Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Malaysia ranks 39 out of 44 countries in problem-solving test for 15-year-olds

Malaysia once again fared poorly in a world student performance assessment test conducted in 2012, ending up in the bottom quarter among 44 countries – a result that reinforces the concern that the country’s education system is in tatters.
Malaysia ranked 39 with a mean score of 422 in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) first assessment on creative problem-solving, while neighbouring Singapore came out tops with a mean score of 562, said the report released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The overall mean score for all countries was 500.
Malaysia had more than half of the share of low achievers, which means the students tested lacked the skills needed in a modern workplace.

In contrast, Singapore only had 8% share of low achievers. The mean share was 21.4%.

On the other hand, Malaysia only had 0.9% share of top performers compared with Singapore's 29.3%. Malaysia's share was below the average percentage of 11.4%.
This showed that only one out of 10 Malaysian students, aged 15, is able to solve the most complex problems, compared with one in five in Singapore, Korea and Japan.
Asian countries like Korea, Japan, Macau-China, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China and Chinese Taipei make up the top seven of the list.
Students from Canada, Australia, Finland, England, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United States and Belgium all scored above the average.
"Eighty-five thousand students from 44 countries and economies took the computer-based test, involving real-life scenarios to measure the skills young people will use when faced with everyday problems, such as setting a thermostat or finding the quickest route to a destination," said the OECD, which carried out the tests.
Malaysians scored 29.1 on solution rate on tasks measuring the acquisition of knowledge and 29.3 on solution rate on tasks measuring the utilisation of knowledge while Singapore scored 62 and 55.4 respectively, way above the average score of all countries, which are 45.5 and 46.4 respectively.
"Today’s 15-year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow’s adults struggling to find or keep a good job,” said Andreas Schleicher, acting Director of Education and Skills at OECD.
“Policymakers and educators should re-shape their school systems and curricula to help students develop their problem-solving skills which are increasingly needed in today’s economies.”
Malaysia had also performed poorly in an earlier PISA assessment which measured how students in 65 countries did in mathematics, science and reading.
According to the PISA's 2012 results, Malaysian students scored below average or ranked 52 out of the 65 countries. In contrast, Vietnamese students ranked 17 out of 65.
Just a week ago, a World Bank senior economist pointed out that the poor quality of Malaysia's education system was more worrying than the debt level of its households.
Dr Frederico Gil Sander, who is senior economist for Malaysia, had saidMalaysians should be "alarmed" that their children were doing worse in school than children in Vietnam, a country that was poorer than Malaysia.
Malaysia's continuous dismal performance in international assessments highlights the weaknesses in the country's schooling system, despite the fact that education gets the largest share of funds every year from the national budget.

Critics have pointed out that the PISA results contradicted Putrajaya’s insistence that Malaysia has a world-class education system.
Critics have also questioned the real worth of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) which produces many students who scored As, but who can't compete with their peers from Singapore, China and Taiwan.
Opposition politicians have relentlessly attacked Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over Malaysia's poor results in international assessment tests.
Muhyiddin subsequently announced that the ministry would set up a special committee tasked with elevating students’ assessments in these tests. – April 2, 2014.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Self Worth or Net Worth

Placing too much importance on appearing rich can affect one’s net worth. One may want to delay self-gratification in order to build a strong financial foundation
I ONCE asked someone who looked like a million dollars on the outside but was totally broke, this question:“Is your self-worth destroying your net worth?”
Some of us have defined our self-esteem from the external things - the car we drive, the handbags we use, even the pen we write with. We want to be seen as “rich and successful” but we are secretly struggling with our finances.
Even if we are not broke, some of us have placed the external outlook of ‘looking rich’ as more important than the milestones in our lives, for instance ensuring a secure retirement or building a strong net worth that can last throughout our lifetime.
Wanting to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ maybe due to a lack of self-esteem. Those who buy things they can’t afford sense a boost in their self-confidence by having these things, particularly in the public.

Having luxurious items is fine as long as you know your net worth can sustain it and you do have a financial plan in place.
However, if it is draining your pockets, then you need to wake up and change before it is too late.
Stop placing so much importance on demonstrating socio-economic superiority.

Rather, focus on owning a strong financial foundation that can sufficiently meet your life’s goals.

Delay instant urges to gratify your self-image until you are sure your net worth says you can afford it.

