Friday March 22, 2013
It’s not all rosy; Fatimah worried
By YU JI
KUCHING: The passing rate of SPM in Sarawak is slightly higher than the national average, however the gap between urban and rural achievements is close to 20% in some subjects.
According to results announced yesterday, the passing rate of Sarawak stood at 91.52%, against the national passing rate of 91.1%. A total of 38,344 students sat for the SPM examinations last year. To pass the school-leavers’ test, a student must pass Bahasa Malaysia.
Results for Sarawakian school-leavers showed improvements across the board. For subjects like Bahasa Malaysia, the passing rate was a credible 91.52%.
The subjects with the highest passing rate of 100% were Music, Tamil, Punjabi and English Literature. The lowest were Arabic at 72.44%, followed by English, which had a passing rate of 76.30%, and Agriculture Science, 76.51%.
Students who sat for SPM last year took up a total of 90 subjects, the majority of them newly-introduced technical and vocational courses, including Visual Arts, Basic Interior Design and even Skin and Haircare.
The majority of students in Sarawak continue to be from rural areas. Last year, of the total amount of students, 19,984 students were from rural areas, compared to 14,758 urban students.
In a report prepared by the Sarawak Education Department, special emphasis was placed on the disparity between urban and rural results. Among rural students, just 69.84% passed English. For the same subject, urban students recorded a 85.26% passing rate.
For mathematics, 76.93% of rural students passed the subjects, compared to 86.04% in urban areas.
“I am worried looking at these figures,” Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said.
“The gap for English is big, and this will be a problem. I am concerned because by 2016, English will be a ‘compulsory pass’ subject for SPM. This goes to show that we — educationists, parents and everyone else — must work very hard to improve (the studying) environment.”
Fatimah said the same for Maths and Science, although those subjects would not be compulsory pass subjects. “We still need to work very hard to get rural kids to like to study Science.”
According to the Education Department’s Average School Grade (ASG) rating, the highest-rated urban school, SM Sains Kuching, recorded 1.53, while the best rural school, SMK Tinggi Sarikei, scored 3.41.
The minister, who keeps a watching brief on education (which is a federal matter) for the Sarawak Government, also spoke about the disparity between male and female achievements.
“While it is not specified in this report, the difference in gender achievements is of concern. In some institutes of higher learning some 60% of students are female; in others, as high as 70%.
“As the minister for women issues, while I am proud of our young ladies’ achievements, I’m worried about what this entails for the development of family and social welfare.”
Rural students fare better in arts and languages. For Bahasa Malaysia, rural students actually did better than their urban counterparts, with a passing rate of 92.06% compared to 90.78%.
Fatimah was speaking at a ceremony to reward Sarawak’s top SPM achievers here yesterday. To the school-leavers who excelled, she said their future path “is straightforward and easy”.
“You will go on to universities. Your concern will not be the lack of academic achievements, but perhaps, financial concerns. Well, look at for all opportunities. There are aids from federal and state governments and from the private sector.
“But as I congratulate all of you here today, I would also like to tell those who, although trying hard but did not get good results, well, your futures are just as bright. There are many other opportunities and options. The state has been emphasising technical and vocational education which I urge you to consider seriously.”