Keep teach­ers in the loop

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

IT WAS not just par­ents and their 12-year-old chil­dren who were dev­as­tated when the UPSR (Ujian Pe­ni­la­ian Seko­lah Ren­dah) re­sults were re­leased but their teach­ers too. School halls and court­yards were de­scribed as eerie morgues and zom­bie-like fu­neral homes as re­sults were an­nounced last Thurs­day. It was as if a dis­as­ter had struck and im­me­di­ate help was not forth­com­ing. Par­ents, pupils and teach­ers felt cheated as re­sult slips failed to re­flect the im­mense ef­fort put in the whole year and more.

Par­ents were fran­tic. Teach­ers were up in arms over the un­ex­pected out­come. Stu­dents cried un­con­trol­lably.

The Malaysia Ed­u­ca­tion Blueprint 20132025 had writ­ten ex­ten­sively on Malaysia’s dis­as­trous per­for­mance in TIMSS (Trends in In­ter­na­tional Math­e­mat­ics and Sci­ence Study) and PISA (Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent As­sess­ment). While our chil­dren would take home mil­lions of As every year, glob­ally we were among the bot­tom third of the spec­trum. We vowed that by 2025 we will be in the top third bracket among the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries but dras­tic steps had to be taken. This meant adopt­ing more crit­i­cal think­ing and prob­lem-solv­ing ques­tions over time, the “how” and “why”, and which was sub­se­quently given the name “higher or­der think­ing skills” or HOTS.

The par­ents are aware of HOTS, re­alise and are grate­ful for UPSR to be aligned with TIMSS and PISA. This will grad­u­ally re­move the de­pen­dence on mem­o­ri­sa­tion and rote learn­ing and even­tu­ally bode well at up­per sec­ondary and ter­tiary level. The teach­ers too see the long-term ben­e­fit and are work­ing hard to­wards that goal. So what went wrong? A black hole seems to ex­ist in the process of tran­si­tion­ing from KBSR (Kuriku­lum Baru Seko­lah Ren­dah) to KSSR (Kuriku­lum Stan­dard Seko­lah Ren­dah). This was the first co­hort of KSSR which be­gan in 2011 start­ing with Pri­mary One. While this hap­pens at every syl­labus change, this time it was ab­nor­mally chaotic. All par­ties re­alise that ed­u­ca­tion is evolv­ing and hard knocks are in­evitable. But th­ese knocks can be cush­ioned if the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry rep­re­sent­ing teach­ers and the ex­am­i­na­tion syn­di­cate had a bet­ter work­ing re­la­tion­ship. Of­fi­cial de­tailed in­for­ma­tion should have been made clear and shared be­tween each other in or­der that teach­ers are fully in­formed. Grey ar­eas ex­isted and teach­ers were un­sure as to what was ex­pected of them for knowl­edge to have been de­liv­ered with ac­cu­racy and pupils to have been prepped as best they could have been. Teach­ers felt that they were left in the dark and short changed as in­struc­tions were a blur. They felt there was lit­tle co-op­er­a­tion among de­part­ments that ap­peared to work in si­los. It was only af­ter the re­sults were an­nounced that teach­ers now dis­cover what con­sti­tutes an “A”, a “B” and whether a “D” or an “E” is a fail. It ap­pears that it may have been a mov­ing goal­post af­ter all.

The les­son to be learnt here and not to be re­peated is that teach­ers need to know what is ex­pected of them. In fu­ture, with a clear bench­mark, mark­ing and grad­ing sys­tems in mind, teach­ers will be able to in­form par­ents who have to be made to un­der­stand how stu­dents can ap­ply the knowl­edge gained and there­fore ob­tain marks ac­cord­ingly. “How” and “why” ques­tions re­quire think­ing which can be dif­fi­cult but if done of­ten and soon enough the prac­tice will ben­e­fit pupils in the long run.

On the bright side, it is a level play­ing field for all pupils. Those who en­deav­our to pro­ceed to res­i­den­tial, in­ter­na­tional or se­lected schools will con­tinue to do so while the ma­jor­ity move on to their neigh­bour­hood ones.

The greater worry that is around the corner is, will the UPSR this time be a mir­ror im­age of what will be fore­seen with the SPM (Si­jil Pe­la­jaran Malaysia) re­sults due in March 2017? The co­hort that is sit­ting for SPM is af­ter all the same PT3 (Pen­tak­siran Tingkatan 3) stu­dents which saw a sim­i­lar dis­as­trous pat­tern two years ago. More cru­cial is the fact that SPM re­sults are an ex­tremely im­por­tant as­sess­ment as th­ese will de­ter­mine the stu­dents’ next course of ac­tion. This can take the form of a pres­ti­gious schol­ar­ship on one hand or on the other to fail to pur­sue ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion al­to­gether where only a mere 24% suc­ceed to do so.

Datin Noor Az­imah Ab­dul Rahim Chair­man Par­ent Ac­tion Group for Ed­u­ca­tion Malaysia

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