Ever since Tan Sri Muhyiddin proposed that it is time that a pass in English is compulsory in SPM, there has been much debate. I’ve also written in my blog on this subject. It is a good sign to allow the public to give feedback to the government. This is what we call decision made with the participation of the rakyat. It will make our democracy a more vibrant one and decision of the government not top down. However, like all discussion and feedback, hopefully a final and a wise decision be made. After that, there should be no flip-flop. It is an educational issue; hence, one should not be emotional and politicize it.
We are told that if English is made compulsory, around 30% of the SPM candidate will fail to make the grade in the exam. We are also told that in 2006, of the 21% who failed to get a certificate, 90% failed in Bahasa Malaysia. Both are not heart-warming piece of information. It just demonstrates the continuing deterioration of the standard of education in this country. If we make a pass in English and Bahasa compulsory before they qualify for a full SPM certificate, then maybe 40-50% of the students will fail to get a full certificate. In other words, the quality of SPM graduates is suspect. The standards of SPM must be so low that we have thousands of SPM students who scores strings of As in the exam. In the recent SPM examination, more than 6500 students scored As in all their subjects. We should not be obsessed with the number of students passing SPM. We should be more concern with the quality of the students we churn out. Mass production should be one of bygone era. The time has come to raise the standards. We just have to do it provided the various educational infrastructures are in place.
In general, the quality of teachers and teaching has deteriorated simultaneously. Teaching is now not a profession of choice. Often, we hear of people who opted for teaching after they have failed to get into courses of their 1st preference. We also observed that there are more female teachers. Often, it has been asked, where have all the men gone to? I have nothing against female teachers. A lot of them are very dedicated. Teaching is no more the most respectable profession as it used to be. Often, when a public exam results are published, I have yet to read of a top scholar who wants to be a teacher. Often, they want to do medicine, engineering or law. There are also less and less Chinese teachers. This may be due to a combination of factors from lack of interest, the purported discrimination by JPA. Promotion for the teachers has always been a contentious issue. Hence, you see senior teaching staffs coming from one particular ethnic group. There should be a better career path for teachers who excel in their job. The super teachers are few in numbers and there is a need to increase them. It will make a lot of difference to the morale of the teaching profession if more posts are created for the so-called super teachers and promotion based on merits. The teacher’s job is to teach and not to be bogged down by administrative work.
Every time we have a new Education Minister, there seems to be a change in educational policy with the Ministers giving emphasis to different educational issues. Education Ministers should not juggle with educational policies without giving deep thoughts to it. They should not change for the sake of changing. At least, Tan Sri Muhyiddin before initiating any changes has provided adequate time for the public to give him feedback.