Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Task Force for Maths Genius

Wah, the Ministry of Education has decided that it needed to form a task force to oversee the education needs of six-year-old maths wizard, Adi Putra Abdul Ghani.

The Star has reported that the ministry’s "planning and education research policy director Dr Salleh Hassan said his officers will identify a suitable school for the boy." This was probably a follow up to the comment made by the Minister of Education, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein who argued that Adi should be exposed to "more challenging work."
“His special education package will take into consideration his age, ambition, education programme and the relocation for the boy and his family to attend the school,” he said yesterday.
Hey, how about the Ministry looks at a special programme for all special "geniuses" in the country instead of doing this piecemeal just because a single candidate has been highlighted in the press for his special talents? Wouldn't the effort of the task force to plan for Adi be just about the same, if expanded to include all other talented students?

There should be a special gifted kids programme to be carried out at selected top schools in the country so that the talents of these individuals are given the support, encouragement and facilities to blossom.

I'm not embarrassed to say that the idea is a simple copy-cat thingie from the Singapore education programme, for they have started the gifted students programme and have continuously expanded it since the (if I'm not wrong, 1983). There's nothing wrong with a copy-cat policy if the policy works, and it certainly did for Singapore. I have many friends who were from this programme and I can say that many are all deputy-directors and directors of the administrative service in Singapore, as well as senior managers of the large government-linked copmanies.

From the pool of UPSR candidates, the top say, 1% of the students should be offered additional aptitude tests to determine suitability towards the gifted education programme. They should be provided the opportunities to learn from the top teachers with the best facilities and environment to ensure that their respective intellectual faculties are given the chance to reach their full potential.

The Minister of Education has stated that his Ministry "was determined to cater to the needs of child prodigies as we “don’t want to lose them to the private sector or another country.”" I am certain that we are in agreement with the Ministers' comments. However, the way to achieve the objectives is not be taking up wiz kids on a case-by-case basis through some piecemeal policies but through thorough combing of our young talents and proper structured programmes to fit their needs.


chenchow said...

Fully agree with Tony on this case. While it is great that the Education Ministry is taking into care the case of Adi Putra, it shouldn't be a case-by-case basis, or even look at this case as a special case.

In fact, over the past 2-3 years, the few batches of PTS students have reached Form 5, and frankly, I am really impressed by the performance of many of those PTS students. While there are only a few hundred of them get to be qualified for PTS in Primary School, most of them managed to sustain great results and all-round performance when they reach Form 5. This basically means that the PTS policy managed to cut short a year for all these students, and hence increase the productivity of our country by a bit.

While I have to say that we shouldn't be over-zealous in getting everything done in "Express" mode, some additional care should be implemented to ensure that all these students' needs are sustained. Perhaps, some NGOs or even educationmalaysia could take an informal step to help some of these students, in providing some challenging resources for them.

For instance, educationmalaysia could pool resources for say, preparation for Mathematics and Physics Olympiad, and geared them towards all these geniuses in Primary schools or lower secondary schools. Expose them to all these challenging questions and preparations, could go a long way to help build up a generation of Malaysians with strong interest in what they are good at.

Anonymous said...

Read more about Singapore's Gifted Education Programme here - www.moe.gov.sg/gifted/

lyl said...

Hm.. the term gifted is a bit misleading here frankly. What is the benchmark for testing out this giftedness?

Mensa, would you say? Malaysia's mensa is very lame. The test for it, Raven's Advance Progressive Matrices, wont help in determining giftedness too. That test is very much logic only. For Mensa USA, they accept all kinds of test , eg.

• Otis Lennon
• Stanford Binet, Stanford Binet 5
• Cognitive Abilities Test
• Test of Cognitive Skills
• Woodcock-Johnson Intelligence Test
• NNAT-Individual Form
• NNAT-Multilevel Form
California Test of Cognitive Skills
Differential Ability Scales (DAS)
ACT Composite
Miller Analogies Test (MAT)
PSAT (taken in junior year)
California Test of Mental Maturity
Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales
Wechsler Adult and Children Scales
Army & Navy GCT

So the point is, there isnt any ways of discovering giftedness in the raven test. In USA, all forms of test could determine giftedness, whether it is maths, verbal.. etc. Look at my case - i scored 180 on the mensa admission test, but does that mean anything? Not much. Am I considered gifted? I dont think so. I still get pwned by people in certain subjects.

As for Adi Putra's special education... I suppose my previous school would suffice. After all, we did have a maths genius too (Mohd. Suhaimi Ramly, Bronze Medalist IMO 2000).

Anonymous said...

The very attitude of our MOE in specific reflects why we remain mediocre in many aspects..

Not to mention the slow response to the call from the public to give special kids special

Still recall we have whiz kids who went to NUS and Caltech to continue their studies ?

Thanks to LYL for mentioning the maths olympiad competition..

I have been to the IMO website ones...Look at those participants from some of countries...4 out of 5 participants are GOLD Medalist..

And our participants... the most is Bronze Medalist..

To the those talented kids, it is a plus to them as special education and international exposure enhance their learning experiences..

To the nation, Malaysia could show we do have competitive participant as well..

It win-win for all..

Maths whiz kids just dont come in bunches...what's wrong we give them some special treatment...like tailored made education package..

Like Anthony Robbin says "Unleash your potential" !

Our MOE is way way behind Vietnam and Thailand..

Why I say so?...I personally have met and spoken to both Vietnamese and Thais who went to special education..

For Thai, they can skip 2 years of their education...

For Viet, they have special secondary schools that takes in
students to major in either one of four in Physics, Chem, Maths, and Bios depends on one's strength based on preference, but final placement is subjected to selection and test score..

See what our ASEAN members have done !!

What say you, our MOE ?

Again..still planning?? Still trail and error ?

When are you going to implement ??
In 2020 ?? In 2008 ??

Life is too short to wait...why dont I just "bla" to some place where my talent will get instant recognition and "sized up" to meet global standards ?

See you in Olympiad, either one of them, IMO, IOI or IPhO!


Msian taxpayer..

Anonymous said...

But then we will have a quota system !

lyl said...

hmm.. there r 5 official olympiads actually... but malaysia only participates in 2 - IPhO and IMO.

Anonymous said...

what are there are two ? Kindly enlighten me ? TQ.


Anonymous said...

LYL, what are the other two? TQ

academic observer said...

There are two Malaysian bronze medallists in IMO 2000 (http://olympiads.win.tue.nl/imo/imo2000/medals.html)but they are in the lower end of the list for bronze. In comparison Thailand and Vietnam (3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze) did much better.

lyl said...

Dear academic observer,

I know there are 2 bronze medalists in IMO 2000. But i was saying that my school used to have one.

The other guy is Ong Shien Jin, currently doing his PhD at Harvard. I met him early this year. Tony met him too. He's the guy Tony met up, along with a Dr. Hong of MMU. They were mentioned in the post of the possibility of the SAT scholarships.

The other 2 olympiads are the astronomy and biology. But Malaysia only participates in the maths and physics. We may participate in the chemistry one soon, as we have been observers these past few years.

lyl said...

Hm.. sorry. I made a mistake.

There are actually 8 olympiads, with the others being Geography, Linguistic and Philosophy. These 3 arent given much attention though.