“Just follow the answer on books, keep practicing and don’t ask why!”
Once a while, I asked my teacher a question during history class and this was the answer. In general, the examination-oriented education in Malaysia emphasizes on how much information we can remember after revising and practicing for hundred, or even a thousand times.
During my schooling, I remember we had to memorize vocabulary, essays, formula, definitions, theories, etc. I had no idea why we had to remember them since they could be searched online just with a click. (I’m not a computer though)… Most of the time, I could see my teachers were rushing to finish all the syllabus appointed by the ministry.
Well, at the end we might not necessarily understand how mathematical formulas were formulated but we still could get the right answers. That’s the result of practice repeatedly, which I found if the teacher tells me the story behind the theories and how it was formulated, I will be more understandable and no need to practice so many times and get it right.
Primary School (Year 1 – 6): 7 subjects ~ Malay comprehension, Malay writing, English, Chinese comprehension, Chinese writing, Maths, Science.
Lower Secondary (Form 1 – 3): 8 subjects ~ Malay, English, Chinese, Maths, Science, Geography, History, Living skills. *Abolished in 2014.
Higher Secondary (Form 4 – 5): 12 subjects ~ Malay, English, Chinese, Moral studies, History, Maths, Add. Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Visual Arts (Optional)* Funny fact: Since there is no limitation on subject choices, a student got 21 A’s in 2007 and broke the record in the Malaysian education history. So, to prevent students focus too much on studies and abandon extra-curriculum, the authority imposed a 10+2 subjects policy since 2010.
Pre-University (Form 6): 4 subjects ~ General Studies, Malay, Geography, Business studies (subjects are different for science stream) and Malaysian University English Test (MUET)
In order to get into the public university, we have to pass all these examinations set by the ministry. Apparently, our education is not a strength based assessment system, means if you are musically gifted, you have no exceptional to get an admission into the university without passing these exams. Most of us spent more than a decade in school to learn theories from books and had little time to discover our potential. At the end, we have no idea what to do after graduation.
Every time when the national examination results were released, students have to face pressure from their parents, school teachers, peers, society when choosing courses, which they need a really strong determination if they want to choose courses that are defined as “less marketable courses” here. During special occasions, you might often hear people asking: “What are you going to do with this degree?”
The sad thing is, even you achieved good grades, you think you have more choices. In fact, the entire society convinces you to better take courses like medicine, engineering, law, accounting, etc., to ensure your future employment and reputation. Otherwise in their perspective: it is a waste of effort and your parents’money.
In reality, many students found that they don’t like the course they chose after a year of studies in the university. So, the gap year concept is good for exploring our real passions. But I know this gap year concept is hardly to be imposed here, as the society forces you to get a degree as fast as you could and find a well-paying job after finished your studies.
So, this is basically how the education system works in my country.
What do you think? Is this happening at your place too? Feel free to share your opinion about the education system in your country.
The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.
~ Herbert Spencer (English philosopher)