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COVID: Being PPV volunteer helps boost PWD student’s self-confidence

Being a volunteer at a vaccination centre (PPV) is likened to killing two birds with one stone for Siti Nurhikmah Razlan, because apart from helping to boost her confidence in front of strangers, the social service job gives her self-satisfaction.

Siti Nurhikmah, 23, is a person with disability (PwD). Visually impaired in one eye since birth, she said that the desire to serve in this COVID-19 pandemic situation caused her to always look out for opportunities at any PPV, before being informed that the PPV Dewan Jubli Perak Sultan Ahmad Shah, here, was looking for volunteers.

The eldest of two siblings, she is grateful to her father, Razlan Ramli, 46, and mother Diana Hussin, 44, for their support by allowing her the use of their car to get to the PPV, which is located about 20 kilometres from their house in Balok Perdana, here.

“Since childhood, my father has kept reminding me not to feel inferior to others. In fact, he often took me to welfare or community programmes related to his work in the navy, which may have served as training grounds for me to be more self-confident.

“Interest in volunteer work may also have arisen because I used to follow my father around a lot (on his work-related matters), making me realise that my lack (disability) is not an obstacle to anything you are passionate about,” she told Bernama when met on her first day of duty at the PPV, today.

Siti Nurhikmah, a Bachelor of Office System Management student at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Puncak Alam, Selangor, said that there are some people who have the habit of staring into her eyes. Uncomfortable as it may be, she dismisses their actions as just curiosity.

Talking more about her job as a volunteer, Siti Nurhikmah said she will work until September before undergoing industrial training to complete her study requirements. Among her roles at the PPV is to manage the registration of vaccine recipients and give out instructions (about the process).

According to her, meeting with various sections of the community at the PPV helps her to improve her communication skills, one of the main requirements when she enters the working world in her field later.

“Now I don’t have to attend lectures online because it’s almost the end of the semester but I just have to complete the assignments given by the lecturers, which I do in the evening as my daytime is spent at the PPV,” she added.

Siti Nurhikmah also hopes that more young people will become volunteers as a sign of participation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

UiTM conveys condolences over death of two students

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) today conveyed its condolences to the families of two students, at the Kedah and Pahang branches, who died recently.

Nurul Natasya Ezreen Azemi, 22, was pursuing a diploma in Office Management and Technology, Faculty of Management and Business at UiTM Kedah branch, and Muhammad Adham Hazim Mohd Rizaini, 21, was pursuing a diploma in Civil Engineering, Faculty of Civil Engineering at Pahang branch.

UiTM Corporate Communications Department’s Public Relations, Media and Protocol, in a statement today, prayed that the families of the two students will be given strength and patience in facing this difficult time.

“May Allah shower blessings on their souls,” it said.

In the meantime, it also said that the university has always been involved in ensuring the students’ welfare and convenience would be met under the ODL (open distance learning) sessions.

“Students who require internet facilities and devices will be assisted and welcomed to stay at the college or rented accommodation near the campus,” it said.

For the aspect of assessment and evaluation, UiTM, through the Academic Affairs Division, and the lecturers involved, have given early notification regarding important dates of assignments to students at the beginning of the semester, under the study plan of each course.

Meanwhile, the UiTM’s Academic Affairs, under its ‘prihatin’ initiative, has already extended assessment and evaluation activities during the final evaluation week, until August.

“It is implemented through academic circular 11/2021, which has been issued and communicated to all students and lecturers on June 18, 2021,” it said.

At the same time, the Student Affairs Division and Counselling Unit, always caring and ready to assist students in providing advice and any assistance needed while undergoing ODL during the pandemic.

“Students are encouraged to discuss with the lecturers, academic advisors or the head of the programme to resolve any issues related to assessment and evaluation schedules,” the statement read.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

PTPTN to review loan repayment system – Chairman

The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) will conduct a full review of their loan repayment system.

