Taylor’s University School of Education head Dr Logendra Stanley Ponniah said students could be influenced by many factors when deciding what subjects to take.
He said it was not just parental or peer influence at play, but other factors like whether a student had a supportive subject teacher or exposure to sciences that also played a part.
“Another thing that is going to come out of this is the poverty gap is going to widen,” said the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education expert.
“All data indicates that STEM professions pay better.”
He said that those in urban areas would be exposed to more STEM elements and this would influence them to take up science subjects.
Those in rural communities, however, would not receive the same exposure and thus pursue arts or humanities subjects, he added.
“When given the choice, people will choose the easier option,” he said, adding that humanities subjects were perceived to be easier.
“People also choose based on their past success.
“This will contradict with the Education Ministry’s efforts to promote STEM.”
The Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 includes strategies to strengthen STEM education in order to produce more experts in the fields.
“I do feel that science is going to become the victim,” said Logendra.
He also said students must be guided properly on what subject combinations to take to avoid jeopardising their tertiary study options.
“It’s not always about what you like and what you don’t like,” he added.
Logendra gave an example of a student of his who could not pursue engineering because he did not take Additional Mathematics for SPM.“Giving people the choice is good but it is best for us to push at least a certain percentage of the population to some degree.
“Then give them the option to switch when they are at a higher level,” he said.
Universiti Sains Malaysia School of Educational Studies lecturer Prof Dr Muhammad Kamarul Kabilan Abdullah said this would allow students to make their own decisions of what they want to learn based on their abilities and interests, making them more independent and responsible for their own learning.
“Now, with this new move, the students would have the awareness and realisation that whatever they do and decide on, their future rests on their shoulders, and not others,” he said.
He also said the Education Ministry must pay close attention as there were plenty of implications if things were to go wrong.
“The ministry has to ensure everything is in order in the form of a working system and outlining clear-cut procedures that will assist in achieving the intended aims,” he added.
Although the Teaching Methods in English Language expert is “very eager to see the outcome of this
policy in the coming years’’, he felt that the implementation was being rushed as 2020 was just two months away.
“I like the idea but the implementation has to be carefully thought out, planned and implemented,” he said.
He said minor hiccups were normal and to be expected.
“But not major ones that eventually make things difficult and confusing for all, especially the teachers and students,” said Prof Kamarul.
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