Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why studying in Singapore is not as good as you think?

Guest post by Ricky Tay

A letter for Malaysia Pre-U students who intend to come to Singapore for Tertiary Education

Dear Juniors,

Finishing your STPM, UEC or A-Level blah blah blah? Then what is NEXT?

If you have the intention to further study in Singapore, then this is the post you need to read before you MAKE A CHOICE.

Let me share my experience with you first.

I am a Johorean who graduated from Foon Yew High School in 2005. At that time, I knew nothing about what I am supposed to do next as I have no elder brother or sister as a reference. Due to the limited financial support I have from my family, further studies outside of Malaysia & Singapore is not an option. However, when I applied to the local universities in Singapore, I failed because of my lousy UEC result.

Ricky 2005 UEC Results
Ricky 2005 UEC Results

At that time, a minimum number of 4As was required in order to enter NTU, while I gotten only 3As (why didn't I have my last A!?).

Tips: English must be an "A" in order to secure a place in Singapore local universities.

My FIRST takeaway - You really need to work hard for your pre-U exam to be in a better position to choose your next path.

Eventually, I listened to my dad (a wrong advisor) and chose a 3-year Diploma course in Bioelectronics (DBE) in Singapore Polytechnic (SP).

My SECOND takeaway - With my UEC results, I could have gone to other Universities, probably in Malaysia for a degree. By going to Polytechinic in Singapore, you need 2/3 years to obtain a diploma and another 3/4 years for a degree in a Singapore local University, which means that you take a total of minimum 5 years to get a degree.

I finished my Diploma in Bioelectronic in 2009 and continued with a degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering (EEE) in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). I chose EEE simply because it gave me 1-year exemption in NTU (normally 4 years for EEE). Then I graduated in 2012 with CGPA of 4.01 (So lucky, it was just barely Second Upper Class Honours!) and worked for Panasonic Semiconductor from 2 Jul 2012 to 31 Oct 2014 as one of their scholars. And now, I am making a switch in industry after realising my passion is not engineering (it took me so many years to find out).

My THIRD takeaway - Choose your Major & Career carefully. Do not just follow the default path or be fooled by the promise of early graduation. Follow your heart and choose something you love (with reasonable prospects). When you realise you are in the wrong direction, try the very best to make the switch as early as possible.

With 6 years of studying plus 2 years of working experience in Singapore, I would like to offer 3 warnings before you make the decision whether or not to cross the border to study:

1. Don’t be deceived by the money

High employment rate and a strong currency in Singapore seem alluring, but there is more than what meets the eye. The costs (including tuition fee, living allowance, etc) of studying in Singapore are much higher than that in Malaysia, even with the support of Tuition Grant by the Singapore Government. Furthermore, in recent years, the government is stepping in to limit the number of foreigners fighting for jobs with Singaporeans (after their infamous series of complains). Hence you must be mentally prepared to work in industries that you don’t like or even in Malaysia upon graduation. On the other hand, if you are just looking at completing a degree with low costs, studying in Malaysia (even in KL) might be a better idea with the support of PTPTN. With good results, it is also not that hard to get a scholarship in Malaysia universities.

2. A major problem

Popular courses like medicine, law and business are almost impossible for foreigners to get into. Singapore applicants love to choose business or finance based majors. Afterall, Singapore is a well-known financial hub and that’s where all the money is. Therefore, foreigners typically end up in courses pertaining to engineering or sciences. It is understandable since every country wants to protect their citizens.

Hence, if you are looking at a major like business or accounting, you must be a straight "A"s student in order to compete with Singaporeans. Google search “Digital Senior IGP of NUS, NTU & SMU for A-level holder”, it will give you an insight of how popular each course is.

3. Don’t just rely on official sources

Competition is intense in Singapore in every area. Even individual universities are fighting to woo talents like you. The information you see on their official websites provide a very narrow perspective of life within the university itself. Sometimes it can be misleading. Many Malaysian students I know have difficulties adjusting to the fast-paced culture in Singapore.

