It was announced on TV3 news just now that the SPM n STPM results will be out next Monday, 12th March 2007. For those who have kids, relatives and siblings that sat for the paper last year, I wish them luck.
I am more interested to find out the English results as after reading this article from Star, I am worried about the future of our kids.
Poor English impedes lessons
MANY students are already weak in Mathematics and Science.
Teaching these two subjects in English, a subject most students are poor in, only compounds the difficulty they have in understanding the subjects.
And it certainly does not help when nearly 60% of Maths and Science teachers are not fluent in communicating in English, while only 45% of them are comfortable teaching in the language.
These findings are some of the results from a research project conducted last year by Prof Datin Dr Juriah Long and her team from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Education Faculty.
Their objectives were to obtain information on the teaching of Maths and Science in English within the context of Malaysia’s diverse student population, and to gauge the effectiveness of this policy.
Commissioned by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, the study involved 8,886 individuals from 242 schools in the country.
Divided into three categories, the participants included 1,650 school administrators, Maths and Science panel heads and teachers, as well as 7,236 Form Two students.
The study shows that there is a clear schism between the background of students who are comfortable learning the two subjects in English, compared with those who have difficulty understanding the lessons.
Not surprisingly, non-Malay students from urban areas with a high socio-economic background generally prefer learning Maths and Science in English.
Rural Malay students from national schools and coming from low-income families show the most concern over their difficulty in understanding those subjects in English.
These findings were reflected in the test scores for the 2004 mid-year Maths and Science exams for the Form Two students.
Students who prefer learning the subjects in English obtained higher results for both the subjects, compared with their compatriots.
About 95% of students feel they are not using English fully in their Maths and Science lessons, neither are they psychologically prepared to study those two subjects in English.
Almost half of them are worried over their difficulty in understanding the lessons, as well as their ability to answer exam questions in English.
The study also showed that while over three-quarters of Science teachers and two-thirds of Maths teachers are specialised in their field, their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) score for English was generally poor.
Less than 40% of teachers are able to effectively teach in English, although nearly 80% of them claim they are psychologically prepared to improve their teaching of Maths and Science in English.
Only slightly more than half were confident and enjoy teaching both subjects in English.
A good majority of the Maths and Science teachers involved in the study had attended courses relating to the policy, including curriculum-orientation and software.
Between 51% and 63% of Maths and Science teachers agree that the courses they attended and the buddy system, where they are paired up with an English teacher who assists them in terms of language, was a good approach.
Based on the data collected from teachers, there are five main problems in the implementation of teaching Maths and Science in English.
They are: students’ command of English, their method of learning, teachers’ method of teaching, equipment and mismatch between the implementation of the teaching of Maths and Science in English and the National Education Policy.
Among the recommendations of the study were that teachers be allowed to conduct Maths and Science lessons bilingually, especially in lower secondary classes, so that students can acquire a solid foundation in the subjects through their first language.
For students who are clearly disadvantaged in the implementation of this policy, motivational programmes in the form of English language camps and student exchange programmes should be conducted to help them improve their English language skills.
In addition, it was suggested that the Education Ministry should give these students an opportunity to continue studying Maths and Science in Bahasa Malaysia right up to the tertiary level, so that they may master the two subjects effectively.
The study concluded that the implementation of the teaching of Maths and Science in English was done in a hurried manner without proper in-depth study of the strengths and weaknesses of the policy.
The findings show that there is a mismatch between the objective and the implementation of the policy, which may result in disadvantaged students missing out on equal access to quality education.