Friday, 14 September 2012

Muet 2012 Trial Exam

My dear upper six students,
Your performance in the recent trial exam has been quite disappointing for me, especially your paper 4. While a few of you have shown good attempt in respond to Question 2, most of you did not make the cut for Question 1. It is as if you have not been trained to do the writing at all, with quite a number of you not giving the title, and most importantly the Overall View. Analysis of the features are difficult to understand as the language is chaotic, leaving the basic rules of the structure – Subject-verb-object   out.
As in Question 2, the biggest problem is still the organisation of ideas, which you do well in practices, probably through the discussions that we had before every session of writing. And of course some of you have structures that is almost incomprehensible, mostly due to direct word by word translation. As expected, those who very seldom send in their practice compositions, some did not send at all, performed very badly.. The PMR candidates from Form 3 D write better than you.
Please go through the sample essay that I have prepared for you as a guide for your next practice.
Remember that you will have a hard time getting your choice of university courses with a band 1 in MUET, no matter how high your CGPA is in the STPM.

MUET Trial exam 2012
Sample answer for Paper 4 (Writing)
Question 1.
Priorities in Life for Young Men and Women.
The table shows the priorities in life of young men and young women. Generally, the men’s ranking of priorities is different from the women.
The men rank having a highly paid career the highest but women rank it second. Instead, the women put getting married on top, which the men  rank at only fourth. There is also not much difference in both genders’ priority on being healthy, 6th by the women and 7th by the men.
Two priorities are however ranked the same by both men and women – saving money for old age and travelling the world, 8th and 9th respectively. 
At 2nd place, men put learning new skills which is only 2 steps higher than  the womens’ rank of 4.  Another difference of two steps is spending  time with friends which the men rank 3rd while the women,  5th.
The lowest ranking by the women is buying a house, at 10. However the men rate it as priority  5th. While having children is the 3rd priority for women, men only put it at 6th. The priority at the lowest ranking of 10 by the men is charity work, which the women rank at 7th.
 In conclusion, there is an obvious mismatch between the priorities in life between  young men and women.

