schools

Education Ministry wants greater cross-cultural exposure in schools, varsities
Graduates attend the International Islamic University Malaysia’s 34th convocation ceremony in Gombak November 10, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak KLUANG, May 20 — The Education Ministry wants greater cross-cultural exposure among students in schools and varsities to forge better multiracial harmony.Its minister Maszlee Malik said activities to the effect including through the curricula would result in greater understanding on living together.“To me what is more important is appreciating each other. Through curricular activities, common activities, it will bring us closer.“We do not want this to be just in theory but practised so that we understand the true meaning of living together,” he told reporters after officiating a plaque handing over ceremony for a special aid programme for Rumah Harapan in Kampung Parit Haji Hashim here yesterday.The Simpang Renggam MP was commenting on statement by Malaysian Youth Council president Jufitri Joha on Friday that the Islamic education subject only focused on Islam.Jufitri said exposure on other religions was also necessary for better multiracial harmony. — Bernama [...]
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Education officials to meet Penang govt on schools affected by proposed highway project
Education Minister Maszlee Malik says tis ministry will meet the Penang government for a discussion on schools that will be affected by the planned construction of the Pan Island Link 1. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon GEORGE TOWN, May 17 ― The Education Ministry will organise a meeting with the Penang government for a discussion on schools that will be affected by the planned construction of the Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1).Its minister Maszlee Malik said federal officials will discuss the issue with the state government and the state Education Department.“Let us look into it and discuss with the state government and state Education Department first,” he said when asked about the mitigation steps taken for schools that will be affected by PIL1.Maszlee was visiting SJKT Sungai Ara this morning and the school is one of those that will be affected by PIL1.The proposed 19.5km highway, which will form a second north-south spine road for the island, is expected to affect several schools along its route.The RM7 billion highway, supposedly to improve traffic congestion on Penang island, will consist of 7.6km of viaduct sections, four tunnel sections totalling 10.1km in length and embankment sections totalling 1.8km.PIL1, which links Gurney Drive to Bayan Lepas, will have six interchanges linking all major hubs.It will integrate with the north coastal paired road, Gurney Drive paired road, Air Itam and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway Bypass, first and second Penang bridge, proposed third link and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway.Works on the project is expected to start on July 2020 and is expected to complete by June 2026.It is part of the massive RM46 billion Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) project.Earlier, Maszlee announced an allocation of RM20,000 to SJKT Sungai Ara to cover its maintenance costs.Maszlee also announced an additional RM4,000 worth of books contribution from the Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka for the school’s library.He praised the school’s performance and said it could set a good example as a school that instilled values such as happiness, love and respect of each other in its education system.“This school used the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for its focus and implemented various environmental programmes for a fun learning experience for its pupils,” he said.He hoped other schools will emulate SJKT Sungai Ara’s system to create conducive and fun learning experiences for students.“This school also frequently organise events with the school next to it, Sekolah Agama Sungai Ara, and this should be encouraged,” he said.He said schools of different streams, such as vernacular schools and religious schools, should work together to organise joint events so that students get to learn more from different school systems. [...]
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MP offers free biodegradable cutlery to schools, NGOs
The biodegradable cutlery that will be given out to schools and NGOs in Tanjung Malim, under an initiative by its MP Chang Lih Kang. — Picture courtesy of Chang Lih Kang’s office IPOH, May 9 — In an effort to cut down on waste, an elected representative in Perak is giving out biodegradable cutlery to schools and non-governmental organisations in his constituency.Tanjung Malim MP Chang Lih Kang said all schools and non-governmental organisations in the constituency could apply for the utensils.“We want to do our part in reducing usage of plastic and Styrofoam in the constituency,” he said in a statement.Chang, who spent some RM10,000 for this initiative, is believed to be the first MP to implement such a move.The PKR vice-president said schools and NGOs could apply for the items from his service centre, which he promised would be approved quickly.“By using biodegradable utensils, it can also help to reduce the cost to organise an event,” he added.The utensils available are chopsticks, plates, bowls, cups and lunch boxes.For details, contact 05-4520221. [...]
