Limitless potential
With the right guidance, differently abled children can
hone their boundless talent to achieve success.

2 Bright Kids


Turning differences
into strengths
THE gold medal victories of
three Malaysian Paralympians
in September were celebrated as
national successes, but beyond
that, they also reopened the
conversation about specially
abled individuals in the country.
The schooling of children with
special needs is a topic of great
interest and discussion in the
modern educational fraternity.
Whether involving an
intellectual or developmental
condition – dyslexia, attention
deficit hyperactivity disorder
(ADHD), autism, Down
syndrome – or a physical
one such as cerebral palsy
or muscular dystrophy, many
have called for improved special
education provisions in national
There are policies in place,

of course. At the recent Budget
2017 announcement, Prime
Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun
Razak announced an allowance
of RM150 each for 67,000 special
students, adding that the buses
for 21 special education schools
will soon be replaced.
These measures would
undoubtedly be helpful, but what
is more pertinent is the approach
and pedagogy of special
education in public schools.
The situation in these schools
leaves much to be desired, what
with the persisting stigma that
special children are hard to
handle or educate.
While high-functioning
students with special education
needs can be included in normal
classrooms, not all children
would be able to fit in during
regular lessons.
Therefore, a vital first step in

There is still much stigma surrounding children with special needs.

Go beyond
teaching methods
to bring out
the strengths
and abilities of
children with
special needs.
Joyce Liew
getting children with special
needs the education they need
is properly diagnosing their
Parents who suspect their
children may have developmental

difficulties can seek the
consultation of a child
development expert, who will
be able to discuss the child’s
diagnosis and advise on how
to best approach it.

Universally enriching
Inclusive classrooms can be
found in certain private and
international schools in the
country and are seeing growing
This ideology has proven to be
advantageous to children with
special needs as they are able to
socialise and form friendships
with others their age. It also
ensures they are provided equal
educational opportunities as well
as access to curriculum and
Joyce Liew, head of special
education at Nilai International
School, explains that the benefits
of inclusion are not limited to
students with special needs.
“Other children learn to accept
and empathise with these children
who are different – to mingle, talk
and play with them, not to bully or
treat them unpleasantly.”
She elaborates that teachers
design structured situations for
all children to mix, which are
important for certain kids with
autism to begin socialising.
Children with Down syndrome,
for example, are recognisable by
distinctive physical features and
are sometimes friendly with new
people, but this is often not the
case with children on the autism
spectrum, who may appear normal
but find it hard to even make eye
contact. These kids would need
help initiating interaction, which is
where the teacher steps in.
To do this, the educator would
need to first understand the child’s
condition and identify areas that
they require assistance in. How
teachers behave and interact with
the special child also sets the tone
for other students, who are
learning by example.
According to Liew, the key to
maximising the benefits of

inclusion is to continuously
challenge special children to do
more than is expected or required.
“Do not allow their condition to
limit their potential and be creative
in working with their learning
style – go beyond adapting
conventional teaching methods to
bring out their strengths and
abilities,” she says.

All kinds of minds
Intellectual disabilities may be
harder to understand simply
because they are not as visible as
physical ones, but neither should
be used to label or limit what a
child can do.
“Find their passion or talent and
use that as a positive force to build
confidence in the child. This, in
turn, helps the child and teachers
to progress through concepts or
subjects they face difficulties with,”
says Carly Nair, special needs and
learning support coordinator at
HELP International School.
American animal science
professor and livestock animal
behaviour consultant, Temple
Grandin, is also a renowned autism
activist who did not start speaking
until she was four years old.
In her 2010 TED talk, she
emphasised how we need to focus
on what special children can do
and not what they cannot.
As someone who has lived with
autism all her life, Grandin
elucidates how she thinks in
visuals and not language and says
this has helped her better
understand the minds of animals
as well as build effective livestock
facilities and systems.
She came to realise that different
people think in different ways,
which leads to the development of
various learning styles and
“Use these children’s fixations
and interests in interesting ways to
get them motivated to learn. An
autistic mind is often a specialist
mind – it may not be good at one
thing, but very good at another.
The world needs different kinds of
minds to work together,” said


Bright Kids 3


Bringing out the best in special needs children
Intan Miranti, learning and
behaviour consultant for children
on the autism spectrum and
mother of a child with autism,
emphasises that the onus is on the
teacher and school system to learn
how best to cater to the child’s
learning style – not for the student
to be forced into a learning style
that is not suitable.
“There needs to be a
fundamental respect for students
with special needs and recognition
that they are not defective but
learn in a different way.
“This is important because a lot
of backward thinking dictates that
the child has to accommodate to
the preset teaching approach or
curriculum. Support in school
should be the other way around,
where the child is accommodated
by the system,” she says.
Intan feels educators must
pursue the necessary training and
knowledge, never letting lack of
expertise get in the way of
connecting with special children.
Nair agrees, saying that
successful inclusive classrooms
primarily need an enthusiastic
teacher who is willing to
consistently implement strategies.
“Teachers can only feel
enthusiastic if adequate support is
there for them, including a special
education needs team, teaching
assistants, suitable student-toteacher ratios, and a supportive
management team that adapts
and grows along with the
provision for special education
needs,” she says.

