MOE programme puts undue stress and anxiety on SPM students

A CONCERNED parent wants newly-minted Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek to re-examine the success rate of the so-called Program Sentuhan Kasih Pengetua (literally, Principal’s Touch of Love Programme) which is an on-going exercise by the Education Ministry to produce “straight As” pupils in public examinations.

This comes about as her 17 year-old son who will be sitting for his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination which starts on Jan 30 (with the oral exams) failed to score “straight As” in his trial examination “because of a few little mistakes in two subjects”.

As such, he along with eight other student in his class who didn’t get straight A’s as well as others who failed in their subjects were summoned to the principal’s office yesterday (Jan 17) for a counselling session after which the pupils were made to sign a Aku Janji SPM pledge and promise to study hard and score straight A’s.

“The creepy-sounding name of programme aside, is this how schools function these days?” questioned the mother who identified the school as SMK Damansara Jaya to FocusM.

“The kids are under enough pressure (ever since outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic made learning process tedious) and the school (under the directive of the Education Ministry [MOE]) is making them sign these pledges. In fact, his school has been doing this since 2014,” she said in a social media post.

According to the mother of one, parents are also made to sign the form which “upon closer inspection, looks like it was created by the State Education Department”.

“Surely there must be more helpful or constructive ways to help the kids than this forced arm-twisting. To add to that, the school sent the notice of this meeting (with the principal) from an unknown mobile number with no introduction of who was sending it,” she disclosed.

“I signed the form but added ‘signed under protest’ while wondering if the school has any data as to whether signing this form actually produces the straight A’s they expect. What are the numbers? Does this actually work? Who analyses these things?”

“I recall that the MOE implemented reflective practices for some teachers back in 2015 as part of their teacher training curriculum. It worked for a while until Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin resigned as the deputy prime minister and education minister in August 2015.

“It looks like they’ve reverted to the ‘blame the kids’ practice versus the ‘let’s be better teachers’ practice.”

Another parent listed down 10 questions for the MOE with regard to the programme’s efficiency:

  1. Can the desired results be achieved by piling additional pressure on the kids?
  2. If students who failed papers are also called up, what have the school and the educators done to help these students?
  3. Will it help doing it now with just a couple of weeks to the exams?
  4. What happens if any students or parents refuse to sign the Aku Janji form?
  5. How many of those sitting as education policy makers actually are high achievers? Or able to understand psychology?
  6. Does academic excellence guarantee success in life?
  7. Recent batches of students have gone through different learning cycles of learning due to the pandemic of which some may adapt while many may not.
  8. Since it has been implemented for a while, what is the review of the programme and success rate?
  9. Given that many students out there suffer from anxiety, has the MOE being able to help or at least identify them?
  10. Will a related suicide case then jolt these policy makers? – Jan 18, 2023


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