October 31st, 2012

Exam Tips: Proper way to good grades

I AM a student and, of course, education, examinations and books are an essential part of my adolescence. Like any other school-going child, when exams come, I am beset by stress, pressure and worry, and the need to be diligent.

Recently, students have become obsessed with examination tips.

In the weeks leading up to the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination recently, my schoolmates were thronging various seminars just to get the latest and most reliable "tips".

In this case, the word "tips" is a mild way of referring to "spotted questions" or "leaked questions".

However, these are anything but reliable.

A friend shared her experience at one of these seminars. The organisers, who run a tuition centre, had sold bound books of spotted questions, which cost more than RM200 each.

Every student who attended the seminar was required to buy a copy. Let's say 250 students registered for the seminar, there are no prizes for guessing how much money was made from the sale of these books alone.

The tuition centre was smart. To protect itself, there was a disclaimer on the back of the book, which said it was not responsible for any false or misleading information. Were these tips accurate?

I jotted down some of the tips just to compare them with the actual exam questions. None of the predictions were true.

My parents and teachers have told me never to believe in tips. I prefer covering all the topics in the syllabus rather than spotting certain chapters.

This way, I feel more confident, knowing that I have all the facts and figures at my fingertips.

Those who depend too much on exam tips fail to fathom the real meaning of examinations. It is one way of assessing the students to see whether they have learnt anything from their lessons in school.

If revision is based only on spotted questions, how can teachers, parents, even students themselves, know whether what is studied is truly understood?

Most, if not all, seminar organisers are more interested in making a quick buck rather than providing education, and spotted questions are their secret weapon.

Seminars are supposed to give tips on how to answer questions, on avoiding common mistakes made by candidates and on the correct ways of studying.

I attended a seminar in February where the facilitator guided us on how to write quality Bahasa Melayu essays, discussed phrases that we could use in our compositions and taught us unique but simple methods of writing a summary.

He did not mention anything about spotted questions until the end of the seminar, when he promoted a PMR workshop, which was to be held in August.

"In this workshop, we are not giving you leaked questions. No. We are giving you leaked answers," he had bragged.

I did not attend the workshop, so I cannot comment on it.

If you ask me for advice on exam preparation, tips would be the last thing I will recommend.

We do not need tips or spotted questions. All we need is a good night's sleep, hard work and continuous motivation. Here are simple methods of obtaining good grades. These are what I call study tips, not exam tips:

NEVER study at the eleventh hour. Flipping through some concise notes is acceptable, but never read the whole book when the exam is just tomorrow.

Studying throughout the year is bliss. When we revise regularly, we can easily transfer information from our short-term memory to our long-term memory.

This is the problem with students nowadays. They only start their revision when the examinations are around the corner. After the examination, they lock their books in a cupboard only to take them out when the next assessment nears;

READING and understanding notes is essential. Mugging them blindly without comprehension is foolish. Of course, we must memorise notes because the Malaysian syllabus is generally based on remembering facts, but it will be easier to memorise if we understand what we are learning;

DO a lot of exercises so that we can recall what we have read and know how the questions are being posed in examinations, and what are the important topics.

That is why reading notes and answering questions are mandatory. We must read our notes first before we do the latter. Some students tend to skip the former and jump straight to the questions. How can we answer the questions if we have not read any notes?;

NEVER burn the midnight oil. Most students like to stay up late and cram in all the information. Exam week is not a time for staying up late.

We should sleep early so that we will have a fresh mind and body for the examinations the next day. The brain functions more efficiently when it gets enough rest;

AVOID studying too much during the exam week. Take some time off to indulge in relaxing activities.

By this, I do not mean hanging out at shopping malls or at cyber cafes. Try listening to music, watch comedy or go through the newspapers.

So, spotted questions? Those are just foolish means of passing the exams. It is not much different from cheating.

Students should just trust themselves and do their best.

