Thursday, June 21, 2012

Still The Same Way Taught Until Today

I would want to have a brief stop on talking political related subjects a little while and go back to what some people have said about in secondary level. Just recently someone has brought out an interesting subject about Moral studies and the nightmare that every student has to do in that subject: memory recall.

Everyone is a victim in that paper. I had the same case 12 years ago. Anyone who has just stepped into Form 4 will be horrified to find out how what you answer, even if it's a close to what you want your teacher will put a big X there saying that's wrong. There ain't any flexibility there. There wasn't a proper way to answer any question at that time, until your teacher shows you how to answer the question. And as the lesson goes on, you would be eventually be shown that there is only one intended structure and approach to be answered with no space to move. 

And so the teacher had to us just to help us out to create a deck of flashcards (just like the multiplication flash cards we used to do in primary school) just to help us recall which moral value is being used when answering a question. Remember that you have only 2.5-3 hours to finish everything in the paper. Psychologically, it makes everyone feeling demoralized and learning no longer fun and excited.

Moral studies is just a case of example where it forces students on the old method of memorizing every piece of word and phrase. This is already far worse than the effect of memorizing everything you need to know just for the sake of scoring high grades in public exams. And to what end a person stands to gain in addition to gaining qualification to tertiary education and basic knowledge?

Instead it makes people becoming more like robots and incapable of thinking on their own, and at times the opportunity to improvise. After I left school for slightly more than 10 years, I feel that there's a hate relationship with how our present government of the day presides over education policies. It makes people still more stupid and there are still many of them in a blue-collar level jobs instead of white-collars. The profound effect of the policies is that the work patterns no longer match the work and think patterns thought in school. Today in the job market, much of what you have learn don't match any longer except what you do is just mere passage to getting a pass to level 3 and then to working level. Even those who didn't get level 2 previously do succeed in other things, for example if a person is well talented in sports.

Until today there's more donkeys than bright lights, more butter boys than those well deep thinkers there. Learning is no longer fun already with those ridiculous policies there. It's no longer already appreciating life but to be a slave and stripped of your mental rights.



My daughter was a student of SMK Tarcisian Convent, Ipoh who obtained her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results on 22.3.2012. She together with 8 of her friends managed to get 8A+ for all subjects they took except for Moral Studies. I believe for the first time in the history of the said school none of 120 odds students got A+ for moral. This outcome may seem nothing out of the ordinary except that in the standardized SPM trials(means that the examination paper and answer scheme is set by the respective state education department) 26 of them obtained A+, over 40 of them A and so forth for Moral Studies. How is
it that not a single student obtained an A+ for Moral Studies in the actual SPM examination?

The plight of these students was extensively highlighted in the print media (StarMetro[23.3.2012], Tamil Nesan[23.3.2012], Nanben[25.3.2012] & Makkal Osai[23.3.2012])(see attatchment) and the electronic media (Malaysiakini and Perakview portal)(see link above). A total of 39 students have appealed to the Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia to have their examination results re-checked with payment of RM50.00 and
awaiting the outcome which may take up to 3 months from the date of the SPM results. By the time the outcome is known the students would have lost their chance to apply for JPA and numerous other scholarships as well as entry into universities/colleges of their choice because of their inability to secure an A+ in Moral Studies.

Therefore, the lackadaisical attitude of Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia in taking 3 months to re-check and revert with the outcome ensures it is an act in futility and the right to re - check illusory.

Also to my surprise, after taking up the plight of the students in SMK Tarcisian Convent, I discovered that most parents are not aware that Moral Studies is a compulsory subject only for the non – Muslim students which is taken into account in determining the overall performance of a student in SPM. Also are you aware that Moral Studies is a “closed paper” which means that past year papers are not available in the market for students to use as references? Why should it be so? Muslim students do not take Moral Studies but instead
Islamic studies.

Logically, Moral Studies as part of the curriculum should be taught with a view to inculcating good values, so that when the students step out into the real world they would know how to conduct themselves in a manner acceptable in a civilized society. Therefore moral studies should touch on simple matters needed for daily co – existence, such as mutual respect, responsibility, tolerance, obedience to law, etc.
These are matters that one can even learn from life’s experiences. In a gist, there should be nothing technical or mind boggling about studying moral as a subject.

Somehow “the educationist” entrusted with the drawing up of the syllabus thought fit to make the subject as technical as possible with so much rigidity that students are forced to memorize 36 “values” and definitions word for word and to regurgitate them like a parrot in the examination. Any departure from the words used will be penalized. It baffles me to discover that my daughter’s schools engaged “ experts” to teach the students the technique of answering moral studies questions. As we are aware morality is a most subjective matter because what is the accepted norm and standard of conduct or behaviour  differ from society to society and era to era.

Therefore what ought to have been a simple subject has been made so difficult by the people entrusted with preparing the syllabus and setting the examination questions that the non – Muslim students who excel in the sciences and mathematics do not fare well in Moral Studies. This raises a few questions.

i)Does it means that a student who gets 8A+ in all other subjects except moral studies are deemed not morally excellent or lacking in it?

ii)Does it also mean that Moral Studies is a subject far more difficult to comprehend and answer than the sciences and mathematics?

These questions clearly indicates, to quote Shakesphere “that there is something rotten in the state of our education(not Denmark )”.

This has been going on for more than 10 years and year in year out we hear rumblings from students and parents how they or their children have lost out because of the failure to secure A+ (before this 1A)in
Moral Studies. However no concrete action has been initiated till to date put an end to this mockery.

Therefore the parents of this year affected student from SMK Tarcisian Convent, Ipoh together with the help of an NGO intend to make representation to SUHAKAM that Moral Studies be completely removed from the syllabus or at least downgraded to a non – examination paper in schools. We intend to raise it as human rights issue affecting the minority in this country (only the non – Muslims) as right to fair education is for every citizen and is enshrined in the constitution and no one should be allowed to usurp that. Furthermore, it is not fair that non – Muslim students should study Moral Studies while Muslim students take Islamic studies and the results from these two very diverse subject determine the overall performance of a student in a critical examination like SPM. How can one compare the worth of an apple to an orange? Also I feel the time is appropriate to raise this issue as the government is requesting feedback from all stakeholders with a view to reviewing the entire education system that has gone to the dogs.

We have written to SUHAKAM through an NGO for an appointment to make representation in respect of Moral Studies and its implication on non – Muslim students’ future in this country, as the parents of the affected students have realized that there is no other platform for them to ventilate their anguish and frustrations.

This email is sent to you with the humble request that:-

i) if you are a student (or the parents on behalf of the student) who obtained the SPM result in 2012 and felt
victimized by the Moral Studies result, please let us have the following information, namely the student’s name, which school, how did the student fare in the other subjects that the student took and what did the student obtain for Moral Studies in the trial examination and in the actual SPM result; OR

ii) you are a student who set for the SPM examination BEFORE 2012 and felt victimized by the outcome you are also welcome to give us any comments, feedback or information which will assist us to take up this matter; OR

iii) the parents of children who will be facing the same predicament in the years to come, we would like you to write to us or let us have your views or comments on Moral Studies; OR

iv) any other person who would like to express your views.

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