Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Education System in Malaysia is flawed.

A pretty heavy title huh?
Pardon my lack of creativity in making up a more enticing headline, but I don't have time for flowers and rainbows. I need to type this out before my writing juice (and patience - ive been sitting on a very rigid, uncomfortable chair for the past 10 hours or so) dries up.

I've never been a big fan of politics.
But IF (that's a huge IF there), in the future, I find myself chucked into the middle of politics battle, I'd run straight to the Ministry of Education and attempt to be the last Gladiator standing.

Because i think our education system is seriously flawed.
And it's about bloody time somebody does something about it.

Take, for example, our History class. I still remember being fourteen and having a lioness for a History teacher. She used to make us read a whole chapter and write out notes summarizing said chapter.

That homework compromised the wellbeing of my wrist. I wouldve sued the teacher for exposing me to the threats of Carpal Tunnel if only ive learnt about the term back then (perhaps i wouldve heard of Carpal Tunnel if it wasnt for the restrictive education system).

I probably wouldnt have complained if writing those dates and stories and eccentric names meant that i would be a walking History textbook. But considering all that we did during those days were to copy out shortened notes from the Sasbadi reference book, i can't say that i picked up much.

Now compare it with the way Americans and Australians learn History. They'd have an open debate where students take up the cause of previous Presidents/Prime Ministers and argue back and forth on said issues. 

The way we do it in Malaysia is simply by reading (memorizing, more like) through one source of book (read : the textbook). But wey hey! All the easier to indoctrinate thoughts in the society eh? 

Effi Nazrel, better known as Obefiend has presented the matter in shorter paragraphs than i can possibly try, so READ THIS to get a better gist of what i'm trying to say.

Why can't we have an open-ended question for our History lessons? For example (aish, you people always want examples kan? Cannot take my word for what it is kan? Haha), 'During the economic downfall in 1997, the former Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad refused to take loans from the IMF. Discuss if you agree or disagree with his action in terms of Malaysia's economic condition in less than 350 words.'

Whether the student agree or disagree, points should be given on how well-researched the essays are and the amount of solid facts based on reliable sources included in the answer.

Edited : After some points brought up by Mr. GGK, I'd like to point out that the example i headlined above is merely that - an example. By this, im trying to say that i am not encouraging Politics 101 to be taught in schools. With that said, here's another example that will encourage research : 

Explain the difference between strategies (whether it is by physical force or psychology stratagem) used by the Portuguese, Dutch, British and Japanese in their attempt to infiltrate Malacca.

That way, students will be forced to do their own research and along the way, they will probably pick up a new information or two. Over time, we will all be smarter and well-informed instead of being a blind nation that simply believes whatever they see and hear without giving it any further thought. 

In case you have not noticed, even our essays comes with a meticulously outlined complete guide that consists of the Introduction, 5 Main Points of Argument and the Conclusion. Isnt that proof enough that the system should be made obsolete? 

I still remember those chunky books with '350 Contoh Karangan Terbaik SPM' and '150 Model Essays for SPM' plastered all over its front pages. 

Writing an essay is supposed to be all about letting your creative juice flow! 

What's the point of having an essay-based question in the examination if the topics of the essays are the same year in year out. Plus, the answers can easily be obtained from a whole bunch of books ready to be copied to paper. Seriously, tell me, what's the point??

I remember a friend telling me that he came across a bunch of people who could barely speak decent English and yet has gotten A1 for their SPM English paper (for 1119 too!!). Turns out, back in the days of SPM, what they did was memorize essays from said books word-by-word.

Do you understand my frustration now? 

Essentially, studying is supposed to ensure that you become more knowledgeable. And i think it's safe to say that an 'A' on a scrap of paper is NOT a gauge of your intellect level. 

No wonder lah Malaysia is filled with plagiarists. 
Exam punya essay pun tiru sebiji sebiji from buku, ini kan pulak blog posts orang and other people's work. 


ezral Sya said...

Yeah kalau tak ikut skema buku markah kurang. Cikgu cakap "awak ni kreatif sangat, SPM tak perlu kreatif sangat".

amywammy said...

