THE NEW STRAITS TIMES IN EDUCATION
The Newspaper In Education (NIE) concept was introduced to the world in the 1930s by the New York Times, though the idea of having the newspaper in the classroom to further civic awareness among students (who would be future citizens) was mooted in the late 18th century in Maine, USA.
Since then, over 700 newspaper organisations around the world – under the World Association of Newspapers (WAN) – have espoused the concept and through their own NIE programmes are affecting the lives of young readers in each of their countries.
In Malaysia, the NIE programme saw birth in 1985. Initiated by the New Straits Times, the programme was aimed at championing the Education Ministry’s goal to improve English language teaching and learning among teachers and students through nationwide workshops and printed education supplements.
NST’s NIE Programme
NST’s NIE programme has been constantly evolving to keep abreast of the government’s goals for nation building and manpower development. While the emphasis and focus has always been on the enhancement of English language learning, the projects have been varied. In the 80s the focus was on teacher training and development in the area of English language teaching. In 1992, the New Straits Times supported the Ministry’s National Environment Education Project (NEEP) with a recycling programme designed to create awareness for the environment. It also encouraged students’ efforts to protect the environment. In 2000, when the Ministry introduced Literature into the secondary school English syllabus, NST’s NIE programme set about preparing students and teachers to cope with the new changes. In 2003 when the decision was made to teach Maths and Science in English, the NIE programme complemented Ministry efforts yet again. Today the NIE focus supports all the elements stipulated in the National Blueprint for Education 2006-2010 to create independent learners who are well-equipped to face the challenges of modern Malaysia.
To enhance English Language Education & Skills Enhancement among Malaysian youth and adults by fulfilling their needs in the social context and fostering values, attitudes & knowledge required for nation building.
The School Sponsorship Programme (SSP)
The SSP is an initiative that takes daily newspaper copies into primary and secondary schools with a view to accelerate language learning and meet the information needs of students even in remote areas. NST’s partners-in-education can choose to sponsor one or more schools with 10 or more copies of the newspaper for a whole school year. The NIE Unit supports the supply of newspapers with training in the NIE method for teachers, workshops for students and the creation of resource material – print and online – to complement the newspaper in the classroom.
School Holiday Programmes
These are workshops that allow students to participate in the NIE experience outside of the school environment. Run during the school holidays throughout the year, these workshops are fee-based and advertised in the New Straits Times and the NIE online site NiEXUS. The School Holiday workshops are varied with their content linked to syllabus requirement. The workshops cater for students from ages 5 to 18. Though the objective is to enhance spoken and written English, the vehicle of presentation is creatively varied, i.e.: Young Entrepreneurs; Deejaying; Creative Thinking; Creative Writing; Speaking With Confidence; Photojournalism; Young Reporters; Freshman Publisher; Art of Newscasting; Language Through Art, Craft & Music; Debate Techniques; Young Research Scientists; Creative Expression; Creative Problem Solving; Leadership.
Corporate Social Responsibility Packages
These workshops are also targeted at students but the content and implementation of these are packaged such that they meet a sponsor’s CSR objectives as well as specific learning objectives. As such all content is related to school curriculum and subject syllabi. The workshops are conducted regionally or state-side, and take different creative forms that include and incorporate camp activities with on and off-print contests.
To enhance IT literacy skills, and in an attempt to present current affairs and language learning across media, NST launched its online English Language Learning site in 2008. Called NiEXUS, the content presented through games, tutorials and self-expression sites, is aimed at all school students of different proficiency levels. Built as a self-access learning site, NiEXUS has something for everyone – from news engagement to language enhancement through animated games and to opportunities for self-expression on issues that concern everyone.
Adult Learners Programmes
The thrust of these workshops is to enhance creative and language skills by providing training in soft skills. The focus is on oral and written proficiency. Key learning resource: the New Straits Times.