PUTRAJAYA: The Education Ministry wants all primary schools to reduce the number of workbooks used during lessons to end the rampant “heavy bag phenomenon” in Chinese schools, as well as to lighten parents’ financial burden.
Its deputy minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon warned that action would be taken against schools that do not comply with a ministry circular in 2000, regarding the usage of workbooks in primary schools, which ordered a reduction in pupils’ exercise books.
He said teachers were not supposed to use external workbooks as the main teaching reference in the first place.
“They are not encouraged to use workbooks at the beginning of the school year.
He reminded schools that the textbooks and workbooks provided by the ministry are sufficient.
Chong said pupils from Year One to Three should not use workbooks, while pupils from Year Four to Six are only allowed one workbook per core subject – Mathematics, Science and Chinese or Tamil.
“We have received complaints from parents saying they paid up to hundreds of ringgit just for workbooks,” he added.
He cited an example of a Chinese school which had five external workbooks for Chinese, seven for English, five for Malay and five for Science.
Pupils from this school even had workbooks for History and Moral, two subjects which were not supposed to have workbooks, Chong added.
Some schools, he said, had already distributed workbook pre-order lists to parents for the 2018 school year.
“The selection of additional workbooks is done by the respective subject heads.
“The teacher has the duty to suggest workbooks that are most suitable and consistent with the prepared syllabus by us (ministry),” he said.
Parents have the option of not purchasing them, he added.
Chong said the ministry found that the workbooks did not comply with the ministry’s standards and were not suitable for the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, which focuses on 21st century learning, vocational skills, Higher Order Thinking Skills, as well as creative and interactive learning.
On a separate matter, Chong said the ministry would come up with a new list of “hotspot schools” next year.
However, a new category will be added to the list so that it will not be misleading.
“The new category will be for high-achieving schools with a good reputation, but are located in high-risk areas,” he added.
Chong stressed that the 420 schools on the list were not all bad schools.