Special education need not be
limited to the traditional classroom
setting, though. The interests and
talents of special children may lie
in sports, performing arts, music or
culinary arts, but they could
require specific guidance and
encouragement to participate with
other children.
Drama teacher Bob Morshidi has
taught children with conditions on
the autism spectrum, including
Asperger syndrome, as well as
ADHD. While working with these
children may involve unique
considerations and patience, the
rewards are clearly far-reaching.
“I have seen how a child who
could barely stand still or pay
attention at school performed well
in his show while also displaying
massive improvement in
communication and teamworking
“Interacting with these children
makes life richer. You also learn to
handle yourself well among others
as it challenges everyone to be a
better version of themselves,” he
Morshidi, who grew up
with a brother with autism,
says this is why the cultural
shame that many feel for
having an individual
with special needs in
the family ought to
come to an end.
“Some parents
still choose to not
deal with the fact
that their child is
different, but
sweeping it under
the rug means that

these children do not get
diagnosed and are therefore
unable to access the assistance
they need,” he says.
It is clear that more should be
done for children with special
needs in the country but where
do we begin?
“Schools, parents and
community members need to
work together to raise awareness
and understanding of learning
differences through campaigns,
talks, sharing of ideas and
experiences – anything that
opens the topic for discussion,”
says Nair.
Rio 2016 Paralympians Mohd
Ridzuan Puzi, Muhammad Ziyad
Zolkefli, and Abdul Latif Romly
were all special children with big
dreams not too long ago.
If we can share their joy in
success, nothing should stop us
from being the agents and allies
of change to better recognise and
cultivate extraordinary talents
and potentials.

Explore with movies
Here are a couple of movies you
should check out with the family to
better understand individuals with
special needs:

l I am Sam

The 2001 family drama
starring Sean Penn tells the
story of a father with
intellectual disability and his
struggle to retain custody of
his young daughter Lucy
(played by Dakota Fanning in
her debut role).
Sam is well-adjusted and
gives his all to care for his
daughter, but Lucy is
constantly teased for his
condition and faces her own
challenges in growing past her
single father’s mental ability.
When the threat of having
Lucy taken away from him for
being an unfit parent becomes
apparent, Sam seeks the help
of Rita, a high-flying lawyer
with a chip on her shoulder.
The unlikely pair ends up
becoming friends, with
Sam helping Rita gain
the strength to fix her
own family issues.
A tale of accepting
our differences and
finding strength
in diversity,
I am Sam is an

emotional roller-coaster that
also serves as a reminder of a
parent’s undying love.
l Redha
Inspired by true stories, this
movie highlights a couple’s
differences in coming to terms
with their child’s autism.
Razlan is a father unwilling
to accept that his son is
disabled by this condition,
while Alina’s maternal instinct
and unconditional love
perservere to give the best for
their son Danial.
With the support of loved
ones, things start to look up
for the small family until a
tragic accident throws them
back into unfamiliar territory.
This homegrown flick has
received critical acclaim on
the international stage and
has been solely submitted
by the National Film
Corporation Malaysia
(Finas) for consideration
in the Foreign Language
Film category of the
89th Academy Awards
next year.

4 Bright Kids


I STUDY in a school called elc
International School located in
Cyberjaya, Malaysia. Even though
my school is generally still new
and quite small in number, we
have a friendly community of
students, staff and teachers with
a multicultural society and an
anti-bullying policy.
We respect each other and our
differences, upholding the core
values of our school – excellence,
loyalty and commitment.
In my school, we are united
as everybody is friendly and
nobody gets bullied, making school
enjoyable for me because I feel
safe and can walk around freely
without any fear.
The music room is truly an
inspirational place where creativity
and imagination run free. I enjoy
music because it is my career
subject as I enjoy making music,
singing as well as jamming using
different instruments with my
friends and classmates.
The company I hang out with
adds to why I enjoy school because
I have friends who are generally a
funny, lively, helpful and smart
bunch. They are the reason
I look forward to going to school
every day.
Personally, my favourite part
of the week is definitely attending
music, physical education,
swimming and English classes.
These are my favourite subjects
as I am very passionate about
them. I actually enjoy learning
when I study in these classes.
The thrill of getting involved in
sports, swimming races, football
and basketball matches as well as
the eagerness to win excite me
every time – especially when we
are in competition with our very
own classmates and friends.
I appreciate all the time, effort








