Monday, October 1, 2012

How to boost MUET students' critical thinking skills

I've received a few messages and emails from fellow MUET teachers about how to increase their students' performance in the writing paper... It would seem that in the July 2012 paper, even the good students did not manage to get 40 marks and beyond (out of 90) for writing.
So every year, one of my MUST-DO lessons is to analyse the Budget Highlights and extract what can be used as back-up in the MUET academic writing question. 
Step 1: Before the budget is tabled, give each student a sub-topic to listen out for. ( defence, education, pensioners, youths, sports, taxation, rural development, agriculture, govt servants, environment, SMEs, transportation, scholarship, toursim, health, etc)
Step 2: Students make notes of their sub-topic while listening to the budget or referring to online reports after the budget is announced. 
Step 3: Each student writes out a short paragraph to link general essay topics to specific aspect of the budget. 
Step 4: Students compile a table with as many sample paragraphs as possible. 
Enrichment: Get students to write an academic essay and tell them you will award bonus marks for as many aspects of the budget they can incorporate in their essays.
Example paragraph:
The government is serious about helping our society especially through Budget 2013 that was recently tabled. One of the main aspects in which this budget is able to achieve the theme of 'Promises Fulfilled' is through education. Next year's budget is a continuation of last year's effort to help ease the burden of parents and students throughout the country by giving each school-going child RM100 and tertiary education students RM250 book vouchers in order to prepare them for the schooling year ahead. This indeed proves that our Prime Minister is serious about raising the standard of life of each citizen so they may concentrate better on education and producing high quality human capital to drive the country towards greater progress.
Anyway.. below is the highlights I got from Bernama published in NST.
Tell me how this activity went with your students if you are a MUET teacher.
If you are a student, please write a sample paragraph of your choice in the comment section below and i will help you to improve your writing. :P
Following are the highlights of the 2013 Budget tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is also Finance Minister, at the Dewan Rakyat today. The Budget 2013 themed "Prospering The Nation, Enhancing Well-Being of the Rakyat: A Promise Fullfilled"

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak presents the 2013 Budget in Parliament. NSTP/Aizuddin Saad


* Economic growth projected to expand 4.5 per cent to 5.5 per cent.

* Nominal GDP expected to surpass RM1 trillion.

* Federal Government's revenue in 2013 is estimated to increase to RM208.6 billion.

* Pivate sector investment is to increase to RM148.4 billion.

* RM251.6 billion allocated for the implementation of development projects, programmes and measures, with focus on the well-being of the rakyat and national development.

* RM201.9 billion is for Operating Expenditure while RM49.7 billion for Development Expenditure.

* RM58.6 billion allocated for Emoluments dan RM33.7 billion for Supplies and Services.

* RM3 billion to implement Entry Point Projects
* RM1 billion for Domestic Investment Strategic Fund under Malaysian Investment Development Authority to leverage on outsourcing opportunities and intensify technology acquisition by Malaysia-owned companies

* RM1 billion SME Development Fund under SME Bank
* SME Bank and Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to provide RM200 million to Halal Industry Fund to finance working capital of participating SMEs

* RM16 million a year group insurance scheme for registered hawkers and small businesses for coverage of up to RM5,000

* Perbadanan Nasional Bhd to provide soft loans of up to RM25,000 for licensees and RM500,000 for licensors under Business In Transformation programme

* Investment Tax Allowance of 100 per cent for a period of 10 years for qualified companies involved in refinery activities on petroleum products

* Global Incentive for Trading (GIFT) programme is enhanced with 100 per cent income tax exemption on statutory income for first three years of operation

* Expenses for issuance of AgroSukuk given double deduction for a period of four years from year of assessment 2012 to 2015

* DanaInfra Nasional Bhd to issue retail bonds worth RM300 million by end-2012 to finance MERT development projects

* RM30 billion allocated to the economic sector for infrastructure, industrial, agriculture and rural development.

* RM11.1 billion allocated to the social sector including education and training, health welfare, housing and community development.

* RM4.6 billion allocated for the development of the Security Sector, RM2 billion General Administration and RM2 billion for Contigencies.
* The Government will continue to accelerate the implementation of the 12 National Key Economic Areas (NKEAs).

* RM3 billion allocated for the implementation of Entry Points Projects (EPPs), including RM1.5 billion for agriculture projects such as oil palm, rubber, high-value herbs and paddy.

* Additional expenses incurred in issuance of retail bonds and retail sukuk to be given double deduction for a period of four years from year of assessment 2012 to 2015

* Individual investors given stamp duty exemption on instruments relating to transactions of retail bonds and retail sukuk

* Securities Commission to introduce Graduate Representative Programme in collaboration with private sector to train 1,000 graduates to meet needs of securities and derivatives industry

* Danajamin Nasional Bhd to get additional RM400 million for next two years, to multiply issuance value between RM4 billion and RM6 billion

* RM100 million to be provided to Capital Market Foundation through Capital Market Development Fund under the Securities Commission

* Allocation of RM75 million to increase the output of food and health products.

