Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Government must rethink on the 10 subject cap decision for SPM examination

In response to calls for students to allow students to take more than 10 subjects in the SPM examination, Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said schools can formulate their own vernacular language examination for students unable to take certain subjects due to the cap

He said the schools can then issue certificates to acknowledge the students’ level of proficiency.

He, however, stressed that it would be a school-based examination and would not count in the SPM certificate.

It is obvious that Alimuddin has not addressed the parents' concern and his response has clearly shown that the Education Ministry does not understand what the people want.

What many Chinese parents want to see is that their children can continue to take Chinese Language and Literature subjects .And many Indian parents want their children's right to take up Indian Language and Literature subjects be maintained.

For Christian parents, they dont want their children to face the predicament of having to sacrifice the subject of Bible Knowledge due to the 10 subject cap.

And all these Chinese, Indian and Christian parents want their children to take those subjects as SPM examination subjects , not as school based examination.

Tan Sri Alimuddin's clarification that certain elective subjects could be dropped is also not providing any solution to the parent's objections.

He was quoted as saying , “For instance, if students are interested in pursuing medicine, they have to take mathematics, biology and chemistry but can drop physics. So, they can pick any other elective of their choice to replace physics."

Alimuddin should know that students may aim to take up medicine but it does not mean that they will succeed in achieving their goals and may have to opt for a second choice which is engineering or other science related courses which will require good grounding in physics.

It baffles me how he could come up with such a suggestion!

In fact, records in many local colleges will show that many science stream students have opted to pursue commerce or accounting courses after their SPM and these students usually have also taken up Accounting and/or Economics as SPM subjects.

The idea of capping SPM subjects actually came about due to the controversy in awarding Public Service Department scholarships. A simple solution will be to limit applicant's academic results to 10 best subjects which is a combination of compulsory and relevant core as well as elective subjects.

Forcing a student to drop a subject will result in neglect and possible ultimate death of the subjects. No student should be forced to make a choice to drop any subject, especially their mother tongue subjects.

The government has made a costly mistake by introducing a policy to teach Maths and Science in English. It must not make another mistake.

The days when the government thinks it knows best is over. The only option for the government is to rethink on the decision to cap the SPM subjects at 10.

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