The actual reason many parents disagree with streamless schools (it is not what you think) — Hajar Shamsudin

OCTOBER 22 — I’m writing in to give feedback on the responses from parents on streamless schools. 

I’m tickled by the sheer sense of panic responses from the parents. 

However, I understand and relate to the situation. I believe there are several deeper reasons underlying this ‘panic’ and I feel compelled to highlight these reasons.

The concerns revolve around Malaysian needing younger generation to be trained in STEM for nation building. Another concern highlighted is on the implementation factor, mainly on new burden for the teachers, based on the premise that science stream classes will be hogged by most students.

It is most peculiar to me, that none of these ‘concerns’ are on the students themselves! Have you considered what your child wants to study? How about having an honest look at your own child, and gauge what is his/ her most passionate about? And let’s not stop there, take several steps further and have serious conversations on their aspirations. Look at your child like a human being that is blossoming into a young adult, who would like to be asked what she would like to do once she finishes school. Their views of actual professions in the world will be limited, (apart from what they have been witnessing on their parents) so why don’t we step up and be their first career counsellors for a start?

Don’t we want to support our own child’s aspirations, even if it means going away from the mainstream ambitions like doctors, engineers, lawyers?  

Given the global economy trends and job demands, it could be difficult to view the new job landscape for the children currently in school.  Nevertheless, we could start by looking at current GDP contribution by sector, and strategic vision of Malaysia and subsequently global trends. Current Occupations List (COL) report that was reported in media last week, could be a good start too. 

It appears to me the deeper reason of this panic is giving agency to our own children earlier that we would have preferred.  The students, the very group mostly impacted by this reform, actually welcome the decision by Minister of Education, as published on 16th Oct “Students welcome freedom to choose”! 

Which brings me to the second concern on streamless school, is that the students will likely take on “the easy subjects”, perhaps dropping Additional Mathematics at school, making them very disadvantaged later in universities. Well, if dropping Additional Mathematics will be a serious issue for them, why don’t we convince and guide our children that Mathematics is needed for logic , programming and problem-solving skills? 

Why do many parents think the children will drop these important subjects , when streamless schools go live next year? Why do we instantly assume our own teenagers will be reckless and irresponsible with their future? Does that not speak volume of ourselves too?

The concern that our children will be choosing “easy subjects” implies that non science stream is for the less bright ones. This very belief highlights like the bull’s eyes, exactly a strong bias Malaysians have held for a long time. That science stream is only for a selected few. The elites. 

It is far from the truth and Ministry of Educations acknowledges this.

I view that the Ministry of Education is continuously introducing reforms. The reforms that we badly need and we demand of. The reform that we have been asking is here and I thank MOE for that. Malaysian, look at the bigger picture on the proposed reform. Bear in mind that significant changes are painful. But it is for the better. 

Let’s step up and participate in the reform we wanted so badly. 

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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