Getting a sound foundation
WHAT is holistic education? How does holistic education connect people to the world? Dean of the Faculty of University Foundation Studies Dhanesh Balakrishnan shares his thoughts: “There is no single method or technique for practising holistic education.”
Holistic education does not simply instruct young people about what is true and what is false, what is correct and what is wrong, holistic education enables the learner to enquire “What does it mean?”
“This philosophy of providing a holistic education forms the premise for the Foundation programmes at HELP Matriculation Centre ( HMC).
“The foundation programme, which consists of Arts and Science streams, is a comprehensive, intensive and pragmatic one- year course designed by experienced and dynamic educationists who are mindful of the importance of providing students with a well- rounded education.
“A lot of emphasis is given to critical thinking skills where we teach students how to think rather than what to think,” said Dhanesh.
To connect the students to the global challenges, the lecturers at HMC are aware and sensitive to the needs of the students and they take pride in equipping them with the necessary tools to meet the job requirements.
The Foundation in Arts and the Foundation in Science address two important aspects of preparing students for undergraduate study.
The first aim of the foundation programme is to provide students with the fundamental academic subjects that will be crucial in enabling them to be accepted by top- notch universities locally and abroad.
Subjects such as English, Mathematics, Critical Thinking Skills, Personal Development and Leadership provide the students with a good foundation to progress into various disciplines at the undergraduate level.
For science students, it is up to them to choose the science subjects suited to the degree they wish to take.
The numerous electives offered in the foundation programme allow them to choose different subjects to gauge the discipline of their choice.
The second aspect, which is equally important, is to nurture them into becoming well- rounded and principled students.
One of the biggest grievances experienced by employers is that they are starved of competent and honest employees.
Many lament that staff rarely show initiative and do not have good work ethics. Hence, the Centre for Personal Development and Leadership was set up in 2013 to nurture the students into becoming ethical leaders.
Every student is required to complete a module on Personal Development and Leadership, which also encompasses a leadership training course for every foundation student.
The module looks into developing their confidence, dealing with change, importance of teamwork and cultivating positive values.
Students who joined the Foundation programme shy and reserved are transformed into dynamic and confident students at the end of the course.
The various activities planned throughout the year provide them with an excellent platform to unleash their potential.
The holistic curriculum has also attracted many top universities in Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and many other countries to accept the Foundation students at HELP into various undergraduate programmes.
Low Pei Zhen, HELP Foundation in Arts student, secured 11 high distinctions and two distinctions and was awarded the University of Queensland International Economics Scholarship to pursue her Bachelor of Economics at the University of Queensland, Australia.
She said, “HELP University’s Foundation programme is a well- structured programme that has allowed me to enhance my research skills and analytical skills.
“The programme promotes academic excellence and involvement in extracurricular activities. It has allowed me to be an all- rounder.”
Another ex- foundation student, Rachel Lai Suet Leng, said she was grateful to HELP for structuring the foundation programme in a way that focused not only on IQ, but also the development of the students’ EQ.
Lai just completed her Masters of Philosophy at Cambridge University and is now embarking on her Phd at Cambridge with a full scholarship.
Besides foreign universities, many foundation students can also opt to progress into the various degrees at HELP such as the business, psychology, law, information technology, communication, early childhood and other arts- related degrees.
Students who are interested in medicine, engineering or other science- related disciplines can opt to do the Foundation in Science at HELP.
Upon completion they can either go overseas or join local universities offering science degrees. Attractive scholarships are offered to SPM / O- Levels school- leavers who do well in their SPM / O- Levels.
For more information, look out for the advertisement in this StarSpecial.
dhanesh with Low Pei Zhen, who believes the Foundation programme groomed her to be an achiever.