Friday May 18, 2012
I REFER to “DPM: Work to improve libraries and resource centres” (The Star, May 15).
Under the ongoing education revamp exercise, “effectiveness of resources usage” is one of the nine designated areas to be reviewed and deliberated on.
Mention about resources in school, students and teachers alike will instantly quote the Pusat Sumber Sekolah or PSS (the School Resource Centre). Not that this is the only resource that a school has, but it is the one that stands out.
It was during the early 1990s that the Education Ministry instructed every school, primary as well as secondary, to set up their own PSS. In the beginning, it was merely the school library that was being upgraded.
Over the years, with advancements in multi-media resources, PSS began to acquire materials, equipment, systems as well as sophisticated digital software and hardware.
PSS also evolved from being a one-location centre to a multi-faceted facility sited in strategic locations in the school.
We have now teacher resource centres (as distinct from student resource centre), special-purpose/function rooms, computer labs, science labs and workshops; all of which are considered part of the school’s PSS.
Every year the ministry provides PSS with monetary grants based on their student population. It also supplies some designated hardware and software from time to time.
In addition, some schools on their own initiative collaborate with their parent-teacher associations to raise funds for their PSS.
The main objective and hope was that PSS would help improve teaching and learning.
The ministry, state departments and district offices organise annual PSS competitions to select the “best” PSS. A school PSS is judged for its structural set-up, usage and effectiveness, amongst other criteria.
As a result of these evaluations, we have “good” PSS and “weak” PSS.
The position of a school’s PSS depends very much on the efforts the teachers in charge put in and the emphasis the school administration places on it.
A “good” PSS is assessed to be one that is well equipped, have all the available and relevant hardware and software and is also one that is much frequented and used by students and teachers.
A “weak” PSS will be the opposite.
An interesting observation is that there has been no mention by our UPSR/PMR/SPM/STPM “scholars” that their school PSS had contributed to their “successes” in exams.
These students were quick to speak of help and support from their teachers, parents, study mates and even their tuition centres. But, they have not mentioned of any help and support from their school PSS.
This is puzzling! Surely they had spent time in their PSS.
Why then the “contributions” of PSS do not come to their mind immediately? Why do our students not feel “indebted” to their school PSS?
This begs some interesting questions for us as educationists, teachers and parents to ponder.
What nature of work do the students do in the PSS? Are they there just to do revision/ homework/exercises? Or, are they there to use up the allotted “free” period to read at leisure, and in random? Or is PSS a place for them to “socialise”?
> Do the subject curricula demand that students use the PSS to truly source for information either individually or in groups?
> Do examinations demand from students mere textbook knowledge that can easily be obtained from revision texts and exam-questions-answers books, thus rendering the PSS insignificant?
> Are the scheduled (time-tabled) periods in PSS just to satisfy a “statutory” requirement?
> Are these periods meant to help students to expand their knowledge base, leading to improved exam grades (in which case, “scholars” won’t have forgotten to mention about PSS when they express their gratitude after their exam results)?
> In designing the curriculum, has PSS been factored in as a “tool” to extract and cultivate the varied potentials of the students?
If the role of school resource centres and the effectiveness of their usage are to be enhanced, the above questions should be deliberated on comprehensively.
LIONG KAM CHONG.