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Monday, May 28, 2018

22 Improvements In The Malaysia Education System Parents Hope To See.

If you have read our previous post, you would have some idea on the sort of constant changes and anxiety parents had to go through for almost two decades.

That is why parents were so excited over the appointment of the new Minister of Education and everyone was engaged in a discussion on who they would like to see taking on the role of the Minister of Education and what changes they would like to see.

Similarly, our group, the Malaysia Primary School Parents on Facebook group was alive with discussion on this topic. One of our members has summarized all of this discussion to some semblance of order.

22 improvements in the Malaysia Education System parents hope to see.

"Parents" in this case refers to parents from our Facebook group which consist more than 27,000 members. Of course there are more but it is not possible to go deep into each and everyone of them. We have tried to keep the issues mentioned as brief and straight to the point as possible for the sake of simplicity.

It is impossible to include everyone's suggestions. Different schools will have different concerns. Those that are in this letter are concerns that affect most, if not all, schools.

As we regularly discuss the state of our country’s education system within the group, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our concerns for the consideration and justification of our new Education Minister.

1. We hope that the Ministry will take a fresh look at why the syllabuses for our BM, Tamil and Chinese subjects are so incredibly hard. We have to ask ourselves if a syllabus as difficult as this is helpful or harmful for children in their formative years. Children who have poor vocabulary in the languages will also face difficulty in Math and Science in those languages.

2. We humbly ask that you entertain the possibility of removing examinations for lower primary pupils (Primary 1-3) and to give teachers more autonomy to conduct their classes in that three-year period.

We hope that with this step, teachers will have ample time to help pupils build solid foundations in their language subjects rather than resort to rote learning and memorisation in order to keep up with the syllabus.

In line with this, we also ask that the length of periods per subject be lengthened to reduce the number of books students need to bring to school, and to allow teachers enough time to complete their lessons.

3. The removal of examinations for tahap 1 will also give teachers breathing room to inculcate certain values in our young ones, such as independence, innovativeness, critical thinking skills, civic-mindedness, respect for elders, a love for the environment, an appreciation for our way of life and culture, etc.

4. As we are living in an age of consumption, we would like the Ministry to recognize the need for subjects like art, music, drama and creative writing which allow self-expression in children.

We would also like to see more outdoor learning as well as development of life skills alongside financial literacy, if those are not too much to ask.

5. Let our children play during recess. Make the schools let them play, and allow for a longer recess time.

6. With children being chained to the desk to chase the syllabus, is it possible to consider putting more focus on Physical Education being used for actual physical activities rather than to be taken up by other subjects as substitute periods?

We also like to ask whether there is a necessity to have exams for Pendidikan Kesihatan and Pendidikan Jasmani?

7. If high-stakes exams are here to stay, please re-evaluate the need for requiring compulsory passes for subjects like History and Moral in public exams.

8. Please re-evaluate the difficulty gaps that appear to affect students when they transition from one tahap to the next e.g. Primary 3 to Primary 4, Primary 6 to Form 1 as well as Form 3 to Form 4.

On the subject of streaming students in Form 4, students are assigned to the streams (e.g. Science or Arts) based on their results rather than based on the student's personal interest. Students interest should be taken into account rather than sidelined at this juncture.

9. We also ask that KBAT be reviewed in terms of its implementation and whether it is actually producing students who think outside the box.

10. We’re hoping to see the return of English to Science and Mathematics subjects in the classroom in all types of schools. If this is not possible, then we ask that efforts be made to improve the declining English standards in our schools.

11. We fully support the Minister’s plan to free teachers from administrative filing and paperwork, to reduce the amount of homework as well as the size of classrooms, and to introduce teaching assistants to our classrooms.

Before the hiring of teaching assistants however, please ensure that new teachers are given their posting so they can start teaching and contributing to their assigned schools.

12. On top of that, we also hope for a better pay structure and continuous professional training to teachers, new and seasoned. In particular, we’d like to see English teachers go for certification from external parties.

13. At the same time, we urge that the Ministry also come down hard on teachers who have been found guilty of misconduct in schools. Transfers to another school or to a desk job are poor deterrents.

14. If we are truly aiming for a less exam-oriented education system, we hope that provisions that were alloted to schools based on student performance be allocated to schools that require funding for infrastructure and repairs instead.

15. While on the subject of budgets, we also ask that our new Minister look into the budget cuts that have been plaguing many public schools in the past few years.

