SPM leavers have mixed feelings over new system

  • Focus
  • Sunday, 29 Dec 2019

Wider choice: This year’s Form Four students can choose subjects of their interests instead of being forced to take those made compulsory under the different streams.

IT could have opened doors to other choices of careers.

And that’s why the new subject package options by the Education Ministry should have been introduced earlier.

This is how some 17-year-olds, who have just completed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination, feel about the latest move by the ministry.

Under the new system, Form Four students will be given subject package options instead of being forced into science and arts streams beginning next year.

This new system will come into effect this Thursday, affecting this year’s cohort of Form Four students.

The aim of this move is to cater to students’ interests, with the teenagers given the option to choose specific packages under Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) or Arts and Humanities.

Besides the fixed packages, students can choose an elective subject based on their interests.

For Reshmi Kennedy, she believes she could have explored a wider range of subjects if the new system had been introduced earlier.

“I could have learnt subjects that were in both the arts and science stream. It could have allowed me to think of different career options, ” she says.

“I was in the science stream only because I was interested in two of the subjects offered, namely Biology and Physics, ” she adds.

“Now that I’ve left school, I’m planning on studying International Relations which has nothing to do with the science stream.

“The new education system would have allowed me to study the subjects I’m passionate about while linking it with my tertiary education plans.”

With the new system making Physical and Health Education (PJK) compulsory, Reshmi agrees students should be educated on physical health.

“However, I think students in Form Four and Five will be busy studying for other subjects, especially the tougher ones, ” she says.

Another SPM leaver, Natasha Dass, feels she would have benefitted from the new package options as well.

“I would have felt nervous being the first batch to go through the new system.

“But this new subject packaging system would have helped me narrow down my interest, especially in helping me decide on my career path, ” she says.

She believes this new system will give students who are certain about what they want to pursue an opportunity to understand the subjects in depth which they are interested in.

“I’m positive that something good will come out of it for my juniors in school, ” she adds.

However, there are others who see the negative aspects of this new policy, with some saying that there isn’t much difference from what they went through.

“It gives too much freedom to students who do not know what they want, resulting in them giving up way too easily, ” science stream student Tan Jun Onn opines.

“If the school had given me the freedom to choose any subject, I would have given up when a subject wasn’t to my liking, ” Tan admits.

“I first hated Chemistry in Form Four and I’d try to escape classes.

“After accepting the fact that I have to try even harder to survive in the science stream, Chemistry is now my strongest subject.

“I wouldn’t have known this if the new system was implemented earlier as I would have dropped the subject.”

Tan opposes the idea of PJK being a compulsory subject because he finds that very few students aged 12 to 17 have taken their PJK studies seriously.

“I feel that more students are keen on learning skills that can build a nation and also provide jobs, rather than learning about different sports, ” he adds.

Echoing Tan’s views, Muhammad Haiqal Raziman believes that the new subject packaging system is similar to the previous system.

This is because students are allowed to take up any subject they want, provided the school has the facilities.

“The old streaming system allows students to add on subjects which are not offered in their streams.

“The new system just allows students to take it up as an elective without it being labelled as an “add-on” subject, ” he adds.

However, Muhammad Haiqal, who enjoys sports, is supportive of PJK becoming compulsory as “it is useful considering people nowadays want to change their unhealthy habits but are unsure about how to do so”.

“Students don’t realise that the PJK textbook has really valuable and insightful information about physical health, ” he says.

“It will widen the horizons of your knowledge.”

Gabrielle Jeremiah is a participant in The Star’s BRATs Young Journalist Programme.

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