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TK Letchumy

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With a new government installed after the 14th General Election, it is natural to expect massive overhauls and changes from bottom up. The Education Ministry, led by Dr. Maszlee Malik, is one of the most-scrutinised portfolios that will undergo substantial changes, starting from schools.

Here are some of the policy changes that are set to take place from 2019 onwards:

1. No more exams for Standard One to Standard Three students

Yes, you heard us right. The little ones will be spared from exam stress this year, much to the relief of parents. The decision to abolish mid-year and final exams was purportedly to allow schools to focus more on teaching and help pupils discover the joy of learning. Parents who are fretting about the method schools will use for monitoring their children’s progress in place of exams should not worry. This is because the exams will be replaced with objective assessments in 2019. Education director-general Datuk Dr. Amin Senin said continuous assessments will take place as part of teaching and learning through Classroom-Based Assessment (PBD).

2. No more class streaming

Primary schools will no longer be segregating students based on their academic performance.  This is a big change as streaming has been practised for a long time, and this will mean pupils with mixed abilities will be put in the same class. Proponents say this will allow children of different abilities to help each other. Opponents say this will be tougher on lower-ability children, and is a challenge for teachers, who will have to vary their teaching methods in class and may not be able to focus on progressing the higher-ability children to the best of their potential.

3. No more LINUS programme

Beginning this academic year, there will be no more Literacy and Numeracy Screening programme (LINUS). The LINUS programme was first introduced in 2009 under the Education National Key Results Area (NKRA) to tackle the problem of primary school pupils who are weak in reading, arithmetic and writing skills (3Rs).

Education Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr. Amin Senin has said in place of LINUS, schools will now determine their own ways to tackle learning difficulties faced by their students.

4. Black shoes

The Education Ministry is implementing a gradual transition from the traditional white school shoes to the black version beginning 2019. What that means for parents who send their children to national schools is they can opt to buy black shoes for them or remain loyal to the white version. Well, at least until 2021, when the ministry is expected to fully enforce the policy.

5. Civics subject back in schools

If you remember, Civics was one of the subjects used to be taught in schools but it was removed from the school syllabus in November 2014. However, Dr. Maszlee reportedly said that the Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) will be reintroduced in all primary and secondary schools in the middle of 2019 as a compulsory subject. He had also said that anti-graft related education will also be introduced through the CCE subject.

6. Lighter school bags

A study by the Education Ministry found that 28 percent of a school bag’s weight consists of textbooks, while the remaining 72 percent consists of stationery, uniforms and food, among others. Following the study, the Education Ministry had issued guidelines last year to help pupils lighten their school bags. The guidelines include rearranging the timetable so that there are between three and four subjects a day and setting up lockers in schools for books storage purposes. Teachers are also instructed to tell students clearly about the books they need to bring each day, as well as to reduce the number of exercise books for each subject.

7. Stateless or no documents? No problem!

Beginning this year, all stateless and undocumented children will be able to go to school just like any other school going children. There will be a move to simplify the registration process for children without citizenship into government schools. Parents with these children only need to provide relevant documents such as the child’s birth certificate, adoption papers or court orders.

 

Are you a parent with government school-going children? What are your thoughts on these new policies? Share your thoughts by writing to [email protected]

After a stressful day at work with uncooperative colleagues, or a tiring day at home with equally uncooperative kids, wouldn’t it be wonderful if your husband or partner surprises you with a gift to make up for your bad day? You would be thinking “What a gem of a man I got myself!”

Yes, getting a gift can make us feel all kinds of wonderful. We all love getting gifts, be it on special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays or even festivities like Christmas. Nevertheless, we trust that nobody, not even people who are obsessed with gifts, wants a ‘surprise’ they are not expecting.

The Right Stuff

You may be one of those women whose husband dutifully reads your mind, cheers to marital telepathy! If your other half always pleases you with his choice of gifts, be it that new Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette that you have been eyeing or the satin Zara top that you have been sighing over, count yourselves lucky.

However, if your husband always tunes out whenever you are speaking and presents you with another vacuum cleaner for yet another year, you may not be thinking he’s such a gem at all. Instead, you may be mentally writing a list of methods to kill him!

Another Household Appliance?

What is the quirkiest gift your partner has ever gotten you?

Let me start with mine. For my first birthday after marriage, my husband was acting all mighty and smug because he said he figured out the best gift he can get for me. Naturally, I got excited as we counted down the days for my gift to arrive via post.

I was already dreaming along the lines of Chanel, Dior and Bobbi Brown. When my gift finally arrived, I was too numb to speak. It was a grill pan. I lost hope then. My husband and I have been married for almost four years now. Along the years, I have received an oven, a pressure cooker, a cake mixer and even car wipers as presents!
I thought I had it bad, that was until I found out what my dear friend received – a random leaf! Yes, you heard me right.

She was gifted a leaf by her partner who is a tad too focused on the environment. Being the sweet self that she is, she still keeps the leaf as a memento, to this day.