C.K., Kajang, Selangor | <a style="text-decoration:none" ="mailto:letters@nstp.com.my?subject="RE:%20EXAM%20TIPS:%20Proper%20way%20to%20good%20grades&quot;" lj-cmd="LJLink">letters@nstp.com.my New Straits Times Online Letters to the Editors 30 October 2012 

Create post of discipline teachers

I HAD palpitations when I read the article of the 14-year old schoolboy who died when he was attacked in Malacca.

What was even more painful was that more than 30 people watched and did nothing.

I strongly believe that the discipline level in school children is deteriorating due to the lack of enforcement by the school authorities.

School discipline teachers are “toothless” and therefore discipline problems are expected to get worse.

If only discipline teachers are given more authority and some kind of perks in terms of promotion and less teaching hours, I am sure more teachers will do their job more professionally.

I still remember during my teaching days, my friend Choo and I would go out of the school compound to settle student discipline problems (like fighting), just to be reprimanded by the school head (for leaving the school compound) when we came back later.

We used to have a good relationship with the police who were there to help us.

My point is, if discipline teachers don’t go the extra mile to solve discipline problems in school, nothing much can be done.

But being a teacher-educator now, I see that more than 70% of the undergraduates are females.

With very few males in the profession I expect school discipline problems will get even worse.

I strongly believe that a special post of discipline teacher should be created.

This will definitely create more responsible and powerful discipline teachers.

DR MAHENDRAN MANIAM Seri Kembangan, Selangor The STAR Online Home News Opinion Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rokok seludup rugikan negara

Ketegasan undang-undang sekat berleluasa

Tahukah anda bahawa ada dua jenis rokok haram yang diseludup iaitu rokok tiruan dan rokok seludup tanpa membayar cukai (contraband). Jenis rokok palsu yang diseludup ialah rokok berjenama, manakala rokok contraband yang diseludup biasanya terdiri daripada ‘rokok putih’ murah.

Rokok tiruan berbahaya kerana kandungannya sudah tentu meragukan. Selain itu, ia juga tidak mematuhi peraturan ditetapkan terutama dari segi kesihatan. Umum mengetahui bahawa di Indonesia, pemulung atau pengutip sampah, turut mengutip puntung rokok untuk dikitar semula. Ini mendedahkan rakyat terhadap risiko penyakit dan penggunaan barangan tercemar.

Lebih lima juta mati akibat rokok

Menurut Laporan Pertubuhan Kesihatan Sedunia (WHO), tahun ini lebih lima juta penduduk dunia akan mati akibat penyakit berkaitan merokok, antaranya serangan jantung, strok dan kanser sudah pasti kesannya lebih buruk bagi mereka yang menghisap rokok tiruan.

Gabungan Pengilang Tembakau Malaysia dalam kajian menunjukkan kegiatan penyeludupan rokok haram meningkat sebanyak 37 peratus setahun. Ini bermakna hampir empat daripada setiap 10 paket rokok yang dijual di negara ini adalah produk seludup, dan menjadikan Malaysia negara teratas di dunia bagi penjualan produk rokok seludup.

Pengeluaran rokok di Malaysia lebih kurang 15 juta batang setahun. Rokok haram pula dijual berleluasa pada harga jauh lebih murah iaitu RM3.50 berbanding harga yang ditetapkan kerajaan iaitu RM7.20 bagi 20 batang rokok. Memandangkan perniagaan ini begitu menguntungkan, penyeludup bersedia menanggung risiko ditangkap semata-mata untuk memperoleh keuntungan.

Kajian Nielsen Company (Malaysia) menunjukkan peningkatan kes penyeludupan mengakibatkan imej negara dan kerajaan menanggung kerugian sebanyak RM2 bilion setahun dalam bentuk kutipan cukai. Tambahan pula, pasaran haram telah melahirkan satu industri utama sindiket, menggalak jenayah terancang, perdagangan haram atau ekonomi bawah tanah yang mengendalikan rangkaian penyeludupan dan memperoleh keuntungan sehingga mencecah RM1 bilion setahun.

Rampasan rokok haram oleh Jabatan Kastam Diraja Malaysia (KDRM) telah meningkat sebanyak 26 peratus dalam tempoh lapan bulan pertama tahun ini, iaitu 1,868 kes bernilai RM27 juta berbanding tahun lepas sebanyak 1,487 kes.

