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Education sans elite classes

  • Abolishing elite classes will help address the issue of over-emphasis on examination results and augur well for the development of more holistic education.

Sin Chew Daily

The education ministry has been quite busy of late, trying hard to erase the public perception of the country's "exam oriented" education as it moves towards the goal of holistic education for all.

The proposed abolition of elite classes, in particular, has drawn a great deal of controversies.

Deputy education minister Chong Sin Woon has pointed out that his ministry plans to do away with the elite class system in a "soft landing" approach over the next three years, and schools that have elite classes can continue to do so with their students in Years Four to Six when the school reopens in January.

The education ministry has never implemented such a policy which has been practiced by individual schools on their own accord, mainly those in Klang Valley and other urban areas.

Since such a system has become an obsession in urban schools, it is therefore difficult for parents to accept the ministry's decision to do away with elite classes.

As a matter of fact, some of the schools have attempted to do away with the system but have met with strong resistance from parents.

Generally speaking, the purpose of having elite classes is to siphon better education materials and curriculum to top-performing students in a bid to boost their learning capacity. Unfortunately such a system has since been exploited as a tool in the wild pursuit of outstanding exam results.

Meanwhile, the system also has a negative implication on fair distribution of educational resources, for students in elite classes will gain access to better resources than those in ordinary classes.

To make things worse, a stereotyped impression is fast taking shape in our society that alienates pupils in non-elite classes.

The problem is, there are plenty who still support this system, arguing that laggards must not be allowed to hold down the overall progress of students.

This kind of mentality has evolved around the pursuit of superior academic performances. That being said, exam results have never been the ultimate motive of education, and such outdated thinking must be wiped out from the heads of school authorities, parents and students as we once again strive to embrace a more holistic approach to education.

The education ministry should not rush into action lest the students will be adversely affected. With the teachers and students now so accustomed to this mode of teaching, an abrupt withdrawal of elite classes will definitely leave a mark on the students' progress in learning.

A "soft landing" approach to do away with elite classes over the course of three years is doubtlessly a smarter move, allowing schools and parents to slowly adapt to a system without the elite classes during the transitional period.

Abolishing elite classes will help address the issue of over-emphasis on examination results and augur well for the development of more holistic education.

As such, school authorities, students, their parents and the society at large should take a stand in support of such a decision.



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