Thursday, January 11, 2007

More 'A's, More Knowledgeable?

There are more than 23,000 students who scored straight 'A's in the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination, and this number seems to be growing every year. That's more than 5% of students who scored straight 'A's without yet taking into account those who scored 6 or 7 'A's.

The question posed by Syed Nazri in his News Straits Times (NST) column is simple – “Are our children getting smarter or is it plainly that the examination standards are lower?

I have no doubt that our children today are academically more knowledgeable than our generation and the generation before us. However, 23,000 straight 'A's students? That leaves us with pretty much no doubt that the examinations have been dumbdown in order to enable a higher passing rate amongst students.

My argument is 2-fold for the standards of the local examinations to be raised significaintly.

Firstly, this dumbdown process of our examinations must stop and be reversed immediately. One might be keen to blame our universities for the lower standard of graduates they seem to be producing. However, to a large extent, the universities have to cope with whatever input they received from the secondary schools. It is difficult for local unviersities to maintain or even introduce "high" standards, if the students who enrolled are unable to cope with the more rigourous syllabus and subject matters.

Secondly, even if the argument that our students have indeed grown significantly smarter over time, it is even more relevant for our Ministry of Education and examinations syndicate to raise the standards in order to challenge the students further. Only then will we be fully 'exploiting' the talents within our young Malaysians, raising the bar for Malaysia's future development.

By giving smarter students dumbed down examinations will serve no purpose in strengthening their intellectual prowess, but will instead, be a clear insult to their intelligence.

Let's see what the National Education Blueprint 2005-2010 to be released tomorrow will say about this subject.


Andrew Loh said...

This might not count for much, because it's just a subjective evaluation:

I found my UPSR to be harder than my PMR.

Because I went to a chinese primary school.

Anonymous said...

When you study STPM, people always said that that is the toughest exam in the world. They keep on saying that if you can finish it with flying colours, university education should be like peanuts.

For the first one, it maybe true in the 70s but now? I doubt it a lot. The next one however, still apply today, of course only to local universities. And i was happy i did it rather than matriculation.

clk said...

I left secondary school more than 20 yrs back and from what I gather from the text books and Sunday Star Maths/ Physics articles/write-ups, I guess nothing much has changed.

I'm quite sure, the good tertiary schools out there would have also updated their textbooks and content over the last 20 yrs or so. I recalled that when I did my finance, accounting and mgmt at undergrad levels and subsequently postgrad levels after a 12 yr gap in between, the text were just so different....

The real world out here has become more competitive, earning next $ is getting tougher, standards are higher etc.

I guess the next generation will face a larger gap in knowledge, expectation etc. after leaving school and joining the work force.

Anonymous said...

I took UEC (Junior) & PMR in year 2000 at ChongHwa Independent High School. UEC was i thought to be fun to study and acing them was fun/satisfying.

PMR? Pass the butter.

Anonymous said...

Over at the Malaysian Worldwide Student Network (ReCom), there had been quite a lot of extensive discussions in the past:

Anonymous said...

" However, to a large extent, the universities have to cope with whatever input they received from the secondary schools."

Is this what is called garbage in garbage out ?

Anonymous said...

"more than 23,000 students who scored straight 'A's in the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination" - if all of them eventually get into our local universities, we will be teaching geniuses!
Wow, wah!

Anonymous said...

Over the years, I estimate we already have 1,000,000 students with straight 'A's in the UPSR, PMR, SPM, STPM...Our country has the mostEST brillantEST students in the whole BLOODY world!

Then why the BLOODY Hell we still can't build our own spaceship but have to depend on Russia to carry our pseudonauts to space???? Why do we have to spend RM4.1 billion to buy European submarines and not build them on our own?

The answer to these questions is NOT blowing in the wind... the answer is blowing from Malaysia's arsehole! Stop kidding ourselves!

Anonymous said...

I think that the Govt should just scrap the PMR and let the teenagers choose whatever subjects they like to study in their high schools besides the core subjects, and finally be evaluated in a national exam with coursework marks in school assessments added into their overall scores. This type of test will definitely generate more interests among the students and thus, promoting less exam-oriented yet rigorous education systems for the all. Anyway, what's the point of PMR when you graduate with an honours degree?

Anonymous said...

Malaysian Public examinations standard are really low or "watered down" as someone has mentioned this before.
Example, an A1 in SPM English can be equivalent to either A1, A2 or even C3 in 1119 English. Imagine that all those who achieved staight A1s could be actually without a single A at all if marked according to "correct" standards. What is the "correct" standard? This baffles me!

Anonymous said...


what are you talking about? both upsr and pmr are common examination.

On the issue of 23000 got straight As. So what? asked yourself 'Anon Thu Jan 11, 05:30:11 PM' - how many standard 6 students per year through out the country?

Anonymous said...

Our present students now score lots of A's because either they are genetically modified or politically modified students...hehe

Now all my neighbours and friends have 'geniuses' in their families who cant do the 3 R's yet scored AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!



Anonymous said...

A - amat baik
B - baik

with so many students getting STRAIGHT As each year, is it still possible to differentiate between the 'ok' good and 'very'(amat) good students? if this is not an issue then what's the purpose of public exams???

Husain Zaman said...

Anyone up for introducing the SATs or something like that into the Malaysian system, even that wonderfully British institution called Cambridge seems to hold them in high regard considering the increasing number of "brilliant" straight A's students the British system seems to be churning out (they got the same problem over there too). Usually the complaint bout the SAT (Reasoning) seems to be bout not enuf people acing it. Took it and so did a number of friends (all straight A's in STPM or A' Levels) and none of us got anything exceptional. So how bout a shot at it, huh?

