Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Education for quick success and instant benefits — Lim Sue Goa

OCT 30 — The people’s first reaction to the SMK Sacred Heart’s announcement of awarding a new Perodua Myvi car to the Best Teacher and Best Student of the school was — will it cause the deterioration of education?
After awarding cars today, would they give diamond rings or sport cars tomorrow? Awarding such expensive gifts for students might distort the purpose of education. If children study only to receive gifts and rewards, would they understand the true meaning of studying? Would they study for themselves, or to receive material rewards?
In fact, not only the above mentioned school, but many other schools nationwide have gradually tended to seek for quick success and instant benefits. 
For example, some of the so-called “elite schools” stress so much on examination results and refuse to let students with poor results take government examinations to prevent them from pulling down the school’s average grade. Shouldn’t schools teach all children without discrimination?
If school education stresses data and achievements like business and highlights only the number of As the students get and how high the passing rate is, what would be left if this data is taken away?
The Education Ministry has spent large sums of money to issue the Outstanding School Award, Outstanding Principal Award and Outstanding Student Award. Have they brought a positive effect? 
Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud said the Education Ministry issues the Outstanding School Award to schools with excellent performance in the SPM, based on their school average grades (GPS). He added that the performance of a school can be reflected by the number of students getting straight As in government examinations.
The move of issuing awards based on the results of government examinations has encouraged the emphasis on results while neglecting the nurturing of moral conduct. If the success or failure of education is determined by how many As students get, it will be a sad day for education.
Other countries and regions also issue education awards. However, academic result is not the sole criterion. For example, the Teaching Excellence Award in Taiwan is awarded to, firstly, those who are committed to develop and promote innovative teaching methods; secondly, those who excellently activate classroom management and counsel students on adaptive development; and, thirdly, those who excellently develop teaching programmes based on education policy.
Education is to improve students’ learning outcome through improving teaching performance and teaching quality in innovative ways. Our education awards here, however, do not pay attention to creative but instead focus on spoonfeeding teaching methods. If such a trend becomes the mainstream, the goal of enhancing students’ ability to think, as stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint, will then remain an idle theory.
Everyone recognises only students with excellent performance and their teachers while those with poor academic performance might be “abandoned” and eventually drop out of school, go astray and get involve in criminal acts.
The failure of education in schools is one of the factors causing so many social problems and crimes. If education goes towards the pursuit of material rewards and honour, morality standards might continue to fall.
I miss the days when I was studying in a Chinese independent school. I can still remember that our teachers asked us why we should read and study. It is indeed also a question that today’s educators and students should ask themselves.
As Confucius said: “The responsibilities of teachers are to preach, teach and clear doubts.” If students are confused about life, can we still call our education successful? —

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