It all started with an IQ test for on Adi Putra, conducted by experts from The National University of Malaysia (UKM). UKM was subsequently selected to initiate and implement the formerly known ‘PERMATApintar Negara’ program. The PERMATApintar National Center is under the auspices of the then Malaysia’s first lady; Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor. The PERMATApintar program is placed under the PERMATA division in the Prime Minister’s Office Department.
The fundamental study and data collection as well as reviewing the programs of gifted and talented students abroad was done personally by Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor, assisted by YBhg. Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Sharifah Habsah Syed Shahabuddin, the former Vice Chancellor of UKM at the time. Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah and YBhg. Prof. Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Sharifah Habsah Syed Shahabuddin as well as several UKM experts are passionate about education for the gifted and talented in Malaysia.
They have visited several institutions to get a clear picture idea of how the education of smart and talented students is conducted abroad. Among the institutions visited were Mahidol University in Thailand, High School for Math and Science at National University of Singapore, Beijing Number 8 Beijing High School, Center for Talented Youth, John Hopkins University, Lita Hollingworth Gifted Center (Columbia University), New York and several institutions with gifted and talented niche. Each visits gave the impression that gifted and talented learners have unique learning needs to be met, to ensure that their potential can be optimized. Through the visit, each party involved in the PERMATApintar project has gained an overview of how the smart student education program can be carried out in Malaysia successfully.
After series of institutional visits, a paper on the establishment of the National PERMATApintar® Center was written and presented by YBhg. Prof. Tan Sri Dato ‘Dr Sharifah Habsah Syed Shahabuddin to YAB Dato’ Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia. Approval to undertake a project to cater to the learning needs of intelligent students was obtained on 25 November 2008. A subsequent steering committee was established comprising of:
- YAB Datin Seri Paduka Dr. Rosmah Mansor, as the Patron.
- Tan Sri Dato ’Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Shahabuddin, Vice Chancellor, UKM
- Dean of the Faculty of Education, UKM
- Director of PERMATApintar Negara Center, UKM.
- Deputy Director of PERMATApintar Negara Center, UKM.
- President of the Malaysian Children’s Association (NACGM)
- Representative of The Ministry of Education
- Representative of The Ministry of Higher Education
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia has been selected as the implementer of the program and a number of funds have been provided by the PERMATA Division in the Prime Minister’s Department to start the project in three divisions namely Talent Management Division, School Holiday Camp Division, PERMATApintar School Division and ASASIpintar Program.
The launching ceremony of this gifted and talented program was later commence on 2 March 2009. It was officiated by YAB Datin Seri Paduka Rosmah Mansor, at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. At the same time, the the letter of Intent signing ceremony was conducted by Dr. Julian Jones, Director of International Affairs John-Hopkins University-Center for Talented Youth and YB Prof. Tan Sri Dato ’Sharifah Hapsah Syed Shahabud in, Vice Chancellor of UKM. This is the starting point of an enrichment program built specifically for smart students in Malaysia known as the School Holiday Camp Program or ‘PPCS’.
At the same time, the launch of the online PERMATApintar UKM1 test was commenced. Two hundred and five students from day schools and boarding schools were invited to UKM to try out the test. The launch was the beginning of the ‘IQ test war’ which lasted for four months, from March to June 2009. A total of 212,486 students tried the PERMATApintar UKM1 test and a total of 4682 students successfully placed themselves to take the PERMATApintar UKM2 test conducted on August 2009.
Concurrently, an agreement was signed between Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and John Hopkins University-Center for Talented Youth, Baltimore, USA on April 15, 2009 at Shangri-la Hotel, Kuala Lumpur to help initiate an enrichment program for the gifted and talented. Malaysia. Prof. Datin Siti Rahayah Ariffin, Dean of the Faculty of Education, UKM represented Malaysia and Dr Lea Ybrra, Director of the Center for Talented Youth, represented John Hopkins University for the ceremony.
In the year 2018, The PERMATA Program was rebranded to GENIUS, which brings a fresh and new meaning to the brand. GENIUS@Pintar National Gifted Centre UKM is now established with several main units, one of which is GENIUS@Pintar College, which is a school project for students aged 13 to 17 years old. The UKM School project started in January 2011. The school is considered as a teaching and learning laboratory for smart and talented students where the teaching methods are more focused on learning in the form of ‘differentiated learning’. Students learn according to their own abilities with the help of expert teachers who are skilled in each field taught. Prof. Datuk Dr. Noriah Mohd Ishak was one of the key person cum Director of the Program from 2011 to 2019. Currently, the position is replaced by Associate Prof. Dr. Rorlinda Yusof from year 2020 until now.
Source: PERMATApintar Negara: The Experience of UKM (2009)