IF THE foundation of the education system itself is not well planned, no amount of syllabus revamping will benefit anyone.
This is what some teachers, parents and educationist interviewed feel about the Education Ministry’s proposal to revamp primary and secondary school syllabus next year.
Even National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) President Hashim Adnan had said, that the revamp would be a disaster, as the change was “too robust”.
A file image of school children in a classroom. Educators fear the proposed revamp will introduce too many changes in too short a time frame. — filepic
Those interviewed feel that the syllabus revamp should not be done overnight, but on a gradual basis.
A secondary school teacher who declined to be named said, if implemented, the many changes over such a short period of time, would make students the victims.
With 27 years of experience as a teacher, he says a change is always a great idea, but at the same time, proper research and feedback is necessary.
“In-depth research involving the grassroots is necessary, but in such cases, decisions are always made by the upper management.
“They have no idea what is actually happening in the schools.
“Therefore such ideas, and concept looks nice on paper, but in reality the situation is different,” he added.
The teacher further added it would not be right for the Education Ministry to merely follow what other countries are implementing.
He said the ministry needs to tackle major problems in the education system first, which among others include the overall performance and achievements of students.
“Many of them are not doing well. For example, when it comes to grading there is unfairness, because not all teachers treat their students the same.
“This issue is very difficult to pin down, and because no monitoring is being carried out, students who gain entry into institutions of higher learning, perform badly.
“Therefore if there are loopholes within the system itself, a revamp of the syllabus will not work,” he said.
Educationist Sunny Yee said syllabus revamps usually do not affect the content of subjects such as mathematics and science because they are fundamental, and the concepts remain the same.
Citing an example, Yee said, for trigonometry, physics heat, or light, the concept of application is the same.
Yee said, if the ministry is planning changes, like bringing back some Form 6 topics back to Form 5, then it would create some impact.
He cited the example of exponential calculus and trigonometric calculus in additional mathematics, which used to be in the SPM syllabus in 1998, but was later scrapped and added into the Form Six syllabus instead.
“So the only syllabus change will probably be in the exam format, perhaps including more critical-thinking questions.
“But honestly, the International General Certificate of Secondary Education Examination (IGCSE), or even in other countries, like Singapore, are more consistent on these topics, as they stay the same.
“But here the Education Ministry always keeps changing the syllabus,” he added.
Another primary school teacher from Bidor who declined to be named feels the ministry should place more importance on the English language.
The primary school teacher said, Year Six pupils in her school are so weak in their grammar, that they are unable to construct a proper sentence without guidance.
Parent Izam Fairus Kamaruddin, a manager, said any revamp including the recent one under the Malaysia Education Blueprint, should focus on making education fun.
He said, to a certain extent education should be a non-stressful experience for the students.
“This goes beyond changing the curriculum, but maybe there is a need to make a change among those involved in shaping the curriculum and implementing it,” he said.
Another parent, staff nurse Manjit Kaur, 49, said the government should emphasise the importance of the English language among students.
She said many students are unable to communicate in English, despite achieving straight As for all subject in their major examinations.
“I really wonder sometimes how they are able to get an A for English, because, some of them, the moment they open their mouths to speak, it becomes obvious their command of the language is so horrendous.
“Instead of revamping the syllabus, the ministry needs to find ways to ensure both teachers and students have a good command of the English language first,” she added.