Question 2.
Poor academic performance among students is caused by their obsession with social networks like Facebook. Do you agree with the statement? Justify your viewpoints with suitable examples.
Judging on the great number of hours  that students spend browsing the various social networks, it is difficult for me not to agree with the statement. However, on second thought, it would also be unfair to blame only this obsession for the poor academic peformance, as there are many others factors involved. Besides there is also no denying that these social networks do bring some benefits for the students, directly or not.
Yes, spending a great number of hour on the facebook is a threat to students’ academic performance.  Imagine the time that they are supposed to spend revising and doing homeworks are wasted in the excitement of socialising in the digital world, with friends in the same community and those far away. As revision and homeworks are among the keys toward succesful academic achievements, there is no doubt that these students might  fail their examinations. Things would be worse if the this ‘social activitiy” goes on until the wee hours of the morning, where students would be coming to school yawning away and there would be no focus in lessons.  The worst that could happen is they would fall asleep even before going to school.
Having mentioned  the negative effects of social networks on student’s academic performance, I can’t help but to think of other reasons that could do the same thing. Peer influences that lead students into negative activities like  playing truant, loafing, and smoking have been long known as the reasons for students failing examinations, as they tend to lose focus on school. Missing a large number of lessons due to these activities will cause them blank during examinations. These cases of low academic performance has nothing to do wth obsession with social networks.
What about cases of students who are born with low IQ? These unlucky students have learning disabilities that no matter how you drill them in academic, they will not perform. The low functioning would not be able even to master the basic reading skill while the luckier would benefit enough if the could just read and count at the basic level. Some would be lucky to have talents in other than academic, such as in vocational traning. Special attention have to be given to these students, which, at the end of the day, would still show no good result in academic.  And most of these students are not intelligent enough to have accounts of the social networks.
There are also cases of bright students who end up not doing well in public examinations due to laziness,  having no purpose in life, indiscipline, and neglect by parents. On the other hand, other bright students who are obsessed with these social networks go on doing well in life as they are more disciplined, smart enough to control themselves not to let their socialising activities jeorpadise their academic performance by strictly obeying their study schedules. Of course parents also play their role, monitoring the children’s activiities and their academic progress. All these are just proofs that obsession with social networks can be controlled, and not let it affect academic performance.
In conclusion, it is alright to socialise via the digital world, getting to know people from all over the world and having fun at the same time, so long as academic performance is put into priority. The moment a student realises that studying is affected, he should buckle up and make things right.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Money is the medium of exchange that man had created centuries ago, to enable them to acquire their needs and necessities. Success means an achievement or accomplishment of a person having been working for it. The phrase Money Equals to Success is implying that these two elements are related; that success can only be attained with money; or that having a lot of money is a proof of success in life. I do not agree with this, as success is   subjective, and it does not necessarily need money to be achieved. Furthermore, there are many other things besides money in life that satisfy a person, to prove that he is successful.
Having all the money that a person needs does not prove that he is successful in life. Paris Hilton’s money that she gets from her multibillionaire hotelier father, for example, is not related to success. She may get a hold of everything that she desires, clubbing every night with celebrity friends, driving luxurious sport car, showing off  expensive clothes, but there is not a single thing in her life that can be said as success as she had never worked for it. In fact, by the way she is running her life, especially with the excessive drinking and smoking, money is actually ruining her life; more to Money Equals to Failure!
The true meaning of success is having the satisfaction of an accomplishment after working hard for it, especially with the grueling experience that comes along with it. A daughter of a poor fisherman in Kota Bharu Kelantan, scored full 4.00 GPA in her STPM back in 2008, a proof that money has nothing to do with success. Living in a small wooden hut that seemed to be going down anytime, with 5 other siblings, eating decent meals earned by the father just enough to survive, forget about tuition classes and expensive reference books, what this lass needed was the mere spirit to improve her family’s life, and went on to mug on her notes day and night, forgetting all the funs that any other youth like her would yearn for. All these are well paid for as after the successful STPM, she easily obtained the sponsor to further her study abroad. I believe there are other cases similar to this, where money is not the major role in achieving success.
For a person who believes in a simple but happy life, success means being able to earn enough for the family and to enjoy life as it is. There is nothing more satisfying than to be able to watch the children grow up to being useful adults who, at the end of the day, take their turn to take care of their parents. This particular person would die happy and contented unlike a person who breeds his children with money, who, in the end, would only be concerned for his money. A report in a local newspaper recently saw three siblings who had left their mother in an old folks’ home for years, only to come back on her funeral to ask for her valuable assets and money. The home operator, having promised the late mother to donate everything to an orphanage, had to reluctantly give them everything to avoid problems. This mother would definitely not regard her life as successful despite all the money that she had.
In conclusion, money does not equal to success. It might be handy in the process for success, but there are things like hard work, skills, patience and diligence that are more dominant. The satisfaction over the effort brings the true feel of success.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Welcome 2012... although its a bit too late.

Assalamualaikum. Wow... it's been exactly four months since my last update. The truth is, it took me almost 15 minutes to get into my own blog due to wrong typing of password. Yes, not only I have not updated, but I've not opened the blog in these four months.
2012 started off as a busy year for me. for the first time after four years, I'm given one form 4 (the best class) and one form 5 (the almost weakest class), besides the usual 2 Upper Six. Not to mention the Lower six that will come in May. So it has been a hectic 2 months, where teaching is concerned.
The biggest problem is the form 5; a mixture of super notorious boys, who frequent the disciplinary room for cases like playing truants and smoking, who need to be reminded all the time to pay attention during lessons, and a bunch of non-stop-talking girls, whose names are also in the top of the discipline master. Then there are five students with sight problems, 3 of them total blind, using the braille machine, the other two using magnifying glasses to read already enlarged text. Not that I'm complaining, but there is really problem in focusing, even with my 25 years of teaching.  Then there's the guiding teacher for the blind students, who has to attend all the lessons; a very awkward situation for me as there's always a feeling of being tested on my teaching method. Looking at the positive side, however, this perhaps adds to my teaching experience, and further strengthened my teaching skill.
In co-curricular activities, besides the usual choir, this year I will have to handle the nasyid, and kompang; and after 2 months I've not been able to see the students for practice. Serves me right, for going all out on the choir last year, that resulted in winning the state level competition that came with RM5000 prize money plus the earlier RM3000 for the district level.  Well it was a case of self-satisfaction, despite the fact that I was the oldest among the choir teachers in the competition, and the only DG 48! Well, this year the school is not allowed to take part in choir, to give chance to other schools. Nasyid is however around the corner.
Another new thing this year is that I am being 'lucky' to be chosen by the education department to be a member of a Survey Research team on the need to abolish class streaming based of academic performance in schools. After a three-day-stint in Kuantan early February, I will be travelling to Kota Bharu end of March, besides the frequent meetings in JPNT. It is keeping me busy, but yet another new thing in my teachig profession.
Well that's about it I guess, hoping to have time to write new posts after this.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011


