My boy is in Standard 1 this year. He will go through the Primary School Standard Curriculum or Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) this year. His sister who is in Standard 3 is still on the KBSR (Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah). The KSSR will replace the existing primary school integrated curriculum (KBSR), which was first introduced in 1983, and reviewed in 2003. My son is in the pilot year of the KSSR.
What does this all mean? From several local newspaper articles I have read, the keywords are
fun and interactive
project and activity based
creativity and innovation
critical thinking and reasoning skills
"The new curriculum is based on six key areas — communication, spiritual attitude and values, humanitarianism, literacy in science and technology, physical and personal development — to produce holistic individuals." (Wow. Big Words)
KSSR aims to strengthen the command of Bahasa Malaysia and English among primary school pupils
So what's new? (I am talking about SJKC only since that is where my child is studying)
School Hours reduced by 120 minutes
No more Maths and Science in English
Malay periods increased to 10
Maths periods reduced from 10 to 6 (Previously it was 6 periods for Maths in Chinese and 4 periods for Maths in English. Now it will be 6 periods in Chinese only.)
English periods increased from 2 to 5
Science is now "Dunia Sains dan Teknologi", and Mathematics is "Matematik" for SJK
What else is new?
Penmanship - Students are to be taught the right way to hold a pen or pencil properly
Introduction of Sexual Education
There is even a segment on bullying and how kids should handle thugs and extortionists in schools
Students will be given a file for assignments throughout the year which must be checked, sign and return. Failure to do so will bring about "adverse consequences" and negatively impact his overall academic performance
Teachers have to do internal assessments and evaluations
Less Exam Oriented
Practical implementation so far I have yet to see the new primary school books for Std 1. However, the HM of my boy's school has said that the school will keep the little ones in school during the 120 minutes reduced lessons time (about 4 periods in a week) where teachers will help them with their homework etc so that they can go home at the same time with their brothers and sisters. That is a good thing as the school buses will not come early. I don't think the schools are supposed to give any more academic lessons during this 120 minutes because we're supposed to be moving away from academics and exams.
It is all fine and good to reduce the lesson times but no one thought about the practicalities of doing so when many kids have siblings who go back half an hour later each day. What do you do with 7 year olds released or dismissed from schools half an hour before their brothers and sisters when the school buses will not come to pick them? Even parents will find it impractical to pick up their kids at different times, just half and hour apart.
When I asked the class teacher what is the difference between KBSR and KSSR, she summed it up this way. "The kids are supposed to talk more." She pointed to the cute but noisy 7 year olds and said "Can you imagine how that will be? During lessons, teachers are supposed to teach while they sit quietly to listen." And so that was that. I wonder what she feels about completing the evaluation forms for each kid. Some SJKC have more than 50 to a class.
On another point, less exam oriented? We now have the LINUS program which sees some schools holding these tests as early as January. Scary. The kids just entered "big school" for the first time in their lives and they have to start taking tests in Malay and Maths.
I wonder about the project-based activities and wonder what sort of assignments my boy will be receiving. As a parent, I better stand-by to offer him support and assistance.
We parents have always wanted an education system that is less exam oriented. Is this it? Will we get there? We'll just have to wait and see. I hope there won't be too many teething problems for this first year of implementation.