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Sadness and anger overwhelm me when I read about the three pupils in Sarawak not being allowed to sit for the UPSR (Sijil Pelajaran Sekolah Rendah) or Primary School Education Certificate public examination in early September 2011. According to the newspaper report their parents have to appeal to their political representative to intervene to let the children sit for the examination. And they only manage to do this on the last day. This is preposterous. The authorities should investigate this incidence and mete out an appropriate disciplinary action against those who are responsible for this treachery.

The three pupils with their parents and concerned friends

Teachers are supposed to educate,guide,inspire and care for their pupils. The community’s expectation of this noble profession is high and that teachers are usually held in esteem. They are very much part of the transformation process occurring in a child. Quite often a child trusts his teachers more than his parents. A teacher’s influence on a child can be life-long. A good pupil-teacher relationship can do wonders to the former and motivate the child to perform well in his studies.

Sadly things have gradually changed for the worse due to many factors in our present day society. The teaching profession is no longer coveted by those who really love teaching. Many choose it as a last option having failed to enter others. And compared to teachers in the past, there are more paper works which current teachers are being burdened with. On top of that the singular emphasis on school performance in public examinations have made teachers focus more on pupils who can help their school achieve the glamour.

Under such pressures, teachers will not have time for weak pupils. They do not have the patience for the slow and the mischievous. There is no time for remedial classes or activities to motivate such pupils back into the general “normal’ population. Just imagine these unfortunate pupils have six years in primary school and yet their educational well being and welfare are not in place by the time they are supposed to sit for their first important public examination before going on to secondary level. Now what chances have they got to continue well into their next public examination?

What every child should grade his teacher

By the way let’s not forget that these small people are also human with feelings and social,family and personal problems that they are grappling with both at home and in schools. In most cases such children come from poor background and whose parents are not well-educated. These factors handicap them and they need help and not dismissal.

What has our education system become? Churning out pupils who perform and leaving those weak ones behind and imagine the multiplying of problems that our country is going to face if this trend is not addressed. The recent revelation that 1000 out of 11000 (9%) National Service Recruits in 2010 are found to be illiterate is shocking to say the least. How many of these have gone through the primary school system? How many have gone through a series of teachers who just do not care? How many have been forced not to sit for their first public examinations?

Shame on our education system which celebrates achievement to the detriment of those literally “disabled” pupils whose failures are swept under the carpet. What more these “troublesome” pupils are forced not to take examination so that the school can show good performance in term of percentage to the Ministry of Education. I cringe at the thought that this wanton action on the part of the teachers could have been deliberate. Something is really wrong with our society and we dare call ourselves a caring lot!

Perhaps the Education Ministry should also monitor schools which show improvement among their weak pupils and reward them for that effort. Only then can we say we have a balanced education in the real sense of the word – cultivating potential and celebrating excellence

Let there be no treachery anywhere in our education system and teachers need to possess a degree of professional idealism to guide their behaviour. In the same breath, I wish to salute teachers who care especially those primary school teachers who inspire me to reach for the stars.They live on forever in my heart.

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