16. Please update school student numbers and school statuses regularly to identify schools that may no longer be Sekolah Kurang Murid. Affected schools will require funding and manpower allocation as soon as possible to prevent overworking the existing teaching staff.

17. We hope for fair or increased allocation of funding to all sekolah kerajaan and sekolah bantuan kerajaan, in the hopes of reducing the donation drives that are required to keep the schools running.

18. We also hope that school tenders of any kind can be done open tender style, for transparency.
19. If there is a plan in the blueprint to regulate preschool education, we highly welcome it.

20. We hope that Ministry can also ensure that our education system as a whole be kept focused, free from political influence, racial and religious tones.

21. At school level, we're hoping to see more stringent enforcement (and possibly spotchecks) on the type of foods that are sold in school canteens, hygiene and cleanliness of canteens and school toilets, and that schools adhere to the no-caning policy as determined by the Ministry.

We also ask that any form of practices or policies that does not promote integration in school be firmly rejected.

22. Lastly and perhaps most importantly, we ask that any change that the new Ministry plans to implement in the system, be carefully planned out, communicated all the way down to the grassroots with the proper SOP, documentation, and training provided before the roll out begins.

Any efforts to keep parents in the loop is greatly encouraged and appreciated.

These are but just some of the concerns we have discussed within the group. There are many other aspects that could not be summarized in this post. We hope that by sharing this summary out, parents voices can be heard at last.

Credit for Images: Classroom Clipart

Sunday, May 20, 2018

16 Years With Kids In Public Malaysian Schools And Why I Hope For Change

My kids have been in Malaysian public schools for 16 years. During the 16 years we experienced the following and saw some changes as follows:

1. KBSR/KBSM syllabus to KSSR/KSSM to KSSR Semakan/KSSM Semakan

What this meant to us: The siblings could not share their books because one was under KBSR, the other was the first batch doing the KSSR syllabus. We noticed that in some cases, things that were previously taught in Std 3 are taught in Std 1 under the new syllabus. Same thing goes for secondary school.

2. The end of PPSMI or teaching of Math and Science in English

What this meant to us: Initially our elder child started learning Math and Science in English AND Chinese as was practiced when PPSMI was introduced. At the time, instead of switching to Math and Science in English, SJKC students had to learn Math and Science in English IN ADDITION to Math and Science in Chinese. They sat for 4 papers. When PPSMI came to an end, it meant that our child only had to do Math and Science in Chinese only. (which was actually a relief to us)

3. The introduction of DLP (Dual Language Programme)

What this meant to us: Fortunately, by then our kids were in secondary school with DLP so they instead of switching from Math and Science in Chinese to Math and Science in BM, they switched to Math and Science in English in secondary school.

However, this means different things to different students. Some schools do not have DLP for the entire school, only for some classes and some do not have DLP.

4. The introduction of KBAT (HOTS) and new format for UPSR

What this meant to us: This was a big problem to us as the time frame for the change was too sudden and parents, teachers and students were confused. Personally, we feel that many of the KBAT type of questions were set for the sake of calling it a KBAT question. Some of the questions were so baffling, even adults could not answer them and they took to discussing how to answer them on Facebook groups. Yes, sure we are supportive of HOTS but first you must make sure the basics are covered. All of a sudden kids were supposed to swim or run before they could even walk. Surely one would drown under such circumstance.

5. The introduction of PBS 

What this meant to us: When our kids were in primary school. PBS was introduced.  Teachers were to access the kids regularly, they opened up files for each student and assessed them according to different abilities (Let's just call them Band 1 to Band 6 for the sake of simplicity). During PTA, we asked teacher about the files and teacher pointed to the row of files at the back of the classroom with each student's name labeled. We never quite understood about the Bands or how the assessment were carried out and everyone continued to rely on the school report card to check on student's progress.

At the time it was introduced, there was mention that UPSR would be 60% exam based and 40% PBS. It never happened. It went back to UPSR 100% exam based and at the end of primary school we were handed an almost empty file for the PBS. Teachers were bogged down with a lot of paperwork under PBS.

6. Bye bye PMR. Hello PT3

What this meant to us: Fortunately, we were not the first batch to say Hello to PT3. I understand the first batch was struggling to find workbooks and to understand how projects were done because for the first time History and Geography became 100% project based. The change was too sudden and not properly communicated causing panic among the first batch of parents and students.

7. The introduction of PPSR in UPSR

What this meant to us: By then our kids were out of primary school so we weren't affected by this change. The change was quite sudden too making teachers, parents and students panic at the last minute but I think it was nothing more but a different reporting style for UPSR with different focus.