Getting excited about school

and hard work teachers contribute
to our education to teach us and
help us improve, which is another
reason I enjoy going to school.
Subjects such as physical
education and swimming help me
push boundaries and achieve the
impossible goals I once thought I
was not capable of achieving. At
the same time, getting fit together
with my friends is fun.
School is actually not that
boring. We have extracurricular
activities, clubs and societies, fun
field trips filled with lots of
laughter, exciting eventful days





Fun programmes designed
to enrich English language skills
Explore the world of phonics in an exciting manner using stories,
music and movement, games and crafts.
Using popular culture, science, and classic literature, students
nurture a tangible understanding of the joys and benefits of
SPEECH & DRAMA (Ages 7-12)
Focuses on the process of learning creative drama skills by
challenging students’ creative abilities, coordination, teamwork
and problem-solving skills.

English will help us improve our
communication and interaction
We improve our lives by
understanding new concepts and
expanding our creativity and
imagination. We also improve our
grammar skills in our writing and
extend our vocabulary through
reading books.
This will be useful for us in the
future to make a good impression
with potential employers or get a
job without difficulty. – By Hannah
Tan, Year 9 Red student of elc
International School

Abacus for
the brain


such as Language Day, Sports Day,
Science Day, Social Science Day,
Maths Day, Interact Night,
Halloween parades, Christmas
Cheer, International Understanding
Day, and Achievement and the
Annual Awards Day that make us
reflect upon all that we have
achieved throughout the school
year. We also have music concerts,
funfairs, bake sales and carnivals.
In conclusion, the value of an
English-medium education is
worth a great deal because since
English is one of the main
languages in the world, learning

Creative writing has been tailored to teach
everything a budding writer ought to know.
Skills and creative fields in writing will be



(Ages 12-18)
Learn how to prepare and
while gaining confidence through improved
vocalisation, body language and facial expressions.
A modular English course designed to prepare
academic studies and professional work in English.

A STUDY on how the abacus benefits the
human brain was a mental abacus research
programme by Dr David Barner from the
University of California and Michael Frank
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
This research showed that abacus users
were significantly more accurate than
untrained participants at solving addition
problems with multiple addends within a
10-second time limit.
Abacus users produced different
responses, showing the use of different
mental sources to think about equations.
Abacus users were presented with images
and asked to estimate the number of dots on
display. The more the display resembled an
abacus, the more accurate the children were.
Another research called the Effects of
Abacus Training on The Intelligence of
Sudanese Children was carried out by
another group of researchers.
They used Raven’s Standard Progressive
Matrices (SPM) on a sample of 3,185 children
between the ages of seven and 11 in Sudan.
The sample was divided into two groups
matched for scores on the SPM, sex, age and

urbanisation. The experimental group was
given intensive abacus training for two
hours per week over a 34-week period while
the control group had none.
Following an SPM test at the end of
training, the experimental group performed
significantly faster than the control group,
suggesting that the introduction of greater
emphasis on problem-solving skills in
Sudanese schools may increase general
Japanese neuroscientist Dr Ryuta
Kawashima researched the science of brain
training. The research suggests that reading
aloud and doing arithmetic exercises are
effective methods of training the brain.
Based on results identified by brain
engagement when doing different activities,
he performed a memory test on a range of
people from primary school pupils to adults.
Results showed that a person’s memory
was two to three times better after training
in simple mathematics and reading aloud.
He also had dementia patients perform
simple mathematics and read
aloud two to five days a week
that showed an increase of
activity levels in the
prefrontal cortex that can
affect cognitive functions.

n For more information,

012 343 9820

Putra Nilai
Seremban 2

call 03-4022 7885 or
e-mail enquiry@

06 763 0578
06 790 9693
06 633 8729

ISO 9001


We’re now ISO 9001:2008 certified

Usage of the abacus
can provide education
with a difference.

Bright Kids 5


EPSOM College in Malaysia’s Prep
(Preparatory) School prepares
students for the Senior School
where academic, pastoral and
co-curricular activities enrich
their education and prepare
them for success in further
education and chosen careers.
The Prep School takes children
from nursery to Year 6, aged
between three and 11. The
college is set on a 50-acre (20.2ha)
site in Bandar Enstek.
The purpose-built Prep School
is attached to the Senior School
and shares the college’s library,
sports, arts and other world-class
Therefore, entering the Senior
School, students are already
acquainted with their learning
A Year 5 student who has been
with the Prep School for more
than a year remarks, “I love the
people at Epsom. They are lovely
and sweet and treat me like I’m
their family.”
Various primary and prep
schools may offer similar
curricula but differ in teaching
approaches and philosophies.
When a child transfers from
one school to another, he has
to acclimatise to the way the
curriculum is taught.
This can sometimes be
traumatic for a child and may
interrupt his learning. Starting in
the Prep School at Epsom College
then transferring to the Senior
School eliminates adjustment
time and the dip in academic
progress that can happen when
students switch schools.
The Prep School at Epsom
College in Malaysia creates future
leaders. The Senior School
refines and prepares students to
be resilient, selfless and

