September 15th, 2014

Leak that lets out a deluge of concerns

WE feel sorry for the 473,175 Year Six pupils across the nation who have to resit both the English and Science papers.

We feel the pain of the majority of the parents who are likewise caught in a dilemma that is not of their doing.

But we blame the adults who made this happen.

And by that, we mean not only those who leaked the papers, but also the parents and teachers who have created a situation where achievements in terms of distinctions matter more than real education.

The UPSR, like the PMR, is primarily an assessment examination, the sole purpose of which is to help the teachers identify weaknesses in the students and provide the necessary remedial teaching to help the children get up to speed as they go along their education journey.

It was never meant to be about how many distinctions each individual got, nor was it to allow the schools to trumpet the number of top scorers.

Learning is a lifelong process and a results-oriented approach has always had its flaws, more so in the early stages of a child’s education.

But we, as a society, have failed miserably in this respect because we want to showcase the A’s, and put the so-called super-achievers in the limelight.

Is it a surprise, therefore, that there are those who are prepared to pay for an advantage?

Would there be any value in having the UPSR examination papers ahead if society had not attached some value in the grades?

Those who leak the papers know there is a market for such unfair advantage.

And those who are prepared to lay their hands on such papers complete the vicious “there can be no taker if there is no giver” cycle.

Pity those children who are prepared to play along with this game that can only be initiated and endorsed by the adults.

And these are the adults who are supposed to be teaching the young generation the correct values of life.

We are already aware that many of our students with a string of A’s, even at the higher examinations, do not have the real abilities to match their grades.

Yes, there are those who really deserve the grades but there are also many who struggle to cope with the demands of higher education because the grades that gave them entry into the colleges and universities had been compromised.

The UPSR leaks provide us with a frightening scenario that the rot may be starting earlier than we earlier thought.

It is a sad reflection that we are bringing down, rather than raising, the bar.

Yes, we should bring all the culprits to book but let us not focus merely on the symptoms.

We should get down to the root of the problem and ensure that our young ones are getting the right education – not just in the examinations they take, but in the values that they embrace. The STAR Home Opinion Columnist 14 September 2014

Testing times indeed

The UPSR leak fiasco seems to suggest we are in a real state of crisis and we are sending out a wrong message to our kids – it is okay to cheat.

IT’S really incredible how so many of us have reacted over the leaked examination papers of the UPSR, which is merely an assessment examination for Year Six pupils. Yes, for 12-year-old pupils who are taking their first public examination.

The UPSR, to put it bluntly, has no serious bearing on how these kids will perform in future examinations nor will it have any impact on their careers.

But I guess not many would agree with my somewhat frivolous perception of the UPSR, judging from the kind of reaction that seems to suggest we are in a real state of crisis.

Education Ministry officials have been suspended, there are allegations of sabotage, possibly even political ones, and the police have been called in.

We hope the Inspector-General of Police won’t have to personally head a task force to nab the culprits.

I am not sure whether parents are upset that the papers were leaked, which in itself is incredulous, and a resit would mean the children having to go through another round of pressure, or is it because their holiday plans are now ruined?

The sad reality is that this is a country where parents and students are obsessed with the number of distinctions that one gets in public examinations.

Nowhere in the world, except perhaps in some other East Asian countries, do examination results hit the front page of the newspapers, or lead off the prime time news on national television.

And each year, we compare results like the way public companies compare their profit margins. The pressure is always to trend upwards. So, the focus will invariably be about how many more students have the perfect string of As as compared to the year before, giving the impression that we are in the business of producing super achievers.

Although the majority of students do not belong in this category, the perception is created that super-duper results are the passport for our children to become doctors, lawyers and engineers, and nothing less.

And every year, we have the same problem where the demand for places in universities for these courses far outstrips supply simply because there are so many students with the “right grades”.

Yet, many employers and top-notch foreign universities do question whether their grades actually match their abilities, and have their own ways to sieve out the real talents.

There are suspicions that we have lowered the passing marks and compromised our standards and in the process allowed more students to get these distinctions.

Of course, there are many who truly deserve the As, but it is most unfortunate that there are also those whose As can be questioned.

Forgive me if I sound dismissive and cynical because I come from the old school where we took our first public examination at Standard Five. That was the assessment examination and most parents would not get excited over the outcome of our performance.

It was kid’s stuff and they knew there was little bearing on our future, except perhaps to be enrolled into better classes or schools at the secondary level.

But when we took the Form Three Lower Certificate of Education, which is today’s equivalent of the PMR, it was real serious. You got kicked out from school if you failed.

That’s how it worked at that time with no free ride to the Fifth Form. The LCE required compulsory passes in Bahasa Malaysia, English and Mathematics.

The maximum number of As one could get was eight. If you got 5As, your name would probably show up in the newspapers.

But the standards were such that the grades truly reflected your real ability. An A in English for the LCE meant that you were speaking and writing the Queen’s English at that age already.

Today, most of our Form 3 students cannot even string a sentence together in English correctly. The fact that we are now considering including a compulsory pass in English at university level indicates that an A in that subject, whether at the UPSR, PMR or SPM level, is no longer an accurate reflection of one’s English proficiency.

After the LCE, we sat for the Malaysian Certificate of Education (MCE) where the maximum number of As was nine. It was a time when many Malaysians found places, on scholarships, to Ivy League universities in the United States and to Oxford or Cambridge in the United Kingdom. Yes, our MCE grades were deemed equal to the internationally-acknowledged O-Levels.