Therefore, apart from researching on official sources, you should seek advice from people around you, especially your seniors who are studying in or have studied in those universities.

You should also look at third-party websites with content contributed for students, by students such as www.Malaysia-Students.com and www.DigitalSenior.sg to find out more hidden facts about the universities in Singapore & Malaysia.

So much for the warnings, I am sounding like an old man now. Despite being slower than all my peers who studied in Malaysia, I have no regrets nonetheless about my choice.

Here’s the good side: Singapore local universities are globally reputed. (Check out the comparison of 3 Universities). And I am grateful for being a student in NTU which provides sophisticated facilities, forest-like campus, crazy CCA activities, infinite overseas exposure as well as unlimited opportunities to get in touch with different people from different background. If you are looking at a holistic campus life, then I believe Singapore local universities may be suitable for you.

Choosing university & course is totally different from selecting your secondary school in Malaysia. Consider the 3 main Questions: What is your dream, passion or interest? What is your capability or strength? Which path will have a better prospect or potential in future? It might give a clearer or narrower list of choices for the next phase of your journey. In the end, no one really responsible for your success except you. All the best to your tertiary education journey!

Best regards,
Ricky Tay @ https://www.facebook.com/rickytaylk

About the author - Ricky Tay: Graduate of Foon Yew High School (2005) & Singapore Polytechnic (2009). One of Specialist Manpower Programmer (SMP) scholar where the scholarship is sponsored by EDB & Panasonic and graduated with 2nd upper class honors degree in EEE from Nanyang Technological University (2012). After 2-year working with Panasonic, he is currently full-time running Digital Senior website with his partner. Click here to get more information about studying tertiary in Singapore.

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Monday, November 17, 2014

An Insight into South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE International)

Wrong Pre-University Program in Malaysia: An insight into South Australian Matriculation (SAM)

Guest post by johnboston89

Many students are in a state of confusion of what Pre-U to take, after they are done with O levels / SPM / IGCSE. I was confused too, and I’d like to share my experience of choosing the wrong Pre-U after my O levels.

I made the mistake of taking the South Australian Matriculation (SAM). I chose this program because of its short duration (1 year) compared to other international pre-university programs e.g. A-Levels, International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma program, etc. and also because of its percentage breakdown (70% coursework 30% exam). However, I was duped into taking this program by the internet (SACE) website. Firstly l will give a brief insight as to what the SAM program is before you consider enrolling yourself in this course. Referring to the SACE website, “The SACE International is an internationally recognised one year pre-university program. The SACE International was previously known as the South Australian Matriculation (SAM) program – the new brand is being rolled out progressively during 2014.

The SACE International is administered by the SACE Board of South Australia, an independent, statutory authority of the South Australian Government that is responsible for curriculum development and accreditation, assessment, reporting and certification for the final years of secondary education.

International acceptance of the SACE International, and its proven track record, has meant continued expansion of SACE International Schools in Asia.”

South Australian Certificate of Education SACE International South Australian Matriculation (SAM)
SACE International | South Australian Certificate of Education International

I would like to question the word ‘International’. SAM is only offered in six schools in Malaysia and one school in China. To make it more international they have now added the word International from South Australian. I think the term ‘international’ is an understatement if it’s only offered in two countries. On the other hand  A Levels and IB  is offered worldwide (understatement not withstanding). This program has been taught for more than 30 years (SACE Website) and yet it still has not expanded to other countries. To summarize, it is a local Australian program offered in South Australia that is offered to a few number of schools outside of Australia, in Malaysia and China. Just like if STPM (although more recognition than SAM) were offered outside of Malaysia, you can’t call it international. A reason for taking SAM instead of foundation (1 year) was because I was under the impression that SAM was a highly accredited international program.

