Thinking and Education


Continuous Education

General Intelligence Measure – Are We Up or Down?

The unwritten and painful objective for educational administrators is for them to improve the general intelligence of the population. The stark truth is that our education is falling behind. The officials in the MOE have hoodwinked the Minister of Education and everybody else about the great heat and noise of a transformation plan they had put out.
For those who are in on the secret IQ tests measure intelligence. But going by popular sentiments examinations results is the key tool for measuring the general intelligence or abilities of our children. Accepted wisdom is that if exam results are improving then the level of intelligence is rising and vice versa. This accounts for the considerable excitement and trepidation whenever exam results are coming out.
Recently the Director General of education announced that there has been a decline of the Grade Point Average(GPA) in the SPM exam results from 5.04 to 5.08 but assured us that this is nothing to worry about as the decline is only 0.04 and not 0.05! He had promised to explain. I doubt if any parent or the Minister understood what is so earth-shaking about the 0.01 in GPA drop. Anyway we are still waiting. For the moment, please understand that after four years of toil and effort by 400,000 officials and teachers, the general level of intelligence of our kids are down.
I can’t help but think this because the MoE is not presenting us GPA scores going back a few years which I am sure they have. Is this the indication?
Let me repeat. The education system is not going to improve! All parents in Malaysia should be very afraid. Putting your children in our schools is not healthy for their future!
It may sound alarmist but really the problem is very serious and not likely to be changed much less “transformed”. We need to shout a little bit louder and do some scare mongering to give the MOE  officials and teachers a wake-up kick!
The reason is simple. In any system where performance of the people in charge is not measured, the universal rule is that the bad will always drive out the good. There are slackers, incompetents and irresponsible officials in every organization. Where there is no appropriate action taken to identify, improve or remove these elements the rest of the officials will learn that copying the worse will be in their best interests.
As it is the noble teaching profession has three tiers of blinders to protect itself. Firstly educationists have succeeded in getting everybody to believe that examination results (especially bad ones) is a function of student weakness. Failing students with their parents would hold their heads in shame and trod off to do some self flagellation. Have you heard of anyone coming to bang the table and demand an answer from the teachers why you highly paid professionals do not have the ability to get my son to score 35 marks so that he can pass the damn examination?
Secondly the teachers professional code of conduct will silence anyone who dare criticize a  fellow teacher. The delinquent, incompetent, and lazy teachers can rely on fellow teachers to shield them from any light to shine on them. Conscientious head teachers could not betray their colleagues. So a cloak of silence prevails. Mediocrity and irresponsibility thrive in the dark corridors of the school.
Thirdly the system is so structured that you just cannot assign responsibility to any one teacher. Every student in school would most probably be “handled” by more than 30 teachers by the time he/she gets to UPSR . So who is responsible for the poor results in mathematics or english? The secondary school teacher will point to the primary school. The Form 5 teacher will point to the Form 4 teacher and the Form 4 teacher will point to the Form 3 etc. The most conscientious teachers will go home wondering the extent of his/her responsibility. But for most, “What can I do with all the accumulated gaps in knowledge and skills among the students?” is a rhetorical question left unanswered.
To cap it all, the less than wonderful teachers are further shielded by our high socio-cultural tolerance for looking the other way. I speculate that we are afraid to point out who these people are for fear that it may turn out to be a reflection of ourselves!
It is difficult to fight against the trend. Bad money drives out good. Bad people drive out good people. And so our education system is flushed with seriously under performing teachers (and officials). And that is why we all should be very very afraid.

Filed under: education, GPA, school

Malaysian Education – Negative Transformation?

When the SPM results for 2012 were announced there was a lot of news about the performance and achievements of students and schools. Unfortunately the Director of Education announced that there has been a decline in the performance of students in general. The Grade Point Average came down from 5.04 to 5.08. The total number of students involved were 472,541. He said that the decline was not alarming as it was only a difference of 0.04. It would have been different had it been 0.05! He said he was going to explain later.

Apparently the GPA is a big deal! I think this GPA stuff has gone over the heads of most if not all parents. It would be great if the reporter or the DG of Education had given some clue as to how to go about understanding the situation so that all concerned can wrap their heads around this “big deal”.

GPA is derived from converting grades achieved by students in the form of alphabets like A, B, C, D etc into numerical values of 1 to 9 (or some such equivalent) with lowest score starting from A (in our case). The point to note therefore is that lower is better. If a student offers 10 subjects in an examination, we take his alphabet grades and assign the appropriate numerical value. Let us say that his total score from 10 subjects is 46. To get the GPA we divide 46 by 10, which equals 4.60. If we do this for all the students we can compare the relative performance of the students.