Now, despite the proliferation of the super achievers, we are told that fewer Malaysians are being admitted into these top universities.

And our students now have to prove their English proficiency to handle tertiary education overseas by taking the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) paper.

Let’s get our priorities right. The fact that the English paper was leaked even at Year Six level suggests that students are looking for help to pass a subject which they know is important.

What a contrast from those days when we had English-medium schools and getting a pass in English was not all that difficult.

And it is not just about the students. Two years ago, it was revealed that two-thirds of the 70,000 teachers who teach English in the country failed to meet the proficiency level in English for the Cambridge Placement Test.

The findings were revealed by the then Education Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof.

“When we did the initial profiling of the English teachers in Malaysia, we found that two-thirds of the teachers did not meet the proficiency level,” Dr Khair, who is now the director-general, was quoted as saying.

We really should be worried about how we can improve the standard of our education. There are many who love to score political points out of issues that affect our children’s education, including the UPSR leak fiasco.

We should start by doing a survey on how many of these politicians actually send their children to the government schools. Or are their own children not part of the system, but are instead in private or international schools, or even boarding schools overseas?

Let’s not play around with our children’s future. Year Six students shouldn’t be subjected to pressure cooker conditions in preparing for the examinations. And with this leak, we are now sending out a message that it is okay to cheat, even at this tender age. WONG CHUN WAI The STAR Home News Columnist 14 September 2014

Academic freedom, bedrock of new social contract

UNIVERSITY of Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin was recently quoted as saying that the university is committed to “academic freedom and rights with responsibility and accountability”.

“Universities are not mere transmitters of knowledge but, more importantly, places where new ideas and truths are discovered. It is a place to produce individuals who think critically and who govern and justify their acts with principles,” he said.

“This requires an uninhibited environment for the free flow of ideas, free expression of thought and action with the overarching guarantee of academic freedom.”

Academic freedom includes striving to advance the frontiers of knowledge throughresearch.

This refreshing stance of the oldest and premier university of the country sends a very important signal as to what education is all about in an era where the role of tertiary institutions is highly contested. Many tend to forget that higher education institutions are in the pursuit of knowledge that safeguards the welfare of the community at large.

Of late, the government has initiated a number of steps to promote academic freedom and institutional autonomy to take the university to the next level. This has had a very positive impact as seen at the recent Conference on Leadership and Governance of Public Higher Education Institutions with its emphasis on autonomy. Hosted by UM and the Higher Education Leadership Academy of the Education Ministry, the focus on public universities raised an interesting observation which implied that their private counterparts have been more autonomous for a long time.

Metaphorically, the differences between the two have been likened to two vehicles travelling on the same highway but one is subjected to too many toll gates. It is not surprising that private universities tend to be well ahead in carrying out substantial changes, although several of them are led by former vice-chancellors or deputy vice-chancellors of public universities. The latter’s loss is the former’s gain, facilitated by a greater scope of autonomy.

The oft-repeated reasoning is that since public universities are funded by taxpayers’ money, they must be tightly (literally) controlled — at the expense of allowing a university to function like one.

The International Association of Universities, of which UM is a member, is affiliated to the United Nations Organisation for Education, Science and Culture (Unesco) and based in Paris, has helped to clarify the issue since 1988. It has issued a statement called Academic Freedom, University Autonomy and Social Responsibility that is widely endorsed. Therein the principle of academic freedom is defined as freedom for members of the academic community — scholars, teachers and students — to follow their scholarly activities within a framework determined by that community in respect of ethical rules and international standards, and without outside pressure.

Academic freedom engages the obligation of each member of the academic profession to strive for excellence and innovation, and to advance the frontiers of knowledge through research and the diffusion of its results through teaching and publication.

It also engages the ethical responsibility of the individual and the academic community in the conduct of research, both in determining the priorities of that research and in taking account of the implications which its results may have for humanity and nature.

For its part, the university has an obligation to uphold and demonstrate to society that it stands by its collective obligation to be ethical, fair and tolerant; set and upkeep standards when applied to research and teaching; practise due process and institutional review; render account to society; self-verify; and be transparent in the conduct of institutional self-government.

All these go to show that the worth of a university is recognised by its academic freedom and institutional autonomy which are endorsed by Unesco. Since its earliest days, the university has professed intellectual and spiritual engagement with the principles of “universalism” and “internationalism” while academic freedom and university autonomy evolve within the setting of the historic national community. Academic freedom and university autonomy must form the bedrock of a new social contract — an agreement to uphold values common to humanity and meet the expectations of a world where frontiers are rapidly dissolving — before universities can serve world society.

It is therefore imperative to respect both academic and institutional autonomies if the boundaries of knowledge are to be enlarged, with universities playing their rightful roles meaningfully.

Dzulkifli Abdul Razak is president of the International Association of Universities. NST Learning Curve 14 September 2014

Terdesak menjadi yang terbaik dorong cari soalan bocor

FAKTOR tekanan untuk mencapai indeks prestasi utama (KPI) dalam kalangan pentadbir sekolah dan guru di samping keinginan ibu bapa mempunyai anak yang cemerlang akademik antara faktor yang menjadikan permintaan terhadap kertas soalan bocor begitu tinggi sehingga ada individu yang sanggup bertindak khianat.

