It’s the beginning of the yearly madness. The SPM results have been released, which usually leads to mass congratulating of the top scorers (and side news of those that committed suicide over a D), followed by the repeat rush when the STPM results are out. Then there will be plenty of controversy over scholarships (again!), with too many students wanting to do Medicine, and then the chaos shifts to university – where to go, what courses to pick, what is a “top university”, and why can’t more people be like the violin-playing genius that got accepted to Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford. Over and over and over.
This year, though, there seems to be a very important shift. The Government and the Malaysian public have finally realized that a large string of As isn’t worth all the hype.
The Malaysian Examinations Syndicate is no longer announcing the year’s top student:
No naming of top student this year
This, it says, is because all the top scorers have their own strengths and weaknesses.
Malaysian Examinations Syndicate director Datuk Dr Adi Badiozaman Tuah stressed that it would be unfair to name one student as the best since all 105 had their strengths and weaknesses.
The Education Ministry is also now discouraging students from taking too many subjects:
Education director-general Datuk Dr Ahamad Sipon indicated the ministry’s stand in very clear terms when he said that students should not attempt more than 12 subjects.
“For what (taking more than 12 subjects)?” he asked at a Press conference to announce the SPM results yesterday.
“We do not encourage students to take on so many subjects and would prefer if they stuck to the basic subjects,” he added.
Ahamad was echoing Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein’s sentiments on Monday that sitting for too many subjects was not right.
Hishammuddin had said that this showed an over-emphasis on academic performance, especially when some sat for 19 subjects.
There is also some very interesting commentary about the rush for As. Brian Yap tells the SPM students that there is more to life than just their As:
Some of you will go out into the workplace. Some will continue studying in a tertiary education institution locally or abroad. Whatever you end up doing, remember that education is a wonderful thing. School is only a small part of it. You could have a hundred As, yet still know nothing. Or you could be an Oxford graduate and still behave like a bigot. And even after you’ve stopped studying, remember that education doesn’t end — it never does. Getting to know someone from a different background is education. Trying a new dish is education. Reading a book is education. Travelling, too. Much of the skills you’ll need in life, unfortunately, aren’t taught in school. It’s only now your real education begins.
Above all, realise that while SPM might mean the world to you today, it will become virtually irrelevant in the future. No one will offer you a job simply because you scored 10As but if you fail miserably in university. Nor will they decline you one if you were an exceptional student in college, simply because your SPM results were mediocre.
No one will judge you because you failed one or two papers or received near-perfect results. They will, however, evaluate you based on how hard you’re willing to work. How much you want to succeed. How you treat others. How open your mind is to new things. How well informed you are.
Your SPM certificate is but a piece of paper. Your life, however, is yours to live. How you live it is what will make all the difference.
Zainul Arrifin, on the other hand, is fed up with the whole rat race:
Let us talk instead of the race — yes, it does seem like a race — by students, and we should include parents and teachers, too, of who can sit for the most papers and score the most As. And it is a matter of time before we start reading about 20 As.
I am more and more inclined now to believe that we are a screwed up nation as far as examinations are concerned.
I am so very glad to see the tides turning, especially within the Government. This madness over the number of As one can score really does have to stop – it’s pointless, it stresses out students for no good reason, and in the long run it doesn’t even mean anything. How do you fully expect to learn something thoroughly when you’re dividing your attention amongst 19 different things?
This is the first step of many in realizing that there is more to life than school and As. Hopefully we will see a similar shift in attitude when the scholarships and university placements come about. Here’s hoping.
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