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Are medical schools socially responsible?
On April 11, 2019, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat that only about 70% of new doctors complete their housemenship within two years. The remainder receive an extension on their housemenship posts, causing a backlog and decreasing the number of available training posts for the new, incoming housemen. This is a cause for concern. It not only raises questions about the quality of the medical graduates, but also medical education itself and the social accountability of medical schools. Am often-asked question is whether medical schools are producing doctors “fit for purpose”. Should medical schools not be held accountable when so many graduates are unprepared for housemenship? What is the value being provided for the large amounts of public and private funds expended in medical education? Social responsibilities The World Health Organization (WHO) defined the social accountability of medical schools in 1995 as “the obligation to direct their education, research and service activities towards addressing the priority health concerns of the community, region and/or nation they have a mandate to serve. “The priority health concerns are to be identified jointly by governments, healthcare organisations, health professionals and the public.” The Global Consensus for Social Accountability of Medical Schools in 2010 identified health needs and the effects of medical schools on those needs. These ten areas are: • An anticipation of society’s health challenges and needs. • The creation of relationships to act efficiently. • The spectrum of health workforce required and the doctor’s expected role and competencies. • The fostering of outcome-based education. • The creation of responsive and responsible governance of the medical school. • The refining of the scope of standards, research and service delivery. • The support for continuous quality improvement in education, research and service delivery. • The establishment of mandated mechanisms for accreditation. • The balancing of global principles with context specificity, and • Defining the role of society. The terms “socially responsible”, “socially responsive” and “socially accountable” are used interchangeably, but have different meanings. Charles Boelen and colleagues explained the distinctions in a 2012 paper published in the e-journal Education for Health as follows: “A socially responsible medical school is one that is committed to what faculty intuitively considers as the welfare of society. “The intention to produce ‘good practitioners’ is based on an implicit identification of society’s health needs. “A socially responsive medical school is one that responds to society’s welfare by directing its education, research and service activities towards explicitly identified health priorities in society. “In this case, the faculty intends to produce graduates possessing specific competencies to address peoples’ health concerns, such as the ones covered under the notion of ‘professionalism’. “The socially accountable medical school goes one step beyond as it is not only taking specific actions through its education, research and service activities to meet the priority health needs of society, but also working collaboratively with governments, health service organisations, and the public to positively impact people’s health and being able to demonstrate this by providing evidence that its work is relevant, of high quality, equitable (and) cost-effective. “As far as the quality of its graduates is concerned, its aim is to produce change agents with capacity to work well on health determinants and contribute to adapting the health system.” Examples to illustrate the differences were also given in the paper, as below. The socially responsible medical school is one that offers courses that focus on the determinants of poverty and health disparities. The socially responsive medical school engages its students throughout the course in community-based activities to ensure that all students acquire well-defined competencies to care for the most vulnerable. The socially accountable medical school goes beyond the above commitments, is aware of the health system’s challenges and positions itself as an important actor to influence health policies through active collaboration with key stakeholders. A socially-responsive medical school will ensure its students experience community-based activities that teaches them to care for the vulnerable in society, like the doctor in this filepic does voluntarily for the homeless in Kuala Lumpur. Evaluating excellence All medical schools claim excellence in their visions and missions. But are the words matched with deeds? Can each and every medical school state publicly whether they are socially responsible, socially responsive or socially accountable, and their reasons for stating so? While economics and financials are important for private medical schools, should the public good not be equally important? How is the profit imperative reconciled with the public good? Should the quality of students who enter medical school matter? What about the quantity and quality of the teaching staff, as they are role models for students? Does the quality of medical education focus on the core educational needs of a doctor, providing him with the knowledge, attitude and skills necessary to address public health and clinical challenges today and tomorrow? The boards (or councils), deans and teaching staff of universities or university colleges that have medical schools have a duty to society to address these issues, and if they have not, it is time to get started. It is in the interest of every medical school to produce graduates “fit for purpose” for its long-term sustainability. Students today are not like those of yesteryears as they share their experiences online. If medical schools are not up to the mark, their en [...]
