There’s nothing new in new system, say parents

PETALING JAYA: The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) welcomes the new subject packaging for Form Four students.

Its secretary-general Harry Tan said there should not be any new problems faced in this new system.

A perennial problem he expects schools and teachers to face is parents deciding what subject package a student should take based on what the parents think is the best career for their child.

“That’s the reality. There will always be parents who believe their child is the best and can take on any school subject. Or the parents believe that what they pick for their child is the best,” he said.

He was commenting on the subject package options for Form Four students that will begin next year.

This change from streaming students into Arts and Science to a more flexible, subject package system is in line with the Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Menengah (KSSM) which aims to develop 21st century skills such as critical and creative thinking, problem solving skills and leadership skills.

Last month, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the ministry was going to allow for “cross-streaming”.

Cross-streaming, he explained, would allow students from the Arts stream to take STEM subjects, and those who enrol for science subjects could take up the arts and humanities.

“Cross-streaming is the way of the future, whether we want it or not, we must be prepared for it.”

Tan said when it was first announced that the Arts and Science streams would be abolished in 2020, there was panic among parents and students.

But the system was still essentially the same, he pointed out, with subjects still grouped into fixed packages.

Tan allayed fears that there would not be enough subject option teachers for the mainstream elective subjects.

However, he foresees problems when students request for less popular subjects such as the performing arts and music, which require more specialised teachers.

“I think this is something that the ministry needs to address, especially music,” he said.

Tan does not deny the fact that at the end of the day, there will be more demand than supply for certain subjects such as Accounts.

However, students always have the choice to transfer to another school that offers their desired package if they cannot get it in their current school.

Parents also agree that there is nothing new about this “new” system.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said there was nothing new about this new system.

“Schools have been offering subject packages for the past few years.

“This is just a change of branding and name for the subject groups,” he said.

Mak said Maszlee’s statement indicated a “free for all” subject choice when he talked about the removal of Science and Arts stream last month.

“This caused unnecessary anxiety and stress to parents and students. So much of ‘hoo-ha’ but we’re back to square one,” Mak said.

SMK Assunta Parent-Teacher Association chairman Alan Goh said there seemed to be no real change in the new system.

“This is exactly the same as before. Nothing has changed and there’s nothing to shout about,” he said.

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