I also know a couple who didn’t get quite a right start with gifts. The wife lost her father on the day she got married. In a bid to make his wife happy, the husband ordered a rather large-sized canvas painting of her father as a gift. The wife could not stop crying in sorrow every time she looked at the picture. After that incident, the husband was definitely more careful about gifts!

I Tell You What I Want, What I Really, Really Want

To avoid all these messy gift situations, dropping hints of what you actually want, really could work wonders. Teacher Anita Karasu couldn’t agree more.

“Gifts should always be valuable to the person receiving them. It would be unfair to buy them your personal favorites. As a teacher, I dislike receiving a pack of red pens because most times only one or two would work or sometimes, none at all. I would have candles and soap bars lying in my drawer until it’s time for disposal because I am not a big fan of such gifts.

“That is why I honestly feel that it’s okay to drop hints. So, I try as much to drop hints. But don’t ever go on like a broken record!” she said.

Another way to get what you really want is to stop dropping hints and just straight up tell the giver what you want. Send links of examples, or prepare a wish list of some things you would really appreciate. Simple right? You get what you want, and the person giving the gift doesn’t have to keep guessing and stressing. Win-win situation. It doesn’t get better than that.

At the Heart of Gifts

But if you ponder deeply, do the types of gifts we receive really matter? The gifts should just be a little plus on top of the huge love you get from a person. After all, they did make an effort to get you a gift in the first place.

So, when your partner or husband  gifts you with another kitchen appliance or that fake Prada handbag from Petaling Street (gasp!), take a deep breath, remember what’s important, and show some appreciation.

Because at the end of the day, as clichéd as it may sound, it is, honestly, the thought that really counts.

Your little boy or girl seems to be a happy child. He or she is healthy, growing well and doing all the right things children usually do. So, you take a back seat and enjoy watching them grow at their own pace.

But what if your child is not growing at the rate he or she should be for his or her age?

A Wake Up Call

The Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) is becoming increasingly concerned that many Malaysian children, from all family backgrounds, are experiencing growth problems.

MPA President, Associate Prof Dr. Muhammad Yazid Jalaludin said there are some sobering facts about children under five-years-old. The data from the National Health and Morbidity Survey should serve as a wake up call for parents.

“The prevalence of stunting (low height-for-age) increased from 17 per cent in 2006 to 20.7 per cent in 2016. That’s about two in 10 children. Meanwhile, underweight children increased from 12.9 per cent in 2006 to 13.7 per cent in 2016,” Dr. Muhammad said.

Kids from all backgrounds are affected

Such growth problems can develop in poor as well as affluent families. Unfortunately, parents often miss the signs of sluggish growth. They realise only later that their children have failed to achieve their potential. “They may have also become at risk of associated health, developmental and psycho-social issues,” he said.

According to Dr. Muhammad, many factors contribute to growth problems. Among the more prominent factors are children with feeding difficulties and inadequate nutrition (due to poor diet quality). Frequent illness at a young age, underlying chronic disease and certain developmental disorders are also contributing factors.

“Without intervention, these children risk developing long-term health, cognitive and psycho-social issues,” he said.

Doctors to the rescue

Keeping all these factors in mind, the MPA introduced its first concerted childhood growth screening and counselling campaign. They called it the IMFeD Malaysia – ‘Get Growth On Track’ Campaign, in collaboration with Abbott Malaysia.

Through the programme, paediatricians across the nation will evaluate children’s growth by examining their weight and height. This will then be compared to a growth chart.

IMFeD Malaysia chairman Professor Dr Lee Way Seah said the next five years (2018 – 2023) will see the scope expand to include screening and intervention for feeding and nutrition issues.

This is a timely development in light of data that has revealed an alarming prevalence of poor growth in Malaysia.

“It is an alarming situation but the MPA hopes to make a difference.,” said Prof. Lee. Currently, it has deployed the IMFeD expert panel to train over 150 paediatricians all over the country to detect and manage growth problems.

“The expert panel has also produced educational materials containing vital information and tips for parents,” he said.

Parents, early intervention matters 

Get professional advice so your child can feed well and grow well.

Prof. Lee said parents who are concerned about their children’s growth rate or who want to learn more about this programme should take advantage of it.

Parents can talk to the doctors from participating paediatric clinics about their children’s growth. The doctors would be able to investigate the reasons behind a child’s sub-optimal growth. They can then offer strategies and methods to boost the child’s growth.

If the child has inadequate nutritional intake and where appropriate, the doctor may recommend a complete nutritional supplement. This will help the child catch up and stay on course for optimal growth. There is a limited window of time to correct poor growth and get children back on their potential growth trajectory.

“It is very important that everything is done to help the child catch up to their optimal growth as soon as possible,” said Prof. Lee.

It is also important to continue seeing your doctor regularly to monitor the child’s growth. The doctor would be able to plot the child’s weight and height on the growth chart. Then they will advise parents accordingly if they notice a lag or decline in the child’s growth.

Parents who wish to find out more about the ‘Get Growth On Track’ campaign or locate a paediatrician may contact the IMFeD Malaysia programme secretariat at [email protected]. Telephone: 012-284 1628 or 012-772 1628.