I think our Education Minister did not make a very smart move

It is a very unkind move by the Jabatan Pelajaran to put our seven years old kids through the LINUS test and then, segregate them according to their results.

I know it is easier for teachers to manage a class if the students are of the same level of capability. I know it helps the students if their classmates are able to catch a lesson instead of waiting for the slow learners.

But to do so within a month plus in a public school, at an age when they are too young to understand is a very stupid, unkind, bad idea.

You see, the LINUS test involves oral and written test on Mathematics and Bahasa Malaysia. We parents were not even aware of such exam coming.

One fine day in February, they call the students, give them a paper to read, answer questions in BM for the Bahasa Malaysia. Then, the Maths is in English and the children have to reply in English. Beside that, they have written test.

For our urban children, those whom had undergone a proper kindergarten lessons, it is not a problem. However, not all kids are like that. Some are too shy, some are too afraid and some need a bit of time to adjust to a public school.

Previously, all my children only get streamed when they are 10 years old, after spending three years in a public school. Now, our new Education Minister thinks it is wise. It is not. It is foolish not to think of the psychological effects on the students.

My boy told me just now, “Mom, you know the boy who shouts? He has to go to Biru class.” (The boy has some learning difficulties and shouts sometime.)

So, I told him, “So you kesian him issit? He no more with all of you?”
(He is very small size so the bigger boys usually helped him to pull his bag, tell him where to line up etc)

He replied, “No lah, if I pity him, it will make him feel more shame.”

I was so touched. He understand the meaning many of us don’t. He treats him as one of the normal kids.

I assured him, it is ok to feel for him. He may want to study like them but he just cannot because he probably was sick as a baby. I told him last time Dr. Cheang also told me Vincent kor-kor maybe like that when he grows up (which he never does, of course). And together we pray that Jesus will take care of special kids like them.

Now, that all the kids are segregated to the Biru (last) class, I wonder if they have specially trained teachers to guide these slow learners or are they left to fend on their own? Will this categorization greatly demoralise the parents as well?

Come on, Education Minister, they are only seven years old! Why choose the smart and the yet-to-cope kids and separate them? Dumb idea!

21 thoughts on “I think our Education Minister did not make a very smart move

  1. My gals who are in convent school also had to go through the same test, but on the very first day of school in Std 1. The test was required to stream students who are literate and illiterate. But from what I’ve observed for all 3 my gals, it was the parents who were more stressed up over the test!!

  2. The colonisation education method continue, after 50 years. It is a system mean to “flush out” the “loser” and let the remaining “elite” to server the colonial master in administration. Colonial master never interested on helping so call “loser”, because the land they conquer are not their country.

    Some EU nation has get rid of “divide and rule” segregate class, and primary school cannot announce student exam score, not until the student enter secondary school.

  3. Charlotte – The LINUS test was given to all vernacular and Kebangsaan school. I think it was carried out in Feb, mentioned in the papers.

  4. In Singapore, the issue of streaming went through a lot of debate involving the brightest minds of the first generation of leaders. They knew the pitfalls of streaming but did it anyway because the idea was to fix the flaws AFTER streaming.

    As you pointed out, the point of streaming is that its better for the good students and its better for most, although not for significantly many bad students. There is no easy way to deal with the many students that don’t fit into streaming. All solutions is either imperfect OR cost way too much. For example the best choice is to have many choices and options with support system. But these cost a lot of money and resources – sometime even more than it would cost to produce the most elite students. That is the reality.

    For developed countries, they figured out long time ago, the best way is NOT to have a homogenous education system so that students have choices. But even their system failure shows that without strong involvement of parents, teachers and community i.e, social support system, it can fail pretty badly. Basically, with more choices, you need to make more educated choices but unfortunately most who need to make choices don’t have the support system for it.

    So streaming is not bad for most, the problem is for those that its bad for, the effect is even worst because their problem begin elsewhere first. The adage, ‘it take a village to raise our children’ is very true in education of the less-endowed.

