Parents group: interest in history more crucial than must-pass

The recent announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that history will be made a must-pass subject for a SPM certificate drew flaks among parents group today, as they urged the government to instead make the subject “more enjoyable” to students.

Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairperson Azimah Abdul Rahim said the current syllabus and teaching method of history is “incredibly boring and uncreative”, which does not inspire nor stimulate the students.

“It doesn’t help if you make the subject a must-pass, moreover the students will have to endure another level of examination stress,” she said.

She opined that history should be retained as a normal SPM subject but incorporated with more visual materials to excite the children.

“They should put up a television and play more documentaries or historical films in classrooms,” she said, while sharing the experience of her children being attracted Malaysian documentaries shown in the History Channel.

Azimah also slammed the education ministry for its inconsistency in policies, as the determination to end exam-oriented education by abolishing PMR weeks ago was followed by making history a compulsory pass subject.

“Are they going back to the education by force?” she asked.

Principal: more practical projects needed

SMK Assunta headmistress Normal Ismail too hopes that the subject could be better structured to carry more practical activities.

“Students could relate better to the contents if they are applying the knowledge instead of just memorising it,” she said.

Muhyiddin announced in the UMNO general assembly last week that history will be made a must-pass subject to obtain a SPM certificate by 2013 to further enhance students’ knowledge on the country’s nation building process.

However, some quarters are worried that the ruling party is attempting to revise the syllabus according to its taste, which might see an emphasis on the Constitution’s Article 153 on Malay special rights and the social contract.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall CEO Tang Ah Chai opined that the history subject is being converted into an ideological and political education.

KLSCAH: History not political tool

“Just like what happened in China, our government is trying to instill an ideology in favour of the ruling party through education. But even in China, it is done in a separate subject to history,” he said.

He disagreed regarding making history a must-pass under the reason of it being “important” and urged the government to explain the rationale behind the decision.

“They might think history is important today, and they might feel the same about English or information technology tomorrow,” he said.

“Are they going to make these subjects a compulsory pass in SPM too? This does not echo the current education trend of practical learning,” he added.

He fears that the flip-flop education policy might be done at the expense of students, just like the introduction and reversal of teaching science and mathematics in English.

History, if highly distorted, would even create more distrust between ethnics as opposed to consolidating national unity, he expressed.

“History should not be overused to serve a political agenda,” he said.