I agree! I remembered I argued like mad with my BM Teacher cause she insist that I was wrong for not answering according to the marking scheme. Ironically it was for the Kemahiran Berfikir secara Kritis dan Kreatif questions. that's not how you inculcate KBKK idiots!

I have to say, the education system sucks, but I happen to meet many wonderful teachers who decided to throw the system out and question us a lot. Like my history teacher who insisted that "Islam spreaded through wars". Needless to say, she wasn't very popular among the Malays for her views, but she made some of us read and understand more about our history. And English teachers are always cool and progressive-minded. Cikgu BM terlebih skema, which explains why I'm always not in the class:P

Saya rasa kalau semua cikgu perangai macam ni, mesti orang kita lebih pandai berfikir.

Igniz said...

No 2011, Jalan Januari 12
Persiaran Rabu, Blogspot,

13hb. Januari 2011


Dear Tasha,

With this letter I would like to inform that, I agree giler dengan u kot!!!

2. As a matter of fact, during my four year of studying, I realized (dah realize lama dah sebenarnya, tapi time ni I realized giler-babi) that our education system sucked big time! And it still sucks now.

3. I can list several weaknesses that can and will jeopardize the practical development of our students wholesomely.

i. The system is exam-oriented. The success of the student body is determined solely on how many As he or she gets. The lesser is worst-er. (Just like you said)

ii. The system is lacking focus. Too many subjects are being implemented nowadays in the study hours. As a result, the time allocated to study one subject is limited, and the same situation is repeated on all other subjects. Teachers are rushing, students become tired, eventually, learning does not take place.

iii. The procedures of teaching and learning suck! Teachers are forced to follow a syllabus that practically has little use in real life, students are given thousands of homework (like your case) that leads to copying the answers instead of searching for them and understand how they are obtained (like my case - Mathematics). In short, copy and paste.

iv. It is all on papers. Whatever students have learned (if there is any) from the class, they are all based on the amount of writing you have put on the papers, and the amount of answers that look quite the same (if not exactly) like the ones in the teacher's handbook. The element of arguing, supporting individual answers are not developed and students are not trained to defend their answers (I'm talking about critical thinking), hence lack of self-confidence in the future. As a result, during presentations at college, they fail to score. (Owh, come on you know how college works - arguments and clarifications, why you choose A and not B. Fail to provide one, you're doomed)

v. There is no such thing as flexibility. Like what you said about the essays, students are spoonfed with all the dormant structures. Instead of developing their own style of writing (with respect on the focus of writing intended), they are forced to follow exactly what has been written in reference books and so forth. (Just like you said)

4. Whether or not the Gomen have realized this situation, they surely forgot about one thing. Creativity in education. Some teachers have a lot to offer, but because of the syllabus and time constraint, and the fact that some people from the Gomen (called Nazim or something) drop by at school from time to time to check up on the exercise books (more homework - teacher is veryyyyy good. less homework - teacher is veryyyyy bad, that's how they roll), they are stuck with no solution but to JUST follow. If not, they are veryyyyyyyyy bad teachers. So lama²diorang pun fed up lah and layankan je lah. There goes everything.

5. Actually kan, banyak benda boleh di-improve. Tapi apakan daya. Malaysia's education system lacks of what we call, points of view. We have a lot of views from various angles, we can use all of them, no restrictions, but they still want to use ONLY one.

Best regards,
The one who miraculously survived.

p/s: Actually kan, I just ulang balik apa yang u cakap. Wuwu. Soory.

Igniz said...

Shoot! Panjang giler komen i. Sorry tasha. masa tulis tadi tak perasan sebegini panjang. macam buat new entri pulak. Huhu.

GGK said...

you really want budak skolah to mess their head with politic?

Merissa K. said...

Sya :
ahhaha! the recently graduated SPM candidate has spoken! haha.

ive always known that theyre suppressing our creativity, tapi tak bajet la sampai that extent! hmph! i dont like i dont like. hahaaha.

Amy :
yeahh i noticed the whole English-teacher-not-really-fitting-in-with-the-rest thing jugak!

Tapi that anecdote about KBKK tu serious lawak okayyy! haha.

Merissa K. said...

