Education DG bluffing when he suggested limiting subjects for students in SPM exam can transform education system into quality world-class

The Education director-general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom is simply bluffing when he suggested limiting students sitting Sijil Pelajarian Malaysia examination to not more than 10 subjects can transform the education system into a quality world-class one.

This is too simplistic and unprofessional an approach.

When Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin
proposed on Thursday that the number of subjects each student could take in the SPM examination be limited, it was his idea of putting an end to the perennial complaints of injustices in the award of Public Service Department scholarships, where students with 11, 12, 13 and even 14A1s are denied scholarships as compared to students with fewer distinctions.

There have bouquets and brickbats for Muhyiddin’s suggestion for limiting the number of SPM subjects a student can take, but the proposal does not really address the issue of injustices and lack of transparency in the PSD awards – which are the root causes of the perennial annual national outrage over the PSD scholarship selections.

But how could the Education director-general make the quantum leap as to claim that Muhyiddin’s proposal to limit the number of SPM subjects a student can take in an examination could transform the education system into a quality world-class one?

I was shocked to read Alimuddin’s assertion that Muhyiddin’s proposal was consistent with the ministry’s vision to transform the education system and the curriculum, when the perennial complaints about the PSD scholarship selections and the quality of the national education system are two completely different issues.

If the government is serious in wanting to end the perennial complaints about injustices of PSD scholarship awards, then it must put in place a fair, just, transparent and efficient PSD scholarship system.

Is the government prepared to undertake a fundamental revamp of the scholarship selection system to introduce a common university entrance examination, whether STPM or matriculation; and to base PSD scholarship selection based on this common university entrance examination results.

Since the beginning of this decade, the Education Ministry had been talking about its vision for a world-class education system to face the challenges of globalization, liberalization and information and communications technology but with very little results.

For instance, the Education Development Blueprint 2000-2010 to build a world-class education system and promote national unity had proposed fundamental changes to the national education system, such as:

• The P-12 system to shorten the current 13-year school system to 12.

• Shorten the secondary school period from five to four years.

• The abolition of the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination for Form Three students.

• Streaming into arts and science at Form Two instead of Form Four.
What have happened to all these proposals which were described as magic formulae to transform the Malaysian national education system into a quality world-class one?

  1. #1 by monsterball on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 9:23 am

    It is so clear they are bringing our education system backward .not forward and try to justify favoring one race in education..still playing race politics to the limit.
    It is never deserving young Malaysians for rightful scholarships.
    This is pampering and protecting one race…to go backward ..not forward.
    Will a father keep protecting not so smart sons and daughters…make them smarter?
    UMNO is a racialist party…will never change to unite Malaysians into one.
    What bloody government in the world will keep doing same thing for 53 their race?

  2. #2 by k1980 on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 9:30 am

    Yeah, everyone just take 2 subjects– BM and Islamic Studies, and the country will have the most number of mullahs in the whole wide world. The kampung kids will yell with joy, “No more Maths, Science, English— hurrah!”

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 10:01 am

    Looks like an A, sounds like an A, but
    is an A a real A?
    If an A were really a real A
    then we have a large number of geniuses
    each with maximum number of As
    running around the entire country
    Never in the history of a country
    where such a high percentage of each cohort
    have so many As, nay, mountains of As
    The entire cohort should be kept in Malaysia
    and distributed to each public university
    so that all freshies are supergeniuses
    This is a sure way to be numero uno in the world uni ranking
    Can aahh?

  4. #4 by ekans on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 10:10 am

    I think a good education system should be geared to allow bright students to excel as much as possible, while at the same time, at least help the not-so-bright ones get equipped with some form of life skills, instead of allowing them to drop out, and turn into social trash like drug addicts, mat rempits, snatch thieves, etc.

    If a bright student thinks that he or she has the drive to handle as many subjects in an exam, why limit them?

    Won’t that also be seen as limiting or even lowering the standards of education?

    It’s been said that the nation’s future lies in the hands of the younger generation, and thus, it should be ensured that they now get a good enough education.

    The government’s education policies should seriously take this into account for the overall good of the nation, or is there some ulterior motive in trying to preserve the political future of UMNO’s BN?

  5. #5 by Ramesh Laxman on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 10:38 am

    YB Lim,
    The previous Minister told us that 900 schools did not heve running water and 1,500 schools did not have electricity. Or was it the other way around.Now we wnat to reduce the subjects to improve our standard of education. We are still fighting with basics. Why must smart schools have air conditioned classrooms while schools in the rural areas have only overhead fans that do not work.

    Given the money we spend on education we are not getting the quality. In this day and age only quality education counts. And I am not joking.

