KOTA KINABALU (CS) – Maktab Nasional bid farewell to its principal, Winnie Voo Nyuk Yung, 61 at a farewell ceremony in the complex premises on 26 May 2014, which was attended by Archbishop John Wong who is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Msgr Primus Jouil, Chairman of the Board of Governors. At the same time, Archbishop John Wong announced her successor, Alexander Funk who is the current Vice Principal.
Since its founding 29 years ago, Maktab Nasional has evolved over the years and has successfully become an alternative to public school for many students. Being the only Church-owned education institution, the Church has always maintained the belief that access to education shall be made available to the greatest number of the populace regardless of their position in the social strata. Towards this commitment, the Board of Trustees for Maktab Nasional is registered under the status of a non-profit organization.
Meanwhile, Alexander Funk Yun Leong, 42, who hails from Sandakan, has assumed his new appointment in June 2014. Believing in the ethos and the vision and mission of his old alma mater, he has gone back to help build it to be one of the finest, if not the best, institution in this region.
With a Bachelor of Arts, a Diploma in TESOL from the London Teachers Training College followed by a Master degree in Education (TESL), he started his teaching career in 2005 specializing in English as a second language, English for Science and Technology and Literature in English. He has also served in various administrative capacities including head of the English department, Senior Assistant for Academics and Vice Principal.
In fidelity to his faith he endeavours to serve the Church, going beyond being just a nominal Catholic with the offering of time and service. He is married to Sandra Wong Pei Khyun and is blessed with a daughter and a son.
A new paradigm shift
Interviewed by Catholic Sabah about his plans for the school, Funk talked about a new paradigm shift in the offing. Advocating for 21st century education readiness for all students, he would engage all stakeholders to come on board with him to equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills.
What is 21st century education? It is bold, it breaks the mold, it is flexible, creative, challenging and complex. It addresses a rapidly changing world filled with new problems as well as exciting new possibilities.
Academically the school has benchmarked itself against an internationally recognized and well established institution of higher learning, that is, the Cambridge University. Plans are afoot to introduce an English programme that is integrated into the daily lessons based on the Cambridge English for Life syllabus, which, barring the unexpected, would materialize in 2015 for Form 1. An enrichment programme based on the International General Certificate for Secondary Education (IGCSE), which is equivalent to the Cambridge O-Levels, has already been implemented since 2010. This would prepare the students to sit for the IGCSE examination when they reach Form 5. Furthermore, new teachers who may not have formal training in education would pursue the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers and Trainers (CIDTT) as part of our commitment to provide fully qualified teaching staff.
Determined to impart an all-round education in the mental, physical, spiritual, moral and cultural aspects of the human person, the school pledges to nurture the talents of the students in the areas of fine arts, music and drama through musical performances and stage productions. Sports is actively promoted by a healthy participation in inter-schools, district and national level competitions.
For Catholic students to imbibe Catholic values, the school makes provision for Religious Knowledge classes and faith formation camps, daily prayers and reflections, as well as celebrating a communal Mass fortnightly and on feast days, while at the same time other religious persuasions are respected in which they would have their own talks and services conducted by their leaders.
Strongly believing in the benefits of parental involvement, Funk revealed that the school would be implementing a Parental Partnership Programme that uses Edmodo as one of the tools in 2015.
Edmodo is an online tool to assist and improve teachers, students and parents communicative relationships that appear to be lacking in today’s education system. Today’s teachers just teach because it’s their job. Relationship with students gets drifted away due to the digital divide. Parents don’t have a clue as to what’s going on within the system, to the changes, trends and their child’s progress and the activities in school. The bridges of home, school, and community are inevitably interconnected. Students travel back and forth across these bridges for many years to learn who they are and where they are going. There is a dire need to reinforce these bridges (connections) and prevent them from failing. With these partnership programs in place, the school would be able to encourage fuller parental involvement in the students’ academic development.