Preparation is key

The Prep School
at Epsom College
in Malaysia allows
admission for
children from the
age of three to 11
(nursery to Year 6).
hardworking in the working
Students are offered many
opportunities to develop
teamworking skills, voice their
opinions and lead their peers.
A Year 5 girl proudly declares
that she is now a better netball
player and can play football
nearly as good as the boys.
One of the many advantages
of the Prep School are the
small class sizes – the overall
teacher-to-student ratio of 1:6 is
much lower than in other

Students make excellent
academic progress, are stretched
and challenged as well as receive
the help they need to succeed. “I
am very good at mathematics
because my teacher is very good
at mathematics,” enthuses a Year
1 student.
Boarding is a huge part of
the Senior School as more than
80% of students are weekly or
full boarders. The Prep School
students look forward to
boarding when they join
Year 7.
There are two transition

boarding houses – the Wilson
House for Year 7 to 9 girls and
the Carr House for Year 7 to 9
As part of the preparation for
entry into the Senior School, the
College offers a trial boarding
experience for Year 6 prep
students who relish the
opportunity to stay overnight.
One parent succinctly
summarises the Prep School,
saying, “We love the small class
sizes, which deliver an incredible
level of personal attention while
also allowing students to be an

active part of a larger
“It is fantastic for the younger
children to be able to form such
positive and close relationships
with the senior students and, of
course, there is immediate access
to all the outstanding facilities of
the senior school.”
The January intake is in
progress. Visit the Open Day on
Nov 12.

n For more information,
e-mail enquiries@epsomcollege.

6 Bright Kids


Learn without
ENGLISH is a key language for succeeding
in the global community today. The further
your children progress in their learning,
the more important the ability to
communicate using English will become
for them.
Learning to communicate in English is
easier when it is taught by native Englishspeaking teachers who understand the
educational processes involved.
Morris Allen English uses an interactive
model in learning English that nurtures
successful learning in all students.
Morris Allen English’s two-week holiday
programme consists of several 10-lesson
short courses that include fun learning
activities following the interactive
The range of short courses focuses on
different English language skills. Back by
popular demand, Morris Allen English is
offering the Speech and Drama course
where the focus is on speaking skills and
building personal confidence.
In this course, students get involved in
fun speaking and role-playing exercises,
oral reading to entertain, and speech
presentations with guidance from trained
teachers who are all native English
Morris Allen English has a range of
courses that incorporates the reading of
children’s literature and development of
writing skills.
These courses help students enjoy
reading as they read great books together.
They also build on their comprehension
and vocabulary skills as they get involved
in interactive learning activities that are
designed around these books.
They explore the writing styles of
authors and how they can incorporate

Morris Allen English provides short courses
for younger children to equip them with a solid
foundation when learning English.
techniques of these authors in their own
Morris Allen English understands that
laying good foundations for learning
English must start early, so short courses
are included for younger students in this
holiday programme.
These include pre-nursery and Phonics
programmes that are fun, interactive and
specifically aimed at developing a love of
learning in younger children. Seats are

n For more information on the Holiday
Programme and enrolment for next year,
call 03-7610 9889 or visit

No boundaries

DISABILITIES are never a hindrance in
achieving goals.
Here are some talented young people who
beat the odds when they were children to get
to where they are today.
Mohd Ridzuan Puzi, Muhammad Ziyad
Zolkefli, Abdul Latif Romly and Siti Noor
Radiah Ismail
Mohd Ridzuan is a para-athlete who was
born with cerebral palsy – a disorder that
affects muscle tone, movement and motor
skills – but showed keen interest in
athleticism when he was young.
He took part in athletics at school and was
talent-spotted. Mohd Ridzuan won a gold
medal in the men’s 100m T36 sprint event at
the Rio Paralympics two months ago.
Muhammad Ziyad, Malaysia’s shot put
superstar, came from a humble background.
He was identified as intellectually
impaired in preschool. In school, he was an
avid sportsman and his knack for athletics
was recognised by his teacher in his
hometown of Kelantan.
At the 2016 Paralympic Games,
Muhammad Ziyad not only bagged a gold
medal but also managed to set a new world
record in his fifth attempt in the Athletics
Men's shot put F20 event.
Making his Paralympic debut at the 2016
Rio Paralympics, he scored gold in the T20
long jump event, helping Malaysia bag a
third gold medal and setting a new world
record on his fifth and final attempt.
Joining Abdul Latif in the long jump event
was Siti Radiah who won a bronze medal at
the Rio Paralympics even though she was up
against the top three long jumpers in the
It was a dream come true for Siti Radiah.
When she was young as she would often tag
along with her father to sporting events and
dreamt of being a successful athlete one day.

