What’s new in the new academic year?
Parents deserve sympathy ahead of the start of every new academic year what with new school uniforms, new shoes, new stationery, new school bags, new bus fares, new books of sorts - although recycled textbooks are still provided for by the Ministry of Education (MOE) this last year until a new syllabus kicks in the next. But all that is really not new except for parents starting their eldest child in Primary or Form One.
To opt being in such a spot there are cheaper alternatives such as shopping at hypermarkets that advertise aggressively for bargains galore rather than shopping malls or specialist shops, recycling boys’ slacks or girls’ pinafores and “kain kurung” which are usually made of a thicker material - so buy a size larger and sew the hem up to last two years, recycle partially used exercise books as these can be put aside to work those darn math questions (practise makes perfect), girls’ shoes tend to last longer in size and for wear and tear than boys’ (having both sons and daughters, I know), re-use the more hardy school bags, seek pre-loved uniforms of uniformed bodies which are mandatory to wear but only worn once a week during the co-curriculum period hence are fairly new (this can be organised by the respective bodies) and many others.
While these ideas appear petty, savings can be made, if only a little. Impress on the children that not everything needs to be new in the new academic year and they will appreciate your idea of values, stretching scarce resources and simple financial management. Parents have to be creative and ingenious with managing money if they want to have more than the average number of children in a Malaysian family. It is a responsibility but also an investment after all and there will be long-term benefits to be reaped.
But what is really new is the start of Wave 2 of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB). While the MEB is not anymore new, the second wave is and which starts now and slated to end in 2020 when Wave 3 will begin. What can parents expect in Wave 2?
Wave 2 promises “structural changes aimed at accelerating the pace of change” including “rolling out the curriculums for secondary KSSM in 2017 and revising the primary KSSR in 2016; increasing public interest and awareness in STEM; piloting options to increase English language exposure; enhancing programmes for groups with specific needs; speeding up ICT innovations; enhancing teacher coaching and support; enhancing competency and performance-based progressions; strengthening core divisions, streamlining federal, state and district roles; obtaining international accreditation and enhancing the matriculation programme; and expanding vocational education options”.
We have written extensively on the progress of the English language and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) in schools but often the argument without fail is that the majority of the teachers in the system now are the product of a supposedly perceived mediocre Malay-medium national school so how can we expect these teachers to buck the trend and excel?
The focus on teachers in Wave 2 is three-fold: the continuing effort to upgrade trainee recruitment, enhancing career pathways and revamping career progression will be the motivation for teachers to excel.
Via a school whatsapp chat group that I am in an offer is made for SPM school-leavers who would like to pursue the teaching profession. Applicants must have a minimum of five As with distinctions in Bahasa Melayu and Sejarah and a pass in the English language. Applications will open on 17 February and end on 8 March 2016. For further information, click on http://www.musadun.com/2015/02/permohonan-maktab-perguruan-2015.
Since the vision for the Malaysian education system is heading towards a predominantly bilingual language education, in time we hope that the criteria for the English language requirement will be gradually tightened to a credit rather than a mere pass.
The MOE has promised that only the best trainees from every graduating class are recruited as teachers. There is also an effort to seek international recognition of the IPG (teacher training institute) returning credence to the long-respected profession.
Teachers will now be able on their own accord to choose their specialisation: either to remain as teachers in schools; to pursue a leadership or management position in school, PPD (district education office), JPN (state education department) or MOE or to be a subject matter expert such as a teacher coach or trainer, IPG or IAB (Aminuddin Baki Institute) lecturer or a curriculum and assessment developer. Teachers’ competencies will be enhanced, developed and therefore empower the individual teacher.
High-performing teachers will be sought and rewarded with a fast-track scheme where they will be able to progress through a shorter timeframe thus increasing their total lifetime earnings. Extra credit is given to teachers who agree to be deployed to rural and/or under-performing schools. This will address the issue that only the best teachers are seen to be in urban schools.
Parents have had their fair share of “poor” teachers. An exit/deployment policy is now in place where teachers who perform poorly for three consecutive years can now be placed out of schools or away from the system altogether.
Safeguards are being taken and the MOE appears to be committed in raising the quality of teachers. Parents while we hope will be patient should continue to ensure that the best is provided for their children particularly with the Dual Language Programme in Primary One, Four and Form One in their respective schools.