  5. Bigjoe – It baffles me why they need to do a test in Feb, June and Sept and kept streaming. Kids at this age are just unpredictable but their parents will drive them nuts with the tension to score good results. We have heard politicians spewing hot air that they want to do away with less exams and yet, kids as young as 7 yrs old are made aware that they have to keep up to stay on top. Stupid. They robbed the childhood joys away from schooling. Of course, my kid is naturally doing well so I don’t need to worry. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about the rest of the kids.

  6. Not a parent yet but as someone who was always in he “smart” classes, I think streaming has a detrimental effect on children’s moral values. It makes them snobby, arrogant, and kiasu at an early age…just overall instilling an elitist mentality. Your son has a good heart.

  7. Streaming has its good points… makes it easier to teach a class if the students are of the same ability. Sometime the progress of a class can be hampered by kids who are not up to par with their classmates. When streaming takes place, these students are placed in classes where they can be taught at their pace. The only problem is remedial sometimes doesn’t take place. Failure to implement…

  8. Ya, I agree it has to be done. But not with 3 tests in a year for the year One student lah. Like megabigblur, yes kids do get the elitist feelings if we parents do no’t guide properly. As it is my son is already gloating, “Yay….I 1Merah… and phoned his father instantly to tell the good news.

  9. the briefing we got during our PIBG mtg in regards to the LINUS test is that the test will be conducted ad hoc by the Ministry, no prior notice to the school heads\teachers or parents – this is to gauge the actual level\amt of absortion the kids were able to learn\understand taught during school lessons.

    the aim for the LINUS is NOT to segregate the kids into the “smarter” nor “stupider” groups. the aim is to group those who have more difficulties learning the Maths or English into the same group so that more time\exercises are conducted to help them master the skills better. hence the quarterly repeatation test – kids who were poor previously in the “maths’ or “english” groups would be move to normal classes once they improves in those subjects.

    kids in nature do not know what are smarter or stupider classes..it is all due to parents ignorance or kiasuness that kids are influence to think they are in the “smarter” or “stupider” class. parents must help explain to those parents whose kids are in the “stupid” class be relieved that their kids are getting extra help in the lessons that their kids are poor in from the very beginning so that they are not left behind in “normal” classes.

  10. Have school entrance exam. Stream before children start school is more appropriate. Of course the test should be based on basic writing, counting and speaking.

  11. JC – The problem is, our children here are not provided pre-school education FOC. So, only the richer families attend and hence, there is a great discrepancies. Moreover, it is not like we have teachers really trained to handle the different type of kids and such. Most Chinese schools now have 40+ students in a class. My son’s school has only 24 in his class and yet, he complained to me that teacher never listened or pay attention when he has something to tell the teacher.

  12. RO – They have all these smart ideas implemented but do they have the properly trained manpower? Nothing, just tokking kok all the time. Of course, there are some teachers who served with dedication but there are plenty who just let the class run riot. Putting all the children together in a class (most students who have problem studying usually are the ADHD, autistic kids) will drive any sane people mad. And definitely our public schools are not ready for that kind of situation.

  13. Morning all,my 7yr old son had to change fr 1Merah to 1Kuning recently. Yeah,he told me he s a bit upset over this but only cos he’ll be separated fr his classmates.He’s not upset nor thinks himself as stupid(oops!shouldn’t be using that word “stupid” cos in our family,”stupid” does not exist,its a bad word!) that he didn’t do well in his B.M. cos fr the day I learned bout this LINUS program,I had told him that its ok if he didn’t pass the test as long as he tried his very best,which I know he did.I believe,Lilian,that all children are naturally smart,they just have their own pace and I believe this is where the LINUS program will help.So,I’m all thumbs up for this program and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will help my English speaking son improve his B.M.

  14. I guess the Education Minister who made this decision and for those provided this idea forgot what it was like to be in year one or in school. Or they have never been school at all?! Or they can’t train proper professional teachers or they can’t pay for it?