Matt Savage
Matt Savage is a 24-year-old savant
musician. Diagnosed with autism at three,
he did not like any form of noise or music
during his early childhood.

Ironically, at age six, Matt taught himself
to read music and went on to study
classical piano with jazz being his main
focus after less than a year of study.
In 1999, he began studying at the New
England Conservatory of Music in Boston,
Without any formal education in music
composition, Matt became a renowned
composer with several albums under his
belt and even performed with rhythm and
blues singer Chaka Khan.
He has won several awards and was the
only child to be signed as a brand
ambassador of Bösendorfer pianos in the
company’s 175-year history.
He has performed for heads of state and
on television. He is still active in music and
has released an album two weeks ago.

Lauren Potter
Most commonly known for her portrayal
of recurring character Becky Jackson in the
hit television series Glee, Lauren Potter is
more than just your average actress.
The talented actress was diagnosed with
Down’s syndrome at birth and did not
learn to walk until the age of two but began
attending dancing and acting classes as she
got older.
At 16, she got her first acting role in the
film, Mr Blue Sky, which marked the start
of her acting career.
In 2011, Potter was appointed to the
President’s Committee for People with
Intellectual Disabilities by US president
Barack Obama.
Potter was nominated for a Screen
Actors Guild Award under the Ensemble in
A Comedy Series category for her role in
Glee and also received the SAG/AFTRA
Harold Russell Award at the 2012 Media
Access Awards.
These days, Potter gives speeches and
advocates inclusion, disability awareness
and eradicating bullying across the United

Bright Kids 7


Make learning fun
CAMBRIDGE English For Life (CEFL) believes
The programmes are tailored for students
that learning English can and should be fun.
aged between four and 18 years old, so
When given the opportunity to have fun and
whether you are in Penang, Ipoh, Petaling
enjoy the learning process, children learn
Jaya or Cheras, there will be something to
more and faster.
educate and entertain your children during
A fun English lesson is one that students
the holidays.
feel good about. They look forward to
For 16 years, CEFL has been delivering
attending classes and are ready to take on
a wide range of English language courses
activities that require participation with
to raise the level of English language
their teacher and classmates.
proficiency in students and prepare them for
There are plenty of fun and engaging ways the Cambridge English Language Assessment
to help one master the English language.
CEFL offers a mix of fun methods in its
More than just English language
programmes using the communicative
development, CEFL’s courses offer an
approach to learning.
education experience that provides for the
Classes are small and interactive to make
wider developmental needs of children in
learning an enjoyable experience and give
the 21st century.
teachers the opportunity to address the
n For more information or to book a place
individual needs of students.
for your children in one of the holiday
Students look forward to their classes at
programmes, call 03-7883 0912, e-mail
CEFL partly because they are fun but also or
because they are introduced to a wide range
of literary and cultural knowledge that they
seldom encounter at school.
Students who thrive at CEFL also generally
achieve better marks in their school
For the coming year-end school holidays,
CEFL is offering practical and affordable
holiday programmes.
There are six
programmes currently
available at CEFL
centres nationwide –
Little Phonics Explorer,
Interactive Reading,
Speech & Drama,
Creative Writing,
Public Speaking &
the Challenge Module,
and Intensive English
Cambridge English For Life’s holiday programmes offer children fun
(elementary and
stimulation and learning that goes beyond what is taught at school.

Off to a
great start
WITH almost 200 centres regionally, Q-dees
has successfully prepared more than 200,000
students for national and international
schools for more than 25 years.
Q-dees Starters, its cutting-edge preschool
programme, includes interactive learning
materials that are meticulously integrated to
ensure children are constantly engaged in
achieving fruitful learning outcomes.
The language programmes are geared for
children to master English, Bahasa Malaysia
and Mandarin. Taught thematically and
phonetically, the lessons encourage children
to expand their vocabulary and foster the
correct usage of the languages.
At Q-dees, seemingly complex
mathematics concepts are made simple and
fun for children. The Hands-On Mind-On
Mathsboard allows children to explore
concepts as they learn to count and think
efficiently and logically.
The science programme is designed to
make science simple and stimulating to
learn. Its lessons encourage active
participation from children, igniting their
Q-dees’ art and craft programme develops
children’s creativity and imagination in
tandem with the daily theme, thus
strengthening photographic memory and
creative thinking skills.
Through the Gymflex programme, they
develop fine and gross motor skills through
fun physical activities and games.
In unison, Q-dees Love to Life programme
is infused with good values that teach
children to be responsible and caring
Q-dees Scholars offers primary
enrichment programmes in IQ Math and
International English, which are

