A Message For the Ministry of Education

4 01 2011
image courtesy of theworkbuzz.com
Sunday, January 2, 2011

By Syed Akbar Ali.

The following is a reader’s comment into my Blog. I agree with his views. Thank you Anon 8:22 AM for sending these comments. My comments follow:


“Dear Syed, your blog is always one of the first i go thru in the morning and the outlook is fresh, sometime radical but mostly in touch with the ground. Your thoughts are so much in common with a lot of people. I like your articles on religion and culture. And i would also like to wish you a happy new year.


However, it is quite hard to be happy in this new year when education that was supposed to be free is still very expensive. Hishamudin promise irs free in the last election but it had gotten more expensive. He should resign for making promises that he cannot keep.


My son is in f5 and we have to pay up $262.50 for barang wajib. What is barang wajib? Its t shirts, cadar, lencana, sticker, track bottom etc. But these are items that we have already bought last year. If there is wear n tear, we can replace some. We shouldnt be replacing cadar atau lencana. But what the school did is to change the color of these items and force parents to buy.

Keperluan buku is $68.50 but most books from f4 are still not used. But parents have to pay. Bayaran sumbangan PIBG is $492 and one of the item is motivasi ($50). If motivation is not part of a teacher’s job and has to be paid extra by parents, I think M’sian edu is doomed.


Why we parents are not happy? One, some of the parents have many schooling kids. If f5 one have to spend nearly $1600 on the first day of school, imagine you have 5 kids and some in colleges where they need $500/600 pmth for food and books. Perbelanjaan biasa mcm mana?

My thots? Even cikgus wants extra income. Some by giving tuition, some by enforcing extra payments from students and parents. This did not include monthly request from school on tshirts, files, seminars, classes etc. This has to stop and my resolution in the next GE is to choose candidates, not the party.

 

Sunday, January 02, 2011 8:22:00 AM

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Thank you Anon 8:22 AM. This is an eye opener indeed. This is not the only parent who has complained about this “money grabbing” behaviour of our schools and school teachers. From my own experience I know of school teachers who openly tell their students and their parents to attend tuition classes conducted by the teachers if they want their children to do well in their studies. Ini dah langsung tak malu dah.

In Singapore their education system is geared the other way around, they want to make sure that their schools are good enough that parents need not spend extra money to send their kids for tuition. The school and school teachers should provide the best teaching methods in order for kids to understand.

In Malaysia it seems to be the other way around. School is a place where teachers (ok some not all, but a sizeable number n’theless) look at students and their parents as ‘ATM machines’ to be milked of cash.

 

Barang wajib RM 262.50

Keperluan buku RM 68.50

Sumbangan PIBG RM 492.00

. . ————–

. . RM822.50

. . ————–

 

RM822.50 for one child in a Government school ? Kalau anak dua orang dah RM1645.00. Dalam negara kita kaum yang paling ramai sekali anak, lazimnya orang Melayu juga. Maksudnya paling ramai sekali orang Melayu juga yang kena bayar duit. Orang Melayu juga yang jadi miskin. Orang Melayu juga kena bayar harga untuk kereta Mercedes tapi dapat kereta tin sadin. When is this going to end?

The schools themselves are sucking parents dry. Why RM492 for PIBG? Whatever for? If we can have free textbooks, why do we need to pay RM492 for PIBG?

 

The RM50.00 for motivasi is actually money to “grease the wheels of the educators”. This is big money. So the schools take RM50.00 from each student to pay for “motivational speakers, sessi motivasi, sessi bina semangat” and other such crap. This RM50.00 from each student is needed to pay for con-sultans and ‘private sector’ speakers who get these contracts from the Kementerian. They are nothing more than jobless cronies or unemployable parasites who hang out at the Kementerian Pendidikan and sell their various ‘Motivasi’ packages to the Kementerian. (They actually sell these packages to certain high ranking officials in the Ministry of Education. That is where the ‘grease the wheels of the educators’ comes in.)