Igniz :

oh my oh my.
thank you for the letter. :D

tak kisah, panjang pun tak pe. hahaha. thank you for going into depths and explaining it even further for others.


thats the thing! since zaman dahulu kala, we were told that it's wrong to meddle with anything that is political related.

time university pun tak boleh jugak. and so when ur finally out of the education system and get into politics, haa dapat la politicians like the ones that we have in Malaysia now!

We werent taught earlier on pasal the right way to debate. Pasal how to set your priorities straight. How to do things for the right reason.

and i wasnt actually talking about politics pun. I was talking about History. things that happened before in our country that makes it what it is.

that's just one example. :) you can letak example lain if you want. heheh.

p/s : good to see you around again!

GGK said...

Politics is about back stabing friends and at the same time step on their dead bodies (two cubics tonnes of them) to reach on top.

If anyone think there are a less darker side of politics, they are naive.

Personally i would want children to stay the hell away from politics... like forever. A patriot, a servant of the nation or a splendid hard working citizen are good starting point.... (oh yeas the children need to learn to be this first!) ...

i dont think preparing ypur children to be a polititian are healthy...

Merissa K. said...

I also think that it's a dirty dirty business. But then again, however dirty it is pun, there is bound to be new generations of politicians anyway, whether we like it or not.

I dont think we should prepare children to be politicians. I think we should prepare them to be thinkers, instead of followers.

You get me?

Just because i think they should debate openly in class about matters, does not mean that the debate itself has to be political in nature.

It could be anything related to our society. As long as it means kids will start looking up about things and understanding them rather than simply memorizing things from textbooks.

GGK said...

You mark this day sis.

... firts time kita tak sependapat. LOL

Lya said...

recently while doing my muet paper (FINALLY), i was told to keep my essay on the effects of arranged marriage (wtf?!) under 350 words. my freaking introduction was 100+ words. so yeah.. quoting lincat, i felt like an extremely large person being squeezed into a tiny, tiny box :P

btw i noticed ur above comments of politics n how kids, even uni students, r not allowed to be involved w it. don't worry, facebook's taking care of politics :P

Valossa Vicious said...

I was actually planning to write something related to this topic too! Now you've said most of the things I had in mind. -.-

When I was still in school, I thought I was smart. I scored straight A's for most major exams. But as I grow older, I realized this kind of education doesn't need a genius. Get some soalan ramalan UPSR, PMR or SPM, memorize some books like a parrot, constant drills and practice; voila! You're done. The more A's you get the smarter of a person you are. In most cases, your quality is measured based on your the number of your A's. As a result, there you get, heroes on papers with no idea about the real life.

I think this is in line with the actual purpose of education here, to produce obedient individuals who follow orders. And I'm not talking about some controversial syllabus yet; History and Civics. Why is it seems so obvious that we're taught to love the government more than we should love the country? Politicization should have boundaries.

That's why some teachers burn out early, especially beginning teachers with fresh ideas. This system doesn't allow that.

amywammy said...

I think education teaching kids to be mindless drones are rampant in most countries, we can probably deduct the European countries out of the question. But tu la, the whole system, and I'm not just talking about education, forces the people to be unable to have their own principles. Be it in education or society in general, we are taught to "ingat jasa kami", "jangan banyak tanya, nanti lari aqidah", etc.

I pernah sound a teacher of my sister cause he called my sister mangkuk ayun after she asked why did he skipped a chapter. Scary gila when I see this is the kind of individual thats teaching our younger generation. People who can't even think for themselves. It's a wonder that we happen to survive the whole fiasco.

something that is relevant to the discussion in hand =)

Akulah Aqilah Itu said...

I wanna share this. OK? I just gotta share this! Thanks! =D

Merissa K. said...

Tell me about it weh! Sedih i.. hahaha.

Lya :
haha funny innit then, considering how there are still plenty of others who complains about the word limit being 'too much'. garr.

VV :
thank you for the comment that simply complements my post. :)

Merissa K. said...

Amy :
Mangkuk ayun? ish.
in this case, i think the teacher needs to be educated balik. hahahaha.

Aqilah :
by all means, please do. :)