What’s happening to our Tamil school UPSR students?

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Velmuruga Kalimuthu


I have been thinking about this topic for some time now and worried if I write this a lot of folks going to get pissed.  I’m not a writer; so writing about such a big issue is not my cup of tea but I won’t feel good if I don’t share this issue with others. With UPSR  just around the corner, here is something to read about our kids.

I was a Tamil school student from Penang and I’m very proud about that. In fact I have been flashing that ‘badge’ all my life. Lately a lot of issues are going on about Tamil school students who goes to secondary school after UPSR can’t keep up, falling behind in education, getting involved in social problems and finally joining some gang with coffin numbers.

First of all Indians are thinking twice to enroll students in SJKT because we think Tamil schools are second grade schools. Indians thinks that Tamil schools students are not getting good education, good facility, qualified teachers compared to SRK counterpart. Most of them fail to notice that SJKT students gets more A’s than SRK students in UPSR. So I’m not here to argue about Tamil school’s education quality.

Now you might ask, what is the problem? Why do you have problem when students are getting good education even in a bad facility…

The problem is how these students go thru hell to produce such results and the aftermath of it.

1-      Let’s look at our education system.

Our education system doesn’t require students from standard 1 to standard 5 to produce minimum score to move to next class after each education year. Which means you can be get 10% in all exams and still be able to go to next class. So we have standard 5 Tamil school students who can’t spell SPELLING. These are true facts. I am not pointing fingers at Ministry of Education, teachers, parents or the students for this problem because I am not qualified to do that. My problem is what happens when these students who scores 10 or 20 percent in exams for five years reach standard six and prepare to sit for UPSR?  Standard six teachers are obligated to take these low scoring kids and make them to score better in UPSR, in 9 months to make their school look better and get bonus promised by MOE.

2-      What the students have to go thru to score better in UPSR?

From the first week in standard six, students have go for ‘extra classes’ for at least 3 hours a day from Monday to Friday and full school hours on Saturday. Which means students will be spending 9-10 hours a day in school alone, not including their external tuition, curricular activities and sports. Some of these might get Sunday off, but they still got school homework remember? School holidays are not for these kids, they still have to go to the special classes that are being conducted by school. So the students who had a relaxed five years of education are all of a sudden thrown in this pressure cooker for 9 months so they can produce best results.

3-       What do the standard six teachers have to go thru?

In Tamil school system, if you are a teacher for standard six, you will be teaching for standard six year after year. This means they have to go to school at 7 AM and stay there until the special classes finish around 7PM or later Monday- Friday plus Saturdays. So the standard six school teachers got no life outside of school. They can’t plan family vacations between January and September since they have to conduct ‘special classes’ in school. The best part is their own kids are abandoned while they have to teach these extra classes. I think all standard six teachers will agree to this.

4-      So what happens after UPSR?

Students that been free and relaxed for 5 years, thrown in over and cooked to produce good results in UPSR. These students get frustrated and tired after the exam is over and begin to hate school. When the go to secondary school, they experience new environment which is more relaxed school system and new friends. They ignore their studies and start enjoying the newly earned freedom and screws up big time in their exams. Ultimately, the friends from the ‘coffin number’ gangs gain priority, cigarettes, drugs, glues, girl’s follows until they fail to perform in PMR and SPM. Some students are not going to this extreme but we got to admit that these are happening in our community especially Tamil school students.

5-      So what is the Solution?

Find easier teaching methods. It’s easier to say than done but somehow the Tamil school teaches have to find a better way to teach our kids. The standard 1- 5 teachers have to teach more effectively and passionately so their students are not left behind when they go next class. This will reduce the burden for standard six students and teachers. Remember, even thou they are 12 year old, they are still kids. They are not puppets that you train day and night to produce good results in UPSR so you and your school can look better. Treat kids like kids, let them have a LIFE.

6-      Parents

Parents have to do their part. Just by sending the kids to school doesn’t mean their responsibility is over. Please check your children’s homework. Pay a visit to your children’s school once a month to check on their progress. Communicate to your children and find out what they want, the problems they face and try to solve them. Don’t watch Chitti, Chittappa, Thendral, Annamalai, serials while they are studying, let them have full concentration on studies when they are studying at home. Implement one hour of family study time. Give priority to your kids, not just when they have government exams but all the time. You ‘produced’ them, so it’s your responsibility they grow up to excel in life.

People might ask why this is not happening in Chinese schools, it’s because they are not facing social and economy issues like our community faces. So comparing Chinese Schools and Tamil schools are like comparing Kiwi with Durian. They are not the same.

PS: I’m not against any teachers; in fact I got about 4 teachers in my family. I just feel bad for the students and teachers after looking at their lifestyle.