Are Chinese primary schools (SJKCs) setting the bar too high for the pupils? The schools’ emphasis on academic achievement and their teachers’ dedication to their profession have helped to make SJKCs the primary schools of choice for many Malaysians.
SJKC teachers have been known to give excessive homework to pupils. Even parents complain about the amount of home revision needed to finish the homework.
Apart from the punitive approach in dealing with pupils who slack in their studies, SJKCs also pile on more assessments and tests on the pupils than in national schools.
The success of many SJKCs has attracted non-Chinese pupils, so much so that every two out of 10 pupils in Chinese-medium primary schools are Malays. This surge in non-Chinese enrolment can be attributed to the usage of Mandarin which is touted as the lingua francaof the future.
Retired educationist Prof Dr Teo Kok Seong was reported by news portal FMT as saying a two-year study by the National Education Advisory Council had showed that Chinese-medium schools would be increasingly multiracial, with Malay pupil enrolment now at 18 per cent.
“These numbers are expected to go up each year. Our research shows these vernacular schools, within 10, years are likely to become the mainstream schools as more non-Chinese parents are refusing to sign up their children in national schools,” he told FMT.
It is understandable that SKJC are result-driven and their teachers are strongly motivated to push their pupils. The element of hot-housing in SJKCs has resulted in producing more competitive pupils and better overall results in public examinations.
However, their over-emphasis on academic achievement can make or break a pupil. Are SJKCs scoring their own goals by pushing the pupils too hard?
According to deputy secretary-general of the United Chinese Schools Teachers’ Association (Jiao Zong) Huang Wen Quan, the contents of the mathematics textbook in Chinese primary schools are much more difficult than those in national primary schools.
This was said to have caused pupils to lose interest in subject. The tangible adverse result of this could be seen in the latest UPSR results. SJKCs have always pride themselves in their pupils’ achievement in Mathematics, but the latest results showed a regression of 10 to 30 per cent.
Huang told the Oriental Daily News that the Petaling District P education department discovered that SJKC Lick Hung, which had always been the top scorer in Mathematics among all streams of primary schools in the district, had slipped.
The academician said pupils from Standard Four to Standard Six lost interest in the subject due to the difficulty of the textbook and questions.
“Although the curriculum of all streams of primary school is the same, the textbooks were published by different publishers; as a result the contents of math textbooks in SJKCs are of too high standards,” he said.
“In addition, the exercises and examination questions were drafted based on the contents of the textbooks, it is therefore more complicated and tougher; as a result the performance of the students was not up to mark.”
SJKCs need to correct this flaw in their system if they want to remain a viable alternative to national schools and maintain their high standards in an already overly competitive environment.