Recently news related to the standard of English in Malaysia has been circulating online especially after UPSR results were released. Opinions and Facebook posts have emerged from different parties. Particularly, this one outstanding one.
A public secondary school teacher by the name of Joseph Tan has shared his point of view of the level of English proficiency in Malaysian. For those who have left the education field in Malaysia for many years, you will be shocked to see how much our education system has changed throughout the years.
1) Passing mark for English is 6 out of 100.
“15% of the total students in Malaysia FAILED SPM in 2014 AND MIND YOU, that’s EVEN WITH THE PASSING MARK LOWERED to as low as 25/24 for Sejarah and BM, the compulsory passing subjects. (Only SIX for English FYI).”
Simply put, student only need to score 6 out of 100 to pass English on SPM, which is even lower than Additional Mathematics where you only need 11 to pass the subject.
2) Teachers teach students how to “cheat” and win marks.
“I’d taught them again and again, how to simply copy points to get marks and ways to ‘cheat’ the system in an effort to get at least a few marks for a test which is 11 years too advanced for their level.”
“I felt angry and irritated that my students refused to even follow my simple instructions to copy this and that and use specific words which I guaranteed could get them 20+ (out of 155) marks in the exam. They didn’t need to understand what was before them, they just needed to COPY parts of the questions.”
“Students who barely have the English proficiency of a 4 year old, forced to do papers meant for 16 year olds.”
3) Quality of our students is compromised due to bad surroundings.
“I remembered where my students were coming from. Kampung school, kampung life, virtually NOBODY to practice English with, bad parents, bad teachers, bad school administration, bad childhood education, bad discipline, bad cultural and community influence, poor financial background, divorced parents, and the list goes on.”
“And so they turn to other things to escape from their shitty reality: monkeying around in classes, ponteng class, ponteng school, smoking, wandering around aimlessly on their motorbikes without driving licenses, going on “convoys” with their “members”, doing menial low-paying jobs, and some of them – dropping out of school.”
Occasionally the media reports actions and initiatives that are taken in order to improve English among Malaysian students, however the attribution is only focused on teachers and improving the school environment. Our education system will continue failing if we don’t do anything about the root of the problem.