To calculate the GPA of a group of students in a school, district, state or country, we add all the scores (numerical) of all the students in all subjects and divide it by the number of subjects and then by the number of students. To illustrate, let us assume that we have 100 students in our school, each taking 10 subjects. The total number of scores we add is from 10×100 = 1000. Lets say the total score in our school is 5236. To get the GPA for the school we have to divide it by the number of subjects which is 10 and the number of students which is 100. Effectively this means 5236/1000 = 5.236.

We are told that the GPA of 472,541 students in 2012 is 5.08. In a general way we can say that the GPA is an indicator of the academic ability of our student population. Alternatively we can say that efficiency of the school system or the competency of the teachers has declined. Is 0.04 a cause for concern? What was the GPA for the years before 2011? A 0.04 decline for an individual student may not be much but extrapolate for 472,541 students could be huge. We wait to hear from the DG the statistical implication of this decline.

We should all be surprised that there is a decline at all! All the talk is about transformation. There are endless claims of transformation. We have heard many grand announcements. We know of great spikes in expenditure. We also have a new DG of Education. More plans, more resources, more costs ….and we are becoming worse off? Or tell us we have nothing to worry about?

Filed under: Blogroll, education, school, ,

Why Malays Must learn Science & Mathematics

Hello Sherkawi
I think you are too entralled by the professor….I think he tends to let the rhetoric to get the better of him..
I want to send him a mail ..but dont have his I thought you can pass this to him….
He said Bring back the arts, culture etc or by 2015 there will be a catastrophy ….I can guess where he is coming from ….but the put-down on science and mathematics was just too much….the common folk and I do mean the Malays who listen to your shows might feel justified that they have not mastered science and mathematics and not even pushed their children in the same direction…if this works out then the majority population will be not equipped to deal with the new borderless world emerging….
Learning science and mathematics will train our minds to think critically as well as logically…..we will possess the skill to check for the veracity of information presented to us and not become wide eyed natives accepting whatever non-sense that is presented…the majority of people (the Malays) must have the logical skills to evaluate an event or a phenomenon from all angles…..
This “re-wiring of the brain” is very essential if the country is going to progress….the “clever” people in the country who has monopolised power and influence can pretty do much as they like because they can make the Malays see anything that they want them to see….they can do magic..we are lucky in that there are now some Malays who have become aware of the twisted logic of our leaders….they possess the skill to question how some of their friends have become rich overnight….
If the Malay mind is not critical then how will a Malay view the sudden acquisition of wealth by some people? I will give you one view…the Melayu (or Indian, CHInese) with no analytical ability will not be even asking the question..what did he do to become so rich? He can only accept the fact that his friend is rich and falling back on his cultural values..he will say…nasib dia lah….or some people are born lucky..when the flood waters rise up to your roof, what will the mind with no scienttific or mathematical training be “thinking”?
Or let us say when your kid dies in the hospital, the bridge collapses, or if you are  kept waiting for hours for a service by a civil servant…….you dont know how to ask questions…. no analyical or critical skill… just accept lah right? see prof when I was about 13 years old I came home from school one day I asked my mother how many more babies she was going to have? I had just learned about sexual reproduction! My mother said it was up to God. And when I told my mother what I learned in school she became very emotional and said she could no longer talk to me because I was too clever for her…
We need to keep the science and maths flowing freely……Naturally my mother was confused because she had to learn how to talk to her son who now can “talk” a little ……The same for all the powerful people who control the gate and the keys to the money and the resources..they will have to answer questions the newly trained mind will be asking …..if the Malays who are the majority in this country  are not given the proper training then can they ask the right question???
The Chinese and Indians they are critical..they are very critical..but whenever the Chinese or Chinese criticise the government or the power that be ……what happens? 
Dont interfere, this is our business, this is not your land, this is not your religion….
The reasons and the logic will not even be discussed…the Malay leaders will use the artistic skills ..literature, art, song and dance to talk of threats to the race, to the religion, to the culture….
All the non Malay (leaders) keep quiet..actually they are in cahoots with their Malay friends..boleh dapat hadiah jika diam……
A small number of Malays are aware…but they cannot talk..because they will be called and labelled as traitors! In fact they are caught between their conscience and their race…in the end they either keep agonisingly quiet or they begin to look for arguments and grounds to justify what is happening…
So prof we need maths and science for the Malays ..this is the key to the real developmnet of our country….more than ever now…….stress for a balanced develoment program for our children if you fact I think our  educational system at the core is already doing this…….but focusing on culture, the arts ??
If professor, your views were to prevail..we would have a real crisis in 2015….the wealth would be finished. stolen and sent off to Australia ..because nobody would know how to question, or we would be given the song and dance answer………….we would believe the spirits are in control of our bodies, the Malays would then run amock because it is part of the culture…they need to because all the problems of the country will be blamed on the Indians and what to do….?
I get your point about how learning about arts and culture can lead to perpaduan…but actually there is no logical basis to this……it will be too long for me to explain al this but let me make the same statement with a small twist..
Learning maths and science will bring about more perpaduan in our country….let me give a simple example..
Through science you learn that all living things are made up of the same material..namely oxygen and carbon dioxide, perhaps a little nitrogen..we breath in oxygen produced by the plants..this means that what was once part of a plant is now a part of us..same for eating fish…so Professor when you sit together to talk to me or will breath in and breath out..I will do the same.breath in and breath the oxygen and carbon dioxide will be floating and swirling in the I will take some of your carbon dioxide and you some of effectively..what was once a part of you have become a part of me and what was once part of me is now part of you…we are made up of the same material….this constant interchange of the same building matrials has been happening since the earth began..all the oxygen, carbon, nitrogen and other atoms and molecules went to make up living things in the past to the present..In fact we learn from science that all our cells are constantly dying and being replaced by new cells (except unfortunately for our brains) so that in reality we are a totally new person every 2 months in terms of our cells! 
Scientists estimate that average human is made up of 100 trillions cells..something like this…
100,000,000,000,000….so if we change all our cells every 2 months we would have “used” about 
6 x 100,000,000,000,000 cells in one year..and assuming that we live for 70 years ..
we would be using….
70 x 6 x 100,000,000,000,000 cells! 
Now each human cell is made up of atoms of oxygen, carbon etc….and scientists estimate there are about 100,000,000,000,000 atoms (yes..same number as cells in 1 human being)
SO total 70 year usage of freely avaliable atoms is 70 x 6 x 100,000,000,000,000 x 100,000,000,000,000 cells!
This has led some scientist to speculate that any one human being would have used atoms that once were part of some other living things from way back to now! 
In other words professor We are all one and the same!
How will not learning of science make us more perpaduan?
It is how you want to learn and what you want to emphasize. But if we learn science and maths then we are less likely to be conned by some charlatan masquerading as champions of this race, that religion, this ideology and that language….
I hope the good professor will reconsider his position on science and maths…..


