KUCHING 20/12/2012: It is “normal” for our education system to produce illiterates even after they have reached Form Five.
“Over the last 20 years, I have come across students of Form Four and Form Five who can’t even read and write. And these students are from an urban school, not a rural school.
“It is ‘normal’ for our education system to produce students who can’t read and write even after more than 10 years in formal education,” Sarawak Teachers’ Union president William Ghani Bina told The Borneo Post.
He explained that it was “normal” because our education system was too “democratic” where there was no filtering system until Form Five examination – Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.
“So these students can go from Primary School to Form One until Form Five. Though they have to go through some public examinations such as UPSR and PMR, they can remain to be illiterate as they don’t necessarily have to pass to continue their studies,” said Ghani.
He said another factor that led to illiteracy even after a decade of formal education was the widening ratio between students and teachers.
“In my time, we had a teacher to 20 students. Now, there are 50 or even 60 students in one class. There is no personal touch between teachers and students.
“Education is a personal matter. If there is no personal touch between students and teachers, then there is no education. The students may just sit in the class and watch the teacher as if they are watching some television programme,” said Ghani. He said the Education Ministry must look into the issue if it hoped to prepare the students to meet global demand.
“And just imagine, the illiterate students whom I have met were from an urban secondary school, what about those in rural schools? I believe that the situation in the rural areas is even worse,” he added.
He said to overcome this situation, our education policy makers must go back to the old system where students who could not pass a public examination were not allowed to go further.
“And also, parents must work with teachers. Every year when we ask the parents to come to school to meet us, they must try to make it. Both parties can then sit to discuss the students’ progress in learning.
“The situation now is that, we only ask them to come to school to meet for half an hour, but most parents came back to us furious, refusing to come to school to meet the teachers, saying that it is a waste of their time,” he stressed.
“Our teachers are well trained. We can teach if the students are ready. And if the students are not ready to learn, we can’t do anything,” he stressed.
by Lian Cheng