First of all if you would visit the SACE website there is a link to which you can download the SACE booklet. In this booklet you will find testimonials by high achieving SAM students who got admitted to top universities in UK and US. The SACE website however failed to mention the ATAR (Australian Tertiary Admission Rank) score of the said students then visited the websites of the stated institution and saw the entry requirements for SAM in the University of Bristol,UK which is 98.38% – 99.29%ATAR. Other universities also have a similar requirement : 98.5 – 99.5 (Oxford University, UK) 90 - 95 ATAR (University of Lancester, UK) , 98.5 – 99.5 (University of Lancester, UK) 95 – 99.5 ATAR (Monash University, Australia and Malaysia) 85 and above ATAR (International Medical University, Malaysia).

If a comparison for the entry requirements between A levels and SAM is made, it can be seen that the requirements for SAM is ridiculously high when compared to A levels. As an example, the Psychology Degree program in IMU has a minimum entry requirement of two Es (passing two subjects in A Levels) while the ATAR requirement is 70, even for foundation it requires only CGPA 2.5, which is the pass rate for foundation. For an engineering degree in UTAR, they need two passes in A levels & 70 for SAM. For Nottingham University, Chem Eng is set at ABB with 70 ATAR. Taylor’s University 70 ATAR with CCD. When asked why the requirement for SAM is so high, to universities, they said it’s still not globally accepted as A levels, plus the curriculum only covers the basic, so they only want to take the best students of SAM.

Moreover, as for SAM you have to take 5 subjects, you need to do equally good in all the five subjects, as your ATAR will be calculated on your overall performance, not just in two or three subjects that you excelled. A single ‘C’ in any tests/lab/report or other task can bring your ATAR down significantly. That being said, you’d be compelled to study some subjects that won’t favour your further degree studies. Unlike A level where you can take subjects you are best at, and will do a great favour when you pursue your degree studies.

If you think obtaining 90+ ATAR can land you with scholarships, then you’re wrong. The truth is, universities in Australia do not usually hand out scholarships based on the ATAR score, and if they do, the score would have to be 98+. This information was acquired by visiting various university homepages and direct phone calls to the universities themselves. For local universities like IMU, the scholarship requirement is 95+ compared to ABB in A levels program.

I’ll now give you a deeper understanding on how SAM marks are obtained. 70% of coursework might sound simple and very appealing to those who prefer an alternative marking system, instead of the usual 100% exam-based. Some tests, some assignments and voila! But, to break it down concisely, the 70% coursework requires tons of summative assignments, lab report, tests, direct investigations etc. In reality, it is quite burdensome, and I speak from direct experience. There are a handful of students who are always punctual l in their work and assignments, meaning that they finish the work as soon as they get it. I, however, was not part of that minority. Most of the SAM students were rushing to complete their summative assignment (one that would be counted in their ATAR) when we had a summative test (a test that would be counted in the ATAR) the very next day.

For maths and spec maths, you just go have to give TESTS and Quizzes, and Direct Investigation, unlike for science and humanity subjects where you have to do tons of assignments and lab reports. However, it still doesn’t make the mentioned subjects easy. To make things more clear, D.I is something like you have to do investigation and write 3-4 pages essay on maths. That’s right Essay on Maths. Imagine you’re told to differentiate 3x+2 and then write 5-6 pages report on it, what would you write? Here is an example that was given to us. Hard to believe, but every year only 1-2 gets A+ on this investigation, the average grade is C that most gets.

Secondly, there are no weekends or semester break. No breaks at all for SAM students!!! When the whole university is on semester break for a month, the SAM students would be having only 1-2 weeks(highest) break. The SAM students would spend their weekends studying for their tests( be it formative or summative) in the coming week. The semester break (or any breaks, for that matter) would consist of an overload of assignments due after the break and studying for coming summative and formative tests. "You would be exposed to the university life" said my lecturers, but you can hardly find any degree students stressed out like us SAM students.