Tindakan khianat pembocor kertas soalan ini tentunya satu kesalahan di sisi undang-undang dan di bawah Akta Rahsia Rasmi jika didapati bersalah boleh dijatuhkan hukuman penjara atau denda atau kedua-duanya.

Begitu juga dengan tindakan sesiapa juga sama ada pentadbir sekolah, guru atau ibu bapa menyebarkan dan menggunakan kertas soalan bocor itu untuk 'membantu' calon - juga adalah satu kesalahan. Malah dosa kesalahan itu lebih besar kerana bersubahat dan mencambah biak budaya menggunakan jalan pintas yang salah dari segi undang-undang dan moral untuk mencapai kejayaan.

Amat malang apabila terdapat segelintir pentadbir sekolah dan guru, tanpa rasa bersalah menggunakan kertas soalan bocor ini untuk meramaikan bilangan murid yang mendapat semua A dalam peperiksaan. Matlamatnya untuk melonjakkan prestasi dan seterusnya menerima status Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi (SBT) manakala bagi guru pula untuk memenuhi KPI peribadi agar mendapat kenaikan pangkat.

Bilangan mereka yang terlibat tidak ramai tetapi cukup untuk merosakkan reputasi dan integriti profesion perguruan. Mereka yang terbabit ini sama dengan penjawat awam lain yang terlibat dengan salah laku disiplin. Perlu diambil tindakan tegas mengikut peraturan yang ditetapkan.

Untuk mengenal pasti tindakan bejat ini tidak sukar iaitu melalui perbandingan Gred Purata Sekolah (GPS) antara peperiksaan percubaan terakhir yang diadakan di peringkat sekolah dan peperiksaan sebenar. GPS adalah nilai pencapaian gred secara keseluruhan yang melibatkan semua mata pelajaran yang diduduki oleh semua murid dalam sesuatu peperiksaan. Penentuan GPS dibuat melalui satu rumus khas. Semakin kecil nilainya semakin bagus prestasi sekolah secara keseluruhan.

Melalui perbandingan itu, dalam keadaan yang normal, perubahan sama ada peningkatan atau pengurangan dalam nilai GPS adalah sangat kecil atau minimum. Hal ini kerana selang masa antara peperiksaan percubaan dan yang sebenar adalah agak singkat justeru tidak mungkin keajaiban yang besar berlaku dalam sekelip mata melainkan ada udang di sebalik batu. Lebih mencurigakan jika terdapat peningkatan yang luar biasa terutama melibatkan sekolah yang prestasinya sentiasa kurang memberangsangkan dan lonjakan saujana itu hanya berlaku pada tahun itu sahaja. Pencapaian tidak konsisten ini membuktikan bahawa segala program yang didakwa berkesan dalam melonjakkan prestasi murid hanya omong kosong.

Kementerian Pendidikan perlu membuat siasatan dan mengambil tindakan sewajarnya, bukan terus memberi anugerah sekolah kluster kecemerlangan apatah lagi SBT.

Pemberian insentif ini amat digalakkan namun biarlah penerimanya dinilai melalui persaingan secara adil dan bukan dengan cara tidak beretika. Hakikatnya, persaingan untuk menjadi yang terbaik dengan cara sihat adalah tidak salah malah digalakkan sama ada melibatkan sekolah, dalam kalangan guru mahupun sesama ibu bapa. Bagaimanapun, ada sesetengah ibu bapa yang tidak mahu kalah dalam pencapaian akademik anak-anak mereka terutama apabila dibandingkan dengan anak jiran, anak rakan sepejabat dan anak saudara yang sebaya.

Maka, banyak ibu bapa yang menghantar anak ke pusat tuisyen, memanggil guru tuisyen ke rumah, menyediakan bahan pembelajaran tambahan dan melanggan sistem pembelajaran dalam talian (online). Ironinya, ada segelintir ibu bapa yang sanggup berbelanja besar untuk pendidikan anak ini 'tumpas' dengan kertas soalan bocor. Tergamak mereka memberikan soalan bocor yang diterima daripada aplikasi WhatsApp kepada anak masing-masing semata-mata mahu dapat A.

Dengan semua A ini, senang masuk asrama penuh dan paling penting tidak malu dengan kawan dan jiran walaupun diperoleh dengan cara yang memalukan.

Sikap ketam mengajar anak berjalan betul ini sudah lama membarah dan kesannya boleh kita lihat bukan sahaja dalam bidang akademik malah menyeluruh meliputi aspek kehidupan sosial dan ekonomi.

Dalam bidang pendidikan, akibat sikap ingin cepat berjaya melalui saluran salah ini terbukti dengan berleluasanya isu pembelian ijazah palsu dari institusi pengajian tinggi yang tidak wujud sama ada di dalam mahupun luar negara.

Isu pembelian ijazah palsu dari peringkat sarjana muda, sarjana hingga doktor falsafah ini melibatkan semua pihak termasuk orang kenamaan yang mempunyai gelaran. Begitulah hapraknya natijah apabila tekanan untuk cemerlang tidak dikawal dengan iman.

Sikap yang kita semai kepada generasi muda dengan memberi kertas soalan bocor sebagai cara mudah mendapat A dalam peperiksaan.

Bukan itu sahaja, sikap mahu berjaya dengan pantas ini juga telah menjebakkan ramai warga kita sebagai mangsa keldai dadah dan cinta siber. Gejala sosial ini bukan sahaja melibatkan kerugian wang ringgit tetapi kehilangan modal insan serta tenaga kerja produktif kepada negara.