Q-dees’ programmes are designed to nurture
the mental, physical and social aspects of a
child’s growth.
internationally benchmarked to prepare
children for primary education and beyond.
The award-winning Q-dees Link & Think
Methodology applied in Q-Dees Scholars
guides your child to link logical and creative
thinking as well as accelerates intellectual
and artistic developments.
It links what young individuals have
learnt at Q-Dees Starters preschool to the
next level in primary school.
IQ Math caters to inquisitive minds by
providing a platform to conceptualise logical
The Q-dees Scholars International English
programme is designed to instil children
with the confidence to listen, read, write,
converse and exhibit their expertise in the
English vocabulary through the use of
interactive multimedia.
The Q-dees Scholars programmes’ usage
of interactive multimedia through the
Q-dees Hub (digital learning software)
stimulates your child’s interest through the
use of graphics and songs as well as
increases your child’s grasp of technological
Intensive research has been carried out in
the creation of the IQ Math and
International English programmes, ensuring
the syllabus incorporates the curriculum of
KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah

n For more information, call 1700 815 077
or visit

8 Bright Kids
SUNWAY International School
(SIS) held its third annual Career
Week for its Grade 7 to 12
students recently.
The week kicked off with the
opening assembly featuring
keynote speaker Ho Ming Han,
director and creator of YouTube
channel The Ming Thing, who
was the perfect fit for this year’s
theme – My Digital Footprint.
Throughout the week, Grade 7
and 8 students participated in
industry workshops for graphic
design, poetry, music production,
culinary arts, visual arts, science,
3D computer graphics and
Grade 9 students got the chance
to experience professional work
environments where they
followed a parent, relative, family
friend or school staff member to
“SIS Career Week was a natural
opportunity for our students
to think more about their future
selves and their place in the
world,” says SIS principal Bill
“The theme My Digital
Footprint added an important
level of critical thinking as we
are all learning that the
expressions of ourselves we
post on social media can make
or break our future selves. It was
satisfying to see our students’
response to this year’s Career
Week opportunities.”

Sharing of expertise
The keynote speaker for the
closing ceremony at the end of
the week was Datin Paduka
Marina Mahathir, a renowned
socio-political author and activist
who shared highlights of her
education, career and profession


Sparking interest
in future careers

Sharing sessions with panellists fom various industries gave students a
glimpse into the realities of the working world.
with close to 800 people in
This was followed by panel
sessions for SIS and Sunway
College students, where open
and honest discussions on the
highs and lows of various careers
were welcomed.
More than 70 individuals from
various industries were grouped
into 27 panels, including pilot
Johan Farid Khairuddin, member
of parliament Wong Chen,
lawyer Syahredzan Johan,
journalist at The Star Media
Group Melizarani T. Selva and
Le Cordon Bleu Sunway’s general
manager Ho Yuw Wing.
These panellists and more kept
students engaged and interested,

answering queries on the pros
and cons of various jobs, relevance
of academia in professional life,
and bridging the gap between
expectations and the reality of
the working world.

Seeds of inspiration
For many young students, Career
Week offered an exclusive insight
to prepare them for monumental
decisions ahead.
Grade 10 student Kang Wan Yee
was grateful for the opportunity to
meet and speak to professionals
from a range of industries.
“Inviting groups of experts
provides future graduates such as
myself the opportunity to

Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir highlighted her education, career and
profession during the closing ceremony.
understand how the world works
outside of school,” she says.
Grade 11 student Park
Seungkyun concurs, commenting,
“This year’s event was held on a
greater scale compared to last year
and we got to experience different
jobs through the panellists.”
According to SIS guidance
counsellor Sherry Wyse, experts in
areas such as marketing, creative
arts, policy and advocacy, medicine
and healthcare came together to
inspire students to find their own
pathways by making the realities
of the working world clear to them.
“With this year’s theme, students

also took the time to reflect on the
person they showcase online and
learn how this can influence their
personal and professional lives,
both now and in the future.
“Even if certain talents do not
exist in a profession yet, the world
is changing and new jobs are
emerging – you can always learn
new technology and adapt to these
changes even when the
technology may not have existed
at the start of your career,” says

n For more information, visit

In the city
of light

BIENVENUE au sommet de Paris. This
means welcome to the summit of Paris in
The golden ray from the morning sun
gleamed across the skyline
of Paris and the blue sky
complemented the city’s
historical beauty.
Standing at the top of
the Eiffel Tower, I was
mesmerised by the stunning
panoramic view of a city
that glowed with life.
The wind whistled
through the openings of the
colossal structure, creating a
chilly atmosphere as the
clouds stared down at us.
As I descended the Eiffel
Tower, I was greeted by magnificent views
of the elegant design and the dazzling iron
lattice structure’s history.
Back at sea level, I took one last glance
at the architectural genius and hailed a
cab to the streets of the Champ-Elysees.
Standing on the balcony of my room, I
stared at the sky above Champ-Elysees.
The blue sky hosted French fighter jets
trailing smoke in the colours of the
national flag over the Arc de Triomphe,
creating a grand opening to Bastille Day –
the French national day.
From the corner of my eye, the cavalry
came galloping through the streets, the
sound of each gallop thundering ever
closer towards me. A strong breeze