You have to do a research paper on every subject. It’s very much akin to a mini thesis paper which holds a 25% weightage out of the 70% coursework. You have to choose a topic and carry out investigative research on it  while completing other assignments alongside and not forgetting sitting for the tests. Imagine how hectic it would be. If you’re aiming for a 99.95% get ready to get all A+ for the tests, lab report, research paper basically everything. For an average student the minimum grade should be a C not C-, so if you get one C- or below like E-, the chances gets lower for you to get the minimum requirement in degree programs which is on average 70-80ATAR, unless you work very hard for the coming tests, but again the marks at the end will be unpredictable  and “moderated”.

Moderation is done in SAM. It works like to keep a consistency in the program. Let’s say you did badly for most of your tests but suddenly started to get better scores in the tests which cannot happen for SAM as consistency is maintained, so they will downgrade your mark.

At the end, after giving all the tests and submitting all the assignments, you have to sit for the public exam(held in South Australia and other SAM schools in Malaysia and China) which is in November and holds 30% of the total 100% marks. Now even if you got a perfect 30% moderation will be done, so getting bad result for the tests and the end getting the perfects score won’t give you a good score.

One more thing to know, the resources for SAM is very limited, you will have to go through ONLY study guide set by the South Australian Education Board. Those are only for tests and quizzes, but for investigation and other assignments there are no books .Whereas, in A levels, there is plenty of book to read on also plentiful of resources found online. There are YouTube channels, where the whole A level syllabus is taught for free, so if you’re not having much reliance on your lecturers, you can always use your internet as a dependent tutor.

In conclusion,

What I’ve seen is many students like me are discouraged from taking A-levels  because they think it is stressful (due to its 100% examination assessment), so most end up taking up SAM without having an abundant knowledge of it. I would suggest students to take A levels as their pre-u, as A-levels is actually quite relaxing compared to SAM but not easy when the syllabus is compared, as A level is more in-depth. If you takes SAM CONSISTENCY is must. You have to finish your assignments perfectly almost once in a week or 2 weeks. and because the duration of SAM are short, plus the number of subjects you’re required to take (5, compared to A-levels max only 4), the stress level is actually higher.

Many students especially the one who opts for engineering and medicine has moved on to do foundation  on the respective universities or a levels, as they had not met the required requirement wasting one whole year. It’s a big risk if you take SAM, and you’re sheer consistency isn’t there.

For a-levels, u can study on your own pace, and do things relaxingly. And u can choose to love yourself more by taking only 3 subjects. Even entrance into Oxford needs only 3A’s in A-levels, why punish yourself?

Whoever is doing foundation must note that foundation is local, it cannot guarantee your admission to any other universities other than the one where you’re doing the foundation. So wherever you do your foundation, make sure that’s the same university you do you undergrad in.

I made a mistake that had affected me, and I don’t want anyone to make the same mistake I did. So the choice is yours. Hope you make the right choice :)

Feel free to express your feedback on SAM, or any other Pre-U.

Criticism and appreciation are both cordially welcomed.

This post was written by johnboston89 and first published on his blog.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

5 A-Level Revision Tips from the Revision Experts

Five A-Level revision tips from the revision experts

by James Timpson (Submit your guest post to us and get published here)

When it comes to you’re a-Level’s there’s no substitute for hard work and without revision you’ll put all your years of education to waste. If you’re worried about performing well in your exams, Justin Craig has constructed these revision tips that could help guide you in the right direction.

1. Create a revision timetable

Students will often revise without devising a plan. This usually results in too much revision on one particular topic and too little on others. Creating a revision timetable will help you structure and prioritize. For example, if one topic needs more attention than another, you may need to dedicate more time to it. Exam Time’s Calender Tool is the perfect platform for designing a personalized revision timetable and will allow you to colour coordinate all your subjects in a clear and concise manner.