At RM50.00 per student, if there are 500 students in one school, that is RM25,000. If there are 10 such schools in one area, that is RM250,000. In my small area alone (Bukit Jalil, Sri Petaling) there are over 10 schools (primary and secondary). So count the number of Government schools in your area, take an average of 500 students per school and multiply by RM50.00 and you can figure out how much money is going to be paid to the ‘con-sultan’ and private sector ‘cronies’ to teach your kids “motivasi”.


We have to change and we have to do it now. We have to stop this ripping off the peoples’ money.

 

 

Monday, January 3, 2011

More Education Issues

By Syed Akbar Ali

First of all here is what they pay for school fees in Singapore:

School fees after subsidy S$5.00

Miscellaneous Fee S$8.00

Second Tier Misc Fee S$8.00

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That is S$21.00 total or about RM50.00. Ini bukan cakap kedai kopi mamak but this is from the Ministry of Education website in Singapore www.moe.gov.sg/education/secondary/. No PIBG fees, no separate computer lab fees (we used to pay RM10.00 a month for my two boys but they never got to use the computers at the school).

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Anyway the headlines in The Star today says the university entrance dates have been changed permanently to September of every year (from the intake in July as per current practice).

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“PETALING JAYA: Confusion reigned over the announcement that the new term for universities in the country will start in September instead of July this year”.

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A few reasons have been provided for this change including “we want to cater for the international students”. And the idea is also to match the universities in the northern hemisphere, where most of the world’s universities are located, according to Tan Sri Dr Sharipah Habsah of UKM.

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First of all how many foreign students do we have in the country? 10,000? 100,000? And we make changes to the education system of our nation of 28.0 million people to cater for these international students? OK. Do the international students vote for BN or Pakatan ?

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It is true that the majority of universities in the Western countries especially the US start their university terms in September (its called the Fall Intake or Autumn Intake). But there is a reason for this. In the northern hemisphere which “suffers” four seasons including winter, they cherish their warm summer which lasts from say May till about September. Summer is always a time for leisure and vacations. People get married in summer, they go for holidays in summer etc.

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Then when the cold weather sets in, in autumn (late September) you cannot enjoy the outdoors as much. So people go back to work, go back to university, go back to school and such. Not only universities but even their schools start in September, after the summer break. So their school terms are tied to their four seasons.

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They also have other intakes. In the US you can start university in January for the Winter Intake also ironically known as ‘Spring Term’. I entered university in the middle of winter in January. On my very first day at the university, there was a huge snowstorm and all classes were cancelled.

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The universities in the US also have a semester system where students can choose which course they want to take for any particular semester. This makes possible university entry in September, January or even during Summer (Summer school) because again the students choose the courses they want to take. I think ALL our local universities (IPTA) do not allow students to choose their courses. So in Malaysia if you don’t enrol in July, you will miss the courses for that term and you must wait till next July to start again.

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So our system is different. I personally believe it is better to allow the same leeway for students to choose which courses they want to take in any one semester. (Con-sultans start your calculators and start counting the money you can make from advising the Kementerian about this).

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In Malaysia we have a wet monsoon season from November till about February with the heaviest rains coming down in December. I think that is why when the orang putih first set up our school system, they chose the “December holidays” for all schools to be off. It makes sense, it is the flood season. Imagine if there is school during the height of the flood season in December? It may complicate things more. So in a way, the school terms and university terms in any country should be tied to local conditions like winter and summer, rainy seasons, monsoon seasons and such. There is some logic to it – and not just “to match the universities in the northern hemisphere”.

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Then compared to other countries our kids already lose one year because we start primary school at age seven years. In many countries including India, the US and I think Europe, children go to school at age six years. In Singapore their school kids take their ‘O’ Levels at age 16. Our kids take the SPM at age 17. This means their young kids are educated faster and enter the work force one year ahead of us. So we lose one year there.

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So if our universities start in September, our young kids will waste another year of their lives. This is because the SPM and STPM exams are over by end November and the results come out around March of the following year. If the university intake starts only the following September, it means our SPM and STPM school leavers waste almost one year ie from November this year till the next September (before university starts) doing pretty much nothing. That is a big waste of time.

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Now here is more news. The private colleges and universities in Malaysia (where the majority of students are non Malay) have entry at various times in the year.

