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PENANG, November 2014 - Education, learning and leadership play important roles in transforming Asia into what it is today and strengthening the cooperation among nations in Asia.

Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Dato’ Seri Utama (Dr.) Haji Abdul Rahman Abbas said this in his opening address at the third International Conference on Leadership & Learning in the Asian Century (ELLTA 2014) held in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) recently.

“In the past, Asia had produced many great leaders like Mahathir Mohamed, Mahatma Gandhi, Sukarno, and Lee Kuan Yew who utilised and developed education to make their respective countries and Asia greater.

“Strong leadership is needed to ensure the country’s progress while education plays an important role in developing future leaders,” he said.

The Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri was happy to see that USM has taken the lead, in line with its motto “We Lead” to organise such a conference that brings together academicians and researchers in the field of education to generate higher level thinking to produce better education and leadership for Asia.

Meanwhile, USM Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dato’ Dr. Omar Osman said, being the sole APEX University in Malaysia, USM will plot and chart future scenarios of leadership in various areas of concern at both national and international settings based on its very own motto “We Lead”.

“With rapid and sometimes unpredictable changes in the landscapes of leadership and learning in the world, such an international conference is needed to share a range of past, current and future issues from the perspective of Asia in the 21st century (Asian Century).

“As such I hope this conference will be able to help in identifying present challenges, exploring policies and strategies and developing models of leadership and learning that are workable and sustainable in Asia,” he said.  

Omar who also delivered a keynote speech titled “Steering A University – Trying to do the Right Thing Right,” said USM will continue to steer and guide the younger generation into “doing the right things” within a workable framework that are able to give a big impact to the society and the nation.

Also present to give a keynote speech was the Patron of ELLTA who is also the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of INTI-Laureate International Universities, Professor Dato’ Ibrahim Ahmed Bajunid.

The opening ceremony of the conference also saw the launching of USM’s Reading Evaluation and Decoding System (READS) by the Penang Yang di-Pertua Negeri.

READS developed by a team of researchers from the USM School of Educational Studies (PPIP) is a reading assessment kit to help students, aged 12 to 18 years old, identify specific weaknesses in their English language proficiency, and hence assessing their mastery of the language.

According to the PPIP Deputy Dean (Academic), Associate Professor Dr. Shaik Abdul Malik Mohamed Ismail, who developed the programme together with the Dean of PPIP, Profesor Dato’ Dr Abdul Rashid Mohamed and lecturer, Dr. Lin Siew Eng, READS has been introduced to 20 secondary schools in Penang, to get the users’ feedback of the user-friendliness and effectiveness of the programme.

“So far the response we obtained from teachers, school administrators and students has been very encouraging, and we hope to fine tune the programme before making it commercially available,” he added.

ELLTA 2014, held for three days from 17 to 19 November, attracted more than 300 participants from Malaysia and more than 60 countries mainly consisted of academicians, researchers, policy makers, postgraduates, and various stakeholders. - Translation: Tan Ewe Hoe/Text: Nor Rafizah Md Zain/Photo: Mohd Fairus Md Isa

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