Filed under: school, Teaching, ,

Show V Substance

Its time to face the truth.

Most of our school administrators are not fit to be heads of modern schools! Why?

Their basic qualifications are all wrong.

Most of our heads are graduates with basic degrees in Malay Studies, Arabic Studies and Religious Studies. I dont have the figures to back up. But my small survey shows that out of 20 secondary schools in the SUngai Petani area 12 have these backgrounds. What happens as a consequent is that the moment they take over a school their first reflex action is to do something to announce their arrival. Nobody will criricise even if it is silly as long as it is relgiously inclined. Thus painting over some religious symbols, making a surau, giving more prominence to prayers or prayer sessions, questions of dress or enforcement of dress codes and similar exercises are common. There are always some fanatics in the school corridors who will come out of the woodwork and give their support. Thus HM becomes engrossed with forms and appearances.

The more pernicious aspect of this is that school children and parents will become overly sensitized. Non-Muslim school children, teachers and parents will find themselves left out, marginalised. The worse is nothing can be said that will not be construed as anti religion or anti-national or anti Malay!

What about introducing some measures to improve teaching or learning? WHat about some new training modules for teachers? In fact it is difficult to find any attention on professional matters related to education. What is a normal sports day has suddenly become an event to show our religious identity. No attention is paid to improvement of skills and the necessity of proper training and discipline to achieve targets. Technical issues connected to equipments, measurements and the venues are not important. Instead overdue emphasis is made to schedules so that it does not clash with prayer time(s), dress codes that will reflect our religion – sports day is a day to promote the message of the religion. The speeches made have the m ost cursory reference to sports or competition.

There is no more fun in school for the children. Pretending that you are having a good time on sports day!  

How do you get the children to get better results. Well making sure that they all attend tution is one. But what is sad and really, really is far out is the organizing of prayer sessions – calling to God for help to do well! This sends out a totally wrong message to all. This gives everybody a chance not to do well. God’s will! What to do?

SO what do you want to do?


Can the Pengarah cut out the crap?

Filed under: Management, school,

World Class School – Step 2 – Cleanliness

Keeping Clean

This simple act starts from the individual student, teachers and everyone in the school. Personal cleanliness requires good discipline and control over self. We have to acquire some very good habits in the process.

The whole school environment – classrooms, laboratories, walkways, canteen, toilets etc – has to be clean. If personal cleanliness is maintained then the rest is easy. As noted it is a matter of promoting good habits.

 Teachers and school authorities should reinforce drawing from cultural values and practices.

We can then expect that everyone in school will have to work such that the whole environment is being looked after.

Step 1 – Punctuality and Step 2 – Cleanliness when combined will result in a systematic and organized way of working. This will produce the results aimed for.

Filed under: Management, school,

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