  15. This is not right. some kids just catch up later in education. I’ve a friend who can’t even read until 10, scored 3As in UPSR, straight As in PMR and never slow down afterwards… now holding first class degree in engineering

  16. OMG, my std 1 kid juz passed me a letter frm her school stating that ‘anak tuan/puan masih Belum Mencapai Wajaran yang disperlukan dan perlu mengikuti Program Pembelajaran LINUS’. She has no idea wat is it all about and said that everyone in her class was given a similar letter. But the funny thing is my kid scored 100% for both english & science in her first term exams juz last month and scored above 90% for all the other subjects. I’m definitely gonna pay her class teacher a visit on Monday to find out what this LINUS test is all about!

  17. Charlotte – That’s what I am talking about. It is something that just pop out of the school, even the school head wasn’t aware. The children were given two sets of papers and these were to be done VERBALLY and written. Verbal as in they have to read a passage, then, answer the questions the teachers asked. My kid did go to a quite strict and good kindie who made him read well. When he was younger, he used to read BM in English slang, then, practised in kindie. Or else, he would fail too. As for the maths, the children have to also answer in English, have to tell ‘bigger than, equal, read the numbers etc’. So imagine the 7 yrs old are subject to such tests out of a sudden. The test is for both Kebangsaan and CHinese/Tamil schools, same type of exams.

  18. Hmmm….poor kids, being subjected to tis kinda torturous test and the best thing is the poor lil kids are not even aware of it! What do they mean by Program Pembelajaran Linus anyway? Are they subjected to extra classes? Nothing is mentioned in the letter given out, neither did they mention that the kids will be streamed into different classes….puzzling….

  19. I’ve actually posted this earlier on your other post titled ‘Ujian LINUS – Is our Education Ministry in touch with reality?’. I just have a strong feeling that I had to re-post it here if you don’t mind (sorry, I was hoping I cld delete it from the other post)

    My daughter came back with a piece of brown paper from school today, and at first thought, I was thinking probably another piece of info abt something from school. To my surprise, it was a damning piece of news stating that my kid has no grasp on reading and counting as in, here I quote ‘tidak menguasai Literasi (membaca & menulis) and Numerasi (mengira)’. What a load of bull! And I read this piece of nonsensical result after watching her complete her Mathematics homework all on her own and all I did was just to check if she did them correctly! Because of this damning test, my kid had to be relegated/segregated to the ‘rehabilitation class’. What is this? The school did make some explanation on Linus on orientation day, but it’s totally unfair to do that test a month plus after that they started Std.1. We speak English and Cantonese at home, and English being the dominant language for daughter and she could very well read in English AND understand what she’s reading and I cld say that Maths is probably her stronger subject. But this damning test is telling me that my daughter knows naught! And all because of what? All because the language of instruction is in BM. How do you expect a 6/7 yr old kid who does not speak nor understand BM yet when she entered Std. 1 to do a test in BM within the very 1-2 mths of school and then using that very test as the basis to judge their level of competency? That is damning! My reaction was guilt! Self-guilt! I started questioning if I have done too little to help her,was it because of my beliefs that has now landed her in such an unfair situation, how was I to tell her that some of her friends are going to a different class bcos that damning piece of paper says she’s not competent, how would that make her feel? I have nothing against the language, mind you, and in fact, I want her to learn it and learn it well, and I am happy when she’s home and she starts chatting to me in BM and learning to speak the language. But the test was just not necessary at this stage, if you ask me. At least, give them a chance to learn it and master the language before putting them to test, then the test is qualified. And what I’ve learned from Glenn Doman, tests defeats the very purpose of learning and the joy in learning which is much more that just knowing alphabets and numbers. I am so glad to read your post and knowing that I am not the only out here fuming! Thanks!

  20. Oh! and ironically, my daughter scored very well in all her subjects including BM in her school exams right before the March school holidays. So this piece of news was a shock really! As you’ve put it so well, I know I won’t have a problem with this LINUS programme PROVIDED that there ARE qualified teachers to coach and guide them to reach that required level of competency.But I have hardly any confidence that there are any, so where does that leave these kids who are put in the ‘LINUS Tegar’ aka ‘incompetent’ classes?

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