Pada 2011 nilai cukai terbesar yang dilarikan sindiket rokok haram ini membabitkan RM146 juta, walaupun jumlah rampasan hanya RM43.6 juta. Cukai yang dikenakan ke atas rokok lebih tinggi berbanding barangan lain. Kalau dibaca hasil rampasan atau tangkapan daripada aktiviti penyeludupan itu, nilainya membabitkan angka ratusan ribu hingga bilion ringgit. Pada hakikatnya, terlalu banyak juga kegiatan penyeludup rokok yang terlepas daripada tangkapan. Ini bermakna besar juga angka kerugian yang ditanggung negara kerana tidak mendapat pendapatan daripada kutipan cukai.

Pada beberapa tahun yang lalu rokok biasanya rokok berjenama haram diseludup melalui pelabuhan utama seperti Pelabuhan Klang, Pulau Pinang, Tanjung Pelepas dan Pasir Gudang walaupun KDRM memasang mesin pengimbas kontena berkuasa tinggi bernilai lebih RM12 juta setiap satu tidak mampu mengekang kegiatan sindiket ini.

Mereka lebih kreatif dan banyak tipu muslihat untuk memastikan kegiatan mereka tidak dapat dihidu oleh pihak berkuasa. Pada kebiasaannya penyeludup memalsukan dokumen dengan mengisytiharkannya sebagai perabot atau kusyen, komputer yang cukainya sedikit atau barang tidak dikenakan cukai langsung.

Kini, rokok putih murah haram kebanyakannya dibuat di kilang di Indonesia, Filipina, Kemboja, Vietnam dan China dan ‘modus operandi’ terbaru ialah dihantar untuk disimpan di gudang ‘bonded’ di Singapura secara sah.

Sebagai sebuah pulau perdagangan bebas, setiap pergerakan rokok di Singapura adalah tidak salah dari segi undang undang. Cuma rokok diseludup masuk ke Malaysia melalui pintu masuk Woodlands dan Tuas melalui jalan darat dengan menggunakan kenderaan yang memakai nombor pendaftaran Malaysia. Masalah besar ialah penyeludupan masuk ke Malaysia masih berleluasa dan pintu masuk masih terbolos kerana ada desas-desus mengatakan sesetengah penguat kuasa sengaja memberi laluan apabila menerima suapan. Dari segi pengagihan, sindiket tempatan akan menghantar rokok ini ke kedai runcit untuk dipasarkan di seluruh negara. Penulis mendapat tahu melalui sumber bahawa modal penyeludup membeli rokok putih haram ialah 48 sen sebungkus atau RM240,000 bagi setiap kontena dan dijual dengan harga RM1.75 juta.

Rokok putih dari Sungai Buloh

Yang menyedihkan lagi, terdapat juga rokok putih dibuat di kawasan Sungai Buloh, Puchong dan di Machang Bubuk, Seberang Perai. Ia dijalankan oleh sindiket dengan mengimport mesin dari luar negara. Pelbagai persoalan yang timbul. Bagaimana mesin pembuat rokok boleh dibawa masuk ke negara kita sedangkan ia memerlukan permit khas?

Pun begitu, penalti yang rendah dan penguatkuasaan yang longgar juga merupakan antara sebab berlaku penyeludupan rokok tiruan. Kes disiasat mengikut Seksyen 135(1)(e) Akta Kastam 1967 jika sabit kesalahan boleh didenda maksimum 20 kali ganda nilai barang atau penjara tidak melebihi tiga tahun atau kedua-duanya.
Lazimnya mahkamah hanya mengenakan denda saja menyebabkan kegiatan penyeludupan rokok semakin berleluasa.

Penulis berpendapat tiada cara untuk mengatasi masalah penyeludupan daripada berterusan kecuali tindakan undang-undang yang tegas.

Akhbar Satar ialah Pengarah Institut Jenayah & Kriminologi Universiti HELP Berita Harian Online Rencana Rabu , 31 Oktober 2012