cradle to Career approach was one of the major reforms discussed at the second Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council (GSIAC) meeting in NewYork Wednesday.
Under the umbrella of the GSIAC program, the Ministry of Higher Education has embarked on an unprecedented alliance to improve education at every level from “Cradle to Career”.
Speaking at a media conference after chairing the GSIAC, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the council noted what had been tabled on the Cradle to Career initiative where problems and challenges faced in the context of the society and community in New York had many similarities with Malaysia.
The meeting had earlier heard presentations by the founder of the methodology, Dr Nancy Zhimper, who is also the Chancellor of the State University of New York (SUNY) and by the Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who are both members of the GSIAC.
SUNY and NYAS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the initiative with the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education that makes Malaysia the first country looking to institute at a nationwide level the “Strive” methodology, originated in Ohio by Dr Zimpher.
It involves, among many measures, identifying specific interventions such as daycare or home visits by social service workers that best prepare a child to start kindergarten on the right foot.
The students are then helped to meet carefully tracked indicators of critical progress in, for example, math and reading proficiency along their educational journey.
An exchange of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also held between The New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, witnessed by Najib and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, as the patron of the Permata Negara program.
Under the MoU the parties agreed to work together to forge strategic alliances for developing Nobel Laureate mindset among the students of Permata Pintar UKM.
They also agreed to establish Laureate-in-Residence programs at Permata Pintar UKM and Pintar Lab at selected Research Universities in Malaysia for mutual advancement of fundamental research.
The MoU is also to enable students of Permata Pintar UKM and researchers of Malaysian Research Universities to undertake programs at NYAS for the purpose of strengthening STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) skill sets.
Najib said that under the initiative and with several interventions, among other things, the ‘dropout rate’ among students had been reduced.
“And we can further increase the participation and interest of students in the fields of science, technology and mathematics where the number of students involved currently is not very encouraging,” he said.
Najib said the meeting also focused on the importance of creating collaborations between the universities in Malaysia and several centers here including the State Univesity of New York here, besides cooperation in research and development (R&D), where both parties would exchange researchers as well as Nobel Laureates to enable bigger achievements to be made in the fields of R&D and innovations.
“We also took note of the ‘smart education for smart kid’ initiative with the MoU that was signed today between the UKM and SUNY.
“Where we can use their expertise to further develop the curriculum as well as interventions in the field of Permata Pintar, an initiative that focuses on these students with higher IQ.
When asked by reporters how soon the initiative can be implemented, Najib said: “You have to make a roadmap from early childhood education right up to when they finished every single part of the journey, when you require every single intervention throughout and enhance the achievement.
“From the cradle to career… from early childhood education right up to the career stage, including the importance for us to place our students at the university level through internship so that they are more marketable after gaining the degree,” he said.
At a separate media conference, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin explained that the ‘Cradle to Career’ initiative represented a strategic collaboration between several ministries, SUNY and NYAS.
It was a programme in “human capacity building” and formed one of the efforts to turn Malaysia into a developed nation that needed an innovative ecosystem through innovative education and technology.
Meanwhile, Najib said the council also expressed the view that it was of utmost importance to widen the use of the notebook computers or tablets among school students.
The prime minister said that in India there were tablets developed at a very low price that might be applicable in Malaysia or something similar.
“The tablet, UBSlate… the cost is 50 US dollars…it’s a mobile internet device. If this can be used, replicated or something equivalent to this, so each child can have the use of a tablet,” he said.
When asked on the targeted ratio of usage among Malaysian students, Najib said the ratio must be raised as high as possible.
“The ratio target is 1 to 1, but now we’re planning (for) 10 to 1, quite a high ratio,” he said, adding that the use was for primary and secondary schools.
The prime minister said the council also took note of several other initiatives including the ‘Projek Rimbunan Kasih’, which involved the use of technology to develop the rural areas.
He said that following the success of the pilot project in Pahang, the government decided to implement a similar project in every state in Malaysia which was being carried out actively between the government and IRIS Corporation Berhad under the public-private partnership concept.
Najib said the meeting had also been informed about the development of Iskandar Malaysia which could place Malaysia as a model of comprehensive and holistic development.
Other topics broached during the meeting included updates from Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) on the Digital Malaysia master plan to spur wealth creation and enhance the quality of life for Malaysians by maximizing the use of information and communication technology.
The meeting, organized by GSIAC secretariat co-chairs Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High-Technology (MIGHT) and New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), brought together top officials from Malaysia with global thought leadership for a half-day session on keystone initiatives for the country’s high-income development.
The inaugural meeting was also held here last year.