Oleh itu, sementara pihak berwajib mencari dalang kepada kes kertas soalan bocor ini, kita perlu muhasabah diri sendiri untuk tidak terjebak kepada penyebaran amalan dan budaya mahu berjaya tanpa berusaha.

Jika kita telah berusaha, yakin dan tawakal kepada-Nya. Usah kita menjadi sebahagian daripada penyumbang kepada sikap memperoleh kecemerlangan secara tidak beretika. AZMY MOHAMED  ialah Penolong Pengurus Unit Pendidikan Utusan Malaysia. Utusan/Rencana/20140915

What we learn from those we teach

PERHAPS not everyone will agree with Canadian author Martin Dansky when he said, “Teaching is useless unless you can learn from your students”, but it did get me thinking more seriously on the subject.

When I asked around among friends who were teachers, what they might have learnt from their students, the almost automatic response was the single word “patience”.

I thought about that for a while. Well the thing is when someone says that the most important thing they have learnt from a relationship with you is “patience”, it could make you feel a little uneasy.

You may be left wondering whether it was your own quality of being patient that became a source of inspiration to the other person or if it was in trying to put up with some of your less favourable qualities that the other person built up their patience levels.

Whatever the response meant, I soon realised that there were numerous implications to the word “patience”.

“The thing I learnt most from my students was patience,” said a teacher who had been in the service for almost 30 years and in her own words “seen it all”.

“When I first started teaching I was assigned to a class where the students were interested in everything else, except their lessons.

“It took all the energy I had just to get them to settle down at their desks. Getting on with the teaching was another nightmare. I must admit I was not very good at keeping my cool in that class especially when they were disruptive or rude.

“I was perpetually ticking them off. There were times I even lost my head and screamed or yelled. But I used to feel really awful after that,” she added.

Each time it happened, she felt like a failure as a teacher. But eventually, she learnt how to deal with the students.

“I realised that shouting and scolding or continuously telling them off did not work and that in order to keep their attention, I had to do something radically different in my teaching methods.

“And I did. I used music, videos, games, held little classroom competitions, even took them for little field trips, and although they were still for the most part an unruly bunch, I found that they actually enjoyed these special ‘treats’ and generally behaved better.”

Keeping cool

But what was more remarkable was that she found herself being able to keep her cool and mete out discipline without losing her temper, she said.

And as the years progressed, she has become more understanding and patient when she has to deal with such students.

“Thirty years ago, I would have shuddered at the thought of having to teach such students for an entire year. Now, I just smile and get ready to take on the challenges.

“So if you ask me what I’ve learnt, it has to be patience and understanding and probably a very thick skin.”

“Learning to laugh at myself,” said another teacher.

What she’s learnt from her students is to be more fun-loving.

To her, being a good teacher meant that one had to be perfectly poised with a strict and serious expression at all times.

“I thought that it was most improper and undignified for a teacher to laugh, have a friendly chat with students or discuss anything that was outside the curriculum.

“After many years of being this way and actually thinking that I was a model teacher, I was taken aback when one day one of my rather chatty students asked me suddenly, ‘teacher, why don’t you smile, teacher ... don’t you like us?”

That outburst from the student made her realise that one needn’t appear to be unapproachable and distant all the time just to maintain discipline.

It took some time but the teacher realised that she needed to be less serious at times and even to laugh at some of the things the students said or did in the classroom, or even at herself sometimes when she made a slip right in front of them.

Another teacher who had been teaching History for a number of years said that it took a long time for her to realise that if a student said he didn’t like a certain topic or a lesson, it was not a personal attack on the teacher.

“ I also learnt not to take things personally. I used to be upset when a student yawned during a lesson and thought it was an insult directed at me.

“But now I realise that if someone was not as interested in my subject as they were in something else, it didn’t mean that he didn’t value me as a teacher.”

What almost every teacher will agree with, is that we learn what works in class and what doesn’t from our students.

It is the cues from our students that actually direct our teaching at times. We learn what to reinforce, what to discard, when to adapt and when to retain.

Novel ways

Students can even come up with novel ways of doing something which we teachers, may not even have thought possible.

While it is true that teachers ought to possess adequate content knowledge to deal with students, our students may at times be the ones presenting us with knowledge on a certain issue that they are especially interested in.

While at times it may not be very easy to accept, it shouldn’t make us feel any less competent or shake our self-confidence because our student happens to know more than we do about a certain topic.

In a way, having students who are constantly coming up with something new, or questions that are not main-stream, does develop us professionally.

It sharpens our own skills as teachers by making us carry out the extra research in order to be always relevant and possibly steps ahead of the students we teach in terms of subject content at least.

There were also teachers who gave rather different responses to the same question about what they had learnt from their students.

“Nothing,” said one teacher brusquely.

“It is they who learn from me, I don’t learn anything from them.”

“All the swear words,” chuckled another teacher.

Many teachers also spoke about how adept they had become in being able to tell when someone was lying.

“You become very good at differentiating and knowing genuine remorse from one that is fake.” said a teacher who had held the post of discipline master for more than 10 years.

“I know which expression of utter innocence is real and which one masks the most inventive offender in school.

“Believe me I have heard every excuse in the book that students come up with when they break school rules. I can tell just by looking at a classroom about the students who copy from one another during an exam.

“I could be very useful in crime-busting operations with all the skills I’ve acquired doing this discipline job,” said the teacher.

But among all the responses I received, the one that really stood out came from a rather young teacher who had been teaching for about three years.

