With a new government installed after the 14th General Election, it is natural to expect massive overhauls and changes from bottom up. The Education Ministry, led by Dr. Maszlee Malik, is one of the most-scrutinised portfolios that will undergo substantial changes, starting from schools.
Here are some of the policy changes that are set to take place from 2019 onwards:
1. No more exams for Standard One to Standard Three students
Yes, you heard us right. The little ones will be spared from exam stress this year, much to the relief of parents. The decision to abolish mid-year and final exams was purportedly to allow schools to focus more on teaching and help pupils discover the joy of learning. Parents who are fretting about the method schools will use for monitoring their children’s progress in place of exams should not worry. This is because the exams will be replaced with objective assessments in 2019. Education director-general Datuk Dr. Amin Senin said continuous assessments will take place as part of teaching and learning through Classroom-Based Assessment (PBD).
2. No more class streaming
Primary schools will no longer be segregating students based on their academic performance. This is a big change as streaming has been practised for a long time, and this will mean pupils with mixed abilities will be put in the same class. Proponents say this will allow children of different abilities to help each other. Opponents say this will be tougher on lower-ability children, and is a challenge for teachers, who will have to vary their teaching methods in class and may not be able to focus on progressing the higher-ability children to the best of their potential.
3. No more LINUS programme
Beginning this academic year, there will be no more Literacy and Numeracy Screening programme (LINUS). The LINUS programme was first introduced in 2009 under the Education National Key Results Area (NKRA) to tackle the problem of primary school pupils who are weak in reading, arithmetic and writing skills (3Rs).
Education Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr. Amin Senin has said in place of LINUS, schools will now determine their own ways to tackle learning difficulties faced by their students.
4. Black shoes
The Education Ministry is implementing a gradual transition from the traditional white school shoes to the black version beginning 2019. What that means for parents who send their children to national schools is they can opt to buy black shoes for them or remain loyal to the white version. Well, at least until 2021, when the ministry is expected to fully enforce the policy.
5. Civics subject back in schools
If you remember, Civics was one of the subjects used to be taught in schools but it was removed from the school syllabus in November 2014. However, Dr. Maszlee reportedly said that the Civics and Citizenship Education (CCE) will be reintroduced in all primary and secondary schools in the middle of 2019 as a compulsory subject. He had also said that anti-graft related education will also be introduced through the CCE subject.
6. Lighter school bags
A study by the Education Ministry found that 28 percent of a school bag’s weight consists of textbooks, while the remaining 72 percent consists of stationery, uniforms and food, among others. Following the study, the Education Ministry had issued guidelines last year to help pupils lighten their school bags. The guidelines include rearranging the timetable so that there are between three and four subjects a day and setting up lockers in schools for books storage purposes. Teachers are also instructed to tell students clearly about the books they need to bring each day, as well as to reduce the number of exercise books for each subject.
7. Stateless or no documents? No problem!
Beginning this year, all stateless and undocumented children will be able to go to school just like any other school going children. There will be a move to simplify the registration process for children without citizenship into government schools. Parents with these children only need to provide relevant documents such as the child’s birth certificate, adoption papers or court orders.
Are you a parent with government school-going children? What are your thoughts on these new policies? Share your thoughts by writing to [email protected]