Is it necessary to have Moral Education as compulsory subject for public examination?
In Malaysia, Pendidikan Moral (Malay for "Moral Studies") is one of the core subjects in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination. It is a required subject for all non-Muslim students in the public education system in Malaysia. Muslim students are required to take the Islamic Studies (Malay: Pendidikan Islam) course.
When I was in the secondary school, moral education was not a compulsory examination subject for public examination. There were no religion studies for me in school , but I was a scout in school, which was my source of moral education. After my form 5, I did 3 months volunteer service in School for Mentally Retarded Children as volunteer teacher. I have no time for other undesired activities. That was in the 60s.
The Malaysian education system makes Moral Studies compulsory for non-Muslim students at secondary and primary schools. Muslim students instead partake in Islamic Studies lessons. Both subjects figure among the seven compulsory subjects undertaken by students for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. There has been considerable debate about the usefulness of the "Moral" subject, primarily due to the strict exam-oriented marking-schemes.
Moral Education or Pendidikan Moral
Pendidikan Moral, along with Islamic Studies, is governed by the Department of Islamic and Moral Studies (JAPIM), a branch under the Ministry of Higher Education.
The core of the syllabus is the 36 moral values (called "nilai" in Malay). These values include "Kepercayaan kepada Tuhan" (creed), "Bertanggungjawab" (responsibility) and "Sikap Keterbukaan" (open-mindedness) among others. The 36 values are divided categorized into 7 major fields of study (called "bidang" in Malay), namely:
• Perkembangan Diri (self-development)
• Kekeluargaan (family)
• Alam Sekitar (nature)
• Patriotisme (patriotism)
• Hak Asasi Manusia (human rights)
• Demokrasi (democracy)
• Keamanan dan Keharmonian (peace and harmony).
These values are presented in detail in textbooks and form the basis of corresponding examinations. Each value is defined by the Education Ministry. Answering examination questions requires some interpretation of these definitions.
Pendidikan Moral is often learned by rote. Teachers in schools tend to concentrate on answering techniques rather than the teaching material provided in the textbook. Instead of interpreting the appropriate value based on the information given, students are taught to look for specific keywords in the description and identify the corresponding moral value. Thus, strict memorization of the values is required without any emphasis on understanding or application. There have been suggestions to reform the system and incorporate other forms of assessment and not rely completely on written examinations but thus far, they have not been implemented.
Then, what is the point of study moral education in school? Unfortunately, the subject only evaluates the cognitive dimension of Moral Education or what is called Moral Knowledge by strictly memory work. Can passing of the subject by memory make the student actually understand the moral values?....it is actually wasting the students' time.
“On Bible Knowledge as an examination subject for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), Tan Sri Koh said the subject would be taught in schools after hours on request by parents. "If no suitable teacher is available at the school concerned, then a pastor or priest from a nearby church could be recruited to conduct classes." (http://www.nst.com.my/top-news/solutions-to-christian-concerns-1.28080)
Bible knowledge classes in schools should be a normal class in normal hours of the school. Why the class should be held after school hours. When Muslim students are having their Ugama class, the other students can have their classes on their respective religion. Buddhist student can have their Buddhism class, Hindu student can have their Hindu religion class, and Christian students have their Bible Knowledge class at the same time.
Religion studies are much better than Moral Studies, which is a exam oriented class. Religious Education is the term given to education concerned with religion. It may refer to education provided by a church or religious organization, for instruction in doctrine and faith, or for education in various aspects of religion, but without explicitly religious or moral aims, e.g. in a school or college. The term often overlaps with Religious studies. Religious studies is the academic field of multi-disciplinary, secular study of religious beliefs, behaviors, and institutions. It describes, compares, interprets, and explains religion, emphasizing systematic, historically based, and cross-cultural perspectives. The school need Religious studies not religion studies. The only risk factor is, the education department should ensure that no teachers with religion extremist background should be allowed teaching the subject. I still remember the Malaysian studies subject in public university was abused by some religion fanatic lecturer to propagate their belief to students, even students from different religion background. The students were undergoing mental torture for 3-4 years just to pass the examination. I hope this will not happen to students taking Religious studies in secondary schools.
If the students have studied religion studies, there is not necessary for them to take moral education, just like the Muslim students who take Islamic Studies.For students that do not belong to any religion group, with the parent’s consent, he can attend any of the religion class or opted for class like comparative religions, or a liberal art subjects or foreign language subjects.
Another form of National Service- replacement for moral education
National service of Moral education for school students , can be then make compulsory practical engagement on social services or voluntary services in charitable organization, hospital, fire station, orphanage, old folk homes, and even police, town council, military. There is no point to have national services, when not all are called to the service, and many resources need to channel to the national project.
The school army cadets, police cadets, and fire brigade cadets, Red Cross, St John Ambulance, can continued their engagement after leaving schools at the respective uniform units. The others like scouts and boys brigade have their national organization to launch a national program for school leavers to engage them in voluntarism. May be, suggested that students should make joining one uniform unit as compulsory school activity.
Other non-uniform school leavers can engaged themselves in environment conscious projects, or attached to hospitals, local councils, and other charitable organization, orphanage, old folks homes, school for blinds and deaf etc. The students should be allowed 3 months service, duly documented and a certification given as one of the compulsory criteria for local education and employment. This can apply to oversea education, when certification is required for applying of student visa to oversea.
That is alternative form of National Service....
There is no necessary to have a compulsory subject on Moral Education, when the purpose is just to memorize to score A for SPM Examination. A student who scored A in Moral Education may not guaranteed that he will be a morally right student. What is the purpose to have Moral Education subject compulsory for public examination, which is not useful for his or her academic education in tertiary level?
Religion education and full engagement in social services or uniform units, will be sufficient for them to develop into a responsible young citizen of the nation, all 36 moral values required by Moral Education syllabus are well covered .
Please stop Moral Education in school.
Further readings/ References:
1. ASSESSMENT IN MORAL EDUCATION AT THE SECONDARY SCHOOL LEVEL: THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL PERSPECTIVES, by Wan Hasmah Wan Mamat, http://myais.fsktm.um.edu.my/5116/1/10.pdf
2. Government To Implement Several Measures To Address Concerns, BERNAMA,- http://www.bernama.com.my/bernama/v6/newsindex.php?id=637994