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‘Meatless Mondays’ on horizon for New York schools
Hundreds of public schools in San Francisco and other California jurisdictions have already offered their students a ‘meatless Monday.’ — AFP pic NEW YORK, March 12 — Starting in September, New York city’s 1.1 million school students will eat vegetarian meals on “Meatless Mondays,” Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday.“Cutting back on meat a little will improve New Yorkers’ health and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” Democrat de Blasio said.The programme, which began in 15 Brooklyn schools almost a year ago with vegetarian breakfasts and lunches on Mondays, will be extended to the whole massive school system.“Reducing our appetite for meat is one of the single biggest ways individuals can reduce their environmental impact on our planet,” said Mark Chambers, Director of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.Hundreds of public schools in San Francisco and other California jurisdictions have already offered their students a “meatless Monday.”A new Democratic bill in California even proposes offering state students a vegan choice.“For those who scoff at this notion, I have some simple advice: look at the science. Look at the data. Look at the childhood obesity. Look at pre-diabetes diagnoses. Look at the fact that 65 per cent of American kids age 12-14 shows signs of early cholesterol disease,” said Staten Island Borough President James Oddo.“Then, perhaps you will embrace the fact that we can’t keep doing things the same way, including welcoming the idea of Meatless Mondays,” Oddo said. — AFP [...]
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Education Ministry orders all 111 Pasir Gudang schools closed over toxic fumes
A notice being put up in front of SMK Pasir Putih to announce the temporary closure of the school due to toxic fumes from chemicals dumped into the nearby Sungai KimKim, March 7, 2019. — Foto Bernama JOHOR BARU, March 13 — The Education Ministry has shut down all schools in Pasir Gudang district until further notice due to the emission of toxic fumes from waste illegally dumped into Sungai Kim Kim.Its minister Maszlee Malik said that the decision to close the 111 schools was made after taking the current situation and information from the state disaster management committee into consideration.“As such, all students, teachers, staff and workers in all affected schools need not turn up until the situation has improved,” he said in a statement tonight.Maszlee also advised all parties concerned to take precautions and keep abreast with the authorities on the latest developments.The Education Ministry’s Examination Board has also advised all Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2018 candidates in the affected schools to collect their results at the Pasir Gudang district education office from 10am tomorrow.It said in a statement that the candidates can also get their results by texting mySMS 15888 between 10am tomorrow and 6pm on March 20.Earlier today, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said a total of 506 victims of toxic fumes had sought medical treatment out of which nine were admitted into the intensive care unit.He also refuted a viral report that a student had died due to chemical pollution.The school closures had started last Thursday after students in two schools became ill.In spite of the school closures and hospital admissions, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian had told a press conference today that the situation along Sungai Kim Kim was under control, adding that there was no need to evacuate or move residents living along the river.“We expect that the worst is over. In fact, there has not been any death in relation to the incident and the situation is not one that warrants a state of emergency,” said Osman after chairing the state disaster management committee meeting.Osman said that the fumes mainly affected schools and not residential areas in Pasir Gudang.He believed that this was due to the open nature of schools that allowed the hazardous fumes to enter the building through the wind, or also the weather where heat can trigger the fumes.Osman also said clean-up work along the 1.5km stretch of contaminated river will be implemented immediately and is expected to be completed within a week.The authorities have detained three people who are suspected to have dumped the chemical into the river, and one of them will be charged in court tomorrow. [...]
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Education Ministry: 34 Pasir Gudang schools closed due to chemical pollution incident
KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry has ordered a total of 34 schools surrounding Pasir Gudang, Johor, to shutter its doors until further notice due to chemical pollution. [...]