  6. #6 by k1980 on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 11:12 am

    To those in power in umno, seeking knowledge is not important. Just pay a few millions, and viola! we have an instant astronaut. Add a few more millions, and hey presto! we have instant submarines. Why study so hard to gain the technology to produce them?

  7. #7 by suara on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 11:36 am

    It is really appalling and amusing to hear our leaders make comments like these. It reflects their shallowness and lack of thinking abilities, yet these people are in high office making policies that affects our future and daily lives.

    How can limiting the subjects one takes transform our education system into world class stds? How is limiting the number of subjects going to inject fairness and reduce the grouses relating to scholarship awards?

    Firstly, achieving world class education standards requires high quality people to chart the system and to implement the system from top to bottom. In Malaysia, we focus too much on slogans and plans alone. Ultimately, you can have all the best systems in the world and all the best objectives in the universe, BUT it is PEOPLE who makes it work. It is people, people and people!

    Secondly, it does not matter how many subjects you take. This is not a valid excuse for the unfairness in awards of the scholarships. Of course, I always see it as very silly when students take 10 to 14 subjects. You may have some with 14 As and some with lesser As, but I would think it common sense for the PSD to look at the As for the CRITICAL SUBJECTS when assessing the application and the course the applicant wants to pursue.

    So, obviously, if a 6 As student gets a scholarship, how is it that a 10 As student fails to get one. Whichever way you look at it, PSD, how do you explain this. Even is some of the As were for non-critical subjects, still this student aced all the others, and how wrong can he get.

    Lame excuses PSD! If we have so many great students and the budget allocation isn’t sufficient, isn’t it again common sense to increase the allocation because these people will contribute back to the economy in time to come. After all, we can spend millions and billions in other projects that some are not even accountable to the Rakyat.

    To our policy makers and politicians, please stop treating us like stupid fools. Next time you talk, please TRY to use a tiny bit of your brain to think through first before you open your mouth.

  8. #8 by blablowbla on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 12:21 pm

    tell me,which DG in the all ministries is competent?

    i cant think of one!

    the previous Edu. Minister was busy showing his stupidity n arrogance,world-class education system?first of all,how to be first if you dont practise meritocracy?

    if ismail and hisham an singaporean,the job suitable for them is garbage cleaner,that’s it!

    as for muhaidin,maybe can be their garbage supervisor,that’s their mentality level!

  9. #9 by a2a on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 12:25 pm

    It is not the problem of how many subjects.

    The main core problem is the governors of Malaysia have mentality problems in their brain.

    They don’t understand What is MALAYSIAN.

    They don’t understand the children born here, raised up here, live here and then die here is a fully loyalty MALAYSIAN here in Malaysian.

    They treated and divide Malaysian in group/race.

    They will never treat Malaysian as One.

    The only solution to these problem is to change the racial governors who is still admin this country with skin colors.

    The have a big problem to face the reality that children born and live here as Malaysian, should treat all as a Malaysian.

    They look at all Malaysian with colors.

  10. #10 by a2a on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 12:27 pm

    They don’t understand the children born here, raised up here, live here and then die here is a fully loyalty MALAYSIAN here in Malaysia.

    They treat you and divide Malaysian in group/race.

    They will never treat Malaysian as One.

  11. #11 by YK Leong on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 12:59 pm

    By limiting subjects to be taken is just like denying the power of knowledge and education. To overcome the many challenges, the education level of the country has to be strengthened for the whole nation and no one should be left behind for any reason.

    It is our attitude towards education that will change Malaysia into a progressive nation.

  12. #12 by kcb on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 2:06 pm

    “Limiting students sitting Sijil Pelajarian Malaysia examination to not more than 10 subjects can transform the education system into a quality world-class one.”

    Kek kek kek
    My toes are laughing!!!

    Is this person suffering from mental illness?

  13. #13 by StevePCH on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 3:19 pm

    when you can’t beat them , force them join to you. !!! forcing mediocracy over meritocracy again.

    It’s like bringing down the passing mark. if they still cannot manage to make these ‘under achievers’ on par, because it’s so easy to get A’s , then limit the A’s. downgrade twice and it’ll be the same.

    say previously of 10000 student, 3 thousand are 13 A’s , 5 thousand are 6 A’s and the rest … less. Now you level it to the level of the 5 thousand students , voila …. 8 thousand qualify. Can we question the Ediot Department NOW ???

    Uncle kit’s argument is profound. It’s a sheep in disguise. It’s downgrading the education system. It’s a victory of quantity over quality in our education system again.

  14. #14 by MyPeoplePower on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 3:29 pm

    This is the problem of placing a moron to be the Education director-general, our country can never transform the education system into a quality world-class one!

    They never understand what is the root cause of the problem! Instead of finding and addressing the root cause of the problem, these moron propose other solution which will never solve the main problem!

    The Moron forever still a Moron! What can we expect from the Moron?

