Asia News – December 2009

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Technology for Teachers

A special crash programme is being implemented by the Education Ministry, Sri Lanka, to develop Information Technology in government schools.  Education Minister Sunil Premjayanth told that implementation is being done with special effort of training at least 75 % of the teachers in computer technology or literacy. Minister mentioned that Teacher Training Institute has been converted to a full fledged ICT training college to train 220 IT teachers, annually. Two years back, a survey was conducted by authorities, through which it was noted that only 25 % of teachers in government schools were computer literate. The Minister told that training provided to teachers since has achieved considerable results.

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President Mahinda Rajapaksa had declared year 2009 as the Year of English and IT. The Education Ministry has taken several steps to develop IT literacy in the country, starting at grassroots level using the maximum resources available. In past two year, the ministry had trained 62,000 and aound 15,000 of the trained teachers had received international diplomas. Currently 100,000 teachers are being trained in weekend sessions, explained the minister. Explaining the progress, Minister Premajayanth also mentioned that a school IT development program is being conducted with 3,500 computer labs in schools island-wide  while another 500 IT labs are currently under construction. The targeted number of school computer labs of 5,000 would be ready by 2010 end. He also mentioned that the ministry has taken steps to integrate IT at the GCE O level and by 2,010 it would be a GCE A Level subject.

Universities and Singapore Centre Collaborate for improving quality of Chinese teaching

Four universities, including the Media Development Authority (MDA), SIM University (UniSIM), the University of Hong Kong and NTUC's SEED Institute, are collaborating with the Singapore Centre for Chinese Language to improve Chinese teaching standards. The objective of the collaborations is to support upgradation of teaching skills amongst Chinese teachers. The partnership with SEED Institute, Singapore's largest training institute for early childhood education, will offer pre-school mandarin teachers a part-time Chinese degree programme in the same area.

The partnership with MDA will focus on integrating information and communication technology (ICT) into the learning and teaching of the Chinese language. A part-time Bachelor's degree for Chinese teachers will be offered by SIM University, who are diploma holders. The programme will commence in 2010. The centre will also cooperate with the University of Hong Kong from next year, offering teachers a master's degree program focusing on curriculum planning.

More funds to Higher Education

To support quality improvements at universities the United Kingdom's Prime Ministers Initiative was established. A fund of 1.2 million has been made available to higher education institutions around the world, including those in Indonesia, to develop international partnerships over the next two years. Indonesian students like other in world desire and dream of Higher. However, despite the demand there are no Indonesian educational institutions listed in the top 200 Times Higher Education Supplement (THE) 'best universities in the world.' The ratings of countries' global competitiveness based on the quality higher education available in The Global Competitiveness Report 2009-10, ranks Indonesia at 54th position among the listed133 countries. This represents being placed below Singapore (ranked third), Malaysia (24th, China (29th , Thailand (36th) and India (49th).

It was reported by The National Statistic Agency that as of February 2009, 13 % of Indonesia's unemployed held bachelor's degrees, which is around 1.2 million people. To improve the quality of education, one of the ways is through encouragement of partnerships between universities in Indonesia and other countries. International collaboration is usually delivered through double degree programs, franchising or staff exchanges. International students from universities already affiliated with a UK institution benefit double: they secure a double diploma and receive one of the best educational experiences available. Since its launch in 2006, the Prime Ministers Initiative has already funded 235 collaborative programs in research, lecturer development, student exchanges and scholarships with universities around the world. Success stories include Bina Nusantara University (working with Northumbria University in Design Studies and Bournemouth University in Tourism & Hospitality), and Indonusa Esa Unggul University (with Heriot Watt University in Management). Other countries in South East Asia benefiting from the Prime Ministers Initiative include South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand.

