Give science students a break

Sunday July 1, 2012

http://thestar.com.my/education/story.asp?file=/2012/7/1/education/11428567&sec=education

LET’S HEAR IT

FOR the past few months, I have been observing my son who is studying in Form Four Science this year.

I understand that there are too many subjects to study. Subjects such as History and Moral Studies which are not relevant at all to their field of study are included in their syllabus. These two subjects require a lot of unnecessary memorising which can be very time-consuming and stressful for science students. During my time, when I was a science student, we did not have to study these two subjects.

History is boring and full of dates, names and other factual details. Our country needs science professionals more than historians and archaeologists.

As for Moral Studies, it is important to inculcate good moral values in young people. However, a lot of unnecessary rules have made it a burden.

For example, “grateful” (bersyukur) is no longer considered a moral value in upper secondary school. Each moral value has two key words and a definition, which have to be memorised word for word in order to pass the Moral Studies exam.

For 20 moral values, a student has to memorise a total of 60 keywords and definitions. The words memorised must be exactly the same as the original words. If a student gives the meaning of a moral value in his own words it is considered wrong.

Students are also required to write essays in the Moral Studies exam. The same goes for History.

Due to such difficulties and unreasonable expectations, how can we expect science students to concentrate fully on important subjects like Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry and Physics? These science subjects require a thorough understanding of facts, theories and formulae, not to mention extensive calculations and lots of practice. But at least they are relevant to careers in medicine and engineering.

More subjects to study means more homework for science students and burning the midnight oil. Some will give up and opt for the Arts and Vocational streams. Perhaps this is why fewer students have opted for the science stream. As reported earlier this year, the percentage of science students has dropped drastically over the years.

Malaysia aims to achieve developed nation status by the year 2020 and a lot of expertise and professionals from the science stream will be needed. Therefore, I urge the Education Ministry to look into the plight of our science students and do something about it.

T. J. PHANG