We must set realistic objectives for our children as expecting unachievable goals can lead to severe emotional problems, and even suicide.
NOVEMBER 24 was a very sad day for all parents, students, in fact, for Malaysians.
It was a day that shook me as well. We were shocked by the news of the untimely and tragic end of a 17-year-old boy who was also an up-and-coming actor.
This shocking news was even more painful when the cause of death was the boy’ s inability to deal with his SPM examination stress.
This is a boy who scored straight As in his PMR examinations and 9As one B in his trial examination. That’s an almost perfect score. Yet when he couldn’t answer some questions in the Additional Mathematics paper, it was just too much for him to bear.
When a “bright spark” like him takes his life for a reason like this, it sends waves of disbelief and sadness to society.
Was this tragedy preventable? Is exam stress becoming too much for our students? Are parents and teachers putting undue pressure on their children?
All the above questions spring to mind when we are confronted by the stark dark reality of the situation.
Although such cases are not the norm, yet the loss of one life is already a loss too much to bear.
Collectively, we as a people need to re-evaluate the priorities of education.
Is attaining the perfect score the aim and are we putting too much expectation on the growing shoulders of our next generation?
A great start would be to move away from the results of an examination and focus on the efforts put in by the students.
We need to assure them that true victory is not in getting a perfect score but in trying one’s best.
As long as they strive to do their best, then they have already succeeded, irrelevant of the examination results.
Incidences of suicide are not acts committed spontaneously.
Victims must have been under tremendous stress for a period of time before making the decision.
Parents, besides refraining from placing unrealistic demands on their kids, can also look out for signs that tweens and teens aren’t doing well emotionally by recognising signs of depression.
The Mayo clinic in the United States, from its research on teen depression has listed some traits that parents can identify with, should they suspect that stress is getting to their children.
In teens, symptoms may include sadness, irritability, feeling negative and worthless, anger, poor performance or poor attendance at school.
They may also feel misunderstood and may resort to using drugs or alcohol.
Eating and sleeping too much, losing interest in normal activities, and avoiding social interaction are some of the other signs.
Parents must be vigil to pick up on these vibes and changed habits.
They should keep children including teenagers engaged so as to bring them out of the depression.
To all young people reading this article, let me assure you that your parents’ priority will be to keep you safe and happy always.
Talk to your parents and teachers if you are overwhelmed by examination stress or feel depressed.
Believe me, your results mean nothing to your parents if you aren’t happy and healthy. You will always have your parents’ love. Results are inconsequential when it comes to your well being.
Also, harming yourself is a worthless exercise.
Life is full of ups and downs. Remember, they are all temporary and should be used as templates for one’s growth and learning.
Exams are just small yardsticks used to measure your academic achievement – it is not the end-all of your journey in becoming a successful person – and you should always remember that.
Should you need some advice or just someone to listen to, talk to any counsellor in your school.
Students can also inform their teachers or counsellors if they observe schoolmates and friends experiencing emotional difficulties, showing a lack of interest in activities and displaying feelings of worthlessness and guilt.
Doing so, could prevent them from sinking deeper into depression as they could be directed to seek the right help and treatment.
Alternatively, if you want someone outside your circle for some sound advice, contact the Befrienders at 03-7956 8144 (Klang Valley), 04-281 5161 (Penang) or 05-547 7933 (Ipoh). Life is precious and no child should resort to ending his or her life.
P.Kamalanathan The STAR Home News Education Sunday, 20 December 2015
Mixed views on PT3
STUDENTS who recently obtained their PT3 results had differing views on the Form Three Assessment.
Several 15-year-old’s from SMK Seri Hartamas said that the higher order thinking skills (HOTS) questions were tough, and that had to some extent, prevented them from scoring higher grades.
The students are the second batch to sit for the PT3 or Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga which was introduced last year.
Form Three students previously sat for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), which was abolished in 2013.
mad Kamil and Lee Chong Hui The STAR Home News Education Sunday, 20 December 2015
Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid at a recent press conference on PT3, said that parents now had a good understanding of the Form Three Assessment.
He said PT3 was one of the four components under the School-Based Assessment (PBS).
There seems to be more acceptance of the new system from parents,” he added.
Although introduced last year, there were changes made to this year’s PT3 format.
While all parties were informed and aware of the new adjustments, many parents and students felt it was “too last minute”.
They revised and relied on last year’s exam papers and workbooks, some of which were “not helpful’ to them. Some felt that the changes could have been introduced to Form Two students, as they could then famialiarise themselves and be better prepared for the exams.