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Contamination case critical, all 34 schools in Pasir Gudang ordered closed
JOHOR BAHRU – All 34 schools in Pasir Gudang have been ordered closed following the contamination believed to have been caused by discharging chemical waste into Sungai Kim Kim, which was seen to become more critical. Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the 34 schools included 13 which were closed yesterday.  “Unfortunately, I was told today that the situation had become more critical (so) to avoid undesired incidents occurring to our students and other members of the school staff, I ordered all 34 schools to be closed, the teachers too need not work because the situation was still dangerous,”he said in a statement here today. Maszlee said that he had ordered 13 schools closed yesterday after visiting the students who had become victims of the chemical contamination at the Hospital Sultan Ismail and Dewan Taman Pasir Putih. “There, I saw more than 50 students being sent by ambulance from the schools nearby non-stop as they had breathing difficulty and suffering symptoms similar to the victims previously,” he said. Maszlee said the ministry took the issue seriously as it involved risks of life to the students, teachers and school workers. “We also urge that the criminals who had caused the major crime to be prosecuted immediately,”he said. He also said the ministry was collaborating closely with the Health Ministry and the Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climatic Change since the issue started earlier (March 7) to ensure that the safety of students, teachers and the school workers was given priority. “I was also made to understand that the State Disaster Management Committee involving the Menteri Besar was meeting with the other relevant agencies,”he added. — BERNAMA The post Contamination case critical, all 34 schools in Pasir Gudang ordered closed appeared first on The Malaysian Reserve. [...]
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Johor closes nine more schools over toxic fumes
A notice being put up in front of SMK Pasir Putih to announce the temporary closure of the school due to toxic fumes from chemicals dumped into the nearby Sungai Kim Kim, March 7, 2019. — Foto Bernama JOHOR BARU, March 12 — The Johor state government has decided to close nine more schools tomorrow amid air pollution caused by the Sungai Kim Kim river that has sickened over 250 people, bringing the total schools closed to 13.Johor Health, Environment and Agriculture Committee chairman Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the decision was reached during a meeting by the State Disaster Management Committee that had initiated a working committee tonight to look into issues related to the hazardous fumes emitted from the Pasir Gudang river.The nine schools located in Pasir Gudang district consisted of seven primary and secondary schools, and two religious schools.They are SK Pasir Putih, SK Kota Masai 2, SMK Kota Masai 2, SK Kota Masai 3, SMK Kota Masai, SK Kota Masai, SK Perigi Acheh, Sekolah Agama Kampung Pasir Putih and Sekolah Agama Taman Pasir Putih.Four schools — SK Taman Pasir Putih, SMK Taman Pasir Putih, SK Tanjung Puteri Resort, and SMK Tanjung Puteri Resort — were closed earlier, bringing the total number to 13.Dr Sahruddin said the meeting had agreed that the Johor Education Department and the Johor Religious Department will close the schools until further notice.MORE TO COME [...]
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Two Johor schools affected by chemical leak to reopen tomorrow
Rescue personnel rendering immediate emergency assistance to the six students who had vomited due to methane gas inhalation in Pasir Gudang early this morning. — Picture courtesy of the Johor Fire and Rescue Department JOHOR BARU, March 10 — Sekolah Kebangsaan Pasir Puteh and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Pasir Putih, near Pasir Gudang, which were closed last Thursday due to air pollution caused by chemical dumping in Sungai Kimkim is confirmed safe, said Johor Education Department deputy director Azman Adnan.As such, he said, the schools will open as usual tomorrow and the heads of both schools are to convey the matter to their respective teachers, parents and students.Azman said he visited both the schools today and found the cleaning process done with the cooperation of various government agencies, the schools’ Parent-teacher Association, private sector and the local community.“I wish to express my appreciation and thanks to all quarters that have helped to ensure both schools are able to operate as usual,” he said in a statement here today.Last Thursday, 1,400 students of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Pasir Putih and Sekolah Kebangsaan Pasir Putih were ordered to vacate their school premises after some students complained of breathing difficulties and vomiting, believed due to inhalation of the gas emitted by the chemical wastes that were dumped into Sungai Kim Kim.As of today, only three students from SK Pasir Puteh and seven from SMK Pasir Putih are still at Sultan Ismail Hospital. — Bernama [...]