“I wasn’t happy with my posting,” she confessed.

“The school was so far away from home ... in a remote area. I resented everything, the school, the teachers, even the pupils. I think they knew it too.

“One day, I accidentally left my brand new mobile phone on the teacher’s desk before I left the class. I returned almost immediately but it was gone. I knew how much the students had admired my phone.

“They had even asked to hold it once, so it was clear that one of them had taken it.

“I begged, pleaded with them to give it back, but no one owned up. Then I gave them the most severe tongue lashing of my life. I accused them of being nothing better than petty thieves.

“I was almost in tears when I left school that day and vowed that I wouldn’t stay there another year. When I went home I found the phone in my bag!

“All the words I had said in my anger came back to me and I felt like a truly horrible person. I went back to school the next day and was ready to apologise but when the pupils saw me with the phone, they swarmed around me excitedly with beaming faces that showed how happy they were that I had found my phone.

“Not one of them remembered what I had said the day before. No one mentioned anything about the unjustified scolding they had received.

“So if you want to ask me what I have learnt most from my students, it is about forgiving.”

Perhaps there are many other things that teachers learn from their students which are equally significant.

But the innate ability that perhaps only children have, that of not harbouring resentment in their hearts but forgiving without even knowing they are doing so — that has stuck in my mind for a long time.   MALLIKA VASUGI The STAR Home > News > Education Sunday September 14, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Keep our education standards high

KUALA LUMPUR: Former National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam believes that forging national unity can best be served by ensuring that education standards are high.

“Back in the day, people flocked to national schools because the standards were high. The main focus of teachers should be to produce the best brains for the country,” he said.

“If we can assure parents that national schools are offering top quality education, more people will send their children to national schools,” the 2011 Tokoh Guru recipient said, adding that it was also necessary to have a multiracial teaching force.

“The child’s interest is more vital than the race of the teacher. If I can provide quality education, and bring them up as individuals who can contribute to the country, it doesn’t matter what race I am,” he said.

With some 33 years of service under his belt, Siva Subramaniam, who has also served as Cuepacs president and is a former Suhakam commissioner, said his former teachers inspired him to join the profession.

“For example, my primary school headmaster, Francis Ho, was a teacher I loved very much. Even when he caned me when I was naughty, he would later call me back to his room to give me food – because he knew I was from a poor family.

“So I knew he really cared for me,” he said.

While lamenting that Malaysians today seemed to be more suspicious of each other, Siva Subramaniam said there were still many good schools and teachers.

“There are still schools where parents line up to register their children, and there are still many teachers and school heads who are exemplary. The ministry should look into what makes such schools so popular and implement changes to schools across the country.

“I would think the main reason for their popularity is the values they impart to their students,” he said.

If so, what sort of values should schools impart for the sake of national unity?

“First of all, they must treat all children equally. Schools should also instil in students a love for our leaders, respect for the country’s laws and respect for diversity,” he said. PRIYA KULASAGARAN The STAR Home News Nation Thursday September 11, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM

Sikap tak jujur susahkan semua pihak

Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) tahun ini mencatat sejarah hitam dunia pendidikan apabila berlaku kebocoran dalam dua subjek diambil pelajar.

Soalan bagi subjek Bahasa Inggeris dan Sains dikesan bocor selepas hari kedua pelajar menduduki UPSR sehingga memberi impak emosi dan mental kepada 472,853 calon UPSR seluruh negara.

Kebocoran itu juga memaksa Kementerian Pendidikan (KP) membuat keputusan supaya calon UPSR menduduki semula kedua-dua subjek itu pada 30 Sep­tember ini.

Insiden ini mengundang persoalan, adakah ia berlaku kerana kurangnya integriti dalam kalangan mereka yang diberi tanggungjawab, perbuatan sabotaj atau ada pihak mahu mengejar petunjuk prestasi utama (KPI) tanpa memikirkan perasaan orang lain?

KEBOCORAN soalan berlaku mungkin didasari faktor keinginan tinggi pihak tertentu untuk memperoleh keputusan cemerlang seperti sasaran. - Gambar hiasan

Bagaimana pula calon UPSR yang menjadi mangsa keadaan?

Pensyarah Fakulti Pendidikan dan Pembangunan Manusia, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI), Tanjung Malim, Profesor Dr Othman Lebar berkata, kebocoran soalan UPSR tidak akan berlaku jika pihak yang diberi amanah menjalankan tugasan dengan jujur.

Beliau berkata, kebocoran itu bukan saja boleh dipersoalkan masyarakat serta meletakkan tanggapan negatif kepada kementerian terbabit, malah mengganggu emosi calon yang bertung­kus-lumus membuat persediaan intensif sejak beberapa bulan lalu.

“Dalam sesebuah organisasi, integriti mereka yang dipertanggungjawabkan adalah salah satu aspek terpenting bagi memastikan setiap amanah digalas dengan baik.

“Kebocoran soalan UPSR atau peperiksaan utama lain yang berlaku sebelum ini tidak seharusnya berlaku jika asas amanah itu dipegang dengan rapi.

“Lebih buruk ia memberi kesan buruk kepada calon yang sudah bersedia menduduki peperiksaan itu,” katanya.

Katanya, calon UPSR lebih terkesan kerana mereka bukan saja terpaksa me­ngulang semula peperiksaan, malah perlu membuat persiapan semula dari segi mental dan fizikal selain mengulang kaji pelajaran.

