MY SON, a pupil at a national school failed both his Bahasa Malaysia (BM) papers in Penulisan (writing) and Pemahaman(comprehension) in the mid-year school exam recently.
Those were the only two papers he failed out of a total of 13 papers.
However, when I went to collect his report card during the parent-teacher meeting, I was shocked to find out that he had failed the entire exam.
The word gagal (fail) had been written in bold red letters.
When I asked the class teacher who is also his BM teacher, why my son failed the exam, when it was only the two papers that he had low scores in, she blamed it on “the system”.
Re-sitting the papers she said was not possible as “the system” did not allow that.
I am a foreigner and being a parent, I did my best and had bought many BM workbooks to help my son with the language but obviously this wasn’t enough.
I have since sought the services of a BM tuition teacher to help him out.
While there is no denying that BM is the national language of the country and that Malaysian students should be proud and proficient in the language, is there a need to “fail” and condemn primary schoolchildren in such a manner?
My point in raising this issue is to highlight to education authorities and policy-makers how the word gagal can scar a child for life.
This in effect means that the child is a failure and a loser.
In the exam, my son had obtained As and Bs for the other subjects and yet, he was in a way considered a total flop since he had failed the exam!
Haven’t experts advised the authorities about the psychological repercussions that children have in such instances?
Doesn’t “the system” recognise the meaning of a “total individual”?
Some children are better in the sciences compared to others who may be stronger in other areas such as languages or the fine arts.
Before the meeting ended, I asked the teacher if there was anything I could do to improve my son’s BM language skills and she replied that I could get “outside help”to tutor my son.
If students who have poor grades, fail their papers, should not their teachers be gauged the same way too?
After all, “the system” should ensure that teachers help their charges progress and score well in the subjects they teach.
Frustrated Parent Petaling Jaya The STAR Online Education 28/07/2013