Pusat PERMATApintar Negara, UKM
By CHITRA S. NATHAN
S. Kalithashinee, 16, remembers vividly the call informing her she was among a handful of students picked to attend a summer camp for gifted children at the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Talented Youth (JHU-CTY) in the United States.
“It simply blew me away. I was completely shocked. I did not expect to be picked although I have dreamt of going ever since hearing of the camp.
“My parents were jumping for joy. They are so excited about my getting a chance to go overseas and experience summer camp,” she said when met recently.
The Form Two student from SMK Dato Onn, Butterworth, whose dream is to pursue medicine at one of Britain’s premier universities — Oxford, is among four others who were selected from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)’s Permata Pintar camp for gifted children to attend a three-week summer camp at JHU-CTY at the end of June.
Kalithashinee, the third of six siblings, said her stint at the Permata Pintar camp last year helped boost her confidence and changed the way she approached learning.
“The teachers there were very good. They taught us to think out of the box. I participated in a creative writing course which really exposed me to a whole new way of thinking and writing.
“Everyone should take the UKM screening test for the Permata Pintar camp. Who knows? If you have what it takes, you just might be selected to go to the US like us,” she said.
The others who will be heading to JHU-CTY’s summer camp are Rabiatul Adawiyah Ishak, 13, from SMK Batu Lintang, Kuching, Ahmad Asyraf Burhani, 15, from SMK Al-Maarif Bukit Goh, Kuantan, Philip Chin Zhen Yew, 16, from SMJK (C) Chung Ling, Butterworth and Muhammad Akmal Hasbullah, 16, from Maktab Rendah Sains Mara, Kota Baru.
Muhammad, the youngest of four siblings, expressed hope that gifted children would have their own school soon.
“At the camp, I met so many teenagers who were on the same wavelength - we all got along great. After an experience like that, it can be a little bit difficult to adjust to normal school.
“The Akademi Permata Pintar Negara for gifted children will be ready next year but they will only take in 16-year-olds so unfortunately, I will not get the chance to attend,” he said.
Nevertheless, the budding scientist said he was glad to be one of the chosen few who would get to experience the summer camp for talented youth in the United States.
“I just can’t wait to go. I am also glad that one of my coursemates from the UKM camp, Philip Chin, will be joining me,” he said.
The names of the five students, who were picked from over 400 others who attended the Permata Pintar camp, were announced by the programme’s patron Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor in Seremban recently during the launch of the nationwide online screening test for gifted children.
Rosmah expressed hope that the summer camp experience would enrich the students and help broaden their horizons.
“The students will be exposed to different learning experiences and they will have the opportunity to interact with gifted children from different countries.
“These students will have a platform to exchange opinions with their peers and they will also act as ambassadors for our country,” she said at her alma mater, Kolej Tunku Kurshiah here.
Almost 340,000 students aged between nine and 15 years participated in the inaugural Permata Pintar UKM 1 online screening test last year and from that, 405 students made it to the university’s camp for gifted children.
The Prime Minister’s wife said she expected more students to participate in this year’s screening test which will be run until the end of May.
“All the students need to have is online access to take the test. Students who pass the first stage will need to go for another screening test before they are chosen for the camp.
“At the camp, the students were given the opportunity to undertake one of nine courses. We are targeting more students this year, maybe 1,000 if possible,” she said.
The courses offered at the Permata Pintar camp are divided into three categories - science, mathematics and creative writing.
Among the subjects taught at the camp are biotechnology, invention, cryptology, introduction to robotics and writing and imagination.