Some teachers unconvinced by plan to abolish Arts/Science streams

The education ministry says students can mix and match from across science and arts subjects beginning next year.

PETALING JAYA: Secondary school teachers are still in the dark over details of the education ministry’s plan to do away with the Science/Arts streaming system, just two months away from the new academic year.

Many of them say their schools have not been given instructions on the new system.

A teacher from Penang, who wanted to be known as Penny, said teachers are concerned as they have not been informed about the change although it was announced that there would no longer be Arts and Science streams beginning next year.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik said students would have the option to choose the subjects they are interested in instead of being confined to those within the Arts or Science stream.

Maszlee said this was because the streaming system restricted students’ potential.

Penny does not agree.

“Students still get to choose based on their aptitude. In my school, we do allow Science students to take accounting or other Arts subjects. There are also students who prefer to take nothing extra.

“In this case, there’s no wasted talent,” she told FMT.

She said only a handful of students were taking up courses due to parental pressure.

Speaking to FMT, Penny said the streaming system allowed her to prepare lessons according to her students’ needs, adding that she had different methodologies and materials for students in different streams.

“I don’t know how abolishing the streaming system will help as we don’t know how exactly it’s going to be carried out in the first place.

“There have been too many changes in the education system. This doesn’t sound like a well-planned thing, but more of a spontaneous thought,” she said.

Ibrahim, a retired teacher from Kuantan, said Maszlee should back his claims with statistics to prove that the current streaming system was flawed.

“If a student were to study in the Science stream and later choose a career in arts, it would not be wasted talent. His talent would have been honed when he was in the Science stream, or vice versa.

“Abolishing the streaming system will create chaos and open up a Pandora’s box of problems for students, parents, teachers and education officers,” he added.

He said students would be taking and dropping subjects as they moved, creating logistical problems in the deployment of teachers to match the requirements of the classes.

“This will lead to classes without teachers with the appropriate skills set to teach certain subjects,” he added.

But the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said school administrators would be able to handle the situation.

“Whatever the system is, the administrators will be able to sort it out with proper planning, given sufficient notice,” said NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan.

Tan said logistical problems could be avoided if students seek the advice of counsellors and teachers when choosing their subjects.

“The teachers are there for the students. Rightfully, the students should choose what they want to study so they can plan their future if they are already set on it.”

Tan welcomed the move to abolish the streaming system, saying it was too discriminatory.

“The ‘clever’ ones go to Science stream and those in the Arts stream are frowned upon by their peers and parents,” he added.