By CHONG LIP TECK
Translated by Adeline Lee
Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom issued an order on 14 October 2010 that, the Education Ministry would formally launch the KSSR (Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah) for all primary one students in 2011.
This means that from 2011, primary one students’ school syllabuses and class attendance will differ from their elder brothers and sisters. Their class time of 1,380 minutes will also be 120 minutes less than the 1,500 minutes class time of their elder siblings. The school bus industry has earlier indicated that it would not send the primary one students who will be dismissed from school earlier than other students, home early. So schools have begun to look for strategies to "fill" the extra 120 minutes. School must balance the arrangement of these four periods of class, as it should not increase the student's academic pressure. It is best if it could meet the needs of KSSR interactive and fun teaching objectives.
Under the new program, the number of Malay periods in Chinese primary schools has increased to 10. This was set with the aim of consolidating the national language policy. Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has guaranteed that only bilingual teachers who know both the Chinese and Malay languages will be sent to teach Malay to primary one students in Chinese primary schools. And that the order will be issued before the semester begins. It is hoped that all Chinese primary schools will have sufficient number of bilingual teachers, so that the students can commence classes successfully.
Furthermore with the cancellation of the policy to teach Mathematics and Science in the English language, the number of Mathematics periods have reduced from the original 10 (six periods teaching in Chinese language, four periods teaching in English) to six. All teaching will be done in Chinese. English periods will be raised from the original two to five; this is in line with the will of the Chinese community.
However, Malaysia still seriously lacks English teachers. The main reason for the increase in English periods is to strengthen the grasp of the English language, and to improve the standard of English in the new generation. To achieve this goal, the standard of English teachers must also be improved. It is time for the Education Ministry to plan for the training of more teachers, to address the problem of shortage of English teachers.
From my friends who are teaching staff, I realised that their feelings on KSSR are that a lot of paperwork is involved, directly increasing the burden on teachers. Teachers often find themselves short of time to teach and to do paperwork at the same time; and the calls to the Ministry to reduce the workload of teachers have never ceased. Under the KSSR program, teachers need more time to interact with students, yet the paperwork has increased rather than decreased. People find it hard to understand the rationale indeed.
Teachers also face the problem of how to do internal assessment. Many teachers feel lost on the evaluation criteria even after the briefing, and are also not clear on how to complete the evaluation forms. It is understood that there are specific instructions for each skill for the languages, but there is none for Science. The learning benchmark for KSSR is 100% and teachers must ensure that every student meet the standard. This has also given teachers a lot of pressure.
When teachers asked questions about assessment at the briefing, they were given the answer "go back to discuss with the school, the decision on how to assess is by the school".
The KSSR is a new program that people look forward to, as it aspires to give students a fun learning environment and get rid of the practice of cramming to learn, through the injection of creativity and innovative thinking in the curriculum. But the response from the teachers seems to convey that there are gaps between the ideal and the reality, and that the goal of educational transformation is not easily reached.
Sin Chew Daily