Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Compulsory Pass in English for full SPM certificate

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. 


Hasbullah Pit said...

if quality is the main concern, better make mathematics as compulsory, not english.

Unknown said...

NST: Compulsory English would mean 130,000 without SPM

What is the point of have another 130,000 SPM holders who are in reality NOT qualified? These 130,000 should be assisted in their education instead of just passing them and dump them from the education system which is very irresponsible! Give parents a choice, set up a few English Medium Schools in every state and guage their enrolment.

Unknown said...

Hi! Dr Chua,

We, Malaysians must understand and know why English medium in schools was abolished in the past education system by the previous cruel UMNO leaders and its running unwise component parties of BN administration. For the sake of unity policy, BN leaders replaced Bahasa Melayu as a compulsory pass subject to secure full SRP and SPM certificates. As such, many Chinese, Indian and non - Malay students were victims of the sudden changed in the flip flop education policy. Eventually many half baked students taught in rojak English and Malay mediums suffered in the 70's and 80s that started severe brain drain in Malaysia.

As a result, the quality of Malaysian Education system has declined tremendously over the decades. Nevertheless, the Education Ministry created quantity of inferior local graduates with very poor in their written and spoken English as well as non competitive pool of graduates to meet the job markets. We have oversupplied of thousand of poor quality and less English edcuated graduates who are jobless and also handicapped in English communication skills.

We are sad to read another change of flip flop education policy in teaching of English in Science and Mathematics back to Bahasa Malaysia indeed a great shocked and disgraceful to the nation. It is a laughing stock to read the new Education Minister proposed to impose a compulsory pass in English for full SPM certificate when their many teachers and educators are very poor in their command of English language.

To add salt to the wound, the Education Ministry also spoilt the Bahasa Malaysia teaching standard whent several changes were made for Malay language. For instance a changed to Bahasa Melayu, then to Bahasa Bakul and subsequently back to Bahasa Malaysia. The Malay educators and experts from Dewan Bahasa & Pustaka also confused on their own mother language in Malay subject. What a great shame ?

Last but not least, if BN politicians keep on changing their mind in implementing a flip flop education policies here, then we can see more brain drain students in coming years and deter many foreign students to study in Malaysia.


fadzly said...

I think the gov was trying to implement passing english so that the students will try their best learning english and make the science and math in english easier.. take out PPSMI was never in gov mind.. good!

William said...

To the Chinese, a job in the government was (is?) very honourable- that was what I was taught when I was young. We were encouraged to apply for government job in the 60's or 70's. However, over the years, as I was told by my senior gov official friend that any application from non-bumi will automatically go into the trash without looking! So, eventually, the non-bumi just gave up in applying cos they never got an interview or job! I was also told that there are lots of other problems in the gov offices, eg, discrimination and too many non performers. I think these are just some of the tales/fact which put off a lot of non-bumi applicants. It will take time for the non-bumi to start applying for gov job again, only if the gov is serious in wanting to recruit non-bumi.
For teaching job, Chinese applicants have been unsuccessful for too long! So same problem.
In the years past, straight As students are celebrities. They are very few who get straight A. Nowadays, they became so common. So it has create another problem. You can no longer determine who is good and who is no good because the passing mark for A is probably so low! Is this because of kiasu mentality?
I read in the paper over and over again that rural students will suffer if we implement English as a compulsory pass. I wonder whether the ministers realise or not, I have so many classmates who are now famous doctors and very successful people. And they are all from the rural!

Mike Tan said...

In earlier days,to achieve GRADE 1
was already an achievement,let alone with a string of As.

The standard was high then and not all candidates were qualified for the cert.those who didn't make it has to resit.The exam really seperate the men from the boys.Any Tom,Dick and Harry knows our education standard has gone so low
and it is pointless to remain in denial mode.

Start to pull up our socks,place
more emphasis on English language in school and we will be thankful
in years to come.

Unknown said...

Xiao Wei is correct! What is the point have another 130K SPM holder who are in reality NOT qualified!

if quality is to compromise just merely wanted to show the "number" it make no different of granted SPM certificate automatically without exam.

Perhaps government should provide free second chance for english paper exam. (i.e July paper)

呉 和豪 said...


I insist that a pass in Bahasa Kebangsaan should be compulsary , because it the duty for rakyat to know Malay well. I also support for teaching of science and maths in english because I do not want to see only those children from rich families excel.But do we have enough qualify teacher to teach these two subjects ,I am asking this action because I am very concerned about those students from rular area.

However I am of the opinion , our educational need to be flexible , harsh purnishment should not be imposed on those who failed english or mathematc.Lingustic inteligence and Logic -Mathematic inteligence are just two of the intelligience possed by normal human being. Those failed in English or Mathematics should not be deprived of their right to progress.Let me a quote a chinese SAYING天生我才必有用,our education system should be made more flexible to allow every one to further develop themselve according to their ability

Unknown said...

I pay my respectful tribute to Dr. Chua' s heartful opinion that to make English as an compulsory pass in SPM. But, instead of just getting students simply pass the exam, why not make the English as a practical( instead of an academic-based ) subject throughout both the primary & secondary education systems in Malaysia. We know there is MUET which is also considered as having practical merit in itself. But that is not enough to equip a student with necessary command of the English, simply because MUET is a short-termed assessment-based test which only act as an entrance requirement to any tertiary education. The effective command of a language should be through continuing practice & appreciation, this is why I suggest that the Government should make policy to implement certain practical curriculum to make English as both a compulsory ' spoken & written ' pass subject throughout very core exams of the current national education system.

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