Dec 25, 2013

Much ado over rankings

The nation’s low rankings in a world educational assessment has caused an outcry, yet our schools have nurtured many young Malaysians who have at the global level, excelled academically. 
I REFER to recent comments made on the poor performance of Malaysian students in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa).
Many seem to agree with the declining standards of the Malaysian education system.
If the “leaning indicator of Pisa” is to be accepted as the true picture, Malaysian education seems to be heading towards a calamity.
There was also talk that since Malaysians were not up to the mark, there were none who earned a spot in Harvard University in the United States.
Is failure to gain entry into Harvard the measurement of failure of education in a country? However, let us give credit where credit is due.
Malaysia has done relatively well in using her natural wealth to build her economy.
We managed to transform from a country that relied on the export of natural resources to one that exports manufactured goods.
The success of our transition can be credited to our heavy investment in education.
Education gives birth to human capital. The 25% allocation for education in the budget simply means the importance stressed by the Government on human capital.
Economists have come to believe that the central determinant of a nation’s economic growth is the skill and entrepreneurial courage of the population.
Just look at countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singa-pore. They are successful for the simple reason that they have put so much emphasis on the quality of their schools.
Comments and actions taken by the pessimists have been shocking. We see parents sending their children to international and private schools.
Well, it is their right. They have the means. Most of them flock to schools that use English as the medium of instruction.
So where does that put Malaysian schools as a start to creating human capital?
If one reads and scrutinises the criticisms on the Malaysian school education system, one will think it produces dullards of the worst kind.
The criticisms seem to show that our school system is a national disgrace.
The strings of As every year in the SPM have been branded as over inflated and not reflective of the actual academic standards of students.
If that is the case, then how is it that local students can achieve excellent results when they sit for pre-university exams conducted by foreign agencies, prior to pursuing studies at high-ranking institutions abroad?
How can this paradox be explained?
Their performance shows that the education system here is a lot better than what the critics say.
So, there must be something right in our school system that contributes significantly to human capital later on.
Simply put, the education system is not as bad as it is painted out to be.
We are a pessimistic lot. We are ever so willing to criticise despite the dynamism and sustained growth performance in many sectors shown over the years.
Compared to many countries, those in our cohort could envy us. Had our education been poor, we would not have been where we are today.
Some may say that the good performances by several sectors may be due to them being highly populated by officers who graduated from overseas’ universities.
If that is so, how did they gain entry into these universities?
The A-Levels, Edexcel, International Baccalaureate and other matriculation exams sat by governing bodies abroad are tough.
So how did our students manage to get the high grades needed in these exams to gain entry into many good universities in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States?
Nobody questions over inflated grades simply because they are conducted by foreign agencies.
Didn’t the formative years in the primary and the secondary schools here contribute to their good performance in those exams?
If so, it shows that our education has helped the students have what it takes to gain entry to reputable colleges and universities.
Many may argue that the excellent performance of the students at the pre-university exams may be because of the good colleges they attended.
My answer is simple, those entrusted to teach at these colleges were no wizards. They could not do wonders within one or two years.
The argument could then go on to the high standards that the foreign universities they attended had maintained.
While we accept that not many were able to make it to the Ivy League, our students and many from around the world have made it to other established varsities.
What does this all mean? If our students are bad, they would not have gained entry into these institutions.
Yes, there is a decline in the standard of English among our students and graduates.
There is much to be desired in communication and social skills. Their general knowledge is very embarrassing.
These are also the type of comments made by other countries on their present generation of graduates.
Malaysia is not alone in facing the drop in the standard of education. Yes, even the British and the Americans are complaining that their students’ command of grammar of their own mother tongue is shameful. Their general knowledge is abysmal.
All these should heighten concerns about the quality of the teaching of language and subjects like history and geography, as well as the syllabuses in those subjects in their schools as well as ours and in stressing a two-way communication in classes and improvement in soft skills.
Those skills that are lacking can also be acquired as the graduates move along in organisations they work in.
The problem with organisations is that they expect graduates to be perfect from the first day that they step in as employees.
Organisations expect all shortcomings of the graduates to be overcome at the universities they attend but do not realise that universities too have their limits.
The rest is up to the graduates and the organisations to turn potentials into real human capital.
We can never be complacent about our duty to education.
All must take responsibility to ensure that what is best is passed to the next generation. Every generation is a product of its environment.
My parting shot. On several occasions (not only based on Pisa), the Americans and Western Europeans have lagged behind East Asians in academic performance in elementary education.
Somehow, several Nobel Prize winners consistently every year are Americans and Europeans.
Where are the scientists and thinkers from East Asia? The test scores such as in Pisa may not display the shape of people to come.

