Now it leaks ! What's next?
It saddens me that I have not in this blog written an entry crediting on our country’s system of education. I moan and sigh whenever the ‘gods’ of education speak with high praise for their endless plans and blueprints, to make our universities more of ‘taraf antara bangsa’(world class) than those in other countries. They talk about importing Indian English teachers, American peace corps etc. etc. to help in teaching of English. This reminds me of a conversation I had with then the director of a state education department. When I casually asked him why there had hardly been one scholarship given to an outstanding student in the state to study English at a university in England, he went to a great length to convince Pakcik that England was no longer the best country to study English language! Fortunately India was not his best choice either. I found no reason to waste my breath in arguing with that self-proclaimed expert. He must have been convinced by the ‘gods’ up there, those who found him deserving to be promoted to run the state education.
I have never heard of a suggestion from our wizards in education that, perhaps, it is of immediate advantage to the country to invite experienced teachers, those trained in Kirkby, Brinsford and locally. Many of them would be too happy to come out of retirement to help our failing system. In the local dailies several readers did voice suggestions to this effect without being given any notice by those in authority who were bent on listening to the expensive consultants from overseas.
And now we hear about the leak (bocor) in certain UPSR question papers.
In my part of the world I have, over the last ten years, been hearing rumours of leaked examination papers just about UPSR examination time. Many teachers are convinced of that and I am inclined to believe them, too. Deep in my heart I know there is some truth in the rumours. Coincidentally, over the years my state is proud of holding a record of sort in achieving the highest percentage of children obtaining all A-grades in UPSR examinations.
I thought the current unfortunate situation (of leaked UPSR papers) would hasten the replacement of UPSR examination with the new system publicised not long ago. On the other hand, the minister categorically stated that UPSR would stay.
The three girls pictured above are from a small group of Form 1 children attending tuition at Almanar. Two of them achieved 5A’s and the third 3A’s in their UPSR examination last year. They decided to join Almanar a week ago. All the three girls excelled with A-grade in Mathematics and two with A-grade in English. It is not easy for them to come to Almanar , about ten kilometers away from their homes. But they do with their elders’ support.
Nine months into Form 1 these children claimed to have completed their Form 1 Mathematics for the year. That is encouraging. But I cannot take it for granted. They are at a disadvantage learning Mathematics in Malay as Pakcik would want children at Almanar to learn technical terms in English.
The first chapter of Form 1 Mathematics is all about numbers, the odd, even and prime numbers, factors and multiples, etc. It is enlightening to these children to learn to say; Ali is an odd boy; he is at odd with so and so; the top of a billiard table must be perfectly even; Their score at half time were even; He did not even open the envelop, etc. When asked what they guessed a ‘prime number’ would mean they looked totally puzzled. When asked what ‘prime minister’ meant, their faces sparked with delight – perdana menteri! I do not wonder why people like our Dr Mahathir feels strongly for English to be used in science and technical subjects.
Like in many cases, it is most disappointing to see what a calculator has done to these children. Pakcik cannot help recalling the years I was in standard 2 and standard 3 seventy years ago. We had to commit to memory the multiplication tables up to 12. We would get a cane for not being spontaneous in giving an answer to say, 7x6. These children are good at using the gadget but failed to divide 69 by 3 without one.
Hopefully our standard of education will remain at ‘taraf antarabangsa,’ and I say it with a sigh.
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