O YOU who have attained to faith! When you are told, ” Make room for one another in your collective life”, do make room: [and in return,] God will make room for you [in His grace].

And whenever you are told, “Rise up [for a good deed]”, do rise up; [and] God will exalt by [many] degrees those of you who have attained to faith and [above all,] such as have been vouchsafed [true] knowledge: for God is fully aware of all that you do.




The Cabinet decision to limit the number of subjects for SPM to 10 from next year is a wise move. The Minister of Education must stand by this decision and not be swayed by the ten percent of students and their supporters who think that genius is quantifiable.

These young Malaysians, encouraged by enthusiastic parents and teachers and artificially boosted by media attention, have grown to believe that the 20 As on their SPM certificate mark them as superior academic achievers who deserve more than a special consideration in the queue for tertiary education. It has become the bargaining point for financial aid and scholarships and other accolades they think they deserve.

So much so, these exam geniuses and paper chasers are threatening to sideline the average Fifth former who sits for the 9 or 10 subjects recommended in a balanced school curriculum. So much so, those who score 9 or 10 As are no longer regarded as outstanding because the others have given more of their time and effort to double their As.    

 The danger in subscribing to the belief that excellence in education is quantifiable is that it will only perpetuate an education philosophy and teaching methodologies where the assessment of academic performance is done purely by examinations. School tests and government examinations using multiple choice questions are easily scored but are they a reliable measure of academic excellence?  

 As a beneficiary of the Malaysian education system at primary, secondary and tertiary levels I would like to say that my peers and I have fully benefited from a system that provided a good balance between the academic and the co-curricular. We went through a system where academic subjects were handled as expertly in the classroom as Physical Education was in the school field. Our subject teachers were as enthusiastic about History and Economics as they were when we participated in inter-school sports and debates.

 There was of course the school loyalty and pride when students did well both in the academic and co-curricular arenas but there was none of the glamour and sensationalism that accompanies the release of UPSR, SPM and STPM results  today.

 There were of course the smart alecs and geniuses among us who went on to achieve excellence in their post-graduate studies and careers but they have remained grounded and well balanced individuals.

 As a retired educationist involved in language education in secondary schools for 7 years and in a public university for 24 years, I would like to add that excellence in education does not lie in the string of As one collects but in the thinking and rational beings that the national education system nurtures. Provided the system does encourage the students to think and reason!

 It is time to revamp the evaluation system in Malaysian schools to include continuous classroom assessment and project work, and co-curricular activities where students are given ample opportunities to interact and communicate face -to-face with their teachers and peers.


4 Responses to “”

  1. June 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Yes you’re right, thank god my kids are done with all these exams. Depth of knowledge, analytic and reasoning skills are what we are in dire need of in schools and universities too. Hope we’re heading htere. Long road ahead the way I see it.

  2. June 3, 2009 at 4:17 pm


    POLICEMEN on horseback are a refreshing sight for Petaling Jaya folk (”Lawmen to horse around Petaling Jaya” — NST, Oct 28).

    The horse power adds pride and novelty to the police force. It is yet another way to keep residential areas free of crime. It cuts fuel costs, is environment friendly and occasional galloping provides policemen some form of exercise. However, due to heavy traffic and congestion, it may not be possible for horsemen to patrol the busy city streets. … Read More

    The inspector-general of police should also consider other options. Prior to the advent of light motorcycles, policemen on bicycles were a common sight. Perhaps they should be brought back for beat duty in urban areas.

    S. SUNDARESON, Petaling Jaya

    Source: NST – October 29, 2008

    (Good idea Kak Halimah…hope the horses do not panic at the Rempit Samseng Jalanan or mad Malaysian drivers..yes, horses are a forminable sight!)

  3. 3 Liza Nordeen
    June 4, 2009 at 7:16 am

    I can’t agree with you more, Auntie Halimah. The chase for the multitude of As in the SPM is over-emphasised, and has minimal bearing on one’s success/failure in the future. Of course, it may open doors, but what gets you through these doors and propels you forward is simple common sense, a strong personality, the ability to think outside the box and a general understanding of the world around you. These you cannot develop by reading textbooks but by having conversations, being observant, being aware of the goings-on in the world around you and getting involved and doing things to build upon life’s experiences. I sympathise with 16/17-year-olds ‘fooled’ into the idea that the achievement of 15-20As would guarantee happiness and further accolades in the future. What a waste of one’s youth!

    Besides making it a more level-playing ground, limiting the number of subjects would hopefully drive the message to the students that there is more to life than grades attained at school. Perhaps the education ministry could expand ‘kemahiran hidup’ to include voluntary work, internships or entrepreneurial opportunities so students are encouraged to experience life outside the ‘comforts’ of school/academia, so as to prepare them for the real (bad!) world!

  4. 4 ninitalk
    June 4, 2009 at 8:15 am

    So pleased Liza to get an outstanding response from an outstanding younger person who went through the system more recently.

    Your suggestions for expanding the syllabus for Kemahiran Hidup is exactly right. I especially like the idea of voluntary community work much like the job week/ month that Brownies, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides had to do during my time.

    My children did their share in the English schools they attended as you did Liza! And look at you all now! Certainly not “geniuses” by the Malaysian parents’ definition but such well educated and well adjusted young Malaysians with good personalities and communication skills!

    My letter was published in both The Star and The Sun on Tuesday and I also sent it to the DG of the Education Ministry. More of the suitably enlightened Malaysians should give their views/ input!

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