Alhamdulillah. The glory of 2008 is back, at this very same stage. The then talented bunch of confident Upper Sixth Formers combined with the fifth formers, which somehow became a controversial issue, surprised themselves and everybody else in the school by rendering the school anthem and the then state theme song Impianku beautifully in full harmony and became the top in the state. This time, a different group of mostly Form four and five boys and girls, 1/3 of them could not even reach the fourth note of the C octave range, but with sheer determination and hard work, presented strong and beautiful combination of the sopranos, altos, tenor, and bass, and eventually announced the champion of Terengganu state level choir competition for cleanliness.  
Compared to the 2008 when I was a lone ranger from A to Z, this time around I have Cikgu Man, who just moved into the school a few months ago, to contribute two new songs. Listening to the songs for the first time, after requesting for them a few days earlier, I just had the feeling that we're going to create another history. Five-days-a-week of practice for two weeks seemed to be quite a pressure for everybody. Me, over the fact that I will not be around on the competition day as there is a very important meeting in Kajang, and that the altos were being so inconsistent, the sopranos once in a while off key, Cikgu Man for being left alone as he has this 'class control' problem over the group, and especially for the boys and girls who had to cope with examinations as well. Anyway the kids rose to the occasion, giving their best at the state final, perhaps motivated by the presence of the principal. Despite the absence of their "Sir Lan", they proved that hard work and discipline come together with talent and guide from teachers to be the best. The confidence shown should be reflected in their performance in life, to motivate them to be also the best in exams, as proven by their seniors back in 2008, 90% of them now in universities.
Personally, being the one responsible to start this activity in the school, I feel that our children should be allowed to develop their talent, be it in arts, music, or even sports, as this is relevant to our "Falsafah Pendidikan" objective in creating balanced all-rounders, emotionally, physically,intellectually, and spiritually. They may or not excel in examinations, but having experienced these activities, they would have the self-confidence that would be a help in their survival.
To the organisers, I wish that they consider issuing the prize cheques, RM8000 altogether, as soon as possible, as there is a need for a celebration before the school ends this year. My boys and girls, I hope this would be a beautiful memory for the years to come.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Malaysian out of top 400.

One news caught my attention last week (7th of October to be exact), drafted this comment, and just remembered about it a moment ago. Times High Education (THE) magazine  revealed its ranking of top 400 universities in the world, and no Malaysian made the cut. I'm fine with our football ranking of 142, and our number one tennis player only between 1050 to 1100 in the world (forgot the exact number), but this is something different. I'm with the opinion that our University Malaya, and lately University Science Malaysia, going by numerous statements by government officials, would at least be in the list. The Thai Mahidol University, which is quite uncommon for me, is somewhere between 351 to 400.

Ironicaly, our neighbouring country, Singapore's National University is at 40, 2nd best among Asian, after University of Hong Kong. And Hong Kong and Singapore has another five and two in the list, respectively. Being involved in preparing Form Six students for university, this is rather disturbing. What with qualifying terms of entrance getting tougher by the years, having at least two in list, even in the last 50 of the 400, would be an achievement.

At  top 10, nothing is new, except for the 1st ranked United State of America's California Institute of Technology, ( not even a university by name), which leaves the more familiar compatriots Harvard and Stanford, both at number 2. Oxford of the UK is at fourth.

Being a mere secondary school teacher, I do not think I'm qualified to comment on this, but every citizen of the country has the right to wonder what has been done, or as a matter of fact, what has not been done, to put our 'Menara Gading', (once I came across a student who translate it as Tusk Tower) at such a low place. I've always been very proud of my alma mater, ITM, its achievement in my days, even without  the word 'University' then, but  not so sure now. Should check where UiTM stands in the local ranking first.

A vice-chancellor of University Malaya mentioned that Malaysian universities need to fork out RM200 million    on its Research and Development programs, to be on par with the world's top universities. If that is accepted as an excuse for not making it to the top 400, then I think they should go ahead with it. After all, RM200 million is only a tip of the iceberg in the recent budget proposal.

