Remove Moral Studies from the SPM

Foreword by CPI

A group of concerned parents are making a representation to Suhakam with regard to many longstanding complaints about Moral Studies taught in upper secondary school.

For many years now, the exam format of this subject has been so rigid that students are forced to strictly memorize 36 ‘values’ and definitions. They are then required to regurgitate word for word what they’ve memorized when sitting the SPM paper.

Such a method of testing morality is best suited to training parrots and appears to be designed by monkeys. Who are these monkeys that have been instrumental in designing the examination and how have they been allowed to get away with their monkey business for so long?

Any youth who has been educated to think critically might well ask, why 36 values, and why not 35 or 37? Who defines these ‘values’? Why must definitions drafted by some textbook writers be so stringent that not a word is to be changed? Even the 10 Commandments handed down by God from atop Mount Sinai allow more flexibility in their wording.

Poor SPM results in Moral Studies have penalized non-Muslim students who otherwise had scored straight As or A+ in their other subjects.

In comparison, Muslim students who are exempted from Moral Studies but instead take the Islamic Studies papers do not have to risk their SPM balance sheet being pulled down due to below-par performance in this one subject alone.

Even within the national examination system, there exists a two-tier streaming based on religion which has prompted non-Muslim parents to cry foul.

While there is nothing objectionable to having Moral Studies in the syllabus, it should nonetheless be removed from the SPM slate.

The non-Muslim parents are representing to Suhakam that their children’s education right to a fair exam assessment is being compromised by this compulsory paper that discriminates on the basis of religion.

Beyond this petition, there are key questions and concerns that need to be posed and answered. How can Malay/Muslim-oriented public systems run by Malay elites be made to be transparent and accountable so that they do not discriminate or penalize non-Malays and non-Muslims?

Why are such policies of clear discrimination and prejudice against certain segments of Malaysians persisting and how do we ensure that they do not recur?

This entire episode needs to be opened up for full public discussion and scrutiny. It may be the tip of the iceberg of a structural deformity within our public service that needs to be exposed, operated on and excised.

The CPI team looks forward to hearing more from the public on this and similar unconscionable policies especially affecting our young.

Moral Studies SPM results – Demoralising!

My daughter was a student of SMK Tarcisian Convent, Ipoh who obtainedher SPM results on March 22, 2012.

She, together with eight of her friends, managed to get 8A+ for all subjects they tookexcept for Moral Studies. I believe for the first time in the history of the said school none of its 120-odd students got A+ for the subject.

This outcome may seem nothing out of the ordinary except that in thestandardized SPM trials – which is the examination paper and answer scheme set by the respective state education department – 26 of the Fifth Formersobtained A+ for Moral Studies. Another 40 or so students obtained an A.

How is it then that not a single student obtained an A+ for Moral Studies in theactual SPM examination?The plight of these students was extensively highlighted in the print media –StarMetro, Tamil Nesan and Makkal Osai on March 23, Nanban (March 25) as well as the electronic media Malaysiakini and Perakview.

A total of 39 students have appealed to the Examination Board to have their examination results re-checked with payment of RM50 and awaiting the outcome which may take up to three months from the date of the release 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 board in taking three months to 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 behaviourdiffer 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.

Does it means that a student who gets 8A+ in all other subjects except Moral Studies are deemed not morally excellent or lacking in morality?

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 indicate, to quote Shakespeare, “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’s affected student from SMK TarcisianConvent, 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 the 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 subjects 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.

Course of action:

If you are a student (or the parents on behalf of the student) who sat the SPM result 2012 and feel victimized by the Moral Studies exam result, please let us have the following information, namely the student’s name, which school, howdid 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.

Please forward all information and comments to the following emailaddress, namely [email protected] that we can garner support to make an effective representation and see that justice is done.

You can also find us on Facebook under the group Morally Upright.

* The above e-mail was circulated by S.V. Namasoo, coordinator.

  1. #1 by megaman on Thursday, 14 June 2012 - 4:26 pm

    The Moral subject in our education system has and always been a real joke.

    The manner at which the entire syllabus is crafted and the design of the examinations itself advocating nothing but spoon-feeding and re-urgitation during exams later. Very much like a colic baby.

    It is a far-cry from similar subjects taught in other countries which encourages students to think and respond to ethically challenging scenarios e.g. whistle-blowing at work, sexual harassments etc.

    Good men (and women) have remain silent far too long in Malayisa therefore allowing the ‘rape’ of Malaysia by the irresponsible and the greedy.

    Don’t sacrifice the rights of future generations, make a stand now and fight for them.

    It is their right and our responsibilities.

  2. #2 by Winston on Thursday, 14 June 2012 - 5:47 pm

    No wonder Moral Studies is a joke!
    Don’t we know we have an immoral Federal Government?

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Thursday, 14 June 2012 - 6:32 pm

    “none of its 120-odd students got A+ for the subject”
    Edu Minister moooooed, easi lor, none of them got high moral mah

    Now rakyat baru tahu dis is d BEST planned monkey business/weapon designed by “Malay elites” 2 prevent non-Malay and non-Muslim SPM students fr scoring A+ in all subjects

    Well done, long live d “Malay/Muslim-oriented public systems”

  4. #4 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Thursday, 14 June 2012 - 8:16 pm

    Dont forget people. Umno is supreme. Umno is the God of all gods.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 14 June 2012 - 9:43 pm

    I tell you. No real parent of today can consciously subject their child to the education they get – the history, the moral studies etc are simply intellectual abuse.

  6. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 15 June 2012 - 8:18 am

    The politics of education has been made into an indoctrination programme just to try to ‘cow’ the mind of the students. The brains such scheme percieved that by so doing, they will be able to create cow-boys and cowgirls to serve schemes similar to the Cowgate. Their limited grey matter forgot that the Creator has made the brain such a unique computer that only those who are timid enough would forever follow the indoctrination. They may delay the students’ mind while they are still under thier influence but once they are out of the system, it is no longer any relevance to their working life except those who could not get it out of their mind. Anyway, I don’t any TOP University or even good local educator pay much attention to the subject. We all know what is the real value of that subject. Sincerely why waste time on it?

  7. #7 by k1980 on Friday, 15 June 2012 - 9:01 am

    Who started this Moral Education nonsense in the 1980s?

    Hint– He also replaced Geography with History as a compulsory subject in the SPM. And he also got a black eye for trying to fool around with a certain mamak…..

  8. #8 by PoliticoKat on Friday, 15 June 2012 - 9:07 pm

    I have to state this memorize 36 ‘values’ and their respective definitions is EASY. ANYBODY can do that.

    The hard part is matching said value with the moral question. That is hard because many of those values are similar to each other. Moreover do you use the main value or the subvalue when answering the question.

    Different people look at a situation and assign different moral values to it. That was what always stumped me.

    I have always suspected this why the moral paper is closed. The same question/moral situation get recycled over the course of a few years but the answers change.

    And yeah… the moral class is a joke. But it was a great exercise of memory power, memorizing an arbitrary list of words and have them in your active memory.

  9. #9 by Malaysian Voter on Sunday, 17 June 2012 - 12:01 pm

    I sat for the Pendidikan Moral a few years ago. I thought I answered well for the paper. I got 9 for my result. One teacher saw my grade and said that I am “tidak bermoral”!!!

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