Revision is a mental game. It’s vitally important to be mentally prepared for an exam as you can execute your answers with much more depth and analysis. By covering a host of subjects in an effective time period ensures you have the confidence going into the exams, preventing any stress or last minute revision overloads. The problem with revision is its perception. Students clearly perceive revision to be a time consuming exercise, however with a structured timetable and time on your hands, it allows you to socialise as well as study.

A Levels Revision Tip Experts
If you ever hit the revision wall, just take a break.

2. Take regular study breaks

Constant studying is never a good thing. Take a five to ten minute break every hour, even if you don’t feel like you need one. The longer you study for the less you’ll take in, so if you ever feel like you’re hitting a wall, take a step back. Light exercise such as walking, yoga and even jiu-jitsu to channel focus which is also a great way to stimulate the brain and wake up if you’re feeling tired, and will make you feel more refreshed and motivated to work.

It’s vitally important to refresh the brain with activities listed above. Regular walking sessions is highly recommended as it can revitalise the body. ‘Hitting a wall’ is the common phrase when someone has encountered a revision overload occurrence and cannot absorb any more notes. It’s key to not push yourself so early on in the timetable as this can prevent you to persevere with the exercise.

3. Collaborate with others

A lot of people are fearful of collaboration because they feel self-conscious about their intelligence. Try not to worry and just remember that other people are more concerned about their own A-Level grades than yours. Collaborating is a great way to boost motivation and remain enthusiastic about revising. Study with friends whenever possible and test each other on a regular basis. Mutual encouragement is the perfect way to build confidence, which is half the battle in an exam situation. If you don’t have any friends you feel comfortable with, ask your family and teachers to help you. Most schools will have after-hours study programs designed specifically for those who want a bit of extra help.

Students will normally combine notes together to learn effectively together and both benefit from the exercise. Also, by undertaking this activity, students are introduced to new techniques from their colleagues and can learn from them as well. Isolating yourself from people in crucial revision periods could be detrimental to your development and confidence going into the exams.

4. Perform mock exams

Ask your teachers for past exam papers so you can get an idea of what questions will be asked. While the questions may not be the same, they’ll most likely be in a similar ballpark and are sometimes merely reworded. Make copies of the past papers and perform your own mock exam so you can get used to the pressure. If you do it with a friend, check and mark each other’s work. Perform two or three mock exams in the week leading up to the specific A-Level and you’ll no doubt see a significant improvement.

This method of learning is probably the most beneficial as you can familiarise yourself with the type of questions you will encounter in the exams. With a range of questions ready to be revealed on the day, it’s important to test yourself and adapt to the intensity of the papers. Furthermore, time-management is another important issue and by practising in exam conditions you will be much more comfortable undertaking the real papers.

5. Don’t revise too much on the day

While it’s okay to quickly scan your revision notes, don’t revise too much on the day of your exam. This will only increase your anxiety. Avoid socializing with friends who haven’t revised or have a negative attitude towards examinations; they’ll only put you down and make you feel unprepared. In addition, arrive well in advance; make sure all of your stationary is in order; eat a healthy breakfast; have a light snack beforehand; and use the toilet a few minutes before you enter the exam hall. The more relaxed you feel the better.

It’s important to remember that everybody has different learning styles and what could work for one may not work for another. Feel free to pick apart these tips and adapt them to suit your own personal style.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Disturbing Videos: Boarding School Bullying / Ragging at Boys' Dorm & Girl Victim of Bullying in Kelantan

Malaysia School Bullying / Ragging

Every now and then we see videos of school bullying posted to social media and spread like wildfire. Public condemned the bullying and demanded actions to be taken to prevent bullying at schools. Stop the bullying, Malaysians urged. But how far have we achieved? Despite various anti-bullying campaigns conducted online (such as rageagainstbullying.com) and at schools, the sad reality is we have not achieved much, obviously.

Ponder on the headlines below; how likely will your siblings, kids or someone you care become the next victims?