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For example in one private university where my son did his A Levels, first of all you don’t even need your SPM to enter the university. You can start a diploma course or a Foundation course with your school’s Form 5 trial exam results. If you have three credits (in any three subjects) in your school trial exams, you can enroll in a diploma course starting in January. Then when your SPM results come out in March, your place is “confirmed” but you are already finishing your first semester. When the other SPM or STPM kids enter Government university in September, the private university kids are already finishing their first year. There is also an intake in May of every year. So the private universities are ahead by almost a year. Maka jadilah jurang perbezaan lagi. And there are plenty of foreign students in our private universities too. So I don’t know how the logic fits that our universities must follow ‘the northern hemisphere’ and stuff.

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Today I really wanted to write about some PTPTN issues and the quality of our university graduates. Yesterday I had a conversation with a former Government official who worked in the Ministry of Education. The PTPTN has disbursed about RM19 billion – RM23 billion since its inception about a decade ago. No matter what the complaints are about the PTPTN, I truly salute the Government for setting up the PTPTN which gives hope to thousands of young kids irrespective of race, to get a better education. Saya ucapkan setinggi – tinggi tahniah, salam sejahtera, salam maju jaya dan salam hormat saya kepada PTPTN. They are doing a marvellous job of spending money most productively – to provide an education for millions of young people.

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Yes many issues have been highlighted about PTPTN especially about their poor success rate in collecting back the money they have lent to students. Plenty of the money has not been paid back and will not be paid back. Talk is over 130,000 files of student borrowers cannot be traced (this was current of say two years ago). Meaning those lucky students need not pay back their loans. PTPTN had wanted to appoint a professional audit firm to help them sort out their records and collection system but the Minister of Finance during the time of Slumberjack had asked PTPTN to appoint a crony company to do the revamp. Well the revamp has not been that great. It is estimated that by 2015 PTPTN may have forked out close to RM40 billion in study loans.

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The risk factor here is that PTPTN borrows money too, to finance the student loans. So on the one side we have PTPTN borrowing billions of Ringgit to lend to students and on the other side we have the students not paying back the loans. This spells serious trouble.

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PTPTN can better streamline their administrative and collection procedures but I don’t really fault the PTPTN for their inability to collect back the student loans. Why? Because our universities and colleges are producing unemployable university graduates and diploma holders. If the graduates cannot find employment or they are unemployable how are they going to earn a salary and pay back the PTPTN? This is the real risk facing the PTPTN.

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Someone said we are now producing over 100,000 graduates a year. I think this will include diploma holders but the folks said it was 100,000 degree holders only. Even doctors are now being churned out at a rapid clip. There was recent news about the poor quality of houseman training at hospitals caused by too many new doctors being produced and not enough patients and instructors at the teaching hospitals.

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We are churning out graduates who cannot find jobs and who are also unemployable. Now here is the very sad part and please listen up carefully. There is a racial element to this too. Malay graduates are the ones who are mostly unemployable. Non Malays, especially Chinese and Indian kids who graduate from the same Universiti Sains Malaysia or Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia seem to get jobs very quickly. Many of them even get jobs overseas. Why is this still so?

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Malay graduates are still hoping for Government jobs, many apply to become ‘cikgu sekolah’. The very lucky ones may get a job at a GLC. Recently I met a young girl with an MBA who wants to become a ‘pensyarah’. These are the so called ‘risk free’ and ‘easy jobs’. But even here, how many vacancies are there for cikgu sekolah or pensyarah?

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Some unemployed grads enter the various graduate training programs (that too has very limited space) where they are paid about RM800 per month to work as shop assistants and so forth. Some graduates (that I know) work on a contract basis with the Government (data entry clerks at Jabatan Statistik, Jabatan Hasil Dalam Negeri and so forth). One girl – my former staff – has been doing data entry on a contract basis for the Government for almost a year. They get a basic subsistence salary.

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Sorry lah brader but very sadly these are all ‘kerja bodoh’. These university grads don’t learn any new skills in these new jobs and neither do they pick much new information that makes them grow further. After five years or ten years when they are entering the prime of their life, they will see that they are far left behind. I see another potential time bomb in Malaysia, which will explode say another 10 years down the road. So in the meantime, pray tell how are they going to pay back their PTPTN study loans?

