Starting school at five not for all

Thursday June 28, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/6/28/focus/11519278&sec=focus

I AM a mother of three children. One is in Year Two while the other two are in kindergarten. I may not represent all parents but I believe I speak for some.

The Education Ministry’s proposal to lower the formal school-entry age to five years left me speechless. I do not know how to react to any of the Education Ministry’s plans any more. What I do know is that the children are the ones who will pay the price.

Children mature at different stages. While some parents complain that their children are bored in school, or boast about how advanced they are beyond their years, children remain children. They should be allowed to play, have fun, socialise and communicate. They should enjoy school and not feel pressured to obtain all A’s, and sacrifice their playtime.

Please do not rob them of this. Starting school at an earlier age is not the answer for everyone. Children’s education should be determined by the parents. For example, parents of gifted children with higher IQ should be given the choice to put their children in an advanced class. And vice-versa.

Producing a more intellectual human capital for the future is not determined by the age they start school but the process of obtaining the education itself. The current system can produce many straight A students but they will also be robots.

Ask any parent and the most common remark of frustration would be that the current system is not meant to teach an overpopulated classroom of 40 students. It is only meant to teach the top 10 students of the top two classes of each school year. As such, competition to get all A’s starts early. Is this the generation we want? Whatever happened to true teaching?

The Government should allow parents to be part of the decision-making process concerning education. We may have students who are tech-savvy but that is not enough to contribute to the nation’s future demands. We are going to have graduates who cannot converse properly in English, and mentally-disturbed employees whose childhood was robbed from them. The education system is heading towards, or already is at, its darkest hour.

INTAN FUHAIRA

Kuala Lumpur