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M. Bakri Musa

Seeing Malaysia My Way

My Photo
Location: Morgan Hill, California, United States

Malaysian-born Bakri Musa writes frequently on issues affecting his native land. His essays have appeared in the Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek, International Herald Tribune, Education Quarterly, SIngapore's Straits Times, and The New Straits Times. His commentary has aired on National Public Radio's Marketplace. His regular column Seeing It My Way appears in Malaysiakini. Bakri is also a regular contributor to th eSun (Malaysia). He has previously written "The Malay Dilemma Revisited: Race Dynamics in Modern Malaysia" as well as "Malaysia in the Era of Globalization," "An Education System Worthy of Malaysia," "Seeing Malaysia My Way," and "With Love, From Malaysia." Bakri's day job (and frequently night time too!) is as a surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley, California. He and his wife Karen live on a ranch in Morgan Hill. This website is updated twice a week on Sundays and Wednesdays at 5 PM California time.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Our Schools and Idle Youths

Malaysiakini.com May 10, 2006

From December to June, thousands of our young idle their time in the malls and elsewhere while waiting for their SPM (Form V) examination results. Then they wait whether they would be accepted into Sixth Form or matrikulasi.

Those who can afford it, or have freed themselves from the dependency on the government, have wisely abandoned the system. They enroll their young in private institutions that prepare for foreign matriculation examinations.

The poor, and those who cling to the notion that the government knows best and are therefore psychologically dependent upon it, wait passively. They wait patiently for the bureaucrats in the Ministry of Education to determine their fate.

This being Malaysia, the race factor is never far. In the first group are mainly non-Malays; the second, Malays. That being the case, we should expect the Malay-controlled government to solve the problem long ago, as the beneficiaries would clearly be mostly Malays. It is both a paradox and a riddle that that is not happening.

In my book An Education System Worthy of Malaysia, I advocated de-emphasizing the SPM and extending the school years to Sixth Form for all.

SPM should merely be an in-progress report card, not a terminal examination. The areas tested should also be reduced to only the core subjects of English, Malay, science, and mathematics. This idea that students should be sitting for up to 15 subjects is ridiculous.

There will be some non-core elective subjects. These would be evaluated by the individual schools and teachers. Using statistical techniques to compare the schools’ composite SPM scores, it is possible to reduce considerably interschool variations in evaluations.

Revamp and Expand

The Sixth Form would have to be revamped and expanded away from only preparing students for university. That would still be the objective of the academic stream. However, there would also be vocational and general streams Sixth Form to cater for those not university bound.

Subjects like wood working, cooking, book keeping, and auto mechanics should be taught at vocational Sixth Form, just as they are being taught at American high schools. The curriculum could be integrated with the apprenticeship programs so that when the students completed their Sixth Form, they would be certified journeymen.

The general stream Sixth Form would prepare students for non-university institutions like nursing schools and teachers’ colleges. Even if they were to forego further education and enter the work force directly, they would be better prepared for having had the two extra years of schooling.

The academic steam would continue the current pattern of preparing students for universities.

I would broaden the curriculum to six subjects, with the four mandatory ones, and scrap the useless General Paper. The rigors of the subjects would have to be modified. The mathematics of the academic stream would include calculus and statistics, for the vocational stream, “consumer math.” Those pursuing the sciences would take physics, chemistry and biology; those opting for liberal arts, physical or life science; and in the vocational stream, general science.

Those in the Islamic stream too would have to take the four core subjects, plus their Arabic and Islamic Studies as the other two subjects. This would broaden the students’ intellectual horizon and career options. Even if they were to end up as religious officials, they would have a wider view of the world for having had a broad based education. That would be good for them and Islam.

All students, regardless of their ultimate career choices, would have 13 years of schooling and instructions in the four core subjects. That should prepare them well.

Cheaper Proposal

My proposal is also cheaper. Matrikulasi is expensive; scrap it and divert the funds to expand Sixth Form.

I would encourage through tax incentives and grants for private industry to sponsor or start their own vocational stream. Proton could start one preparing students to work in the auto industry. A group of hotels could start one focusing on the hospitality industry by training students to be chefs and waiters. A consortium of construction companies could start schools to train plumbers, welders and wood workers.

With the SPM testing fewer subjects, we would not have to wait months for the results. The transition from Form V to VI would be as smooth as from Form IV to V, with students starting their classes in January instead of six months later. With the non-core subjects evaluated continuously throughout the year by the schools, this would give yet another independent assessment of the students to complement the SPM.

There is no reason for our youngsters to waste the six to seven months from November to June. Similarly, our younger students are wasting their valuable time waiting for their SRP and UPSR results. These tests should be held done late in November so as to maximize the instruction hours. There is no reason why the Examination Syndicate (that conducts these public examinations) could not be more efficient. I am appalled that their staff are allowed to take their annual holidays at the end of the year, when that should be the busiest time of the year for them.

The present system has been in existence for decades; it is time for to examine it critically. At the very least my proposal would get rid of the current “mall rats;” at best, it would extend the instruction days and would make our young, and our nation, more competitive.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

benar, saya sungguh tidak setuju dengan sistem peperiksaan yang membenarkan pengambilan berbelas2 subjek semasa peperiksaan besar (SPM etc.).

apa yang kita ingin khususkan dalam pendidikan dengan dengan lulus cemerlang begitu banyak sedangkan tidak akan subjek yang benar-benar menjadi minat kita?

pendidikan di negara ini menyebabkan saingan pendidikan yang tidak sihat dan tidak berkualiti.

saya juga sangat bersetuju dengan sistem pendidikan tingkatan enam. paling tidak, sistem dua tahun ini akan dapat menjadikan para pelajar lebih matang, walaupun terlihat ini adalah sisa kumpulan yang tidak cemerlang.

pendidikan bukanlah satu-satunya tahap untuk menentukan kualiti hidup. tetapi yang lebih penting, kematangan dan kesedaran untuk menjadi lebih maju.

dan adakah satu bangsa itu akan dianggap maju kalau hanya satu dua orang sahaja yang mendapat berbelas A1 dalam peperiksaan, sedangkan kelompok majoriti hanya cukup-cukup makan (dan kemudian diabaikan dan di"kerajaan"kan).

selain soal politik (dan kuasa), sistem pendidikan adalah hal yang selalu membuat saya susah hati di negara yang tercinta ini.

tidak lupa: selamat hari guru, dr. bakri!

(saya baru mendengar satu cerita, ada guru yang menyarankan anak muridnya membeli hadiah di koperasi sekolah untuk hadiah hari guru untuknya. ada juga anak rakan saya yang tidak ke sekolah hari ini kerana anak kecil ini malu tidak punya wang untuk membeli/menyediakan hadiah buat gurunya).

malang sungguh nasib anak bangsa saya yang masih muda itu!


11:02 PM  

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