“Bayangkan, pada usia 12 tahun, mereka menghadapi tekanan begitu hebat hanya disebabkan sikap tidak bertanggungjawab pihak tertentu.

“Apa salah calon ini? Mereka hanya mahu menduduki peperiksaan dan rasa ‘merdeka’ selepas itu.

“Impak negatif juga terpaksa ditanggung ibu bapa, guru dan sekolah,” katanya.

UPSR diperkenalkan pada 1988 bagi menggantikan Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah yang dilalui pelajar tahun lima sebelum ini.

Menurutnya, UPSR adalah bentuk penilaian yang dianggap ‘high-stake testing’ iaitu keputusan UPSR akan dijadikan asas kepada pembuatan keputusan penting dalam pendidikan.

“Pihak yang bertanggungjawab perlu mengambil langkah ketat bagi memastikan keselamatan dokumen peperiksaan UPSR, bermula daripada pembinaan soalan, cetakan dan edaran.

“Setiap individu terbabit perlu menandatangani surat aku janji kerahsiaan.

“Manakala dari sudut pentaksiran, kita tidak boleh nafikan maklumat pentaksiran mempunyai kesan yang besar ke atas polisi, amalan serta peluang pendidikan pada masa depan.

IBU bapa perlu memberi sokongan kepada anak agar tidak terus tertekan.

Namun hakikatnya IBU bapa  jugalah yang memberi tekanan kepada anak untuk mendapatkan semua A - huhuhuhuu - Gambar hiasan

“Kesan ini menjadikan mereka yang terbabit berusaha mendapatkan keputusan terbaik semata-mata memastikan peluang lebih luas dalam pendidikan hing­ga wujud konspirasi dalam kalangan pihak tertentu untuk meningkatkan skor pelajar,” katanya.

Beliau mengakui keupayaan teknologi media sosial turut menjadi faktor memudahkan pihak terbabit me­nyebarkan maklumat secara meluas dan pantas.

“Bagi pelajar, ia akan menjejaskan persediaan menghadapi peperiksaan terutama aspek mental kerana mereka sudah cukup bersedia mengambil peperiksaan pada tarikh tertentu.

“Ibu bapa dan masyarakat pula akan menganggap isu ini bukti pihak yang diberi tanggung jawab tidak cekap menjalankan tugas. Ini membabitkan intergriti Lembaga Peperiksaan dan Kementerian Pendidikan,” katanya.

Beliau berharap pihak berkuasa memastikan perkara itu tidak berulang kerana jika masih berlaku, kepercayaan masyarakat terhadap penilaian nasional akan terjejas lebih teruk.

Malah, kemungkinan wujud pihak tertentu dalam masyarakat akan beralih kepada bentuk penilaian lain bagi mentaksir pencapaian dan kebolehan anak mereka.

“Jika ini berlaku, kita tidak akan mendapat satu maklumat menyeluruh mengenai prestasi pelajar di peringkat pendidikan rendah yang boleh dijadikan kayu ukur menentukan prestasi pendidikan rendah negara.

“Ini satu kerugian hanya kerana kurangnya integriti, sikap bertanggung­jawab dan tidak amanah pihak tertentu.

“Mangsa bukan saja pelajar malah keseluruhan sistem pendidikan yang diba­ngunkan dengan peranca­ngan jangka panjang,” ­katanya.

Ditanya sama ada ia turut berlaku di negara lain, beliau tidak menafikannya, namun pada skala cukup kecil atau didasari sebab tertentu.

Situasi ini, katanya, berlaku disebabkan tekanan tinggi untuk mendapatkan keputusan peperiksaan yang baik.

“Jadi akan berlaku konspirasi untuk meningkatkan skor pelajar (score-boosting conspiracy) dalam kalangan pihak tertentu yang terbabit secara langsung atau yang mempunyai kepentingan dengan penilaian UPSR.

“Konspirasi ini mungkin mendorong berlakunya pecah amanah, ketidakjujuran dan kebocoran soalan peperiksaan.

“Disebabkan kerakusan ini, calon pelajar menjadi mangsa keadaan,” katanya.

PENGULANGAN semula peperiksaan dikhuatiri memberi kesan psikologi kepada pelajar yang sudah bersedia menghadapi peperiksaan sebelumnya.

Sepatutnya biarlah realiti untuk sebenarnya realiti . - Gambar hiasan

Walaupun, isu kebocoran soalan peperiksaan pering­kat nasional turut dihadapi negara luar, ia bukan alasan untuk pihak berkuasa ­memastikan masalah itu ­tidak berulang.

“Tekanan untuk mendapatkan keputusan peperiksaan yang baik memang tinggi dan tiada jaminan ia tidak akan berulang.

“Jika tiada tindakan tegas diambil, pasti pihak yang mempunyai kepentingan akan melakukan sesuatu untuk memburukkan keadaan.

“Konspirasi ini mungkin mendorong berlakunya pecah amanah, ketidakjujuran dan kebocoran soalan peperiksaan,” katanya.

Mengenai kepentingan UPSR mengukur kemampuan akademik pelajar, beliau berkata, ia bergantung kepada bagaimana pentaksiran digunakan, namun perubahan dalam sistem pendidikan negara termasuk kurikulum, sistem persekolahan dan peruntukan pendidikan di peringkat pendidikan rendah banyak dilakukan berasaskan maklumat pentaksiran dalam UPSR.

