What iS SMARTschool???
When Malaysia launched her Multimedia Super Corridor(MSC) project, Sekolah Bestari (Malaysian Smart School) is on the top priority of one of its flagships. Since then, the Bestari concept in education is one of the most talk-about topic among educators and trainers in Malaysia. The first phase of Sekolah Bestari will begin operation in 1999 academic year.
- Will the Sekolah Bestari be the same as many Smart Schools mushrooming around the Globe?
- Will all Malaysian schools afford the latest technology?
- Doesn't present Malaysian education system smart enough?
- Will Malaysian educators be able to cope with the new concept?
- How will the students be assessed?
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These are among the FAQs about Sekolah Bestari. I will try to give brief explanation to the above FAQs:
The Sekolah Bestari won't be the same as any existing Smart Schools anywhere around the world. These are due to two main factors involving current education system in Malaysia and will continue in Sekolah Bestari. Firstly: The National Phylosophy of Malaysian Education will be the main component of Sekolah Bestari curriculum and secondly: moral values that have been stressed in present curriculum will go on into Bestari schooling. These two foundations of Malaysian Education will not be nagiotable in the Bestari Curriculum. This will make the Sekolah Bestari different than the rest of Smart Schools. How the curriculum is being carried out in Sekolah Bestari may resemble to the existing Smart Schools.
When ideas about Sekolah Bestari being projected to the Malaysian public, people started imagining classrooms packed with computers, internet, video conferencing equipments and all the latest communication technology can offer. These misconceptions were due to the association of Sekolah Bestari and MSC. Sekolah Bestari is NOT ABOUT TECHNOLOGY. If the technology is there then it is wise to use it. The most important idea about Sekolah Bestari involves the teaching and learning process. The Bestari curriculum will cater for all levels of learners. This is where virtual express class concept comes in. A fast learners will be able to proceed to the higher and more complex contents of the syllabus while the slow learners will continue with activities until they are ready to move on. The previuos sentence was easy to state but how well can a teacher carry out in the Bestari classroom. The first step towards the preparation of Sekolah Bestari is for the Bestari Teachers undergoing retraining in FIVE skills in context with Sekolah Bestari.
The skills are:
Creative and Critical Thinking,
Assessement and Evaluation
All these skills must be acquired wholly for teachers to be able to FACILITATE Bestari classrooms. The teaching continuum will move from teaching to facilitating as students in one Bestari classroom will be doing different activities according to their abilities. The present Sage by the Stage approach will move to Guide by the Side. The technology will no doubt facilitate these process but again is only considered as tools in the teaching and learning process. The Bestari concept can be carried out even for a school without a phone line or even electricity supply.
All the five elements stated in the above paragraph have been practised in Malaysian schools for years and nothing is new about it. The only thing lacking with the present system is that there is not much democratization in education. Students have no choice on what to learn and when to sit for the examination. The present assessement system does not allow learners to sit for the exam when they are ready. Exams are sheduled to the most only twice a year. With the new concept more School based or portfolio based assessement will be carried out allowing students more freedom to learn. This flexibility will allow more room for teachers to plan their lessons which will not be too exam orientated. The Malaysian Examination Syndicate will come up with Smart Assessement whereby students will be able to take exams whenever they are ready. Registration will be on-line and students can checks their cummulative performance and even got the chance to improvize on it
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