‘Lowering requirements may affect residential schools’

By Rahmah Ghazali, NST

KUALA LUMPUR: Revising the minimum admission requirements to residential schools for less fortunate pupils may cause a drop in the schools’ performances, said an educational non-governmental organisation.


Parents Action Group for Education president Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said pupils in residential schools obtained stellar results in their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

“(Some of them) achieve 5As. This is why residential schools are always oversubscribed.

“Therefore, I don’t see why the standards should be lowered.

“We should encourage these students to do better, instead of coming up with mediocre work,” she told the New Sunday Times.

Yesterday, Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said his ministry had revised the minimum admission requirement to fully residential schools for Form One students.

He said the new requirements would see students from low-income families needing to score only a minimum of 3As and 2Bs in their UPSR, whereas students from rural areas needed to achieve a minimum of 4As and 1B.

Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, said the ministry made the decision as many poor pupils lagged behind because of financial woes.

Noor Azimah said those factors would not necessarily impact students’ achievements.

“We must not underestimate these pupils because their parents are aware of the importance of education.

“They may not be able to afford tuition classes, but teachers play a very important role in educating these children.”

She added that residential schools rejected even students with 5As.

“More than 20,000 applied for admission, and these are students with 5As or 4As. So, I don’t think we need to lower the schools’ standards.”

National Parent-Teacher Association Collaborative Council president Datuk Mohd Ali Hassan said although it was important to help pupils from low-income families or those from rural areas, the government had to ensure that no one took advantage of the new policy.

“This new policy has to be scrutinised so that people can’t claim that they belong to the two groups.”

He said the government could provide extra classes for English or extra coaching to ensure students could acclimatise themselves to the environment in fully residential schools.

“(This is to avoid) culture shock when they meet urban students with excellent academic backgrounds.

“But, at the same time, they should not be pampered.

“We have to discipline them so they can work hard to overcome their deficiencies.”

National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan lauded the move and described it as a golden opportunity for students whose academic progress was hampered because of financial constraints.

“I suggest that the government assist them until they get into university. This will help them get good jobs.

“They can then return to serve in their hometowns. This will break the cycle of poverty.”