“Oleh itu, perancangan dan pelaksanaan lebih teliti dan mantap perlu dilakukan bagi memastikan maklumat mengenai pencapaian pelajar yang dihasilkan daripada UPSR sah dan boleh dipercayai.

“Jika maklumat itu tidak dapat menggambarkan pencapaian dan prestasi pelajar dengan baik, ada kemungkinan keputusan dibuat berdasarkan maklumat tidak tepat dan longgar.

“Implikasinya, kita akan membuat perancangan dan perubahan yang tidak sesuai, sekali gus menyebabkan perbelanjaan yang digunakan tidak berkesan dalam perubahan yang dibuat,” katanya.

Beliau mencadangkan peperiksaan ini dijalankan di peringkat negeri untuk lebih mudah dikawal serta memerlukan satu mekanisme sesuai bagi menyelaraskan keputusan peperiksaan supaya dapat menghasilkan keputusan lebih adil dan sah.

“Di samping itu, soalan peperiksaan yang disediakan lebih berbentuk terbuka yang memerlukan pelajar menggunakan pemikiran aras tinggi untuk menjawabnya.

“Manakala penskoran lebih menumpukan kepada kemahiran berfikir generik seperti penyelesaian ­masalah, kreativiti dan penaakulan dengan skema jawapan lebih terbuka,” katanya.

Guru, Latifah Abdul Hamid berpendapat, kebocoran soalan UPSR tidak sepatutnya berlaku kerana ­menyusahkan guru serta pelajar.

“Dalam hal ini, bukan saja guru tertekan kerana dilemparkan dengan pelbagai tanggapan, malah lebih kasihan kepada calon yang sudah bersedia sepenuhnya.

“Mereka seharusnya sudah lepas daripada tekanan peperiksaan minggu lalu, tapi kerana perkara ini, terpaksa menghadapinya semula.

“Sebagai guru, kami takut ia boleh mengganggu penumpuan, sekali gus menghasilkan keputusan mengecewakan,” katanya.

Ruhaiza Rusmin dan Ihsan Noorzali myMetro Bestari 15/09/2014

Makanan terbaik untuk kecerdasan otak

Otak manusia adalah satu anugerah yang amat bernilai. Ia sentiasa berfungsi menerima rangsangan dan maklumat, mengolah, mengembangkan fikiran dan emosi serta menyimpan memori. Untuk memastikan otak sentiasa dalam keadaan optimum, ia perlu sentiasa dibekalkan tenaga berterusan.

Terdapat pelbagai pilihan makanan yang baik untuk otak termasuk ikan, kekacang, daging dan telur namun terdapat beberapa tumbuhan herba yang mempunyai khasiat terbaik mengekalkan fungsi otak yang baik.

Ginkgo biloba Untuk Otak

Ginkgo biloba adalah herba semula jadi untuk membantu merawat ­pesakit yang kehilangan memori akibat usia tua dan penyakit Alzheimer. Kelebihan ginkgo biloba adalah ia dapat menggalakkan pengaliran darah dan bekalan oksigen ke otak serta mengurangkan kecenderungan pembekuan darah. Ia juga adalah antioksidan terbaik dan sering dijadikan ramuan di dalam makanan tambahan.

Daun pegaga untuk mengurangkan ketegangan

Daun pegaga mengandungi bahan aktif, triterpenoid glikosida yang kaya dengan vitamin A dan C serta zat besi untuk menguatkan daya ingatan, melancarkan peredaran darah dan melegakan ketegangan akibat tekanan. Menurut kajian penyelidik dari Universiti Putra Malaysia, Prof Dr Suhaila Mohamed menyifatkan tumbuhan herba yang lazimnya dijadikan ulam-ulaman ini membantu meningkatkan keupayaan dari segi pengawalan saraf dalam kalangan kanak-kanak kurang upaya.

Khasiat choline untuk perkembangan sel otak dan ingatan

Choline adalah nutrisi penting untuk keupayaan minda terutama untuk kanak-kanak. Ia boleh diperolehi dari telur, kekacang, sayur brokoli dan yogurt. Ia menguatkan ingatan melalui tindakannya untuk sel otak. Bahan aktif yang bernama phosphatidylserine di dalam choline menggalakkan fungsi otak berkembang dengan baik dan membantu mengurangkan risiko mendapat nyanyuk.

Khasiat herba tradisional sebagai penawar kepada kesakitan

Pengambilan herba tradisional sebagai bahan rawatan adalah suatu yang telah lama dipraktikkan sejak dahulu lagi.
Ia mampu untuk mengurangkan masalah kesihatan seperti masalah angin, pening kepala, sengal pinggang dan sakit sendi.

Namun, penggunaannya yang agak terbatas dan kurang dikenali dalam kalangan masyarakat moden menyebabkan ramai yang bergantung kepada perubatan moden semata-mata.

Namun kini, kajian ilmiah daripada saintis mendapati kemampuan herba seperti kayu putih, halia bara, serai, limau purut dan lengkuas adalah setanding dengan perubatan moden.

Ini kerana herba ini mempunyai khasiat dan kuasa penyembuhan yang terbaik, selamat dan tidak mendatangkan kesan sampingan.
Di samping itu juga, herba ini mudah didapati di sekeliling kita. Kelebihan herba tradisional ini adalah seperti berikut:

Minyak kayu putih untuk kecantikan kulit

Minyak kayu putih atau nama saintifiknya melaleuca cajuputi powell boleh digunakan setiap hari untuk membantu menyembuhkan luka, jangkitan kulit serta menghilangkan parut atau ‘stretch mark’ pada badan.