carried a heady scent of perfume from the
sophisticated Parisian crowd.
In perfect synchronisation, the army
marched through as people cheered. The
Champ-Elysees was bustling
with life – the people were
in high spirits, singing along
to the national anthem as it
played in the background.
Maori warriors from New
Zealand energised the
crowd with high-tempo
traditional dancing. The
crowd erupted in applause
as the Maori warriors did
their unique and spectacular
The crowd cheered even
louder when ceremonial
war jeeps cruised through the streets of
Champ-Elysees with the French president
As the evening sun started to set, we
waited eagerly for the big event of the
night – fireworks at the Eiffel Tower.
At 10.30pm, the first fireworks were set
off and the crowd cheered with great
excitement and energy. Fireworks in the
colours of the national flag shot out from
the sides of the Eiffel Tower and created a
mesmerising scene that I will never forget.
As the final firework was set off, I
closed my eyes and thought that it was a
good Bastille Day. – By Ikey Chawin
Charoenpitaks, 14, remove student at
Marlborough College Malaysia






Bright Kids 11


FRANCHISEES of Smart Reader
Worldwide, Malaysia’s leading
early education franchisor,
celebrate 16 years of sweet success
in their unwavering endeavour to
provide quality and holistic early
childhood education through the
management of more than 350
Smart Reader Kids and Smart
Reader Kids++ child enrichment
centres nationwide.
Nine Smart Reader Kids centres
will be opened throughout
Sarawak and Sabah with an
official grand opening ceremony
in December this year.
This expansion offers
Malaysians more accessibility to
Smart Reader Worldwide’s awardwinning programmes.
While two new international
centres were added this year – one
in Melbourne, Australia, and the
other in Medan, Indonesia –
expansion for Smart Reader
Worldwide continues into next
year with new centres to be
opened in China, Nigeria and
The new centres will be opening
its doors to 3,000 students who will
be guided by a team of dedicated
This milestone beckons a change
in format for the annual gala. This
year, franchisees will be whisked
away from their hectic schedules
to an island paradise tucked away
in Langkawi and be treated to an
experience filled with sights,
sounds and bites. The trip will end
with a grand celebration at the
Franchisee Awards Night.
It will be an evening of prestige
as franchisees celebrate and learn
from their successful associates
bestowed with the Radiant
Diamond Award, Diamond Award,
Platinum Award, Gold Award and
New Impressive Award.
The climax of the evening will
be the revelation of the Franchisee
of the Year and Emerging
Franchisee of the Year.
Radiant Diamond Award
recipient Amy Chong is well
known among her associates.
Having won an award every year
since opening her first Smart
Reader Kids centre in 1999, she
also received the Homegrown
Franchisee of the Year Award 2015
accorded by the Malaysian
Franchise Association.
“I have learnt a lot of invaluable
lessons from my students and
parents. Being a franchisee has
given me an opportunity to
outgrow myself. With guidance
from Smart Reader Worldwide
and my well-trained team, I am
today a successful franchisee,” says
First-time Diamond Award
winner Sudha Menon is a
franchisee of eight years and has
previously won the Platinum
Regarding her expectations for
her team, she says, “They have to
be very passionate about their
work in ensuring every child’s
well-being as their progress is our
priority. It is also important for
them to be able to think out of the
box and on their feet.”
About her experience in liaising
with Smart Reader Worldwide,
Menon adds, “They have been very
supportive whenever I needed
help. On top of providing learning
materials, Smart Reader
Worldwide has also helped me
market my school.”
According to four-time Platinum
Award winner Alias Ayob, this
award justifies his team’s
commitment to excellence.
“We created more publicity for
our centre and continuously
engage with parents to increase
their confidence in us,” says Alias
about his winning formula.
With quality at the core of

Sixteen going on seventeen

(From left) Perbadanan Nasional Berhad’s managing director Datuk Syed Kamarulzaman Syed Zainol Khodki Shahabudin, Smart Reader Worldwide founders
Datin Seri Datuk Dr K.H. Wang and Datuk Seri Dr Richard Ong, Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Datuk Henry Sum
Agong, Ministry of Domestic Trade Co-operatives and Consumerism’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Jamil Salleh and Malaysian consul general in Melbourne
Westmoreland Palon at the opening ceremony of the Smart Reader International Language and Enrichment Centre in Melbourne, Australia.
Smart Reader Worldwide, the
performance of new franchisees
are also evaluated.
Having had a year to prove
themselves, the New Impressive
Award recipients have shown
that they have what it takes to be
a successful franchisee and
First-time franchisee
Nursafinaz Hisham Sagar shares
her journey, saying, “When I left
the banking industry in 2010
and relocated to Saudi Arabia
with my husband, I missed the
hustle and bustle that came with
being employed.