If you do indeed have a self-worth issue, fulfil the void with family and meaningful relationships, a heightened appreciation for self, charitable works or even spirituality for some.
There is nothing wrong looking ‘less rich’ than others as long as you know that happiness is sourced internally and not externally.
After all, money does not buy you happiness but managing it well can get you there.
I urge you to ask your self this question now: “Which is more important: your self-worth or your net worth?”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Private Tutor = Nanny

Why parents need tutors: To do the job of parents - Navene Elangovan

The debate over the necessity of tuition in Singapore was recently reignited by comments made by Indranee Rajah, the Senior Minister of State for Education. Private tuition, she said, was not necessary in Singapore’s education system.
Time spent in class is sufficient for a child to grasp the necessary knowledge, the argument goes. Pay attention in class and keep up with your homework, and the average student can perform decently at examinations. Remedial classes will help weaker students to catch up with the rest.
But all this misses the real function of tutors in Singapore. The truth of the matter is that tutors here are nannies.
The argument that students can cope without tuition is premised on the assumption that the average child is intrinsically motivated to push himself to do well in school.
Yet it is unrealistic to expect most children to be so motivated.
The nature of academics is such that frequent practice, even beyond the allotted curriculum time, is required to reinforce concepts taught in the classroom. But the average student is unlikely to fully grasp the need for this. More often than not, all that is on their mind the moment they step out of their school gates is hanging out with friends.
This is where tutors are crucial. Often tutors are engaged to help a student with his homework, forcing the child to get his homework done before tuition begins. Tuition homework assigned on top of this means the child gets more practice in applying the concepts learnt in the classroom.
As such, tuition is a means to prod the student, whose priorities would otherwise probably lie elsewhere, into revising their work outside of curriculum time.
Should parents be nannies?
Some may suggest that it is the onus of the parents to play the role of nanny, ensuring that their child keeps up with school work. But this may also be an unrealistic demand in an era where double-income families are the norm, with both parents exhausted after working long hours.
And maybe whatever little time parents have left with their child is best set aside for more family-friendly activities, such as having dinner together. The relationship between parents and child risks being strained when dads and mums interfere in their child’s education. I see so many parents frustrated when their children do not perform up to their expectations.
Exhibit A: My neighbour, whom I’ve dubbed “Tiger Mummy”. Every day, from 8pm to 10pm, Tiger Mummy can be heard berating her son during their study sessions. Too slow, too stupid, she shouts.
It works both ways. Children resent their parents bossing them around. I’ve seen my siblings pull a long face after my parents tell them to do their homework. Faced with such hostility, parents soon retract their orders for fear of being seen as the bad guy — the last thing a parent wants after clocking a long day at the office is to return home to an unfriendly environment.
So that’s where tutors play come in: They’re pseudo-parents. Tuition can be scheduled while the parent is still at work, so mum and dad can come home to a child who is done with his homework and available for family time.
The “outsider” status of a tutor also means that the child is more likely to respect and respond to a tutor’s demands. Also, many parents are out of touch with the current school syllabus and are not in the best position to help their child academically.
Can’t live with it, can’t live without it
If one truly seeks a tuition-free world, then one must be able to raise intrinsically-motivated kids who understand the importance of education. Sounds good, but in such cases I worry that such a child may not have had the opportunity to be what he or she truly is — a child.
The other alternative is to simplify the education syllabus to reduce the demands placed on students. But we can’t risk compromising the standards of our school system.
The issue of whether tuition is a necessity is symptomatic of a larger problem in Singapore — that of balancing growth and competition with the desire for a slower pace of life. Until that is resolved, tuition will quite likely remain a necessity. –, October 1, 2013.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Physics Form 5: Chapter 4 - P-N Junction of Semiconductor

A small quantity of electrons on the n-side of the junction are attracted by the "holes" in the p-side. They drift across the junction, and fill available holes. This causes a region across the junction to be depleted in carriers of current (that is, electrons and "holes"). This region is called the DEPLETION LAYER, because it has been depleted in majority carriers. The depletion zone is a few micrometers thick, and, since it has no majority carriers, acts as an insulating barrier.
It is important to realise that when electrons moves from the n-side of the junction to the p-side, the n-side becomes positively charged (since neutral atoms have lost electrons), while the p-side of the junction now becomes negatively charged (since neutral atoms have now acquired negatively charged electrons). A potential difference now exists across the junction. This potential difference is about 0.6 V for silicon, and about 0.2 V for germanium. This is called the BARRIER POTENTIAL.

Why I decided to stop teaching after 19 years - Bernard Khoo

How different is education today, I was asked, compared with education when I was an educator?
Well, if I lasted 19 years as a teacher, it must have been a tolerable profession. Key operative word is “tolerable” despite the fact that in the mid-1960s, we teachers throughout the country went on strike to seek better remuneration.
When I opted to come back from Singapore after her separation from Malaysia to continue to make teaching my career my late meter-reader father warned me about the responsibility the job entailed.
“I already got you a job at LLN (now Tenaga) through Raja Zainal (then CEO)," he said.
He continued: "As a teacher you are responsible for ALL students in your class. They spend more hours with you than with their parents. If one goes astray, you have failed as the teacher!”
He sure threw a bucket of cold water on my vocation. I stuck to teaching, emboldened by the challenge  that I had, to emulate my former teachers, the men who nurtured me for this noble profession. I spent 10 years in a Sentul school after which I was assigned to another to stem the drug indiscipline in that school.
So, why did I throw all this away, besides the loss of pension and gratuity after 19 years?
After 1970, all schools were converted into government or government assisted schools and the Bahasa Kebangsaan (Bahasa Malaysia) would be the medium of instruction.
Three months of inservice course to learn Bahasa was deemed sufficient for one to be proficient in this new medium of instruction. I plodded on, even on occasions when I was just three pages ahead of my students.
That was the policy and I tried to do my best. And then I witnessed the insidious part race and religion snaked into the profession.
When handball was introduced in the sports curriculum I purchased the necessary. I was called into the office to justify why I purchased handball made from pig skin. I produced the ball that had the offending word “pigment” imprinted on it.
When the omnipotent words - race, religion and quota - took precedence over merit that resulted in shameless polarisation that then divided our student body, I wanted no part of this system and forfeited  one month’s salary in lieu of immediate resignation.
They say that once a teacher, always a teacher. I continued teaching as an internationally certified corporate trainer and coach, where race and religion could not find a foothold in multi-national corporations but lost a lucrative contract with a statutory body when it was revealed that I was an anti-establishment blogger.
So what’s new with this latest episode of the dressing room canteen?
The politicising of race and religion will continue unabated so we former teachers just pray that one day this beautiful country and its people can live together in harmony and undivided by people who use race and religion to control. - July 25, 2013.
* Bernard Khoo is a retired teacher who reads The Malaysian Insider.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Physics Form 5: Chapter 4 - The Doping of Semiconductor

