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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Be fair to all schools

IF you are organising a competition, the rules must be the same for everyone. More so if there are prizes to be won! The stock phrase is a level playing field.

I refer to the selection of schools as high performance schools or Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi. The thinkers and planners in the Education Ministry think that by having this “competition”, all schools in the country will strive to improve.

Everyone knows that these schools have the first choice at picking students with the ministry’s support. Only those with a string of As will qualify to enter and those who do badly in subsequent examinations will be removed before they take another public examination. Where do these “drop-outs” go to take their examinations? And so the charade will go on.

Why should teachers in the other schools work hard? If all the best students have been skimmed off to the special schools, sekolah sains, and premier schools, what hope have you got with the leftovers? Of course, you try your best. In fact just to get these students to stay in school is already an achievement.

A normal class size is between 40 and 45 whereas these other schools have 24 to 28 or 32 students each.

Not only is the student-teacher ratio better in these elite schools, their special rooms are fully equipped and air-conditioned and they have halls, playing fields, courts and even swimming pools in some.

The ministry should pay headmasters and teachers by the number of students taught. The HM of these special schools deal with 1,000 students or less while the ordinary schools have a student population up to 2,000 or even 2,500. The HM should be paid an allowance of say RM1 for each student above the base of 1,000.

As it is, the HM of these “smaller” schools are being paid more for doing less and apparently will get much more under the SBT.

If the HM of these schools are the best, then the ministry should send them to those schools with “prestasi rendah”. We need such leaders to uplift the quality of education throughout the country.

In fact all those with high performance should welcome the opportunity to work in the backward schools and raise their performance. Since we now have 20 of the best selected, let us move them out to 20 under-performing schools and see how they set the example.

It is unfortunate that we often have ad hoc measures taken to improve our education system. This scheme to reward headmasters and teachers in these special schools will just add to the discontent existing among teachers today.

As it is, there is a lot of unhappiness about the unfair treatment which affects all schools, teachers and parents. Why should certain schools or certain people get special treatment way and above the ordinary? Where is this democratisation of education if poor schools in the outlying areas are being marginalised? And we are talking national schools!

LEE KENG HOON,

Sg Petani.

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