“As employment opportunities
for women were limited, I
accepted a job as a kindergarten
teacher and realised I enjoyed
teaching children.”
Returning to Kuala Lumpur as
a mother of two with a third one
on the way, her husband
suggested they be franchise
owners. Nursafinaz knew from
the start that it was going to be a
franchise for early childhood
“I have grown more mature
through this experience, learnt
how to manage people and
parents as well as solve issues

effectively,” says Nursafinaz, as
she reflects on her year as a
first-time entrepreneur.
To aspiring entrepreneurs,
Nursafinaz says it is of big help
to have a business partner who is
patient and passionate about the
“My husband is a great mentor.
He even took six months leave
from work to monitor our
contractors and help with our
pre-opening marketing initiatives,”
she adds.
According to Smart Reader
Worldwide’s group executive
director Datin Seri Datuk Dr K.H.

Wang, teamwork and a
well-trained team is crucial.
“To have achieved such
impressive results meant that
our recipients have created a
strong team. I am very proud of
all of them and I hope they will
continue to strive for excellence
next year,” she says.
“Our doors are always open
for any franchisee who needs
assistance and our training
department is always ready to
help the educators.”

n For more information, visit

(From left) Ustaz Mahadi Dahlan from Masjid Negara, Smart Reader Worldwide’s executive director Kevan Ong, Homegrown Franchisee of the Year Award
2015 winner Amy Chong, Smart Reader Worldwide founders Datin Seri Datuk K.H. Wang and Datuk Seri Dr Richard Ong, and Smart Reader Kids Islamic and
Smart Tadris programme honorary advisor Datuk Abu Hasan Din Al-Hafiz at Franchisee Awards Night 2015.

12 Bright Kids
WITH an increase in enrolment,
parents are undeniably vouching
for Smart Reader Worldwide’s
proven and patented
programmes – Smart Reader Kids
Intensive English Programme,
Smart Reader Kids Mandarin
Medium and the Tamil Language
“We have experienced a surge
in enrolment for the Smart
Reader Kids Intensive English
Programme,” says development,
operations and marketing
director Chelvi Alagendra.
“Parents do not want their
children to miss out on picking
up English and enjoying it as
their children interact with their
favourite apps, cartoons, movies
and more. They want their
children to be confident in
reading, listening, speaking and
writing in English. They want
English to come naturally for
them, not forced and burdened.
“We also see a steady increase
in enrolment for our Smart
Reader Kids Mandarin Medium
Programme. This programme is
designed specifically to prepare
children attending Mandarinmedium schools.
“Parents whom we have
spoken to, both Mandarin and
non-Mandarin speaking, are
impressed with their children’s
Mandarin comprehension since
signing them up for it,” she adds.
The newest addition to the
curriculum promotes the usage
of one of the seven oldest
languages that are still being
used today. The Tamil Language
Programme was launched last
month at Stadium Bukit Jalil and
has been well received.


Smart programmes by
award-winning educator

First-time entrepreneur Nursafinaz Hisham Sagar found her calling in early childhood education when she became a kindergarten teacher in Saudi Arabia.

A visionary at heart
HAVING grown their brainchild
from an English enrichment
centre to an international multiaward-winning brand spanning
three continents has not stopped
Smart Reader Worldwide
co-founders Datuk Seri Dr
Richard Ong and Datin Seri
Datuk Dr K.H. Wang from
reaching for the stars.

Ong shares that it took them
more than 30 years to be where
they are and, looking back, the
challenges faced in growing their
vision have been invaluable
learning tools.
“I believe that in every
undesirable situation, there are
opportunities for improvement
and growth.

Don't lose sight of
your vision.
Datuk Seri Dr Richard Ong
“We can choose to surrender
and accept defeat, or admit to our
shortfall, pull together our

resources and think differently to
create a better plan to move
forward. If you have a vision, you
should not lose sight of it,” says
At the heart of it all, the
motivation behind starting Smart
Reader Worldwide is to provide
quality early childhood education.
Wang says, “The journey so far

has taught me that the greatest
pleasure is doing what you like to
do best. The greatest treasure is
doing it right and doing it well.”

n For more information about
being a franchisee, call the
SMARTLine at 1300 885 555, e-mail or

Datin Seri Datuk Dr K.H. Wang (third from left) and Datuk Seri Dr Richard Ong (fourth from left) received the Bizz 2016 Award in Monaco in May. Smart Reader Worldwide was bestowed the Pinnacle
Award and Dr Wang received the Global Lifetime Award.