A White Elephant in the school?

So far it has not shown any purpose of its existence.
Familiar with the shade in the picture? It was built somewhere in the middle of this year, very near the fishpond opposite the PMR laboratory, and cost, I was told, not less than RM1000.The fund somehow  was said to be a part of donation by a political figure. But the real reason I bring this issue up is, having been there for some months, I have never seen a soul, be it a student, a teacher or any human being using it, or even passing through it. And I dare anybody from  SMK Bukit Besar who is reading this article, tell me, with proof, that people are using this shade, for any reason. The fact that money is being spent for things that do not serve any function, in this case the benefits of the students and teachers, is rather disturbing. This also goes to show that we never learn from past experience. Look at the picture below. This has been around for more than a decade, and the only purpose for its existence is to shade a few teachers' motorcycles. With parts of the roof  falling off, this is a typical example of an abandoned building. 
A shade for teachers' motorbikes.
Passing by the location when the new shade was still under construction, a few times, I remember telling colleagues that the shade will never serve any function if not built together with benches and tables. Go to any parts of the school where there are tables and chairs, like the Pondok Sahsiah and Pondok Ilmu, and  the benches at the Pendidikan Khas block, you will see students grouping, discussing, doing home work and browsing the internet over their laptops. The afternoon session students, while waiting for classes to start, would sit under the shade doing home works or reading books. Others would have meals during recess there, with proper manner, rather than squatting in the little garden beside the canteen building, which as it is known, is not big enough to cater all the students. This is just common sense,  that  I learned in the very first year as a teacher some 24 years ago, that I seriously feel other teachers learn also.
The Pendidikan Khas Block.
A friend, trying to be positive, reasoned lack of finance, assuming that the benches and tables would come later. I however differ in opinion, as, if they realise the problem, they should have put benches and tables at the older shade that is shading motorcycles now, not forgetting to replace the falling roofs.
I have the feeling that this new shade is going to rot  in some time, just like the older one. And this one will not even serve as a motor cycle shade, going by its location.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Academic excellence guarantees a successful life. Do you agree?

This topic also has been discussed with my upper six this year and they have written their version of the article. This sample answer shows beside the appropriate approach and language, how ideas should be generated and developed. The bold phrase at the beginning of each paragraph is the main idea, and after the details it is closed with a summary that relates the argument with the topic.

No. I simply do not agree that academic excellence guarantees a successful life. If academic excellence means having a degree from a university, and a successful life is where a person is able to get whatever he desires and be happy  with it, than there are other elements in life that helps in making life a success.

It is obvious that during the last decade, academic qualification does not guarantee jobs for graduates, much to the frustration of the youngsters, who, throughout their university days were hoping for guaranteed posts in government agencies or steady private firms. Thousands were seen applying for jobs that were unpopular before, taking the teaching profession for example, where only a handful were recruited. Graduates without the extra qualities like the desire to move on, motivation, and communications skills will be left out, proving that academic excellence is not the license for a successful life.

The blue-collar sector promises bright future for the non performing school students. The vast and rapid development of the various industries in the country, led by the successful automotive sector, has provided jobs for those with skills rather than academic qualification. School leavers with vocational skills, taking automotive as example, see better future compared to their counterparts on the academic line.  Thus, it is a common scene nowadays to see mechanics and technicians in the various fields doing well in life, even without academic excellence.

Some people who excel in academics do manage to land in secured jobs in the government and corporate giants, and went on to the highest and powerful position. These are the few lucky ones, as in most cases, there are other factors that help determine their success. It is not a secret that cronyism and nepotism are being practised everywhere, much to the dismay of those who depend only on academic qualification. Unless they really stand out with brilliant and extremely noticeable performance, they should be prepared to be ordinary officers up to the day of retirement. This is evidence that excellence in academic alone does not guarantee success.

There are also people without academic excellence doing well in business. Through sheer determination and the urge to succeed, plus a little bit of aid from the bank perhaps, people have proven to be successful, earning way more than the salary of chief executives in the corporate sectors. In fact, with a hand from political influences, some are able to secure projects worth millions of ringgits. Would academic excellence be able provide this?

To conclude, academic excellence does help comfort a person’s life, securing him a career to earn a living. Nonetheless, it is simply not enough to guarantee that he will be successful in life, as it takes a lot of other factors to achieve it.