June 2014: Yet another video of bullying in school goes viral - The Rakyat Post

February 2014: After help pleas ignored, bullied student drinks pesticide - The Malay Mail Online
Malaysian Effeminate Teen Bullied To Death / Teen suicide linked to gay bullying - China Press

April 2013: Outrage over school bully video clip - Yahoo Newsroom

January 2010: Video: Malaysian School Girls Bullies - AsianTown.NET

Below are the two latest school bullying videos going viral on Facebook this week.

Video: Boarding School Bullying / Ragging at Boys' Dormitory

Source: Samseng dalam Asrama Sekolah

Update 5 Nov 2014: Another video surfaced earlier today.
Source: Lagi rakaman kes buli junior di asrama "Kalau ade siapa-siapa kenal mangsa atau pembuli boleh buat laporan polis."

Video: Girl Victim of Youth/School Bullying in Kelantan

Source: Video Awek Kelantan Bergaduh: Mek Kelate Gangster

Dina Murad, reporting for The Star Online, ran a good piece on school bullying / ragging at boarding schools (sekolah asrama) last year. It is still relevant and an insightful piece to understand what your siblings or children will face at the dorms if the situation does not improve. It is reposted here in full:

Ragging in Malaysian boarding schools widespread, say students

Malaysia Schools Bullying Ragging
Students are often reluctant to report cases of ragging because they do not want to tarnish the names of their schools / PicCredit
PETALING JAYA: Late at night when the school wardens were asleep, a "junior" student was forced by his "seniors" to meet them in the school pantry, where he was then set on and attacked by a group of them.

Such stories of "ragging" or bullying are familiar in Malaysia, The Star Online found out after speaking to 40 current and former Malaysian asrama (boarding school) students.

"He was beaten quite badly. After the session, we had to carry him back to the dorms because he couldn't walk," said Amir, who recalled the above experience during his years in one of Malaysia's prestigious asrama.

However, the victim lodged a police report and the culprits were soon suspended.

Sadly, this is only one of the few reported cases of ragging in Malaysian schools where justice was meted out to the perpetrators.

The bigger portion of the iceberg goes unnoticed and unreported, due to obedience and fear of further torment conditioned by hierarchical student politics.

Students also don't report abuse because they are apprehensive of tarnishing their school's "good image".

In India, where student deaths are frequently attributed to ragging or hazing, the government introduced a National Anti-Ragging Helpline as a way for victims to anonymously lodge complaints without fear of repercussions.

Although Malaysia's history of ragging isn't quite as extreme as that in India, the responses of those interviewed proved that practice is still prevalent and worryingly inculcated into Malaysian boarding school culture.

The numbers of cases are especially high in asrama compared with day schools due to distant parental figures and inadequate adult supervision.

Among 15 girls interviewed, six had witnessed or experienced ragging in their schools.

"Ragging is less common in girls' schools. When it does happen, it is usually psychological in nature and involves humiliating the person by teasing, name-calling and public shaming.

Malaysia Boarding Schools Bullying Ragging Sekolah Asrama
Ragging at Sekolah Asrama / PicCredit
In boarding schools, victims are often forced to live in close confinements with their aggressors.

"Sometimes, there are dire consequences," said Sue, who recounted an incident where a friend suffered from bulimia after being constantly ridiculed about her weight.

"If you report the bullying, you would be ostracised," she added.

"We were made to do ear squats by the hundreds. I remember having a hard time going up and down the stairs after that," said Rohaiza of the physical bullying that girls were also sometimes subjected to.

Although the situation among girls is worrying, the occurrences of ragging between boys are far more pervasive.

Of the 25 boys interviewed, an astounding 24 admitted to either having experienced or witnessed bullying in their schools, some even owning up to being the aggressors themselves.

While both boys and girls alike are expected to carry out miscellaneous "chores" for their seniors like preparing food, carrying pails of water, ironing and cleaning seniors' clothes and rooms, the experiences shared by the boys were of a more extreme nature.