* For the plantation sector, RM432 million is allocated under the NKEA for oil palm replanting programmes. * RM127 million is allocated for the development of high-value oleo derivatives to transform the downstream industry towards higher production of derivatives.

* Four new paddy granaries will be developed and expanded in Kota Belud, Batang Lupar, Rompin and Pekan. ith an expanditure of RM140 million, the four new paddy granaries with acreage of 19,000 hectares and involving 12,237 farmers are expected to produce 104,000 tonnes.

* RM230 million to be provided as incentive for fish landing as well as payment for living allowances for the fishermen. Currently, the Government provides a living allowance of RM200 per month, an incentive ranging from 10 to 20 sen per kilogramme and the introduction of Fishermen Insurance Scheme.

* RM2.4 billion is allocated to provide subsidies and incentives to assist farmers in reducing cost of production. The assistance comprises subsidies and incentives for paddy production including subsidies on paddy rice (RM480 million), paddy fertilisers (RM465 million); incentives to increase paddy yield (RM80 million), paddy production (RM563 million) and subsidies on price of rice (RM528 million) and high-quality paddy seeds (RM85 million).

* Introducing a Paddy Takaful Coverage Scheme to benefit 172,000 paddy farmers who own fields less than 10 hectares. The Government will initially allocate RM50 million for this scheme.

* RM41 million to be provided for the Azam Tani project to benefit 6,730 of the poors to increase their income.

* A sum of RM38.7 is allocated to the Ministry of Education for operating and development expenditure.

* An additional allocation of RM500 million to enhance teaching skills in core subjects such Bahasa Malaysia, English, Science and Mathematics through the Higher Order Thinking Skills approach.

* RM6 billion to be allocated under the Private Financing Initiatives (PFI2) to implement projects and programmes to ensure well-being of people and spur nation's development, including refurbishment and maintenance of schools
and health clinics; housing, water tank and flood mitigation projects; and provision of sports facilities

* RM1.9 billion to be allocated to build 123,000 affordable housing units in strategic locations, to be implemented by PR1MA, Syarikat Perumahan Nasional Bhd and Jabatan Perumahan Negara

* Real property gains tax (RPGT) from disposal of properties made within two years of date of purchase to be taxed at between 15 per cent and 10 per cent of disposal of property within a period of two to five years. For property
disposed of after five years from the date of acquisition, RPGT is not applicable

* RM100 million to be allocated to Housing and Local Government Ministry to revive 30 abandoned housing projects, and tax incentives to private sector to encourage its involvement in reviving the projects