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Chemical pollution: Two Johor schools to reopen only on Monday, says state education deputy director
Rescue personnel rendering immediate emergency assistance to the six students who had vomited due to methane gas inhalation in Pasir Gudang early this morning. — Picture courtesy of the Johor Fire and Rescue Department JOHOR BARU, March 9 — Two schools in Pasir Gudang, which have been closed after students sniffed chemical gas resulting from the dumping of chemical waste into Sungai Kim Kim, have not been permitted to open tomorrow.Johor Education Department deputy director Azman Adnan said Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Pasir Puteh and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Pasir Putih would only be reopened on Monday (March 11) after a thorough cleaning job was done.“Please be informed that a special meeting of the Chemical Waste Spill Disaster Relief Committee In Sungai Kim Kim Pasir Gudang, Johor Bahru, was held today by the authorities involving all relevant government agencies.“Based on feedback from various departments and agencies, it is recommended SK Taman Pasir Puteh and SMK Taman Pasir Putih will be closed tomorrow, Sunday (March 10) to enable full cleaning work and the schools will reopen on Monday (March 11),” he said in a statement here today.,”Azman said the Johor Education Department agreed with the suggestion and had alerted the Pasir Gudang District Education Office and the two schools to inform teachers, parents, guardians and students about the closure.Two days ago, 1,400 SMK Pasir Putih and SK Pasir Puteh students were ordered to vacate the schools premises after a student suffered shortness of breath, vomiting and fainted after inhaling gas believed to be from chemical substance dumped into Sungai Kim Kim.As of 9.30 pm yesterday, the number of victims who had inhaled the gas was 79 people, including students and residents with 32 of them being treated as outpatients while 47 others were being treated at the Sultan Ismail Hospital. — Bernama [...]
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Education minister cautions schools against outdoor activities due to hot weather
Maszlee said there has been no cases of heat stroke among students so far. — Picture by Miera Zulyana CYBERJAYA, March 1 — The Education Ministry has advised all schools against holding activities outside the classroom in view of the current hot weather.Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said today the reminder was sent to schools in the middle of last month.He said he was informed that many schools scheduled to hold their annual sports meet next week had postponed the event.“The ministry does not encourage outdoor activities in hot weather. Parents must also encourage their children to drink plenty of water and take care of their health,” he told reporters after launching the Unesco Club and a Model United Nations (MUN) at Sekolah Seri Puteri here.MUN or Model UN is an extra-curricular activity in which students role-play delegates to the United Nations and simulate UN committees.The Meteorological Department has forecast that the dry spell currently experienced in western Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah is expected to prolong until the end of March.Maszlee said there had been no cases of heat stroke among students so far.Referring to the India-Pakistan tensions, he said the ministry had advised Malaysian students in India and Pakistan to keep in touch with the Malaysian high commissions in New Delhi and Islamabad for updates.He also said that the high commissions and the Foreign Ministry had a standard operating procedure in the event the situation worsens. — Bernama [...]
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Putrajaya accepts RM1 bln loan from S’wak to fix dilapidated schools
KUCHING: The Cabinet has approved a RM1 billion loan to the federal government from the Sarawak state government to resolve the issue of dilapidated schools in the state. In a Facebook post, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik revealed this decision following a previous agreement between him and Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. This was agreed upon during his visit to the Chief Minister’s Office on Feb 19 to discuss issues that would benefit 436,000 pupils across the state. The loan was offered last year by Abang Johari due to the urgency and need to repair the schools in question. A special committee comprising the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Finance and the State Government of Sarawak will be established to ensure clean governance and transparent processes are be implemented. At the implementation stage, the Sarawak Public Works Department (JKR) will be assigned as the implementing agency. The Cabinet has also agreed that the project will be closely monitored to ensure that the funds of RM1 billion will be put to use efficiently and would directly benefit students and teachers in the schools concerned. “I hereby thank the Federal Government and Sarawak Chief Minister, YAB Datuk Patinggi Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari Bin Tun Abang Haji Openg for coming together with me to ensure future access to quality education for Sarawakians,” he said. [...]