Anonymous said...

I used to assume that a straight A student would have scored 80 marks & above for each paper. But recently, a senior teacher who regularly marks the SPM exam papers revealed that for certain "privileged" schools, scoring 65 marks abv could garner an A esp for subjects like maths & sciences. She's convinced our edu system has gone to the dogs due to political interference.

Her advice? Better send my kids overseas after their Form 5 if they are to survive the global challenges.

Anonymous said...

I think it is human nature to grief than to praise these days. Are we really that bad ? And is our younger generation really getting worse ? Let’s see….

In the early 1950s when the education system is still under the control of the British government, most of the people in Malaya do not even have the opportunity to attend school. Only a few elite class citizens can manage to get primary and high school education and went on to be successful in their life. Those who are less fortunate remained working in the factory, garage or rubber estate.

Later, the free education system was introduced. More people get the chance to study and graduate at least with the primary education. Some of them went on to become successful businessmen, engineer, technician and etc. But the majority of them are still remained in the blue collar jobs (i.e. jobs that require more labor intensive than intellectual). Most of these people are probably in their 50s or 60s now and were probably retired by now.

The children from this group of people were probably in their 20-40s now and more than 50% of them are graduated with universities degree. Some of them who are from the fortunate family went to pursue their tertiary education in overseas while some less fortunate student remain in the local universities. These people are mostly holding professional jobs, e.g. IT, scientist, accountant, finance, engineer and etc. They work in a better working environment, air conditioned office and so forth.

It’s not long ago that the very same people who are crying and criticizing about the low standard of UPSR, PMR, STPM or etc nowadays, are being criticized by their former senior who graduated from HSC (High School Certificate). And yet, most of them are in the professional jobs anyway. Then, we also have people from overseas who criticize the low standard of local education. And yet, they themselves are coming from the same crappy primary and secondary education as well as do other local graduates. In the old days, it’s harsh to point out that it is the less “knowledgable” (i.e. less academic achievement) group who often went to pursue a degree overseas because the competition for local universities is simply too high. Most of those who study overseas weren’t even straight As students and probably do not score as high as the local graduate. They have the opportunity to achieve what they are now probably because of the family background. And because they have the opportunity to receive better education than some of their formerly more academic qualified friends, they should feel ashamed of look down on the local graduate.

Having said that, I do not oppose the fact that the quality of overseas education is much better than the local universities in many aspects. At the same time, those who received scholarship to study abroad are probably the best of the best to be able to do so and I applaud their achievements. My point here is very simple. We know that by fact, the local education system is far from perfect and need a lot of improvement. It’s always easy to criticize when you’re not in the system anymore (i.e. graduated or stay in overseas). For those who are still studying, I encourage you not to give up and make use of every aspect and facilities you can get to your advantage. Whether the straight As student is more knowledgeable nowadays compared to the straights As student 50 years ago is not up to us to judge. Only time will tell. The world is advancing. The straight As student in the 1950s might be able to solve the mathematic question by paper and pencil efficiently. By comparison, today’s graduate might not be able to solve the same mathematic question without calculator. Does it mean the young graduate is less “knowledgeable” ? Ask the same graduates to solve a more complicated calculation that required computer simulation and you’ll know who is more advance. Whoever that can solve the problem efficiently will no doubt be a better graduate in the point of view in job market these days. The approach is probably less relevant. So, don’t think that we’re the only smart one. In fact, all people are same, Malay, Indian, Chinese, Caucasian and etc. When given an equal opportunity, they will excel.

Anonymous said...

Wholeheartedly agree with the above poster. We are all simply equal.

Anonymous said...

"I have no doubt that our children today are academically more knowledgeable than our generation and the generation before us."

I have serious doubt about your above statement. Looking at my children's textbooks, I find that hard to believe. For example, back in 1975, my Form 2 Modern Maths text books had 22 chapters. How many chapters (or topics) are there today? With the ultra lightweight syllabus of today, any conscientious kid should be able to score an A in any subject. These days, kids with 10A or more for their SPM are a dime a dozen. We are really killing the future for our children and our country.

I just hope that it will not be too late for my children when I follow the example of our ministers and send them overseas to study after their Form 5. For those who cannot afford to do so, well I can only say I am sorry, but the majority of Malaysian voters wants this.

Anonymous said...

When I was in Form six in the late sixties doing biomaths, the textbooks we study were for example
Biology: Vines and Reeves
Grove and Newell
Lawson's Botany

Toppington Applied Maths
Potter Further Elementary analyses

Physics Nelkon's Physics


These textbooks are thick comprehensive and real standards!

They were written by experienced teachers in UK and used similarly in UK. Our exam were HSC identical to UK

Now..our text books are not text books, more like books of facts for memorisings! Written by half baked teachers and full of down loaded and paste and copy

What do you expect our standard to be?

The good thing about our so called text books is:

Very cheap
Very colourful
Hype sounding titles and gerenti pass or score promises

It is so sad to see how our education system ' advances to the rear rapidly rather than moving forward!!

Talking about the quality of our university syllabus is another issue!

Anonymous said...

Today's kindergarten workbooks are bigger, thicker and heavier than the Form 1 or 2 textbooks in secondary schools.

The former regional Geography syllabus of Australasia, Africa, Latin America, Asia, North America and Europe is no longer available in the schools offering Geography.

Just take a glance at the present History text for Forms 1 to 5 and you would vomit at the contents.

Grammar is no longer a component in the teaching of the English Language since the mid-1970s, resulting in several generations of students unable to write a single simple sentence of correct English.

For all these, we reserve our heartfelt 'thanks' to the Education Minister who started it all, who but the great Dr M, down to Anwar and through to the current Kerismuddin.