Malaysia Chronicle

It grew worse when the Education Ministry declined to appear before the Special Select Committee on Education to provide explanations to the allegation concerned.The refusal also suggests a disrespect for parliament and, in turn, a disrespect for the Malaysian people who are also seeking answers.

To be sure, sections 16 and 17 of the Houses of Parliament (Privileges and Powers) Act 1952 authorises the House and any related committee to order the attendance of witnesses and to ask for documents submission.

Neither Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin nor the ministry officials showed up, said panel chairman Maszlee Malik, who was education minister in the Pakatan Harapan cabinet.

The controversy emerged after complaints were made that the 2021 SPM Bahasa Melayu examination questions (comprehension) were reused for the second session of the examination this year.

The second special SPM session is for students who were unable to sit for the earlier examination owing to Covid-19, floods as well as those who were given special exemptions by the director of examinations.

It is disturbing that such an issue of public interest and importance was not addressed squarely by the Education Ministry before the panel as it may have serious implications on the ministry’s professionalism and integrity as well as those of the Malaysian Examinations Board.

Surely, these institutions are aware of how important it is to ensure that examination questions are well crafted and vetted, and that high standards are maintained.

Appearing before the panel would help assure the public, particularly concerned parents and students, that the ministry takes the principle of transparency and accountability seriously.

The refusal to attend the meeting may even lend credence to a suspicion that the ministry has something to hide.

The panel meeting is also to address the public’s concern that students who took the examination in the first session might have been short-changed if the examination questions in the second session were indeed an exact copy of that in the first session.

In other words, students of the second session might have an advantage of having seen the questions set for the first session, which is clearly unfair.

And if it is true that the examination questions were recycled, the ministry obviously would need to address the issue urgently so that any dereliction of duty would be dealt with accordingly.

If there was indeed a recycling of the questions, it would give a bad example to students who expect high standards of professionalism among those who were assigned to set the examination questions.

Furthermore, it may give a sad impression that those who supposedly recycled the questions lacked resourcefulness. Could they not resort to, for instance, a question bank for an alternative set of questions?

Relying solely on the first session questions is nearly as bad as having the examination questions leaked.

To reiterate, it is crucial for the Education Ministry to clear the air.

Given that education is crucial to nation-building, it is vital that our young generation gets the kind of education they truly deserve so that they can play a useful role in the development of our country.

It is also hoped that a good education system would help guide to some extent the young away from unhealthy activities during their spare time.

What needs replication is quality education.  TMI

Pictures shared by parents showing the expiry date of the dried food items given as Hari Raya aid to underprivileged children at a school in Bangi, Selangor.

PETALING JAYA: A primary school in Bangi has come under fire from parents after near-expired food items were given to their children in the “asnaf” category for the upcoming Hari Raya festivities.

People in the “asnaf” category are those who are underprivileged and are eligible to receive zakat contributions.

A guardian who only wanted to be known as Fahmi said he was surprised when parents of one of his son’s classmates shared a picture of a food item that would expire on April 29.

Fahmi said he was saddened by the school’s contribution, adding that it should be more sensitive to the needs of the underprivileged.

“It is supposed to be for Aidilfitri, but they were given instant noodles and dried food,” he told FMT.

The parent also seemingly took issue with the fact that the food items were from Indonesia.

“(The school) should have given ‘kuih raya’ or cash. That is more suitable.”

According to him, donations were collected from pupils by the school management to provide for other underprivileged children.

Meanwhile, a senior teacher at the school explained that the donation was from a person who declined to be identified, not from funds donated by the pupils.

The teacher said the donation was received last Saturday and it was only distributed to the underprivileged pupils during Nuzul al-Quran on Tuesday.

“Yes, I saw that the expiry date is near and it is true that the food items are from a neighbouring country (Indonesia) because the donor is from that country,” he told FMT.

He added that each underprivileged child also received 5kg of rice as well as other dry goods.

In the meantime, the teacher said the donations collected from pupils and guardians, which had now reached RM6,000, would be distributed to the underprivileged children on April 27.  FMT



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