Student Sofea Izzati Mior Salim despite scoring 8As, found the exam difficult especially Science which she described as “the toughest”.
“Only 19 students (in my school) scored an A for Science she said, adding that Islamic studies, Bahasa Malaysia and English were easier in comparison.
As for HOTS, Sofea Izzati was quick to point out that the questions required some mental might.
“The oral examination was fine and the teachers were fair,” she said.
While topics were discussed in groups for the Bahasa Malaysia oral examination, it was individual assessment for the English oral examination, she added.
Zafir Nazhan said that while the exam was difficult, it was “doable”.
“Science was the toughest subject,” he said, adding that there were questions on topics which he least expected. “That’s when I really had to put on my thinking cap,” he quipped.
Straight As student Shalmeena Vijayakumar was happy with her results, considering that this year’s exam was a “lot more difficult”.“I had problems with Maths and Bahasa Malaysia oral, but my results were better than I expected and I am happy,” said Shalmeena.
For Chin Yaan May, who scored 8As, PT3, she said was considerably harder than PMR. Yaan May said that Science was the most difficult paper because there were HOTS questions that required students to think and analyse, all of which were not in their textbooks.
However, Yaan May said she was satisfied with her results as they exceeded her expectations.
Similarly, Alyssa Yew Menon was pleasantly surprised by her results, adding that she had not anticipated 9As.
Tackling HOTS questions was no easy feat, she said citing a question on how potatoes could be cooked underground.
“It was challenging to answer them as we had to think out of the box,” she added.
Alyssa added that while teachers were clear on the exam format, students hadn’t anticipated that the exams were going to be so difficult.
Noor Safia Mohammad Razin, who scored all As said teachers were there to offer guidance and support.
“The English and Bahasa Malaysia oral tests as well as the sports, co-curriculum and psychometric assessment were relatively easy,” she said, adding that the questions for the History and Geography assignments were tricky.
Brendan Michael Thasan, who scored 7As, found Science and Mathematics difficult as there were many unexpected questions especially for the Science paper.
“Last year’s exam format was simple and systematic but it changed this year and this led to some confusion,” said the school prefect.
“History and Geography assignments also required effort, but our teachers were there to guide us,” he said.
While the HOTS question were unfavourable to most students, Manesh Thiagarajah said he found them fun and challenging.
“It’s good because it makes you think,” he said, adding that “they were not the usual boring questions”.
For Nicholas Francis Christian Yap Jin Loong, the HOTS questions were not overly challenging “as they merely required candidates to give their opinions”.
“You don’t have to completely follow the syllabus,” he said, adding that Bahasa Malaysia was tough and tricky. He scored a B for Bahasa Malaysia and obtained 8As for the other subjects.
His mother, Kam Swee Har, 54, said she felt changes should be implemented when students were in Year One and not midway through their schooling.
“Students have been so used to answering objective questions and are suddenly required to answer subjective questions in the Form Three assessment.”
Kam added that many teachers were not properly trained and unfamiliar with the new exam format.
Parent Irina Redza, 42, said the new format should have been introduced to students while they were in Form Two so that students would prepare better for the examination while Gomathi Subramaniam, 45, said that while the Science paper was challenging, she was still proud of her son’s accomplishments.
UEC exams see drop in grades
PETALING JAYA: More than half of the subjects in this year’s Unified Examinations Certificate (UEC) exams saw a drop in performance compared with 2014.
Out of the 22 subjects, 12 saw a fall in passing rates, whereas the remaining 10 recorded improvements.
The statistics of UEC’s 41st exams were released by the United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) in Kajang yesterday.
Advance Mathematics (I) recorded the highest passing rate at 97.99%, an improvement of 0.45% compared with results last year.
Dong Zong’s president Temenggong Datuk Vincent Lau Lee Ming told reporters that the results were released on Wednesday.
“This year, 44.83% of those who took Advance Mathematics (I) got As, an increase of 11.32%,” he said. He pointed out that those taking technical subjects for UEC saw an 8.77% increase this year.
Lau also announced that they saw an increase of 637 students applying to take the exam, making the total number of candidates 8,948 this year.
When reporters asked Dong Zong CEO Hong Woan Ying why the passing rate for Chinese Language fell, she answered: “Dong Zong has not found a specific reason for the decline and as such, is not able to give a report on the matter.”
Last year, 93.01% of the students who took Chinese Language passed but only 92.17% passed this year. Adrian Chan The STAR Home News Nation Saturday, 19 December 2015