An extrinsic semiconductor is an improved intrinsic semiconductor with a small amount of impurities added by a process, known as doping, which alters the electrical properties of the semiconductor. Doping process can improve semiconductor's electrical conductivity. Doping process produces two groups of semiconductor: the negative charge conductor (n-type) and the positive charge conductor (p-type). 

N-type semiconductor
Doped by pentavalent impurities which has 5 valence electrons to produce n-type semiconductors by contributing extra electrons. The addition such as antimony, arsenic or phosphorus contributes free electrons, greatly increasing the conductivity of the intrinsic semiconductor. 

This allows four of the five electrons to bond with its neighbouring silicon atoms leaving one "free electron" to move about when an electrical voltage is applied (electron flow).

P-type semiconductor
Doped by trivalent impurities which has 3 valence electrons to produce p-type semiconductors by producing a "HOLE". The addition such as boron, aluminium or gallium to an intrinsic semiconductor creates deficiencies of valence electrons, called "hole".

As there is a hole an adjoining free electron is attracted to it and will try to move into the hole to fill it. However, the electron filling the hole leaves another hole behind it as it moves. This in turn attracts another electron which in turn creates another hole behind, and so forth giving the appearance that the holes are moving as a positive charge through the crystal structure


Again and again.......How many times?

How am I going to encourage my ex SPM students to study Form SIX? Please answer me, Mr. Minister of Education. Please don't give any lame excuses such as technical error. Shame on you MOE!

Chai Yee Lin, a straight-A scorer in the STPM, had been hoping to further her studies in medicine or dentistry in a local public university of her choice.The teenager was sorely disappointed when she found out that she was only offered a place in Universiti Malaysia Kelantan to do veterinary science.
"Yes, I did state veterinary science as one of the secondary courses in the admission form, but I was confident that with my good results, I could get medicine or dentistry," she said.
Adding salt to the wound, Chai, who was hoping to support her family, later learnt that  a friend with lower scores was offered dentistry at Universiti Sains Malaysia.
The MCA and MIC have voiced out the grievances of students, claiming that fewer Chinese and Indian students had secured places in universities this year.
The Straits TImes reported that university entry has been a long-standing issue in the country, where racial quotas, favouring Malays and other bumiputeras, were used to determine entry into public higher-learning institutions.
The quotas were removed in 2002, and entry is now up to the discretion of higher education authorities.
It was reported that MCA education bureau chairman Wee Ka Siong has refused to accept the explanation from the Education Ministry that the candidates were denied entry into universities due to a technical glitch.
"I cannot accept this silly explanation. It is grossly unfair to the students," he said in Wisma MCA after meeting 22 students and their families on Tuesday.
MIC national youth council member G Kalaicelvan said the party had also received several complaints from top Indian students who had failed to gain admission to the course of their choice.
"Most want to do medicine and their STPM results meet the requirement but somehow they do not get a place in the public universities," The Straits Times quoted him as saying.
More than 18,000 students had failed to get places in public institutions of higher learning although they had met the requirements, said Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan, urging them to appeal.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in acknowledging the issue, had tweeted, urging the disappointed students not to give up.
"I know some were disappointed to not get a place at uni, but don't give up. Will discuss at Cabinet this week how to best help these students," he said. - AFP, July 18, 2013.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Physics Form 5: Chapter 4 - Semiconductor

Semiconductor is a material where its electrical conductivity lie between conductors and insulators. In semiconductors, thermal energy is enough to cause a small number of electrons to escape from the valence band of atom to the higher energy of conduction band, in which they are relatively free to move. The resulting gaps in the valence band are called holes.
Usually, semiconductors are made from semi-metal or called metalloid from the Periodic Table. 

Silicon is the most preferred material for semiconductors because:
  • ease of availability
  • low cost of processing 
  • higher temperature range
  • high resistivity than other counterparts 
  • low leakage current

Semiconductors are widely use in making diode, transistor and integrated circuit