Ia juga kaya dengan khasiat vitamin E untuk menjadikan kulit halus dan mulus.

Kebaikan cengkih untuk kesihatan dalaman

Cengkih atau nama saintifiknya Eugenia Aromaticum berupaya untuk merawat senak perut, masalah penghadaman, cirit-birit dan angin pasang.

Kajian dari Universiti Kansas di Amerika Syarikat mendapati ekstrak eugenol di dalam cengkih dapat mencegah pembekuan darah dan memusnahkan bakteria di dalam daging.

Lengkuas, membantu melancarkan darah dan buah pala membantu mengurangkan masalah angin

Bahan kimia semula jadi di dalam lengkuas didapati mampu untuk menghapuskan bakteria yang menyebabkan masalah angin dan ketidakhadaman makanan.

Ia membantu melancarkan peredaran darah. Buah pala atau nama saintifiknya Myristica fragrans Linn kerap digunakan sebagai jeruk manakala pucuknya boleh dijadikan ulam.

Kajian dari Universiti Connecticut mendapati buah pala baik untuk untuk mengeluarkan angin dalam perut.

Khasiat limau purut dan serai

Kandungan asid sitrik semula jadi di dalam limau purut bukan sahaja membantu mengekalkan kelembapan kulit malah boleh digunakan untuk membantu merawat gigitan serangga dan masalah kulit kepala.

Manakala serai, sememangnya herba yang sangat mujarab untuk merawat angin dalam perut, membuang toksin serta melancarkan sistem pencernaan badan.

Kajian terbaru dari Institut Kajian Makanan dan Nutrisi Amerika Syarikat mendapati serai mengandungi kandungan beta karotin yang tinggi. myMetro Nuansa 12/09/2014

Change of mindset needed for education system to work

SEPT 15 — “Murid-murid, you all semua pergi tuisyen kan, so cikgu tak payah ajar la, ok?

Why didn’t you remind me to enter class yesterday? Cikgu lupa la.

The above are actual excuses which have been uttered by teachers in school to students.

Whether it was 14 years ago, or last year, such excuses still make its rounds.

This is not a teacher-bashing article. It is wrong to say all teachers are not interested in teaching. Some of us, myself included, have been blessed with wonderful mentors who made us into better people.

Sadly, the bad apples continue to exist, bringing disrepute to what is considered as a noble and selfless profession.

The UPSR fiasco last week has opened a can of worms and teachers now hog the spotlight for the wrong reasons. Malay Mail had, in its front page yesterday, quoted sources as saying working groups within the Education Ministry’s independent committee were deliberating if teachers who taught at tuition centres after school hours had breached their work ethics.

Insiders also asked if these teachers declared their side jobs to the ministry and the Inland Revenue Board.

The source had said: “We have heard students complaining teachers tend to teach minimal during school hours but provide more during their tuition classes. This is against work ethics as teachers are supposed to give their best in school,” said the source.

“Also, these teachers would promise obtaining questions that would come out during the examinations. Some are confident enough to tell their students the questions were supplied by people within the ministry. We must probe if it is just mere talk or if they are working with any syndicates providing them such information.”

Reality check: We have heard all the above for years.

“My teacher used to teach the bare minimum during our Bahasa Melayu class when I was in Year Six. He would then say if those wanting extra coaching to meet him for tuition classes after school hours in the school library,” said a colleague.

“We didn’t think much about it then. But looking back, the teacher had not only breached his work ethics but also abused a school facility for a fee.”

Another colleague recalled how her batch was turned into guinea pigs, unsure of what to expect for the public examination which underwent a revamp during her school days. She likened it to the PT3 saga which Form 3 students face this year.

Some of us remember teachers who used to bring Avon catalogues, even to class, and asked if our parents would be interested in buying some of the products. They even sold tit-bits and cookies, especially during festive seasons.

Such acts are not unlawful. But there needs to be some form of professionalism. It does not help that each subject is taught between 35 minutes (primary) to 45 minutes (secondary). If teachers in schools actually paid 100 per cent attention to their jobs, students would not need to go for tuition.

But students and parents too should play their roles. If students paid full attention in school, as they did in tuition centres, it would help the teaching process. Parents too need to facilitate the process in their own way.

The education system has turned into a vicious cycle and is now overly commercialised in the pursuit of academic excellence.

The ministry too should decipher the problems faced by teachers to ensure they are able to teach in a conducive environment. They should not be bogged down with paperwork and administrative matters and should only concentrate on school work. Teachers should be paid accordingly, based on their experience and qualifications. The reason why many tend to have jobs on the sides is simply due to low wages and the high cost of living.

The new intake of teachers must be scrutinised. Only those who are passionate enough to teach ought to be allowed to graduate as many tend to look at the teaching profession as a “last” resort if they were not able to fulfill their ambitions.

We need to change teaching into a dignified profession as it once was. Teachers are supposed to be our “parents” away from home, our best friend when we need them the most and our beacon of hope when we are in the dark.

To all the outstanding teachers out there, do not allow the rotten few discourage you from your good work. Your legacy will live on for generations as you will be fondly remembered by your students.

To those who think the teaching profession is all about making a quick buck, you are not fit to educate and need to be re-educated.

PEARL LEE The Malay Mail Online Opinion SEPTEMBER 15, 2014