Its chairman Datuk Wan Saiful Wan Jan said this was following a case where a borrower’s account was found to be still active even though the loan had been long settled and wanted the corporation to conduct an immediate investigation.

“I have been informed that the case has been resolved but my concern is this should not be repeated. Therefore, I have ordered a full review to be held to prevent the same weakness from recurring,” he said.

Wan Saiful was met by reporters after checking on the COVID-19 vaccination process at the USCI University Kuala Lumpur Campus vaccination centre (PPV), here, today.

He said this in commenting on the case that went viral on social media involving a PTPTN borrower who had long repaid her loan but there was still a balance of one sen that was outstanding in her account.

Meanwhile, on the moratorium involving PTPTN loans, Wan Saiful said there were still many borrowers who decided to continue with their monthly payments despite being offered the facility.

He added that even with the moratorium, PTPTN was receiving repayments ranging from RM100 million to RM200 million each month.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Study needed to ensure Biosphere Reserves benefit people of Sabah – Jamili

— A study needs to be done to identify and assess the benefits enjoyed by the people of Sabah, especially the communities living around the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve (CRBR), said Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Dr Jamili Nais.

CRBR is a conservation area listed in the Man and The Biosphere Programme (MAB) network of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) on June 12, 2014.

Jamili said the study was necessary to ensure that RBBC truly benefits the community in line with the goals and objectives of its recognition through the programme.

“If the benefits are less significant (to the community), it would be good for us to work together to formulate new action plans.

“This is to ensure that the benefits can also be enjoyed by the people in or around this biosphere reserve,” he said when launching a webinar in conjunction with the 7th Anniversary Programme of the Declaration of CRBR as a UNESCO MAB site here today.

The MAB is an inter-governmental scientific programme launched by UNESCO in 1971, and to date, there are 714 biosphere reserves in 129 countries including two in Malaysia, namely RBBC and Tasik Chini Biosphere Reserve in Pahang.

Also present was Sabah Parks (TTS) director Dr Maklarin Lakim.

Meanwhile, Maklarin, in his speech said TTS has been entrusted by the Sabah government as the guiding agency in the preservation and conservation of the 350,584-hectare CRBR, which covers nine district administrative areas, namely Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Papar, Beaufort, Tuaran, Keningau, Tambunan, Ranau and Tenom.

“Sustainable management will promote conservation and development without negatively impacting the conservation of biodiversity and natural ecosystem services, especially to various biodiversity resources and clean water supply,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Survey projects business school graduate demand rebounding post-pandemic – GMAC

— The Graduate Management Admission Council™ (GMAC™), a global association of leading graduate business schools, has released its annual 2021 Corporate Recruiters Survey.

The report found that corporate recruiters project a robust demand for business school graduates, with nine in 10 of them expecting it to increase or remain stable in the next five years, according to a statement.

In addition, a higher proportion of recruiters in 2021 (37 per cent) expect the demand to increase than that in the previous year (30 per cent), with more than half of the European recruiters (54 per cent) sharing such a view compared to their Asian (32 per cent) and American (34 per cent) counterparts.

Among the key findings, MBA salary and hiring are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels; technology sector embraces MBA graduates for hiring and promotion; and, perceptions of online programmes are mixed depending on region, sector.

In 2020, the projected MBA median salary reached an all-time high of US$115,000 before COVID-19 severely disrupted the global economy and caused it to drop down to $105,000, three months into the pandemic. (US$1 = RM4.155)

According to survey respondents, demand for MBA graduates by the technology industry is anticipated to increase by 10 percentage points in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic 2020. In fact, with 96 per cent of tech recruiters projecting to hire MBA graduates in 2021, the demand for MBA talents tops the previous three years.

In addition, online programmes have been gaining traction in recent years. According to GMAC data, 50 more online MBA programmes accepted GMAT scores in the testing year (TY) 2020 as compared to five years earlier in TY 2016.

GMAC has been conducting the Corporate Recruiter Survey on behalf of the graduate management education community since 2001.