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Perak school’s ‘Touch N Toilet’ wins national award
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — SK Tanah Hitam in the town of Chemor, Perak, was recognised as the primary school with the cleanest public toilet this year with its Touch N Toilet concept that keeps track of students entering the loo through a scan of their identity cards.The high tech concept introduced Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology last year for the male toilets, where students are required to tap their identity cards and have them scanned each time they enter and exit, Utusan Malaysia reported today.SK Tanah Hitam’s principal Halimatus Sadiah Mohd Sharif said a special software could analyse the frequency of students’ visits to the toilets, based on the scanning of their identity cards.“This initiative by the school will indirectly avoid students from playing truant (loitering in the toilet for too long) besides overcoming the problem of vandalism or bullies in an enclosed space such as the toilets,” she was quoted as saying.She said the system could be emulated by other schools as it emphasises on security, cleanliness and cheerfulness in toilets.According to Utusan Malaysia, students are further required to remove their shoes outside the toilet and wear the slippers provided inside.The Malay daily added that the toilets for male students are equipped with faucets with infra-red technology to save water, close-circuit television cameras have been installed outside the toilet where a prayer for entry and exit of toilets is also on display.In a separate report by Sinar Harian, the Touch N Toilet system was implemented following discussions from all teaching staff at the school.Sinar Harian said only two out of nine toilets (four for male students, four for female students, and one for the disabled) are currently using the Touch N Toilet system.Sinar Harian said it sighted video clips in the toilets that provided tutorials on the correct way to wash hands, as well as how to tap in and out of the toilets using the chip-embedded cards.The paper said the award was given to the school last Saturday in conjunction with World Toilet Day celebrations at Stadium Indera Mulia in Ipoh, Perak.World Toilet Day, which the United Nations’ website says is intended to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis, falls on November 19 every year.It is unclear if the Touch N Toilet concept is a spin on the Touch ‘N Go concept, including cashless systems which among other things involve users tapping their cards to pay for toll and parking.The company Touch ‘N Go was last year reported to be seeking to pilot the use of RFID technology through stickers placed in cars for cashless payment of tolls, replacing the current card-based system of SmartTAG. [...]
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More than half of tahfiz, govt schools have poor safety standards, says Niosh chief
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the agency was constantly conducting checks and compiling reports for the government’s action. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa LABUAN, Jan 28 — It is estimated that over 50 per cent of Islamic educational institutions including tahfiz schools and dilapidated government schools nationwide do not comply with fire safety requirements, thus needing improvements.National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the agency was constantly conducting checks and compiling reports for the government’s action.“We do not have statistics detailing the number of tahfiz schools and dilapidated schools nationwide which do not comply with fire safety requirements, but we assume it could be more than 50 per cent,” he said at a press conference after the closing of a seminar on Occupational Health and Safety Management, here, today.Lee said the condition of some schools was found to be unconducive to safety and health.“NIOSH is doing its corporate social responsibility (CSR) of visiting schools, providing service and creating educational awareness of the importance of occupational safety and health management,” he said.He said non-compliance to safety requirements also happened in many government-sponsored schools in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak.“The situation in these schools is pathetic, the buildings have been there for more than 30 years there are classrooms which are not in good condition.“We have to depend on the government, of course it is still the government’s responsibility through the Education Ministry to ensure it has sufficient funds for improvements to the schools concerned,” Lee said.He said it was understood that tahfiz schools which were mostly not run by the government had no adequate funds.“There are tahfiz schools run privately by certain religious bodies and state governments. Therefore, budget is always an issue,” he added.Lee called on the private sector and corporate bodies to render financial assistance to tahfiz schools as part of their CSR programme.There are three tahfiz schools in Labuan run privately by individuals and are not fully under the jurisdiction of the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Department (JAWI). — Bernama [...]