    Sad Sad Sad

  15. #15 by lee wee tak_ on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 4:09 pm

    developed countries’ education system encourage students to diversify, take on challenge and promote experiment & exploration

    In Bolehland, we have this cannot, that cannot, you are too clever so cannot, he or she is not clever enough so he or she can…

    Anti-logic, anti-progress and anti-common sense.

  16. #16 by Loh on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 4:39 pm

    When students are allowed to take as many subjects as they like, then the good ones will excel. It would then cause jealousy. Don’t we remember that NEP was established so that people will not be jealous of other’s achievement? The government policies are based on the premise that jealousy is a fundamental right of the citizens, especially the group selected to be made less jealous. Limiting the number of subjects to be taken at the examination would ensure that there would be less jealousy when there was a limit to the number of A’s a student can get. BN Government actions have always been that one community show slow down so that the others can catch up. It has been the motto of the government since 1969.

    Now limiting the number of subjects applies to all students, irrespective of race; it is an improvement! But the fundamental principle of the government is still that people should slow down so that others would not be jealous. That is Malaysians’ karma.

    Chinese as a language has the same weight as any other subject, and many students fail to obtain A for Chinese. When the ministry limits the number of subject, it would influence students into chosing a simpler subject rather than the Chinese language. Is that the hidden motive of the ministry of Education to marginalise Chinese language in the examination?

  17. #17 by Loh on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 5:17 pm

    To distinguish the best among the A’s additional questions could be included where bonus marks could be awarded for correct answer. They can be awarded A1(star).

    A special scholarship exam can be conducted such as based on SAT. When the A’s are equal, the SAT results will decide.

    There are many other alternative solutions to simplify the selection of scholarship awardees, if PSD was sincere in awarding them based on merits. But the government of Malaysia has the knack of selecting the wrong policy for a stated noble objective. For example, it chooses to organise national service training course to promote unity rather than to remove NEP which is the singular racial polarization policy that promotes disunity in the country. Today Najib talks about strength in diversity but limiting the number of subjects to be taken would curb diversity in talents.

    ///But how could the Education director-general make the quantum leap as to claim that Muhyiddin’s proposal to limit the number of SPM subjects a student can take in an examination could transform the education system into a quality world-class one?///–Kit

    The DG of Education spared no efforts in flattering the Minister by implementing what might have been an off the cuff remarks by the Minister. The action to mengambil muka with the minister might make life easier for him but the harm done to future generation is enormous. May we request the DG to ambil muka with the minister through other means?

  18. #18 by StevePCH on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 7:45 pm

    many deserving Malaysian were denied scholarship and places in public universities but we never give up. Our parents strive amidst the difficulties.

    How long is the quota system practiced by BN sustainable ? It’s going to end. Bcos, it’s not justifiable.

    The concept of globalization made it impossible to carry on. Competitiveness brings privatization of education and naught all lopsided efforts by quota system. Quality graduates are produced and demanded by industries. Non qualified are usually recognized and sidelined, these are normally the early under achiever type. Thus requiring retraining costing taxpayers money.

    During recent economic crisis, BN had bear the brunt of an ineffective economic wealth distribution both on micro and macroscale.

    It’s just a matter of time when our petroleum reserves fall that a Economic Big Bang will happen.

    Seriously with the current lopsided attitude and policy of the Feds, our economic future looks bleak.

  19. #19 by LBJ on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 8:14 pm

    Oh Yes. we will have a world class quality education system – for maids and labourers to be sent to work in Indonesia.

  20. #20 by boh-liao on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 8:18 pm

    Smart students with tons of As
    must know how to play the game smart
    Don’t just ‘gong tai tai’ wait for scholarship
    to do medical degree overseas
    Durian tak jatuh lah into your lap
    No one owes you a scholarship
    Forget about STPM
    Tough and no guarantee to medical degree
    if you so want to be a ‘low kun’
    Apply lah matrikulasi
    the easy and sure route to local medical degree
    Matrikulasi, matrikulasi, CGPA 4 senang saja
    the magic back door to professional degrees in Malaysia
    Don’t want, too bad, don’t cry then

  21. #21 by Ramesh Laxman on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 9:50 pm

    I was once told by my boss a very didtinguished lady from Penang that people can take away your house, your car, your pen and even your wife. But nobody can take away what you have in your head. Now, after having heard that thirty years ago I am having doubts.

  22. #22 by biri-biri on Sunday, 24 May 2009 - 9:56 pm

    How can we get world-class education syatem when we only have kampung-class materials from the minister right down to the children in school? It is always easy to dream about achieving something but are we capable? The leaders must show that they are smart then only they are qualified to expect the followers to be smart or try to be smart. But if they cannot diffrentiate between a horse and a donkey, like our DG of Education, then how do we have the confidence to try to be smart?

