THE Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (ABIM) welcomes the Education Ministry’s announcement which directs schools to end the practice of segregation of classes. ABIM views this as a positive step towards encouraging a healthy and vibrant school environment for all students.
Studies on the highest and lowest scores for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 and Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2012 show that school ambiance is among the main factors affecting student achievements in the assessment.
The character and atmosphere of a school refer to administrators’ and teachers’ care and concern for students, safety and security, student involvement in teaching and learning, as well as empowering students in school activities.
ABIM is optimistic that the directive will provide opportunities for administrators and teachers to create a school setting that is caring and conducive, where as many students can interact easily with their teachers.
The changes will also encourage administrators and teachers to explore new ways and techniques to get acquainted and be closer to students, and involve students actively, cognitively and emotionally in teaching and learning, planning school activities, and crafting a remarkable school impression and surroundings.
In such a school, students will be motivated and more likely to score higher achievements in classroom assessments, centralised assessments and internationally through TIMSS and Pisa.
Grouping students according to academic abilities or streaming is prevalent in most Malaysian schools. Streaming has been identified by International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), the organisation which conducts TIMSS, as one of the factors that causes low scores in TIMSS.
IEA chose classrooms at random as samples to undergo TIMSS. Results showed that for Malaysia, the range between high-scoring students and students with low scores was wide.
The results were consistent with literature, which showed the effect of streaming in broadening the disparity between the achievements of high-scoring students and ones with low scores academically and co-curricular-wise.
Streaming could be replaced by “loose streaming”, where students with diverse abilities are placed in the same classroom, and under-performing students are assisted. Loose streaming integrates students of various academic levels, hence enabling group dynamics to occur effectually in the classrooms.
Literature supports the effectiveness of peer learning and peer support to raise students’ attentiveness and to increase performance.
ABIM considers this development to have the potential in shifting the paradigm of Malaysian education to leap further ahead, while taking into consideration the space and time needed to make the necessary management changes at all levels. We have to move beyond existing comfort zones to attain the best schools and provide great education for everyone.
Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim, President, Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur