Under the new education blueprint the approach will focus more on comprehensive assessment based on the banding system, where all students will be tutored to achieve the highest band which is Band 6.
AMONG the aims of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched by the Deputy Prime Minister recently is to end the exam-oriented system that has been in place for a long time.
The revised approach will focus more on the comprehensive assessment which will be based on the banding system ranging from Band 1 to Band 6. According to this system, all students will be tutored properly by the teachers to achieve the highest band which is Band 6.
Naturally, for those who are used to the old exam-oriented system, the new approach does not offer them satisfaction and certainty. There are still questions raised on how the new assessment method will really evaluate the academic performance of the students.
As academic achievement of the students will no longer be ranked in numbers and scores within a class, parents in particular are still in the dark on the real performance of their children. Living in a competitive age where everything is assessed through performance ranking, tangible assessment is, no doubt, of utmost concern to many.
Generally speaking, the exam-oriented education system is seen as having some drawbacks despite its benefits.
Such a system has produced students who will only focus on their studies at the last moment of the academic term and concentrate more on passing exams rather than understanding the subject.
The main concern is more on the outcome rather than the learning process.
The system has also forced teachers to struggle in completing syllabi before the exams at the expense of students’ understanding of the content of the subjects.
The emphasis, therefore, has shifted from understanding the lessons taught to mere rote learning or memorisation.
Although memorisation is still important in learning since it serves as raw materials for the process of thinking and understanding, the over-emphasis of this aspect especially in serving examination purposes will definitely not help in developing a better student.
As a matter of fact it will undermine motivation, interest and persistence in learning.
Such a mentality has also infected parents who will rush their children to tuition centres particularly whenever the exam period is around the corner.
Another discrepancy of the exam-oriented system is that it destroys the pupils’ passion for knowledge since they are forced to learn something that hardly leaves space for their own creativity and innovation.
Once passion towards knowledge is destroyed, it will not produce wisdom, for wisdom is gained with passion and love for knowledge.
Moreover, wisdom is acquired through the sense of wonder as well as the strong urge to know things, as sagaciously intoned by the famous Greek thinker, Socrates, “wisdom begins with wonder”.
With the new blueprint, the approach focuses more on student-centred learning where they are given ample opportunities to think, discuss, analyse and come up with their own conclusions through field work, discussions and IT-based presentations with the proper guidance by the teacher.
Of utmost importance in an education system is that students enjoy what they learn. This can be achieved either by creatively developing a more significant curriculum, or by making the process of learning more interesting to the student.
The latter can be done through giving more room for students to be part of the decision or conclusion-making in academic discussions. Evidently, such a practice is being incorporated in the new blueprint.
This process can be facilitated further by giving ample opportunities to students to go beyond the curriculum during the learning process.
Since the mode of evaluation and assessment is no more bound to examination and mere memorisation, more room is given to the teachers to allow students creative reading and incorporating additional ideas in the process of learning.
This is not something difficult to achieve in this cyber era where access to information by students is very easy.
The role of teachers, in this matter, is very instrumental in guiding the students to expand their horizon of reading.
Publishers and bookshops must also play their part in complementing the educational system by providing good books relevant to the academic contents.
The process of liberalising the education system and giving more room for creativity and independent thinking must nevertheless be properly balanced with the guidance in terms of values that need to be inculcated to students.
This is because education, apart from aiming at developing the cognitive dimension of the students, is also important in inculcating values and strengthening the spiritual and psychological dimensions of the students.
In other words, the purpose of education is ultimately to produce an ethical man which is in line with the principles of Rukun Negara, believing in God and good behaviour and morality.
This concern is also made clear in the National Philosophy of Education which says that “education in Malaysia is a continuous effort towards enhancing the potential of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner in order to create individuals who are well-equipped intellectually, spiritually and emotionally based on the belief in God”.
With the balance between the need to enhance students with creative, analytical skills and the good ethical values it is hoped that the way forward for Malaysian education will be a better one.
Dr Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran is Senior Fellow at Ikim’s Centre of Economics and Social Science. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own. The STAR Home New Opinion October 29, 2013