A number of the interviewees recounted incidences of students being force to do push ups, "duckwalks" and sit ups, apart from them being kicked, slapped, punched and made to march and run around the school compound.

"We were told to blow on a light bulb until the light 'disappeared', which of course meant we had to do it until the seniors got bored and flipped the switch off," said Nabil, elaborating on more creative ragging traditions.

Physical abuse, although not rampant, is not unheard of in boarding schools.

"Sometimes, juniors were made into punching bags for stress relief," explained Hanif.

But most often, violence is reserved as a form of "punishment" or "education" for juniors.

"Physical contact usually only happens when juniors report bad behaviour of seniors or when we refuse to do their chores for them," explained Fitri.

"They put my head in the toilet bowl and flushed it. I had dirty water in my mouth, eyes and nostrils," said Huzaifah, although he admitted it was because he skipped his cleaning duties for the day.

"Another time, I was beaten up because I did not wish a senior 'good morning'," he added.

Commonly, physical punishment is meted out when theft is suspected. In these circumstances, students take it upon themselves to proffer vigilante justice.

"If you disrespected a senior, or if you were caught for stealing, then you would get beaten up before being sent to the teachers," said Malik.

"They were never beaten up to the point where they were bruised and bleeding. It was just enough to subdue the junior," added Shahrul.

Among the tricks used by students to elude detection was creating "makeshift weapons".

"If you put bars of soap in a sock and used it to hit someone, you wouldn't leave bruises. So it was a popular method used by seniors," explained Nizam.

Despite the horror stories, most of those interviewed argued that ragging had its latent benefits, as long as it was not excessive or extreme.

"When ragging is done within limits, it builds character and nurtures humility and respect. In addition to that, you get a feeling of camaraderie among fellow form mates as you go through something 'bad' together," said Ahmad.

Other responses received were that "a little ragging" was a good way to instill discipline, shape the student or to prepare them for the real world.

The problem with this reasoning lies in the idea of "excess ragging" which is arbitrary at best and is decided on by the whim and fancies of the senior in power. The narrow yardstick between "acceptable" and "unacceptable" ragging is obscure, allowing too much of an opportunity for worst-case scenarios to happen.

Given recent media spotlight on bullying, many of the interviewees have said that the number of ragging incidents have decreased substantially over the years due to better enforcement and sterner punishment by school authorities.

While the initiative of schools in eliminating the problem is commendable, administrators must remain observant to unreported instances of ragging that continue to takes place within asrama.

Outside of asrama, there have been cases of bullying and assault in other boarding institutions such as the National Service training programme.

The most recent controversy involved the bludgeoning to death of 18-year-old Muhammad Suhaimi Norhamidi in September, in a camp in Pahang for allegedly cutting a queue during breakfast.

Previously, in a different camp in Pahang in 2009, a brawl broke out among 100 trainees at a camp in Pahang.

Only a few days earlier in the same camp, an 18-year old trainee claimed to have been sexually assaulted by more than 20 unidentified men within camp grounds.

- The names of those interviewed have been changed to protect their identities.

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Saturday, November 01, 2014

SPM is worth every bit of your hard work

SPM 2014 Tips and Trial Papers

SPM is worth every bit of your hard work

by M&A [Writing Contest 2014 ★ Winner ★]

I was appalled when my friends shared the viral article ‘Why I Regret Getting Straight A1 in SPM’ on Facebook and commented that an impressive SPM result is just not worth the sacrifices. In that article, the blogger noted that in vying for stellar academic results, he had lost friends and family, suffered severe sleep deprivation, and mentioned other reasons that all pointed to the direction of ‘It’s just not worth the effort.’

What my friends didn’t recognise is that this case is an extreme one. Anyone who is pursuing for the extreme will usually not end up well, often suffering from emotional or financial distress. One of the main rules in life is not to get obsessed with any earthly things. Fortunately, you don’t need to be the best SPM scorer in the nation to receive the exact same rewards as the nation’s best: getting a scholarship (preferably overseas) and the perks that associate with it. The fact is that there is more than just the gold-medal winner in this competition. There are thousands of scholarships available to top scorers. You just need to be one of the selected thousands to receive a scholarship.

