Sunday, November 11, 2012

A mother’s woes — Lim Mun Fah

A mother’s woes — Lim Mun Fah

November 10, 2012
Malaysian Insider--Side Views
NOV 10 — After my article It is better not to change than blindly change went into print, a woman rang me up, beseeching me to spend a few minutes listening to what she felt after reading my article.
Before long she broke into tears, not because my article had been so well penned that it moved her heart but because she was utterly disappointed with the country’s education system.

She was worried her child and his schoolmates would fall victim to yet another failed educational policy.
I couldn’t visualise her expression at the other end of the line, but I could imagine the feelings of a weeping mother who cares so much about her child’s education but is helpless in turning things around.
“Do you know how many mothers, parents and students are totally disgruntled by our failed education system?” she wept.

The reader from Ipoh told me her only son is now studying at a national secondary school, and she is naturally very much concerned about her son’s progress at school.

“However, after the school-based assessment system (PBS) is put into  implementation, I will not have any idea what textbooks he is studying at school, or what schoolwork has been assigned to him and whether he has made any progress in his studies.”

She asked, how are we going to gauge the students’ progress now that the class tests and examinations are abolished and replaced with the PBS system? She found herself totally at loss.

She said when she asked her son what PBS was, her son appeared equally dumbfounded.

Half a year had lapsed and when she finally got a chance to ask the teacher about this on the Parents’ Day, the teacher failed to offer a convincing answer.

She is very concerned about her son’s English and wants to know about his English curriculum at school. Nevertheless, she has discovered shockingly that her son is now reading an English literary book that is too profound for a Chinese primary school graduate to comprehend.

“I thought learning English should start from the basics and grammar? No wonder many national school students today are unable to write a decent article or letter in English.

“To be frank, to change things this way, I would prefer we go back to our old school days when the students learned English conscientiously, step by step beginning with the grammar. And with tests and exams.”

She said she was absolutely frustrated with the PBS system. As if that is not enough, the new education blueprint is on the way and another major overhaul in the country’s education system is in the pipeline. Such inconstant policy will only bring on more nightmares in parents and students.

She has much to complain about but has no idea whom to voice up to. She is also doubtful whether such complaints would be of any use at all, citing the fact that the education ministry never consulted the public when implementing the policy of teaching science and maths in English.

Before hanging up, she pleaded me to help put her feelings down in words.

I promised. But then deep inside me, I was doubtful whether it would help at all if I were to put this down in words. —

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