Those who support the idea feel that it will give more time for students and teachers to prepare. Those who disagree think that the government should continue with the original plan if we are to improve the quality of education, make students, especially those from rural areas, take English seriously, produce workers with competency in English and help the country compete with developed nations globally.
The reasons are, undeniably, valid. However, as we focus on making students realise the importance of English, we should not forget about our aim to produce critical and creative thinkers, all-rounders and exemplary individuals who will contribute to the economy, educate our children’s children, and be effective leaders of the next generation.
So, instead of contemplating the decision of when to implement the must-pass policy for English, we need to think of the best way to activate and develop not only students’ verbal and linguistic intelligence, but also their visual, logical and kinesthetic intelligence.
The policy of making English a must-pass subject will leave passers feeling contented, and failures, frustrated. It is true that SPM will not determine their future, given that there are successful individuals who were once dropouts but, to finish school after six years of primary and five years of secondary education without a certificate means that their time and efforts would have been in vain.
I feel that it is better if we make it compulsory for candidates to pass important subjects in Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3). With it being implemented for the second year now, teachers should have been more prepared in helping students do well in the examination.
Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics, Science and Religious or Moral Education should be made a compulsory pass. Failure to meet the requirements will affect the students’ chance to pursue upper-secondary level education (Form Four).
Those who fail, however, should be allowed to re-sit papers. This way, it will ensure schoolchildren take education seriously, as many students believe that regardless of their achievements in exams, they can still continue their studies in Form Four.
Students need to learn the hard way, develop the motivation to study and prove their ability early. This route to success will make them strive to do well in SPM, lift their passion for learning and guarantee them a bright future.
Some students are carried away with their “honeymoon years” after completing their primary education and PT3, so we need to wake them up to help them reap the harvest of their continued efforts with satisfaction.
Every implementation has its pros and cons, but we should be courageous and confident in carrying out our ambitious yet achievable plans without expecting immediate results or jumping to weak and vague conclusions based on early results or negative feedback from naysayers.
It is either we take the risk or leave our goal of becoming a developed nation unaccomplished. Muhamad Solahudin Ramli, Marang, Terengganu NST Letters 14 September 2015