KOTA KINABALU: One of Sabah’s SPM top scorers Royen Petrus had always felt jealous and somewhat sad when he saw other children getting hugs and well wishes from their parents for doing well in school.
Being the son of divorced parents and living with his grandparents in Sabah’s rural Nabawan district, this was one of the many things that he and his sister had been deprived of.
“I saw that when my friends get good grades, their parents would be so proud of them, and I thought to myself maybe mine too would be proud of me if I did well,” said the 18-year-old.
That was the thing that pushed Royen to focus on getting the best grades possible and put aside his love for games and outdoor activities.
In class, he focused when his teachers taught and for his own revision, he would use images and drew diagrams to remember details and information as he could remember better that way.
He was also never shy to ask teachers and his peers when there are subjects that he could not grasp well and did not let challenges such as weak Internet connection and the lack of money to buy the best revision books break his spirit.
Royen’s hard work paid off when he scored eight As in the 2020 SPM and emerged as one of the top students in his school at SMK Nabawan.
“With my grades, I will enrol into Form Six and after that, strive to become a teacher so that I can help my mother, who is working in the city far from here, with our household expenses,” said the elder of two siblings.
He attributed his success to his dedicated teachers, helpful friends as well as very supportive grandparents, who despite being not well educated, knew the importance of education and how it could help make life better for him.
Praveena Anastasia Baskaran, 18, has always been an exemplary student and this was proven when she achieved 11As in her SPM exams.
The student from SM St Michael’s Penampang said though they were not rich, her mother, who is a widow, never skimped when it came to anything they needed for school as education was very important for the family.
Her teachers have also been a source of inspiration and had helped tremendously in her studies.
These two are among the 33,454 SPM candidates last year who had to go through online learning amid the Covid-19 pandemic and sit for the examination.
Meanwhile, Sabah Education Department director Datuk Dr Mistirine Radin said for the 2020 SPM results, 91.12% of urban students passed their results while 90.59% of rural students passed theirs.
“This is a 0.53% passing rate gap compared to 2019’s 1.34% gap between rural and urban schools,” she said in announcing Sabah’s SPM results on Friday (June 11).
She attributed this success to not only the dedication of teachers but also students and parents despite the challenges during this Covid-19 pandemic.
Overall, Mistirine said the grade quality of SPM in Sabah was the best in four years at 5.34 GPN (state average grade).
“The GPN for Sabah in 2017 was 5.51, 5.44 in 2018 and 5.38 in 2019,” she said.
Out of all the 2020 SPM candidates, a total of 241 (0.72%) achieved straight As compared to 198 (0.59%) who achieved the same results in 2019.
Mistirine said a total of five main subjects - English, Islamic Studies, Science, Moral and History - saw an increase in grade quality while Bahasa Melayu saw a slight drop from 4.27 point in 2019 to 4.43 point in 2020.