By LIM MUN FAH
Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily
The set of basic education system implemented since the British colonial era does have its merits and it has indeed cultivated many talents for the country over all these years.
I believe that no one will question the necessity of education reform. It is because education must be adjusted, amended and reformed from time to time to keep up with the pace of the times. The question is, after one after another the so-called education reform was made, how many of them have actually achieved the desired success? And how many of them ended up as farces?
Objectively speaking, some of the education reforms are indeed appropriate, such as the implementation of performance-based admission system for all public universities. However, the quota system has not been completely abolished. The reform is not thorough enough, leaving a tail.
There are many examples of failure and we can just skip them here. We are more concerned about the latest education reform plans. We hope that the authorities have learned lessons from the past failure experiences and head towards the right direction, granting our children a bright future.
However, it might be a little depressed to mention it, as our education policy seems to have lost direction. Changes are sometimes rashly made, while sometimes indecisively. Some changes might be suddenly shelved or delayed before they are implemented, or abandoned after they are implemented for a few years. It is a pity for our children who have been again and again turned into guinea pigs.
Not long ago, we were informed that the Education Ministry plans to lower the formal schooling age from six years plus to five years plus starting 2015. It seems to have become an imperative as the plan has been included in the ministry's Interim Strategic Plan 2011-2020. Later, the Sin Chew Daily also reported that the Education Ministry would implement the Program Laluan Pintas in 28 selected primary schools next year. The latest news is, the programme has been postponed as the ministry wishes to study the possibility of extending the programme nationwide.
I dare not to jump to a conclusion whether the plan to lower the formal schooling age and the Program Laluan Pintas will repeat the mistake of the Penilaian Tahap Satu (PTS) allowing Year 3 students who did well in the test to skip Year 4 and attend Year 5 instead. Education is not like eating fast food in which the only intention is to relieve hunger, without caring about whether it is nutritious.
I wish not to talk more theories here, but just want to share something that I saw on the Internet with our education officials:
There was a new teacher and the school principal earnestly said, "Please be good to students who score 100 marks, as they might become scientists in the future.
"Please be good to students who score 80 marks, as they might become your colleagues in the future.
"Please be good to students who fail, as they might donate money to the school in the future.
"Please be good to students who cheat, as they might join politics in the future.
"Please be good also to students who drop out of school, as they might become the next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs in the future!"