'Visit-Japan Program' for 6 Philippine High School Students

Japanese embassy at Manila reported about six high school students from different parts of the Philippines, who have left for the two-week 'Visit-Japan Program' from November 15 to December 1. Georgina Palmario, the supervisor of the students, leads this group of 13- to 15-year-olds, who left for an opportunity to understand Japanese culture through home-stay and other exchange activities with students of the Kamigo Junior High School. Dana Sofia T. Ferma of Faith Christian High School, Patricia Marie S. Regalado of Colegio San Agustin (Makati), Lora Megumi Z. Santiago of Makati Science High School, Gabriel A. Monteza of Don Bosco Technical Institute-Makati, Paul John T. Ngoyahon of Infant Jesus Montessori School, and Allen Alexander V. Villanueva of Colegio San Agustin-Laguna, were included in this group of six. The visit is under the Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths-Asia Japan Alumni Association (Jenesys-Asja) Jr. Program.

Besides this group of 6 students from Philippines, participants from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore are also invited in this batch, where supervisors would get an opportunity to interact with their counterparts at this Japanese junior high school as well as to exchange views on education with each other. The Jenesys-Asja Jr. Program, which started in 2007, is sponsored by the Japanese government and is implemented jointly by Asja International and Philfeja in the Philippines, in cooperation with JICC and the embassy of Japan. Application forms and guidelines for both programs are available at the National Youth Commission. They can also be downloaded from the websites of NYC and embassy of Japan.

Tamil and Chinese Primary schools May follow Bahasa Malaysia Standard
Opinions are being collected, currently, by the Education Ministry from all parties to study the feasibility of using Malay primary school's Bahasa Malaysia syllabus in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, hoping that students from different streams will be able to achieve equal Bahasa Malaysia standard. Presently, Bahasa Malaysia is being taught as second language by Chinese and Tamil primary schools. An effort is being made by the government to strengthen English and the Education Ministry is studying the feasibility of using Malay primary school's Bahasa Malaysia syllabus in Chinese and Tamil primary schools. However, the above study is still in the preliminary exploratory stage with no decision has been made.

University lecturers, academic groups, Chinese education organisations, teacher associations, Tamil education organisations, as well as the Indian community are being approached by the Education Ministry for collecting views on the given matter. It seemed that Education Ministry officials had conducted a meeting with the representatives of the above mentioned groups to discuss on the curriculum reform in Chinese and Tamil primary schools, namely to use Malay primary school's Bahasa Malaysia syllabus, including the UPSR examination papers, in Chinese and Tamil primary schools. During the meeting, discussions were also held about increasing Bahasa Malaysia lessons in Chinese and Tamil primary schools from the current 270 minutes per week to 360 minutes per week in order to implement the proposal.

Emphasis on Education and HR Development in 10th Malaysian Plan

The Federal Government is gearing the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) to give particular focus on education and human resource development, for hastening the generation of a skilled pipeline of knowledge workers to support the country's industries and lure investments. Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yackop told that the plan is to be implemented from 2011 to 2015. The plan was being drafted ahead of its scheduled time to give enough time to iron out the details of allocations for the critical economic plan. He mentioned that government will make efforts to ensure that the physical infrastructure was built for the economy, as well as preparing appropriate human resource supply to protect and boost the industries. The objective clearly indicated that the allocations for the 10MP should be attuned towards developing a reservoir of professionals particularly that were in-demand by industries identified to lead the economy by 2020.

Universities brought together for Sri Lankan Education

With efforts of Amazing America 2009, 17 US universities were brought together to create an event that educated and informed the Sri Lankan students, parents and other institutes about the American education system, entrance opportunities, visas, scholarship programmes, student life and much more. Conducted annually the event was conducted for the second successful time in Sri Lanka. The event was held in Colombo at Cinnamon Lake on November 6 and 7 and at Queens Hotel in Kandy on November 9. In Colombo, the opening ceremony was graced by Her Excellency, the US Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Patricia Butenis and Secretary to the President, Lalith Weeratunga. The opening ceremony in Kandy was graced by Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. The event was sponsored by American College of Higher Education, Sri Lanka. The directive of American Alumni Association is encouragement of educational opportunities between Sri Lanka and the US, with the primary purpose of promoting fellowship, achievements, appreciation of American culture and values and ultimately to build a mutual understanding between the people of the two countries.

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