Saturday, January 30, 2010


NST: 29 Jan 2010

I was more than a tad proud when my eldest granddaughter started Primary One this year. As someone who has spent over 35 years in the teaching profession, I was understandably curious to see what her school was like. So a fortnight ago, I visited her school along with her parents. I wanted to check out the facilities and the curriculum. What I saw left me very impressed.

Aside from the cleanliness and orderliness everywhere, it was evident the school was gearing itself to meet the educational demands of the 21st century. Every classroom was well-equipped with the latest in learning technologies and pedagogy. Creativity was emphasised, as were thinking skills.

(Left) Art Costa's 16 Habits of Mind was incorporated into the curriculum.
(Right) Buttons that promote positive qualities. Click on all images to enlarge.

What I also liked was the importance given to core values. Each class was given a name after a moral value. My granddaughter's class was Kindness. The others were Charity, Devotion, Grace, Joy and Patience. Bear in mind this was an all-girls school.

Drawings like these are inserted throughout the pupils' handbook and journal to inculcate a sense of living together in unity and harmony. Mother tongue was a core subject incorporated into the class timetable. This is not the case in our schools where the POL (Pupil's Own Language - Chinese or Tamil) is relegated to after-school hours on certain days of the school week. And that only when there are at least 15 students to make up a class.

A Primary One class timetable. How does this compare with our Darjah Satu timetable?

This primary school had a website deserving of an award for content and design. By contrast I was not only deeply disappointed but also totally appalled at the lack of information when I tried to find out more about each of the six primary schools that made it to the top 20 high performing schools in Malaysia. My online search either turned up nothing or led me to long-abandoned websites.

For one school, high performance seems to be all about excellent results and achievements. Not surprising really. A look at the ranking criteria for our schools reveal the same old emphasis on academic achievements above all else. No wonder those who can afford to are looking elsewhere to school their children.

If our children are the leaders of tomorrow, then I fear for the future of our country.


Lakshmi said...

Hi Lily

Your blog has some of the most interesting observations of Malaysian life. I wish everyone reads it and acts upon it, particularly the authorities.

Anyway,I too was quite unsure on what basis or criteria the 20 schools performances were based on. And the perks and freedom given to these schools, they are simply unbelievable. The public is not made privy on how they arrived at such a consensus and all we are given is a list of names of schools announced in the dailies. It's like a take it or leave it basis and we are not allowed to ask or question their ratings. Not that it matters much. Most of us don't bother anyway, we just send the kids to private schools if we can . What a terrible situation this is.

seniorsaloud said...

I agree. The lack of transparency is still a big issue here. The rich get richer, likewise the high performance schools get even higher. Conversely, the poor get poorer, and the under-performing schools eventually go off the ministry's radar screen! It's these schools that need all the govt assistance and incentives.