SMK Kuala Selangor had initiated a project that saw its students using the The Star and its Newspaper-in-Education (NiE) pullout, to their benefit – proof that the newspaper is still a powerful tool in language-related activities. The Kuala Selangor school set up five years ago is among 17 schools receiving a year-long NiE sponsorship from gloves manufacturer Hartalega Sdn Bhd.
The school’s English panel head Faridah Kassim said that the newspaper and the NiE pullout which comes with it every Wednesday, had come in as an excellent resource for its English camps and lessons. It has also been used extensively for various activities to enhance learning during the school’s “academic month”. “I encourage them to carry out NiE activities. The aim is to make English learning fun,” she said. The scrapbooks, she explained, were on topics from the school syllabus. “Students were given the freedom to choose a topic and then prepare a scrapbook. She added that the handbooks could be used as references for teachers in the future.” The groups with the best scrapbooks were then chosen to take part in this year’s NiE contest Game4Life. The Star-NiE contest, launched in April, required students to work in teams of four to deliver a Public Service Announcement (PSA) on how sports could be a vehicle for social change.
SMK Kuala Selangor principal Abd Hamid Takat said that the newspaper is an affordable and easy-to-use resource. “It is easily available and you don’t have to depend on Internet coverage or electricity. Using the newspaper in class may seem old-fashioned, but the knowledge one gains from it is simply immense … useful and relevant for essay writing,” he said. He said that he noticed a change in student approach and behaviour with the introduction of the pullout. “I can see that they are confident and enthusiastic when speaking in the global language. The 21st century learning emphasises group work and the NiE activities focus on this area. It teaches students how to access and present knowledge. Teachers are only facilitators.”
When he heard that the school was receiving the NiE sponsorship, Abd Hamid said he was thankful. “Being a new school, we appreciate all forms of help and resources and what better way than The Star and the NiE pullout. As a sign of appreciation, the school prepared a big handmade thank you card for Hartalega. It was signed by the students and teachers.
The company’s human resource director Kuan Vin Seung was delighted to receive the card. He said that the company was proactive when carrying out its corporate social responsibility projects especially those involving The Star’s NiE programme. “We’ve been talking to some teachers from the schools and all of them have given positive comments. It was the confidence and enthusiasm – two major changes that stood out among their students. They were indifferent during English lessons but that’s all changing. They are more motivated and that is an encouraging sign,” added Kuan.
Human Resource (Community Affairs) head Mohd Ridzuan Kunjan said that the newspaper has opened up opportunities for students to be creative. “In some schools, they do not read the English newspaper, and the sponsored newspaper is their first contact with an English daily. From our discussion with some schools, it would seem that they are more receptive to the English language,” he added. Kuan said that the feedback from schools has been very encouraging.
“English is a window to the world. Once they have acquired sufficient proficiency, they would have unlimited access to information and knowledge. One good thing about NiE is it not only encourages students to learn English in a fun and interactive way; it also helps students to keep abreast with current affairs by reading the newspaper,” he said.