PETALING JAYA: The national teachers’ union and a think tank have voiced their support for a call to boost the appeal of attending Form Six among students who have acquired their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.
Referring to Segamat MP Edmund Santhara’s proposal that a white paper be prepared on the issue, National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan and Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs research manager Wan Yan Shin said the paper should include a discussion of ways to improve the value of the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), the certificate issued to students who pass the examination held at the end of Form Six.
In making his call last Thursday, Santhara suggested making STPM more valuable by giving it the status of a diploma.
“Those who do not want to pursue tertiary education can then at least use this diploma to look for jobs,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.
Tan told FMT the proposal was timely because fewer and fewer students were choosing to go to Form Six over the years.
He suggested reducing the number of semesters from three to two to shorten the course from 18 months to one year so that the duration would match that of the university matriculation programme.
He called for a study into the weight of the coursework, saying students were currently overwhelmed by the need to complete a vast amount of work.
“There is also a lack of ICT (information and communications technology) facilities in schools, and this will dampen the learning process,” he said.
He added that STPM could not compete with matriculation as the choice of subjects varied according to what each school could offer, meaning some students would be unable to take courses they wanted.
Wan said the white paper should examine the purposes of STPM and the matriculation programme and look toward improving both.
Referring to Batu Gajah MP Sivakumar Naidu’s remark that there shouldn’t be two pre-university systems, she told FMT the matriculation programme and STPM were different and the MP seemed to be comparing apples to oranges.
She said: “The main question is what is the purpose of having two systems? The minister of education has said that the majority of matriculation graduates go on to study the sciences in university while the majority of STPM graduates take arts.
“However, both STPM and matriculation offer both arts and science streams.”
Commenting on Santhara’s suggestion that STPM be turned into a diploma, she said students could already use the certificate to apply for jobs.
She also said the ministry should study whether STPM is truly able to prepare students for higher learning instead of finding ways to reduce its difficulty to help students score high marks.