Sunday, 28 December 2014

MUET requirement in Budget Proposal.

I just can't link these two. But it was clearly mentioned by the Prime Minister during his 2015 Budget Proposal in the parliament not long ago. The MUET qualification for entrance into local public universities will upgraded, come 2015. This means courses that require Band 1 in MUET will ask for at least Band 2 this time. And of course the Band 4 for TESL and Law  would ask for Band 5. 

What does MUET result have to do with the budget proposal by the way? Unless the government is planning to give extra  funds for the upgrading of the teaching for this test, I just don't see how MUET and Budget are related. And clearly there was no mention of any funding for this purpose.

Nevertheless, despite the worry that keeps disturbing my nights, I take it as a challenge to make it a challenge for the students. With 80 percent of them scoring lower than C in their SPM, 20 percent total Failures, it looks impossible to make everyone of them score no less than Band 2. So reminding them that a band 1 will be the only obstacle for them to achieve their objective of taking up STPM will be a routine after this. And of course the usual reminder that a Band 1 can be obtained by just signing their attendance for the test and sending blank papers to the invigilators, which usually makes them burst into laughter, like it is a great joke. 

 I can already visualize the faces of triumph on the day when the STPM result is out, with CGPAs all above 3.5, change into tears on the day the result for UPU application comes out, only because they just don't meet the MUET requirement. Quite a handful of the last batch candidates managed to get themselves into universities, despite the Band 1 in MUET. Nevermind the Universities and courses not at all in their wishlists. At least they get the opportunities to work for the pieces of degree. If the previous Band 2 and 3 candidates were already having difficulties in getting courses of their interest, well I can just imagine what these juniors would be facing next year.

A friend suggested going back to basic, real basic, which is no no to me as these batch of students would be mugging their heads out for all the four papers' written exam, plus the 'kerja kursus" (asignments) that each subject is pressuring them, leaving very little focus on MUET. So it would be drills on all the four components of the test in the lessons.. Speaking the language, besides daily practice in Listening and Reading, and making them write in English that is beyond comprehension of the examiners. In fact, I am thinking of the old method, the 20-cents fine for every Malay word in my lessons. 

Looking forward to the first day of school come 5th January 2015. Btw, its my 27th year of my teaching profession. 
Just can't believe that it's been two years since my last post. No excuse, just being lazy. Come on Azlan wake up.To my new batch of students, there will be more coming after this. I promise.  To begin with here is another sample of question and answer that I've worked out with  the last batch. Happy reading, and then writing.

Question : Parental negligence is the main cause of social problems among youngsters nowadays. Do you agree? Give your opinion.
Parental negligence occurs when  parents fail to fulfil their responsibilities for their children. These include, besides the basic needs, providing education, and most importantly love. It is undeniable that this could contribute to social problems like crime, drug abuse and illegal racing among youngsters, but I totally disagree if it is considered as the main cause of immoral activities as there are many other reasons related to social problems, like unlimited access to media, peer influence and stress.

Children nowadays have unlimited access to media. Through the internet they click to websites like Youtube, Twitters and Facebook, to name a few, where they link themselves to everything under the sky. This includes negative activities from pornography to details on the  processing of drugs. Not denying that the media contributes towards mankind, it is proven  that it also plays a role to immoral activities. This is something that is beyond the control of parents.

Peer influence has been noticed as one cause of social problems among youngsters nowadays as they  spend a lot of time with friends; morning at school, games in the afternoon, tuition classes at nights, not to mention weekend activities. Even when they are not together, they would still be in touch through the various social websites, chatting through the nights. To be accepted by the gang, these teenagers would normally do what their friends do, or more likely what their friends want them to do. Some of these peer influences are no doubt positive, like studying and healthy physical activities, but it is also undeniable that most  are negative, as they are normally related to entertainment; about having fun. Thus, peer influence is so strong that these youngsters neglect their parents’ advice.

Stress is another reason why youngsters opted for immoral activities. The burden of schoolwork and assignments, the tasking experience of preparing for examinations and parents’ high expectation on their academic performance have somehow pressured them to the maximum, leading in the search for escapes like smoking, getting high with all kinds of drugs that are available, and risking life with illegal motor cycle racing. Thus, no matter how parents care for their children, they just cannot help it when these negative elements seem to be too attractive to avoid.

There is no doubt that parental negligence can lead to social problems among youngsters nowadays. However it is unfair to say that it is the main cause, as there are other factors that are equally influential.

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.