  23. #23 by ekin on Monday, 25 May 2009 - 2:33 am

    “World-Class education system?”

    We can only dream. If some of you remembered what I wrote in the previous issues(I think I should repeat), I had a friend who live in Hong Kong and his daughter only 15 years of age and she speaks English way better than our University students! World-Class? We’re going backwards! Sooner or later, “wala” you’ll see another Indonesia or India?

    The reason they wanted to limit the amount of subjects taken is so that they could compete(if so) with the top students who happens to be amongst, you know what i mean…

    Ah, whats the point of talking so much? They thought they could fool everyone but in fact, they are a fool.

  24. #24 by blablowbla on Monday, 25 May 2009 - 8:15 am

    dear Muhaidin,

    let’s assumming we implement your stupid suggestion,i.e. to limit the subjects allowed to be taken to 10;if the number of non-malays qualified for 9-10 A1s are 5000 pupils,malays scoring 9-10 A1s are 500 pupils,answer me,how are you going to ask your DG to distribute the 2000 scholarships?

    it will definitely come back to your square1 policy!i.e.the 500 malays n bumi pupils will be 100% qualified for scholarships;whereas the selected ones frm non-malays might be 1500 pupils,what happen to the remaining 3500 good grade genius pupils?

    so,the bottom line is to spend tax-payers’ fund wisely,construct more world-class universities here,employ foreign professors,instead of spending unnecessarily for so many mega projects or white elephant projects that only merits the tycoons n your cronies!

  25. #25 by k1980 on Monday, 25 May 2009 - 8:49 am

    //If the number of non-malays qualified for 9-10 A1s are 5000 pupils, malays scoring 9-10 A1s are 500 pupils//
    Muhaideen’s solution:
    Limpeh will take 1% of 5000(non-malays) + 99% of 500(malays)
    = 50 + 495
    = 545
    Then in line with 1Malaysia, limpeh will divide 545 by 1,
    giving final answer of 545
    Fair, isn’t it?

  26. #26 by Bigjoe on Monday, 25 May 2009 - 9:45 am

    The unconscious betrayal of the mindset of the elite civil service is that IF BUMIPUTERAS cannot beat the NON-BUMIS than the next option is to put limitation on the non-bumis.

    The answer should be that instead of taking more subjects, students should be allowed to take more advance subjects to make it clear who is better…

  27. #27 by Joshua Tan Kok Hauw on Monday, 25 May 2009 - 1:53 pm

    I support the stance of DAP that the allocation of funds to the PSD scholarships be increased from RM 700 million to RM 1 billion and the mechanism of granting the scholarship be changed seriously?

    Why should Malaysian government spend billions of ringgit to purchase unneeded submarines and jet fighters instead of providing more funds the best yet poor students to study abroad?

    How can Sarawak State government build a RM 300 million State Legislative Assembly building instead of helping the poor in Sarawak?

  28. #28 by johnnypok on Monday, 25 May 2009 - 10:50 pm

    If you are born stupid, then you should go back to the farmland and make full use of your muscles.
    The smart ones should be encouraged to purse their dreams, and to take as many subjects as they want.
    The government is turning Bolehland into Bodohland.

  29. #29 by nkkhoo on Tuesday, 26 May 2009 - 8:15 am

    Steven Gan is brave enough to publish my letter unlike The Star and The Nut Graph.

    On how PSD scholarship policy is twisted and manipulated
    N K Khoo | May 25, 09 2:38pm

    I agree with Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong when he said that subject limit and PSD scholarships are separate issues.

    For Muhyiddin Yassin, there are more questions than answers. The Public Service Department (PSD) has to publish selection criteria used for bumi and non-bumi students to show that they are assessed on a same set of criteria. For example, how top non-bumi students are offered places in local university or matriculation class while top bumi students are sent abroad for overseas universities.

    If what was reported in the papers is correct, top non-bumi students are offered places in local universities or matriculation classes while moderate non-bumi students are instead offered overseas scholarships. This is considered a form of racial discrimination and abuse of power in the PSD.

    Did the Cabinet instruct PSD to flip-flop the selection criteria this year? Why top students are sent to lower ranking local universities which is against the meritocracy principle? By right, only the best universities for the best students regardless whether they are bumi or non-bumi. Why send our best students to local universities when they could attain entry to top notch schools such as Cambridge University, Imperial College, Harward University, Beijing University, etc?

    Whether a student sits for nine or twenty subjects, it shall not be an issue or used as a smokescreen to divert real issue in the scholarship selection process. As long as PSD has a set of transparent and fair criteria in place, there will never be accusations of unfairness or manipulation.

    How then a Malay girl who scored 20 A1s was awarded overseas scholarship without going through the normal selection process?

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