Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Quest for 9As in the SPM

In the 2011secondary school examination to obtain the SPM certificate ( equivalent to the 'A' level certificate of education) more than 403 students out of more than 468,808who sat for the examination in Malaysia obtained 9As and 9,239 obtained dintinctios ie. a combination of A+, A and A-.Everyone was jubilant over the results, seeing how bright the scoolchildren are nowadays. In the days when the secondary school examination was based on questions set by  the University of Cambridge in London and the papers were examined by the same educational authority, to get 2 or 3 A was already a monumental task. All that we aimed at was to get a Grade 1 which required less than 21 points. An aggregate of less than 21 for 9 subjects meant that you must have at least one A2 and 6 C3 to get a grade 1 ( A gives 1 or 2 points, C gives you 5-3 points,a D gives you 6 points and an F 8 points.)

Grade 1 was the pride then, Grade 2 was acceptable for University entrance while Grade 3 only qualified you for a clerical and equivalent third division jobs -the higher ones being the executive ( division 2 )and administrative grade (division 1). Division 1 jobs were for the university graduates with Honours and a job in the Malaysian Civil Service (MCS) at that time started with a basic salary of RM568 pm reaching a maximum of RM1254. The first big jump to a Superscale H post gave you a basic salary oh RM 1254. That wasvthe deal then.

Now students aspire for 9As in the SPM with an A+ at that. And they are getting them by the bucketful. A nephew of mind cried his heart out for getting just 6As and 2Bs. When I told him that he has an Uncle who had only one lousy A in his SPM ( then known as Senior Cambridge) but succeeded in pursuing his studies up to a Ph.D level, the nephew just winced and said, " That was in in the 1960s, Uncle. Now you might not even get a chance to go for further studies on a government scholarship."

Is that so, now? I am talking about pursuing  further studies with a government scholarship, not on daddy's payrole. Of course students don't have to do a two-year stint in HSC or Higher School Certificate studies now before you get to the University to start your degree work. you can straightaway go to College for a two-year diploma studies then proceed to do your degree work - in two years. How fast? Such that when they come out with a degree, they look like  College kids.

Thousands of them are coming out of the local and foreign universities now, since we already have 20 public and 39 private iniversities tlocally. The starting salary for bachelor's degree holder with  Honours is now above RM2000 already in the goverment whereas the corporate sector might offer above RM4000 pm to a professionally qualifieded Honours graduate. That's more than doubke what they used to earn on joining the service or a company in the 60s or even 70s.  
Meawhile jobs in the clerical and blue collar group remain for those who could not do further studies up to the degree level. No students would want to be in this group if they could avoid it and that's the main reason everyone is chasing the illusive 9As. But they forget that a student with less-than-9A and even with just a few As and strong Credits ( i believe) could also proceed to the universities. There are many channels open to them they could proceed to do their HSC ( higher school cert) and get their STPM. They could enter College for a diploma then proceed to do a degree. They could also start to work and pursue an off-campus study prigram leading to a degree. In fact they can go beyond a bachelor's degree trough the off- campus study prgram. To get a PhD.

So, for those SPM holders with less thsn 9As, do not fret. Let the 9As students bask in their success for it's only the beginning of the climb in academic attainment. Let the media, the education ministry , the school teachers and the public shower the 9As students with congratulations. You have a lot of chances to redeem yourself at a higher level of learning where real intelligence is tested and not just you capacity to memorize and regurgitate answers to SPM examination questions. Undeniably, some of the 9As students are really very bright. But yet experience shows that some fail to maintain their brilliance at a higher level. The fact shows that some students with less than 9As hsve attianed greater succes in higher degrees and in  their prifessional life compared to  the flash-in-the-pan SPM 9A achievers.

So do not fret if you failed to get 9As. The battle has just begun. Show your intellectual prowess at a higher level of education. Meanwhile, congratulations to you too for passing the first hurdle successfully. There are many more hurdles where you can prove your worth.    


kaykuala said...

Akhi Norzah,
We pride ourselves being in a good school, RMC,TKC,KGV,MCKK,PFS. We struggled to get a handful of As. We paid our own in pursuit of knowledge.

Now with fantastic results, loans galore and a whole future ahead, they chose instead to demonstrate. Such a loss to King and country!


norzah said...

Don't know why students should protest against anything at all, Akhi Kaykuala, but one of the important aspects of education is to give you give an understanding of what is right and what is wrong. If that is properly instilled in our students and they chose to exercise it at a young age, who can we blame? There must be a cause and the cause is not being addressed.
The days when students just swallow everything the teachers say are over. They have many other sources if information and will know if they are being misled or misinformed. Some educationist say this critical outlook is what the students today lack, and worst what Malaysian as a whole lack.The leaders are trained to become 'yesmen' and will just follow their leader.