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SPM EXAM: Settle for a limit of 11 subjects

I WELCOME the Education Ministry’s plan to put a cap on the number of subjects a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia candidate can sit for beginning next year.
However, I feel that limiting the candidates to 10 subjects is a bit too harsh. It would be more reasonable and practical to tag it at 11.

A Science-stream student takes at least nine subjects — Bahasa Melayu, English, Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Moral Education or Islamic Studies, and English for Science and Technology (optional but most students take this paper).

What if a student comes from a Chinese- or Tamil-medium school? He would definitely attempt Tamil or Chinese papers, including Tamil or Chinese Literature.

These two language papers are important if the student wants to pursue a career in teaching, journalism or even become a court interpreter.
Which subject do we expect students to drop from the package? Definitely, none of the core Science subjects. Perhaps EST. But most schools offer the subject, so why stop a student from taking a subject he has learnt for two years?

This leaves the ministry with no option but to consider allowing students to sit a maximum of 11 papers, or better still, be flexible and set it at 12.

Schools set a specific number of periods, normally from 24 to 28 per week. Ideally, it should be 24 periods per week.

At the beginning of Form Four, schools would have formulated a package of subjects, taking into account the availability of teachers for a particular subject.

Parents and pupils are made aware of the package during orientation week and are given a few days to decide on a suitable package
If a student wishes to take subjects not included in the package, the school has no option but to ask the student to go for outside tuition.

Alternatively, the student can transfer to a school that offers the subject. This is the norm in every secondary school, as bound by the ministry’s guidelines.

No school would be able to conduct classes outside the package if it doesn’t have enough teachers who specialise in a subject. Furthermore, even if there are enough teachers, a class requires a minimum number of students. A lesson cannot be conducted within the curriculum for just a handful of students.

I also agree with the minister that limiting the number of subjects will reduce the politicking and clamour for scholarships.

The ministry should come up with a ruling that the criteria for tertiary education and scholarships be based on the best eight or even 10 subjects, where the core subjects are compulsory.This way, we can ensure a level playing field for all students, regardless of the number of papers they take.

As for the grading system, the present one is good enough but only if it is based on the best of eight to 10 subjects. The present system was introduced a few years back and serves its purpose. It is based on a formula called overall average grade (or GPK — gred purata keseluruhan).

However, the standard of grading can be modified so that it would be harder for students to obtain a 1A. Even the minimum passing mark should be re-evaluated.

And finally, as it is for Bahasa Melayu, make it compulsory for each candidate to have a minimum grade of C6 in English to obtain a full SPM certificate.

By doing this, we would not have to worry about upgrading the standard of English. If you make it mandatory to have a credit at SPM level for English, students as well as parents will automatically realise the importance of the language


June 26, 2009 - Posted by | Nation

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