  • Total expenditure – RM249.7 bil, down 1.1 percent, but 7.2 percent higher than 2012 initial budget
  • Deficit – Expected to go down by 0.5% to 4% in 2013. Target is to reach 3 percent by 2015
  • Federal government debt 2012 – RM502.4 bil (highest in history) or 53.7 percent (highest since early 1990s)
  • Government revenue RM208.6 bil, up RM1.4 bil
  • Government estimated to have overspent RM19.6 bil in 2012
Small and medium industries
  • RM1 bil SME development scheme
  • Group insurance for petty traders with maximum RM5,000 coverage
  • New loan facilities for petty traders
  • Target for Visit Malaysia Year 2013/2014: 26.8 mil tourist
  • Three-year tax holiday for tourism companies handing 750 foreign tourists and 1,500 local tourists.
  • RM705 mil for replanting, technology development, smallholder assistance and product development, particularly for oil palm.
  • RM200 monthly allowance, 10 to 20 sen/kilo income support and up to RM100,000 coverage for fishermen
  • RM2.4 bil in subsidies and incentives for rice plantations.
  • 10-year tax holiday for Tun Razak Exchange companies, expected to attract 250 companies related to finance sector
  • Skim Jaminan Modal Kerja expanded for companies with shareholdings worth RM20 mil, and offered up to Dec 31, 2013
  • RM350 mil for entreprenuers under TEKUN programme, including RM50 mil for the Indian community
  • SME Bank bumiputera fund – RM1 bil
  • Bumiputera equity holding up: 23%
Education and labour
  • RM1 bil to improve school infrastructure
  • RM1.2 bil for pre-schools under government programmes including Permata
  • RM10,000 launching grants for private pre-school operators
  • Five-year tax holiday and building allowance for pre-school operators
  • Six pilot pre-schools for the disabled
  • RM3.7 bil for vocational training
  • Additional allocation of RM500 million for training of teachers in core subjects: Bahasa Malaysia, English, Science and Maths
  • Free health checks, twice a year, for Perkeso members
Research and development
  • RM600 million R&D grants for five universities. Focus: Nanotechnology, automotive, bio-technology and aerospace technology
  • Tax holiday for research and development investment (10-year tax holiday for statutory earnings)
  • RM2 billion for green technology scheme
Pensioners and senior citizens
  • Minimum pension for those who served at least 25 years up from RM720 to RM820.
  • 50 percent off passport fees for senior citizens starting Jan 2013
Armed forces
  • RM200 a month incentives for armed forces personnel
  • Allowance hike from RM4.00 to RM7.80 an hour for reserve corps and territorial army
  • One-off payment of RM1,000 for army veterans who served for at least 21 years, where 224,000 will qualify.
  • Insurance coverage of up to RM15,000 for police and army.
  • RM591 million for crime prevention
  • 1,000 motorcycles for the police neighbourhood patrol unit.
  • Additional 10,000 volunteer police
  • 496 CCTV in 25 local councils
  • RM10,000 grants for neighbourhood associations for patrols
  • New uniforms for 300,000 Rela members
  • Incentives for companies that install security systems
  • Additional 150 staff for Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)
  • RM20 million for legal aid
Rural development
  • RM88 million for Orang Asli development
  • 40,000 water tanks for those in the interiors of Sabah and Sarawak
  • 19,000 homes to get electricity and 24,000 homes to get tap water
  • 441 kilometers of new rural roads
  • RM100 million to improve 350 government clinics
  • 70 more Klinik 1Malaysia to be established, increasing total number to 240.
Youth and sports
  • Velodrom in Seremban, Negri Sembilan and a Badminton Academy in Bukit Kiara,Kuala Lumpur
  • Subsidy of two percent of interest rates business loans for young entrepreneurs for loans up to RM100,000
  • RM200 rebate for smart phone purchase for those aged 21 to 30 years.
Public transport
  • Half price Komunter fares for those earning less than RM3,000 a month.
  • Formation of RapidKuantan.
  • Affordable housing – 123,000 units to be built, in areas such as Sungai Buloh and seremban
  • First home scheme – income cap raised from RM3,000 to RM5,000. Join income limit is RM10,000. Applies only for houses below RM400,000
  • Up to 50 percent stamp duty exemption for first home owners until Dec 14, 2014
  • Real property gains tax (RPGT) for properties sold within two years of purchase raised to 15%; 2-5 years 10%. No RPGT for properties sold five years after purchase
  • Tax breaks and incentives for contractors and banks who offer loans to contractors to revive abandoned housing projects. Original buyers of abandoned projects will be exempted from stamp duty for loan refinancing or ownership transfer agreements
Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M 2.0)
  • RM500 cash for households with combined income of RM3,000 or less
  • RM250 cash for unmarried individuals who are 21 and above and earning RM2,000 and below
  • Disbursement – Early 2013
Subsidi cuts
  • Sugar prices to increase as a result of subsidy cuts by RM0.20. New prices are RM2.50 per kilo for Peninsular Malaysia and RM2.60 per kilo for Sabah and Sarawak.
Tax cuts
  • 1% tax reduction for those with a taxable income of RM2,500 to RM50,000
  • Tax cuts for corporations
  • RM10,000 rebates and 2% interest subsidy on loans to purchase new school buses, to replace buses which are 25 years or more. (Capacity 12 to 18 seats)
  • RM2.6 bil in welfare aid for schoolchildren
  • One-off payment of RM100 for each primary and secondary school student
  • Book voucher worth RM250 for tertiary education students
  • 20% discount for National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) loans for those who pay off the entire amount outstanding (valid until Sept 30, 2013)
  • 10% discount for PTPTN loan repayment for those who pay consistently
  • 100 neighbourhood internet centres
Civil service bonus
  • One and a half month bonus, disbursed in three months.
Women, family and community
  • 500 women trained as board members under Women Directors’ Programme.
  • The Single Mothers Skills Incubator Programme (I-Kit) will be improved to provide advisory services and training for single mothers in entrepreneurship.
  • RM1,000 for Get Malaysian Business Online Programme (GMBO) to assist small entrepreneurs, particularly women, to increase online sales.
  • RM25,000 for free mammogram examination for women, aged 40 and above.
  • RM1.2 billion to 1Malaysia Welfare Programme (Kar1sma) under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development. To assist senior citizens, children and disabled workers as well as chronic illnesses.
  • RM400 million for 1Azam or Akhiri Zaman Miskin programme for the low-income group to generate income. Programmes under this initiative are Azam Kerja, Azam Tani, Azam Niaga and Azam Khidmat.
  • Six more Anjung Singgah centres for senior citizens, street children and those who need temporary shelter. Five Anjung Kasih in Sibu, Miri, Temerloh, Seremban and Ipoh hospitals for poor patients or family members.
Credit to: Malaysiakini