Wednesday, January 21, 2009

TIME TO IMPROVE SCHOOL SYSTEM



IMPROVING schools and making schools more effective are the constant challenges and responsibilities of all school authorities.

But from time to time we do hear of concerns or complaints about the lacklustre performances and misplaced priorities of some schools.

At a time when schools are busy planning for their new 2009 terms, the following issues deserve attention.

Consider creating a school culture that truly values the English Language. Launch and continually promote efforts to intensify the learning and the usage of the English Language by students, both within and outside schools.

Increase the English teaching periods. Encourage teachers to use proven effective and efficient methods of teaching and learning the language. Have more English co-curricular activities and conduct also other activities in English.

Stock school library with lots of English reading materials and encourage students to read English books, magazines and newspapers.

Train more teachers to be proficient in English. School headmasters and principals should conspicuously be seen as role models in the usage of English.

The teaching of pupils’ own languages (POL) in national primary and secondary schools - Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) - should be incorporated into the main teaching timetables.

These lessons are now held either after school hours or during Saturdays.

More often than not, they clash with times allocated for co-curricular activities. Students are left with difficult choices; they do not want to sacrifice either.

Also, time allocated for POL must be sufficient for real and fruitful language learning.

If there is one reason why Sekolah Kebangsaan are not popular with non-Malay parents, it is because the POL lessons are not effectively conducted. These lessons should not be perceived as being implemented just to satisfy requests from interested parents or students.

School authority should strive to ensure that teachers have little paperwork to do during the school terms.

Teachers should be free to focus mainly on classroom teaching. Ironically, in our present ICT-savvy schools, teachers always complain of being bogged down by paperwork.

There are numerous working papers to prepare, data to collect and analyse, forms to fill and reports to write.

More often than not, these are done not so much for the schools, but for the district education office, state education department and the Ministry itself.

There must be better coordination so that less paperwork requests are filtered down to schools. Let the teachers teach and the administrators administer.

Schools should plan to make sports and games feature more prominently among their co-curricular activities.

School sports day should be an event to look forward to. It is a culmination of days and even months of real training and supervision by dedicated sports students and teachers.

Just focus on field achievements and record-breaking feats of the athletes. Make inter-school relays an attraction.

Schools should be genuinely serious and competitive in these events and should take pride in training and producing of quality players in the various games.

Every school should plan to excel in niche areas it has identified.

Besides academic achievements, a school should work to distinguish and excel itself in certain co-curricular activities. It can be in a particular sports event, a game, debates, science and mathematics exhibition, arts and crafts, uniformed organisation, music, stage performances or drama.

Admittedly, most schools today are better endowed in terms of hardware and physical amenities.

There are now more, better furnished and better equipped buildings and other infrastructures.

It is only right then that school authorities put into their yearly plans serious efforts and actions to enhance their contents and software. Only then can our schools truly improve and become more effective.

LIONG KAM CHONG,

Seremban

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