Dr. Azmi Yaakob

Dec 12, 2013

Sample STPM Semester I Question

ATP and NADPH are two main molecules which are required for the production of carbohydrate in plants. Describe how these molecules are generated during photosynthesis.

[9 marks]

P680/Photosystem II absorb light energy/photon.
Energy is passed from one pigment molecule to another pigment molecule until reach the reaction centre.
The electron is excited and captured by primary electron acceptor.
Created electron hole in P680/photosystem II.
Which filled up by electron from photolysis of water
Primary electron acceptor passes the electron to a series of electron carriers/plastoquinone, cytochrome complex and plastocyanine
Energy released in the form of ATP through chemiosmosis
P700/photosystem I absorbs light energy/photon
The electron excited and captured by primary electron acceptor
Electron is passed to ferredoxin
NADP+ is reduced to NADPH.

PMR 2014

DALAM satu program temu bual di televisyen penulis ditanya mengenai tindakan pemansuhan peperiksaan Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR). Seperti yang dilaporkan dalam akhbar di mana tahun ini adalah merupakan tahun terakhir pelajar Tingkatan 3 menduduki peperiksaan awam tersebut. Penulis menyatakan bahawa sebenarnya peperiksaan PMR tidak dimansuhkan. Peperiksaan itu akan diteruskan pada tahun-tahun yang akan datang. 

Walau bagaimanapun formatnya akan diubahsuai dalam bentuk yang baharu. Perubahan ini selaras dengan transformasi pendidikan iaitu untuk menjadikan kaedah pentaksiran lebih bersifat holistik dan berupaya menilai kebolehan pelajar melalui berbagai komponen.

Huraian transformasi kurikulum dan pentaksiran tersebut dapat dirujuk melalui 'Bab 4 - Pembelajaran Murid' dalam Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia (PPPM) 2013-2025 yang telah dilancarkan oleh Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin baru-baru ini. 

Sesungguhnya perubahan ketara peperiksaan PMR yang akan datang ialah pelaksanaannya menggunakan kaedah Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah (PBS). PBS itu mempunyai dua komponen iaitu akademik dan bukan akademik. Komponen akademik terdiri daripada Pentaksiran Sekolah (PS) dan Pentaksiran Pusat (PP). Sementara itu komponen bukan akademik mengandungi Pentaksiran Psikometrik (Ppsi) dan Pentaksiran Aktiviti Jasmani, Sukan dan Kokurikulum (PSJSK).

Pentaksiran Sekolah atau PS bermaksud penyediaan soalan dan pemeriksaan jawapan akan diuruskan sendiri oleh guru di sekolah berkenaan. Kandungan soalan yang dikemukakan merangkumi pembelajaran dan pengajaran mulai Tingkatan 1 hingga Tingkatan 3.
Pentaksiran Pusat atau PP pula merupakan penilaian bertulis yang disediakan oleh Lembaga Peperiksaan Malaysia (LPM). LPM akan menyediakan tugasan, instrumen pentaksiran setara, peraturan penskoran, jadual pelaksanaan dan garis panduan. Namun demikian guru akan diberi tanggungjawab untuk mentadbir, mentaksir dan menskor jawapan pelajar berdasarkan peraturan dan panduan yang telah ditetapkan oleh LPM.

Ini bermakna mulai tahun 2014 semua mata pelajaran dalam peperiksaan PMR akan ditaksir dalam bentuk PS dan PP oleh guru-guru di sekolah berkenaan. Tiada lagi peperiksaan berpusat dilaksanakan serentak di seluruh negara yang dikendalikan sepenuhnya oleh LPM seperti yang diamalkan sebelum ini.
Apa yang menariknya peperiksaan PMR 2014 yang berwajah baru itu tidak hanya menilai pelajar melalui komponen akademik atau bidang kognitif semata-mata. Tetapi turut dinilai ialah komponen bukan akademik merangkumi bidang sahsiah, bakat dan kebolehan semula jadi pelajar melalui kaedah Ppsi dan PSJSK.

