I REFER to your report “More emphasis on schoolwork from 2010” (The Star, Sept 26) and welcome the initiative to introduce a new curriculum to make primary education more holistic and less examination-orientated for students.
It is also in line with the practice overseas such as in Australia and New Zealand where primary school students are assessed based on schoolwork, fieldwork and examinations, although the weightage for schoolwork and examination may defer slightly.
Relying solely on the conduct of examinations is bad as examinations do not measure students’ intelligence or their abilities. Nor do they tell us how the mind processes certain facts and theories.
The classroom environment focuses on mere collection of knowledge without a definite purpose except to score high grades.
Our primary education system is very much examination-orientated and geared toward achieving high grades or “As” based chiefly or partly on parroting what was taught in class.
It is not surprising to see Year 6 students sitting for the UPSR exam being drilled and told to memorise essays which their teachers think they will be tested on in many primary schools and tuition centres.
It is public knowledge that our primary students are basically spoon-fed and when they reach secondary school they expect similar spoon-feeding to take place.
The same can be said of those in tertiary education where many students have not grown out of the “spoon-feeding mindset” that has unfortunately been ingrained in them.
The Education Ministry would have given serious consideration before arriving at this decision, which is long overdue based on the fact that after 51 years of independence, our nation has yet to reach the pinnacle or apex of education excellence compared with developed or developing nations near us.
In the forefront of such endeavour by the ministry are the teachers, as without them the entire initiative will be doomed to fail if teachers do not cultivate a positive attitude towards their vocation.
The teachers’ mindset must be changed and reshaped to understand their new role of producing quality students.
As pace-setters, teachers who are also academics in the real sense are not ordinary wage-earners. They are education professionals who are held in high esteem by the public because they are entrusted with the solemn and serious task of shaping, building and “silhouetting” our students for the political and economic challenges in this globalised world.
While training helps, the teachers themselves must be willing to walk that extra mile to do their best. They must be committed in the vocation they have chosen and be willing to learn new skills and methods. In short, teachers must adopt the practice of continuous learning.
As one who believes in education, I commend the Education Ministry for this positive move that will strive toward achieving academic excellence with the aim of producing better students.
DR TAN ENG BEE,
The Star Online: 28 September 2008