When both syllabuses are placed side-by-side, the differences between the US and Malaysian Mathematics syllabuses are apparent.
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The Malaysian school syllabus has been debated almost every year but it came to a height when a teacher Mohd Fadli Salleh aka Cikgu Fadli pointed out several flaws in the system.
For speaking against the Education Ministry, Cikgu Fadli is allegedly accused of violating the code of conduct as a civil servant and potentially faces dismissal or demotion.
One of his criticisms is about the syllabus for Standard One students, especially the Mathematics subject, which he deemed beyond the level of children in the age group.
There are parents who agree with him and they have also complained about the tough and advanced syllabus their children have to navigate.
Is the Malaysian syllabus truly hard?
A Malaysian parent, who is living in the United States, shared a few samples of the Grade 1 syllabus used in his child’s school.
Saif Suhairi explained that Grade 1 in the US is equivalent to Malaysia’s standard One for children aged 6 to 7 years old.
With two different syllabuses placed side-by-side, the difference is quickly apparent. Here’s how they stand apart:
Simpler syllabus in the US
The US syllabus is much simpler because the aim is allegedly to get young children to enjoy learning in school.
Saif Suhairi said his child in Grade 1 learned to trace numbers like a four-year-old child in Malaysia. He admitted that this felt slow and he was on the fence about it.
On the other hand, standard one students in Malaysia are already forced to memorise the 6 times table.
He explained that the students in the US only learn about multiplication in Grade 3 but the syllabus will pick up in middle school and high school.
In addition, there are different programmes and mechanisms in place for advanced children.
No heavy bags in the US
In his child’s school, they don’t need to lug heavy bags daily like the children here. Most of their study materials can be kept inside the school table.
Students there only need to bring back their school-provided Dell laptop, a work file or homework for the day. Most of their school-related items are left in school unless it’s a progress report to show to parents at home.
Good teacher-to-student ratio
In Malaysia, teachers and parents often complain about the large number of students in a class.
In the US, the ratio is much more manageable and it makes sense. One class has a minimum of 20 students and 25 students at a maximum. Each class is also assigned one teacher and one teaching assistant.
While the teacher teaches the class, the teaching assistant helps the teacher by passing out study materials, getting the children to behave or helping students understand what’s taught in class.
Having an extra hand in class can help the class run smoothly and children get to receive beneficial attention to help them grasp the new topic for the day.
At the end of the day, Saif Suhairi thinks it’s best if Malaysia chooses the best school syllabus and sticks to it.
This is because the constant changing of the government, its ministers and school syllabuses do not help school children and teachers in the long run.
Currently, everyone is waiting on the verdict in Cikgu Fadli’s case. Let’s hope something good for the schoolchildren and teachers will come out of it.