8. The introduction of FROG VLE

What this meant to us: During primary school, we were given passwords for the FROGVLE login. We were supposed to be able to check our children's homework using the system. There were some schools which used this effectively but in others, many parents did not know about it or did not know how to use it. I remember in our case, the kids would come home once in a while and said they had to login to the website and leave it on for a few hours, I suspect that was to meet some sort of KPI.

In secondary school, things are better, the kids use the FROG VLE to do some homework provided by teacher. I am not sure whether it is because things are improving or because their school was better at it. However, in one ocassion I remember my kid telling me that teacher cried because she said it was so difficult and she felt so frustrated.

Changes are not properly communicated and carried out.

These are just some of what we experienced with our kids in public Malaysian schools these past 16 years. There may have been some other changes which slips my mind right now.

So many changes. Some of them printed on the pages of a glossy book called the Malaysian Education Blueprint. To us as parents, the words in the glossy book mean little to us. They show big plans but the implementation is poor and often last minute. Schools, teachers, parents and students are often confused.

We change from one thing to another and we are made to feel as though our kids are guinea pigs for plans that are not carefully thought out.

Not all of the changes are bad of course. Some of them are even good and forward looking but then the manner in which change is done, often last minute, without proper training for teachers and not properly communicated to parents leaves much to be desired.

Change is also not properly planned. Take the UPSR for example. First it was supposed to be abolished. Then it was decided not to abolish it but to have it 60% exam based and 40% school based assessment but later it was switched back to 100% exam based. Then HOTS questions were added to UPSR not gradually but suddenly. Finally, it was decided that UPSR will now be PPSR which still meant 100% exams but with exam results displayed in a different format to focus on other than just academics. These sorts of changes happen too frequently, are confusing and often done last minute without proper dissemination of information to teachers and parents.

It is the same for secondary school. Talk of abolishing PMR, followed by changing to PT3, last minute change to 100% project based for History and Geography and so on.

Every year before the major exams, parents are filled with anxiety and wondering what will be changed next and whether this change will be communicated just 2 months before the exams.

So many changes but one thing remains the same. The heavy school bag. My elder one was diagnosed with scoliosis at the end of primary school and though there is no documented proof to link scoliosis to heavy school bags, I don't think it is a good idea to have those young still growing backs and spines lug heavy school bags up and down the stairs daily.

Even now, sometimes the kids carry 3-4 school bags to school on days when they have projects to hand up and PJ and activity uniforms to change in and out of. When I teased my boy about how he looked like he was going for a trip rather than to school, he quipped. "Mom, when I go on a trip, I carry less than this."

SK, SJKC, SJKT, SMK, SMJK, Private school, International School or Home School?
It is exactly this sort of constant changes that puts parents in a dilemma when selecting schools.

High Performance School, Cluster School, Smart School, Premier School, Vision School, Control School, Full Residential School and more

So many classification of schools. So confusing. So many parents hoping to get their children into the best schools. So many schools with KPIs to meet. So much competition.

Many parents are called kiasu when they push their children to do score As to get into the better schools.

"Why so kiasu? Let your children be children. There are more things in life than academics."

I wish I could say that too. However, I do not have the luxury of being able to make such a statement. I do not have the choice of sending them to private school or international school. I do not have the luxury of picking a good school if their results are not good. I do not have the choice of sending them for expensive overseas tertiary education.

 I am not kiasu. I do not believe that children should be at home all day doing nothing accept studying. Nor do I believe in chasing after As.

However, because of my lack of choices, my children had to aim for those full As to get them into better schools. In the end, with their full As, they got to pick the school they want without us having to pay and arm and a leg. They are in a good school now and the sacrifices have been worth it but our journey in the public schooling system is not over and that is why I hope for change. We are not intending to migrate anywhere because Malaysia is our home so we hope for a better education system for the future too.

I believe many parents are the same too. They are not kiasu but they have no choice but to push their kids to fight for places in good public schools and public universities.

Parents hope for change

I am not the only parent hoping for change. Not the flip flop, printed on glossy pages, poorly communicated and executed kind of change but real change. Parents in many different circumstance all hope for change for the better. In fact we are almost desperate to have things change for the better from years of neglect.

However, we must manage hope with realistic expectations. We all want to the best of our children and our children's children. So, I hope there will be less accusations and name calling. Recently, words like "Islamphobia", "racist", "selfish" are uttered carelessly without caring about other parents feelings just because they expressed their own expectations, hopes and fears.