Let’s remind ourselves what are the benefits of receiving a scholarship. At its core, it helps your family to save tens of thousands to possibly hundreds of thousands of ringgit. If you are studying in London for example, JPA gives an allowance of 1045 pounds every month- that’s more than RM 5000 per month. If you are going to overseas, you will receive a world-class education and most probably a world-wide recognised degree. Education aside, you get to immerse yourself in a foreign culture, full of its quirks and niceties. You get to travel to new places and meet new people from around the globe. Many working adults save their hard-earned money just to travel for several days in one of the Western countries and you are spending years in their dreamland. An overseas education could transform you into a more independent, self-reliable and resourceful adult. And best of all, at the end of your degree, you are most likely guaranteed a job (let’s not forget the bonding). If you are an aspiring chemical engineer, getting a Shell or Petronas scholarship would certainly put you ahead of the competition in securing a good prospect job with a competitive salary.

Guess what? The best chance of you enjoying all these privileges is by scoring the best you can in SPM. With the recent announcement by the Ministry of Education, every student who scores 9A+ and above will have his pre-u education (either A-level, IB, STPM or matriculation) sponsored fully, with monthly allowances at the school of his choice. Upon receiving an offer from any top 50 recognised universities in the world (or top 20 for the 2013 SPM top scorers batch as according to unofficial announcements) JPA would sponsor his degree fully. Working hard for your SPM has the impact of changing your life forever. By investing your effort, it’s one of the best bets that you could ever make in your life.

I have witnessed many of my friends who are forced to change their course from A-level to STPM because of financial reasons. There are a few aspiring doctors whom I know who had to stay away from the medicine career path simply because they couldn’t obtain a scholarship. Whether you like it or not, the truth is that your SPM result could determine the future of your life, for good or bad.

I have also seen many of my slightly above average friends in SPM who went on to score 5 As in STPM, a tremendous feat which demands respect. It is not uncommon for STPM top scorers to sleep less than 5 hours a day to cope with their studies. The point is that if they had put in such dedication earlier in Form 5 (there is no doubt in their potential and ability), they probably wouldn’t end up in STPM and had to suffer the hardship to prove themselves. Had they scored 9 A+ and above, they would have been in college studying A-level, much bearable compared to STPM and possibly heading to overseas for their degrees with a JPA scholarship.

It’s all about self-motivation, discipline and time-management in preparing for your SPM. Your 1 or 2 years of total concentrated effort in upper secondary is worth it. There is no need to stress yourself to the limits, put your health in jeopardy and ignore those important relationships during this time. Managing your priorities is the key to better time management. It is unwise, for example, to spend a substantial amount of time in co-curricular activities in the last 3 months before your SPM trials. Adulthood is all about being shrewd in prioritising and juggling several important priorities at the same time. Preparing for exams with the right attitude would go a long way to help you be stronger in life.

There is no guarantee in life. Life is full of uncertainties. You might not get the 9 A+ you want even if you have worked hard for it. But what is life without trying and taking risks? Life is more meaningful if you have goals in mind, both short-term and long term. For the same reason that we respect Olympians for their determination, perseverance and discipline, those who are working hard to score in SPM deserve our praises too.

Keep Calm and Study Well for SPM
Keep Calm and Study Well for SPM

Work hard for your SPM. It is one of the best investments that you can make in life- the investment in yourself. If the investment turns out to be successful, the rewards could last a lifetime. It is more than worth it.

The writer, 20, has just completed his pre-u course and intends to study in the UK. In his spare time, he enjoys reading. He is grateful for God’s love and how far God has guided him in his life. He would like to thank his family and his best friend for making life wonderful for him.

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