Pentaksiran Psikometrik atau Ppsi merupakan suatu penilaian yang direkabentuk bagi mendapat maklumat pelajar secara kualitatif dan kuantitatif. Ppsi menilai keupayaan seseorang untuk bertindak balas dalam suatu cara tertentu. Ia juga mengukur kebolehan semula jadi atau innate ability dan kebolehan yang diperolehi atau acquired ability daripada pengalaman dan persekitaran. 

Di samping itu Ppsi juga turut menilai bakat pelajar dalam bidang muzik, kreativiti, kemahiran interpersonal dan intrapersonal, kinestatik dan kepintaran naturalis. Pentaksiran ini disediakan dalam bentuk deskriptif mengikut keperluan sama ada secara manual atau berkomputer oleh guru dan pelajar itu sendiri.
Sementara itu, Pentaksiran Aktiviti Sukan, Jasmani dan Kokurikulum atau PSJSK adalah untuk mengukur kecergasan dan kesihatan pelajar dalam pelbagai aktiviti jasmani. Turut ditaksir penyertaan, penglibatan dan prestasi pelajar dalam pelbagai aktiviti kokurikulum dan ekstra kokurikulum. Instrumen dan panduan pentaksiran disediakan oleh LPM dan organisasi berkaitan berdasarkan bidang kepakaran masing-masing.
Ternyata peperiksaan PMR 2014 yang berwajah baru itu merupakan satu langkah kehadapan yang diambil oleh Kementerian Pendidikan sesuai dengan masa dan keadaan. Pada pendapat penulis sekurang-kurang terdapat tiga faktor yang membawa kepada perubahan tersebut.

Pertama ialah hasil daripada transformasi pendidikan menerusi perancangan strategik Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia. Mereka mendapati peperiksaan awam yang dilaksanakan tidak menguji kesemua kemahiran yang dihasratkan dalam sistem pendidikan kita. PPPM menganjurkan agar diambil langkah bagi meningkatkan kerangka pentaksiran dan menggunakan rujukan standard seperti yang terdapat dalam PBS. Format pentaksiran baharu ini membolehkan pelajar dinilai berdasarkan keberhasilan yang lebih luas dan dalam tempoh jangka masa lebih panjang. 

Kedua, kerap kali dikatakan bahawa pendidikan kita terlalu berorientasikan peperiksaan. Kita masih lagi mengamalkan peperiksaan awam berpusat dan dijalankan serentak di seluruh negara. Kebiasaannya penilaian terhadap pelajar tertumpu sepenuhnya kepada peperiksaan di akhir setiap peringkat persekolahan mereka. Sudah sampai masanya pentaksiran dilakukan dalam tempoh masa yang panjang dan turut menilai kebolehan pelajar di luar bidang akademik. Oleh itu semestinya komponen sahsiah, bakat, kebolehan semulajadi dan kokurikulum perlu diberi ruang dan peluang untuk dinilai.

Ketiga mengembalikan semula peranan mentaksir pelajar kepada guru. Ketika ini tugas pengajaran dan pembelajaran dilaksanakan sepenuhnya oleh guru tetapi tugas menilai pelajar diserahkan pula kepada pihak yang lain. Sekiranya peranan mentaksir pelajar diberikan sepenuhnya kepada guru maka ia dilihat lebih memberi keadilan dan kesaksamaan kepada pelajar yang terdiri daripada berbagai tahap kebolehan dan kepintaran.

Pada hakikatnya, isu guru dikatakan mengajar hanya bagi tujuan mendapat keputusan cemerlang dalam peperiksaan sering menjadi polemik. Akibatnya ada yang mengemukakan soalan sama ada peperiksaan awam patut dikekalkan atau dimansuhkan. Seharusnya apa sahaja peperiksaan tidak memberi impak negatif kepada pelajar. Namun demikian cabarannya ialah bagaimanakah peperiksaan awam yang dilaksanakan dapat menguji kesemua kemahiran seperti yang dihasratkan dalam sistem pendidikan kita.
Justeru dengan pengenalan kaedah penilaian yang berwajah baru melalui peperiksaan PMR 2014 diharapkan akan menjadi perintis kepada pentaksiran dalam peperiksaan awam yang lain di masa hadapan.

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