A yet to be sworn in Education Minister (at this point of writing) is put under the microscope and studied intensely with his every video, comment and bio-data dissected and scrutinized, pondered upon and discussed.

Yes, we want change but not like this. Not with the name calling, fear and accusations.

Over-expectations leads to disappointment and anxiety. Let's manage our expectations and hope for the best.

Acronyms used in this post:

KBSR = Kurikulum Baru Sekolah Rendah
KBSM = Kurikulum Baru Sekolah Menengah
KSSR = Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah
KSSM = Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah
PPSMI =  Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran Sains dan Matematik Dalam Bahasa Inggeris
DLP = Dual Language Programme
KBAT =  Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi
HOTS = High Order Thinking Skills
PBS = Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah
UPSR =  Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah
PPSR = Pelaporan Pentaksiran Sekolah Rendah
PMR = Penilaian Menengah Rendah
PT3 = Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3
VLE = Virtual Learning Environment
KPI =  Key Performance Indicator
SK = Sekolah Kebangsaan
SJKC = Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina
SJKT = Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

PT3 Sejarah Project 2018

The PT3 Sejarah Assignment for 2018 is out. Students have one month to complete this assignment starting from 2 May 2018 till 25 May 2018.

This year's question is as follows;

Anda dikehendaki membuat kajian tentang masyarakat di kawasan tempat tinggal anda.

Hasilkan satu laporan tentang masyarakat setempat yang panjangnya tidak kurang daripada 300 patah perkataan.

Tugasan anda hendaklah mengandungi aspek berikut :

(a) Tajuk kajian

(b) Nama penulis

(c) Isi kandungan

(i) Latar belakang tempat kajian
(ii) Pembentangan dan perkembangan masyarakat setempat
(iii) Kegiatan sosioekonomi masyarakat setempat
(iv) Menilai semangat perpaduan dalam kalangan masyarakat setempat
(v) Dengan merujuk kepada tempat tinggal anda, ulaskan pernyataan berikut

"..tinggallah dengan baik antara satu dengan lain kerana negeri ini adalah berlainan dengan mana-mana negeri yang ada di dunia ini.."

Petikan ucapan Tunku Abdul Rahman pada 3 Jun 1957 di Lapangan Terbang Sungai Besi, Kuala Lumpur.

(d) Rumusan

(e) Sumber rujukan

(f) Membentangkan laporan hasil kajian

Below are some resources for PT3 2018 students who are doing this project.

1. Tugasan Sejarah PT3 2018: Masyarakat Di Tempat Tinggal Anda - this is from a blog called Miss Balqis Ordinary Girl. The author puts up very good examples and reminds students not to copy and paste the answers. The sample answer given is comprehensive and covers every aspect of the project. Be prepared to scroll through several pages and blog posts to get through all the materials. Note that at the point of writing this post which is 2 May 2018, it appears that the example is still works in progress by the blogger so you can revisit the link when it is fully updated eventually.

2. Tugasan 2018 PT3 Sejarah - Kajian Masyarakat Di Tempat Tinggal Anda - From Andrew Choo.edu.my, you will find a printable pdf example for reference. The example given is Old Town, Petaling Jaya.

3. Contoh Jawapan Pt3 Sejarah 2018 : Kajian Masyarakat Setempat - This is an example answer from My PT3.com. You have to navigate through 12 - 13 pages to get all the parts but it is worthwhile to do so to have an idea how to do the assignment. The example given is Masyarakat Orang Asli di Kampung Peta.

4. Contoh Jawapan Tugasan Sejarah PT3 2018 Masyarakat Di Kawasan Tempat Tinggal Anda This is from a site called Gcarian.com. The example given is on Meru, Klang, Selangor.

Good luck to all students preparing for the papers. Remember not to copy and paste information and to follow all instructions given by your teachers. If you are unsure of anything, always ask your teacher.

To all parents who are supporting their kids in preparing for this, we hope that these links are useful for you. As far as possible, we have tried to eliminate all the copy and paste information online to prevent any duplication of information. We hope that by putting everything together, it will make it easier for you as a source of reference. Bookmark this page throughout this month of May 2018 to easily come back to find these resources.

If you wish to refer to past year references, you can read PT3 Sejarah 2017 Project Paper

This post is written specially for the members of our Facebook group: The Malaysia Secondary School Parents On Facebook

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