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Inside the Specialized ‘Recovery’ High Schools Designed Just for Teens With Addiction
SEATTLE — It’s the last class period of the day. The students lean back on couches and take turns describing the most important day of their lives: the day they became sober. For Marques Martinez, that date was Nov. 15, 2016. Until then, he had used OxyContin, Xanax and nearly every other drug he could get his hands on, he said. He had been suspended from school for selling drugs. “I knew what I was doing was bad,” he said. “But I didn’t think there was another way.” Two years ago, Martinez’s parents sent him to an in-patient treatment center and then enrolled him in this unusual high school, Interagency at Queen Anne, or IQA. Martinez, 17, learned about the school from an alumnus and knew it might be his last option. He was skeptical at first, but he knew one thing immediately: “I felt safe here.” The Seattle public school campus, known as a recovery school, is designed for students learning to lead lives of sobriety while they earn their diplomas. The roughly 20 students attend classes in math, language arts and physical education, and they complete other courses online. They meet regularly with a counselor and attend daily support group meetings based on Alcoholics Anonymous programs. Recent research shows that recovery schools — also known as sober schools — help keep their students off drugs and in class. A 2017 study by Vanderbilt University associate professor Andy Finch and other researchers showed that students in recovery schools were significantly more likely than those not in such schools to report being off drugs and alcohol six months after they were first surveyed. And the average reported absences among the 134 recovery school students in the study was lower than the other students. Recovery schools first appeared in the late 1970s and now about 40 exist nationwide, including in Minnesota, Texas and Massachusetts. More are likely to open as opioid overdoses continue to climb, said Finch, who is co-founder of the Association of Recovery Schools. “There has been a gap in adolescent treatment for many, many years,” he said. “The schools are one of the programs that fill in that gap.” Finch said about 85% of the recovery schools are public or have some source of public funding, while some are private campuses or part of treatment centers. New sober schools are planned in New York, Delaware and Oregon, Finch said. Starting any school can be complicated, but recovery schools have extra layers of complexity. They have to recruit their students, impose policies specific to them and fund the services they need. Advocates and school officials in Delaware had hoped to start a public recovery school this year but couldn’t get the funding they needed, said Don Keister, who helps run Attack Addiction, an advocacy group he co-founded after his son died of a heroin overdose. Keister said a local school district offered to provide the space and the equipment but didn’t have the estimated $2 million needed to cover staff costs. “There is a real need,” he said. “In Delaware, we don’t have any real help for adolescents.” Nationally, illicit drug use among middle and high school students is at record lows. Still, nearly 1 in 5 10th-graders reported using an illegal drug in the previous 30 days, according to the annual nationwide Monitoring the Future survey. Like Martinez, many of the Interagency at Queen Anne students go there straight from treatment programs. They say they encounter less temptation than at traditional high schools. “There, people offer you drugs every day,” said 15-year-old Coltrane Fisher, who regularly used heroin, cocaine and other illegal drugs before coming to the school last March. The success of recovery high schools is partly due to the fact that the students are among sober peers, as well as teachers and counselors who all support their sobriety. “Unless these kids get engaged with other young people in recovery, they don’t stand a chance,” said Seth Welch, a recovery support counselor at Interagency Queen Anne. “This becomes their new community.” Counselor Seth Welch talks to students about how to choose a sponsor. Students at Interagency at Queen Anne sign a sobriety pledge when they enroll and agree to random drug testing. But the going is not always easy. Teachers at IQA say they believe the environment has been critical to the students’ success, but it is sometimes a challenge to work there. Some students are way behind in their credits, and they don’t always respond well to authority. “The more we push them, the more they push back,” said one of the teachers, Phyllis Coletta. Sometimes classwork must be set aside, Coletta said. On a recent school day, one of the newer students was so upset that she spent most of the day crying, clutching a blanket. Coletta hugged her and they took a long walk. “Mental health and sobriety come first,” Coletta said. Interagency at Queen Anne, which opened in late 2014, is part of a network of alternative public school campuses called Interagency Academy, which also serves homeless and incarcerated youths. At first, the campus drew opposition from a group of elementary school parents who feared the students would sell drugs in the neighborhood. But Melinda Leonard, the former vice principal who helped found the school, said those fears have now given way to community support. “The campus is the most sober school in the school district,” Leonard said. Students at the school sign a sobriety pledge and agree to random drug testing. They aren’t kicked out for relapsing, but Welch, the support counselor, works to get them back into treatment if they begin actively using again. Since the school opened, 21 students have graduated. Welch and the teachers help students plan for the future. Martinez, for ex [...]
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