Although Standard 6 (UPSR) and Form 3 (PT3) students have to sit for national examinations, automatic promotions allow most to remain in school until Form 5 to sit for the all-important SPM.
Good SPM results are essential for admission into public university courses with limited seats, as tuition fees at private universities are high and beyond the means of parents with average income.
A university degree is needed to work in licensed professions, senior positions in the education field or in government agencies. But in the private sector, paper qualifications counts for little when holders are unable to communicate and interact well with others.
Many Malaysians can speak several languages or dialects but are masters of none. They can chat for hours but may not be able to write an intelligent report or describe well something everyone seems to know.
Few Malaysians can think, speak and write clearly as clarity of thought is not given due importance. Many tend to generalise instead of being accurate or specific.
Access to vast amount of information does not necessarily make one well-informed, as such superficial knowledge has little application and minimal benefit.
On the other hand, mastering a language and mathematics will empower any student to excel in arts or science subjects, or professional programs such as law or accountancy.
Deeper understanding and fuller use of a language would greatly help in personal development, which is grossly lacking in our education system, and not through rote-learning or memorizing religious texts.
One issue that is happening across the nation is that schools are competing with one another for top spots in the yearly ranking, pressures are placed on the teachers to make sure the students know how to answer during examination periods and with that, the children go through hours of memorizing information from the books instead of understanding them. Do the children understand what they are memorizing?
I have children of my own, they have no problems reciting information and produce answers when I quiz them from the books, but try asking them in a slightly different manner and my children looked like I've thrown a curve ball at them and they get lost. Am I supposed to get upset at them for not knowing facts/information that they've already studied?
We have succeeded in churning out millions of graduates lacking in confidence and acting immaturely during job interviews, with many unable to describe in their own words what they have studied for a few years.
I've had fresh graduates that shows up for interviews, knowing full well that I am hiring people who can converse and write well in English but during interview process, requires me to repeat my questions several times over simply because they can't grasp simple English. I've also encountered similar situation when I patronizes certain outlets and restaurants at the malls. Especially in areas where majority of the foot traffic are tourists.
English are taught in schools but did the teachers provide the right tools for the students to learn to understand what they are learning in school?
While parents are prepared to spend a fortune on their children’s education, hardly much growth can be seen in term of education wise, especially in the rural areas. We get some fantastic results coming out from some parts of the country that even I have not heard about but talking to these same students with fantastic results made me wonder occasionally whether they are actually taught properly in school or they are made just to memorize texts without the tools to think and explore properly.
It's becoming somewhat of a broken record as this situation is constantly being questioned year after year and every year, we get answers from the Ministry of Education that they will work on improving the standard of education in the country without actually seeing any results. How long can this go on?
Are companies expected to spend tons of cash trying to train and teach these young graduates that is joining the work force because they are ill equipped when they step into the work environment? If that is so, then the question is, what are they teaching these graduates in our local education system and higher education system?