Dah belajar sampai university, dah berijazah, dah sampai Master degree but they will be behind other people of the same age and education, especially from among the Chinese and Indians.

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This is a long subject by itself. May I suggest only a tiny part of a quick solution. First lets change the education system back to English. Ataupun sekurang-kurangnya maintain Science and Mathematics in English. In the Government universities and colleges we must make it compulsory for students to study English or Communications English for every term or semester throughout the students three years or four years at the university or college. Start with basic English 101, then 102 in the first year. Then say by second year Communication English and Business English. Then maybe by bthe third year a higher level of Intermediate English, Creative Writing, Analysis and Critique and stuff. Compulsory for all students in all courses of study. Without English our kids are being severely handicapped. Give them a fighting chance.

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Then lets weed out subjects that may actually stunt a students creativity and thinking – by this I mean remove religious subjects and religious indoctrination in schools and campuses. A graduate trainee in my jewellery shop said he likes the gold business because ‘esok di syurga pun kita boleh pakai gelang emas’. What do you think dear Blog reader? Saya dah mati akal dah – tak tahu apa nak kata lagi.

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Business is about opening my store on time every day. Greeting our customers. Keeping an eye on what the competition is doing. Pricing our products right. Making sure the quality is what we say it is. Giving that extra service. Having the right mix of products on display. Working out the best advertising and promotion strategies to get the biggest bang for our limited advertising dollar, holding on to our old customers with dear life, checking the bank balances, managing the debt, managing the suppliers and a hundred other things. You don’t have to be 60 years old in the business to know this. But sadly too many young people don’t seem to be able to understand this fast enough.

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In contrast a Chinese girl of 24 years of age gets a job almost immediately after graduating from university. She sells some equipment to professionals. She speaks English, can speak confidently to seasoned businessmen. If she does not know something, she knows where to read up new information, analyse it and get some benefit from it. Without even realizing it, she knows the time value of money – you don’t waste time and she is an asset to her employer – a bumiputra company that survives on Government licenses (import AP). Gaji lumayan bro. 12 months bonus pun boleh dapat. And she is paying back her study loan to her father – who took an OD from a bank to pay for her studies.

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To conclude today’s walkabout, yesterday we were at the Lake Club at Putrajaya. It is a nice restaurant overlooking the lake. One of us ordered coffee. The guy said ‘tak boleh’. My friend was shocked. Apa pasal? The guy answered “air belum panas” and walked off. This was a cafe, an eating place and ‘air belum panas’. Maybe they used solar power to heat their water and “sun”day is an offday for the sun. Tak tahulah saya.

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Folks kalau macam ini bukan saja bangsa kita, tapi negara kita pun tak boleh survive. We are really really running out of time. We really need to go and find huge doses of common sense. Macam dah tak ada dah.


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One response

4 01 2011
dinturtle

salam tuan admin,

baru je beli uniform Puteri Umno ehhh silap, Puteri Islam ( warna pink + putih so confused sikit ) untuk anak saya ditahun 4. RM90 satu set ! Yalah bukan pihak sekolah yang jual tapi perlu ke kos yang tinggi untuk jalankan aktiviti kokurikulum ? T-shirt kasi chop nama tak boleh ke ? Aktivitinya yang penting .

Teruklah ibubapa yang miskin, sedih kalau tidak dapat penuhi permintaan anak2. Kalau tak dibeli, anak2 berasa malu dengan kawan2 dan cikgu.

Satu lagi yuran pibg, kenapa dibeza2 ikut sekolah ? Makin tinggi standard satu2 sekolah, makin tinggi yuran. Seperkara yang semakin nyata akhir2 ni, sekolah2 elit lebih ramai anak2 orang kaya yang pergi.

Semua ni bukan sesuatu yang patut dibiarkan oleh Kementerian Pendidikan. Seperti konsep SSS, sekolah adalah juga tempat anak2 bergaul sesama mereka TANPA mengenal kaum dan pangkat/harta.

Dahla sekarang dipisahkan antara kaum, apakah kita mahu satu lagi tirai pemisah dalam bentuk kaya miskin ?

Sepatutnya sebarang aktiviti disekolah mesti diSAMARATAkan.

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