This year’s survey was administered in partnership with the Association of MBAs (AMBA), the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), and career services offices at participating graduate business schools worldwide.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

No reason not to provide opportunities to excellent PwD students – Ras Adiba

— The lack of infrastructure is not an excuse not to provide opportunities for excellent persons with disabilities (PwD) students to further their studies at higher education institutions (IPTs), OKU Sentral president Senator Datuk Ras Adiba Radzi said.

In this regard, Ras Adiba, who represents the PwDs in the Senate, said there was a need for better enforcement of Section 28 (1) and (2) of the PwD Act 2008.

Section 28 (1) of the act states that PwDs shall not be excluded from the general education system on the basis of disabilities, while Section 28 (2) of the act states that the government and private educational providers shall, in order to enable persons and children with disabilities to pursue education, provide reasonable accommodation suitable with their requirements, including infrastructure, equipment and teaching materials, teaching methods, curricula and other forms of support.

“(Therefore) The amendment to the PwD Act should be expedited this year to provide reasonable adjustments that are in accordance with the needs of the group,” she told reporters at the OKU Sentral drive-through vaccination centre here, today.

Ras Adiba had previously called for amendments to the PwD Act 2008 to empower the rights of the disabled community.

On Wednesday, Higher Education director-general Prof Datuk Dr Husaini Omar said that programmes offered to PwD applicants were based on an agreement with the institutions by taking into accounts several criteria, including the academic achievements of the candidates and the disabled-friendly infrastructure provided at the IPTs.

Ras Adiba, who is also the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) chairman, said this implied that most buildings in IPTs did not meet the standards outlined in Section 34A of the Uniform Building By-Laws 1984.

“Failure to abide by the law has caused difficulties to PwD students to access the buildings and facilities at IPTs.

“We have to look at the perspective of a PwD himself, don’t do something thinking that we (PwDs) will be okay,” she said.

Ras Adiba added that OKU Sentral would discuss with universities on ways to assist the students in order to provide equal educational opportunities.

“They (PwD students) also work hard to become intellectuals, so who we are to say that they have limited opportunities when they have more abilities than others,” she said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

PwD inclusion policy in IPTS still in place – Higher Education DG

— The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has stressed that the PwD (persons with disabilities) Inclusion Policy in higher education institutions (IPTs) is still in place.

Refuting claims by certain quarters that the group’s admission to IPTs has been restricted, Higher Education director-general Prof Datuk Dr Husaini Omar said the ministry has also expanded educational opportunities for B40, PwD, Orang Asli and athletes to further their studies at public higher education institutions (IPTAs) and public skills training institutions.

“Applicants from these groups only need to pass the general criteria and special requirements of the programme applied as set by the selected university,” he said in a statement today.

The statement was issued in response to a claim that a PwD applicant failed to secure admission to an IPTA due to his physical condition.

Husaini said checks found that the UPUonline applicant was a candidate from Category B, a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2019 graduate who had applied for the ASASIpintar programme at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) for the 2021/2022 academic session.

“The candidate does not meet the minimum requirements for admission to the programme. Candidates are required to obtain 7A- in subjects including Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

“However, this candidate is still allowed to update his application until July 2,” he said, adding that the candidate had previously turned down an offer for the Diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology programme at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin for the 2020/21 academic session.

Husaini said efforts to improve access to higher education for the B40, PwD, Orang Asli and athletes are made to ensure equity in higher education by giving all students the opportunity to reach their full potential.

He said the opportunities should be available to all Malaysians regardless of location, race, gender or socio-economic background as outlined by the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education),

MOHE through its Student Admission Division (BKPA) fully supports the third strategic thrust (Improving PWD access to Education) which has been outlined in the Action Plan for Persons with Disabilities (2016-2022), he added.

Husaini said the programmes are offered to PwD applicants based on an agreement with the institutions by taking into accounts several criteria, including the academic achievements of the candidates and the disabled-friendly facilities provided at the IPTs.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency