School reopens on Tuesday, and Ahmad Iszuddin Ahmad Izham, 11, can’t wait to trade stories about the recent holidays with his classmates before everyone's attention is focused on education.
However, the Year Six student is already feeling the heat to score six As for his UPSR examination.
If he had one wish for 2018, it would be to have a well-rounded education system. He said the current system is exam-oriented and pressures students to score straight As.
“I hope our education system can move beyond textbooks. We should have subjects like environment, health and culture,” said the student from SK Bukit Damansara in Kuala Lumpur.
He added that all students have their own strengths and should not be judged merely by academic achievements.
The environment-lover recently initiated his own non-profit group, Save Sea Animals From Extinction (SAFE) to help save leatherback turtles from extinction.
He baked and sold cookies, and also sold recipe books and T-shirts and managed to raise over RM4,000, which he donated to four turtle sanctuaries, in Terengganu, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, and Sabah.
“Everyone studies differently. It doesn’t mean a student who does not get straight As isn’t good at something else. Students should be given a chance to shine, be it in science or arts subjects, or even conservation efforts,” said Ahmad, who aspires to be a marine biologist.
Emily Kuik, 15, concurred. She hopes authorities can re-evaluate the school syllabus and enable students to have extra time to achieve their full potential.
“Perhaps the school syllabus could be reformed. The number of students should be decreased from 50 to 25 per class.
“This would allow teachers to focus more on each student. In the long run, this could reduce the time spent at tuition classes and enable students to develop other interests.
“With added free time, I would want to learn a new language, either Korean or Spanish,” said the student from Rafflesia International School in Puchong, Selangor.
Emily’s vision for 2018 goes beyond education. She is also hoping for better infrastructure for the country, and a greater spirit of togetherness among Malaysians.
“It would be nice to have wider LRT and MRT coverage and improved road conditions.
“I wish all races can live in harmony, and students can get free education up to the tertiary level.
“I also hope that the prices of goods and services will remain stable,” she said.
Ellysha Sashvinaa Nair, 13, agreed, hoping Malaysians will be more respectful and friendly.
“We’ve lost the sense of community and environmental care, especially in this fast-paced era. If people were more connected and caring, many current problems could disappear.”
She also wants to live in a safer environment.
“Malaysians should work together to create or contribute to a safer environment. There are countless possibilities in our lives. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but if everyone just puts in the initiative for a good cause, we can live in a happier environment.”
The student from Tanarata International School, Kajang, Selangor, also worries about sexual predators, drug abuse and bullies, and hopes communities will do their part to help victims of such crimes.
“Issues like bullying and sexual predators are worrying. If people witness such events, they should act on them. It is the only measure that all of us can take for things to change,” said Ellysha.
One of Heidi Ilyana Azmyudin Raj’s dreams for the future is an increased rate of successful students in Malaysia.
“Students can grow up to be people who can make positive changes for the country. Next year, I would like children to live in safer and more secure environments.
“The authorities should organise campaigns in schools or public places to spread awareness about issues like kidnapping, paedophilia and bullying,” said the 12-year-old from Sri KDU Secondary School in Kota Damansara, Selangor.
She said she hopes the authorities can also ensure students have better access to healthcare and education.
“Children all over the country should have the same opportunities to develop in different areas.
“They should have access to sports lessons, performing arts, medical care and academic workshops.
“Such activities and services should not be limited to children living in urban areas,” she added.