Saturday, 5 March 2011

The Problem with Our Education

This is just a piece of my thought about our education system, based on what I saw, or experienced, or read in written media. Don’t use it in for your SS~! Haha.

One common feature of education system in Asia: getting lots of ‘A’s in exams is important, highly important.

It’s time to ponder on this thing. Is it true that getting a row of ‘A’s is that important? For many parents, and undeniably students, it shows that they are smart, and can understand what their teachers teach them. In fact, some students [or perhaps, many] take it too seriously that if they will not hesitate to jump of a building if they are denied of even an ‘A’.

The truth is getting a high number of ‘A’s in exams does not make a student an all-rounded achiever. Sometimes, it is not even adequate for tertiary education. In addition, it’s misleading for a person to say that a student from science stream is much better than those from art or accountancy streams. All students should be given the same treatments and care from the teachers, schools, and the community.

Now, these ‘A’s in the beginning of this post are starting to make me dizzy.

Parents are too judgmental with their children. It’s not a far-fetched thing to say that parents might love the child with lots of ‘A’s than the one that have skills. Sending children to tuition [and other classes, like piano, ballet, dance, or others] is the norm, especially in large cities. We don’t have cram schools in Malaysia, but if we did, parents might not think twice about sending their children there. Cram schools are all about repeat, repeat, repeat, and no critical thinking. Sometimes, it is a pity that children nowadays are losing their innocence and time to play because of parents expectations.

In Malaysia, our education system relies heavily on exam and rote learning [and subsequently the number of ‘A’s] as ways to evaluate the students’ performances. The system depends heavily on memorising ways to answer, not to think thoroughly. Teachers only teach students to answer questions according to the books. In mathematics [especially additional mathematics], students are taught to remember the formulas, and as my teacher had told me, some teachers actually gave their students a number of essays to be memorised, then when the exam questions came out, all they need to do was to write back what they had remembered. Neat? It’s cheating.

One thing: how about those students who are left behind? Can they understand the subjects? Unfortunately, many schools are not even bothered with these students. They are stamped with the word ‘failure’ on the heads. Not one person undertakes the steps to diminish this thought. What will happen to those students? Even if they don’t shine in education, this doesn’t mean that they don’t have other capabilities, but they seem to be ignored. Our sports are still behind, and I really think many of them have great sports’ talents, why don’t our government tap them to offset the dwindling numbers of able-athletes in this country?

Malaysian education should be changed for the better. Critical thinking is now being implemented in Kurikulum Standard Sekolah that replaced Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah, but its practice is yet to be seen. Our student must be able to think for themselves, but it is a problem, especially for rural students who are confined to the four squares of their interior lives. Shyness and the lack of asking questions continue to be major issues for Malaysian students. They think that asking questions shows that they don’t understand the subject. They rather choose to be quiet than be embarrassed in front of schoolmates. Students don’t have confidence, and a simple task such as talking in front of others, is big deed [I went through it, luckily it’s changing]. Teachers should search for ways to make learning creative, and fun for all levels, and as an added thing, motivate students.

PPSMI, it’s an old thing, but for me [and not because I’m a TESLian], it’s such a pity for it to be abolished when it was starting to give good effects to our children. We should really wait for a number of years and see it effectiveness first, but it didn’t happen. For those who said PPSMI was a threat to BM, think again. Most of those who told us that were being educated when our education system was still based in English, and probably British-styled structures, yet they can still speak BM fluently. Now that I think of it, it was discrimination. One Pupil One Sport programme is a good thing [not withstanding that I am NOT FOND of sports], it gives the students a chance to showcase their hidden sports abilities. Why hidden? Almost every school in this country plays football during physical education. I went through it, and it didn’t help me. Extra-curricular activities – like clubs, uniformed units, and associations – can be helpful, but are they active? If we push those urban schools aside, we can be pretty sure that most of Malaysian school are not having them on a weekly basis. Some schools even forced students to enter these groups without their consent. Students should be given chances to choose which one that they want to enter.

Tertiary education is all about critical thinking and analysis. Can these so-called ‘A’ students excel if they are in IPTA or IPTS? Are they going to be left out in the run of getting the Dean Awards? Education is not about getting straight ‘A’s during school time, but to help us live our life. Some straight ‘A’s couldn’t even hold a grasp on what are being taught by universities’ lecturers, especially those in foreign countries, where the education systems are light-years ahead of us.

I think us as future teachers [for IPGs’ students], we need to think and embark on a quest to change our education system. The high-expectations of straight ‘A’s and the lack of non-academic related things and critical thinking in schools should be addressed. We should have multitalented students in our schools.

Life is all about education, in the right ways.