Archive for the ‘SPM’ Category

Form Four elective subjects: Subject packages instead based on interests and capabilities

Thursday, November 28th, 2019

Education deputy director-general Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim.

KUALA LUMPUR: Form Four students will not be allowed to choose elective subjects solely at their whims and fancies.

Education Ministry deputy director-general (policy and curriculum) Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim (pic) said instead they will be given subject packages which cater to their interests and capabilities.

“It is not totally open and flexible,” she said during a briefing on the new subject package options for Form Four students.

This new system will come into effect in 2020, affecting this year’s Form Three students.

She said the new packages will allow students to pick up to five elective subjects and mix between the subjects.

Habibah added that there are two main packages – STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and literature and humanities.

She also said the subject packages offered to students will depend on the capabilities, availability, suitability (facilities/infrastructure), as well as consideration of each school.

There had been a lot of confusion among the public when Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik announced that Form Four students will no longer be streamed into Science and Arts last month.

Stakeholders were questioning how this would be implemented with many worrying about how it will affect students’ chances of pursuing their tertiary studies.

Entry requirements to higher education institutions are based on certain subject combinations.

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Being in arts, science stream doesn’t define our future

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
SPM students getting ready for their exam in Seremban. FILE PIC

SIJIL Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examinations start this month.

SPM is seen by many as the key factor in one’s future. The SPM papers are based on either science and arts stream. For some reason, some of us were put into the science stream and others, the arts.

There are students who fight their way into the science stream in the belief that it would bring them pride and respect from others, whereas the arts are seen as for those who were weak in their studies.

This perception is worsened by parents who believe this myth.

I was interested in physics and chemistry, which drove me to become a science student.

Students should see things from a different point of view and rebuke claims saying science is for top students, whereas the arts are for those who lag in their studies. After all, you do not need Biology or Add Maths to be a lawyer.

There are many people from the arts stream who excelled in school and their success has shaped them into wonderful individuals.

Nobody should be defined in such a way in the education system.

In this sense, the proposal by the government to abolish streaming should be well received.

Some parents should drop the mindset that being a straight A student will guarantee a bright future for their child, as other factors come into consideration.

There are many people who did not excel in school but became successful in life.

For example, Datuk Lat, who mentioned that he wasn’t a bright student, but succeeded through storytelling using drawings. He was also an arts student.

Let us wait and see what it is like for the new generation of students to be streamless.

By Gregory Kong.

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New syllabus good, but can be better.

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

WHILE welcoming the move to introduce a Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus, stakeholders stress the importance of literature especially in the age of digitisation, and are suggesting some tweaks to the planned syllabus.

Under the new Secondary School Standards-based Curriculum (KSSM) next year, Form Four students will sit for the elective SPM paper with a new format in 2021.

The Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) is supportive of the new format and structure. But the syllabus aims and learning outcomes should be expanded to include contemporary readings and analytical perspectives, says its president Prof Dr S. Ganakumaran.

He says the choice of texts offered is narrow and traditional.

“We need a wider, more inclusive and progressive perspective of literature and literary texts.

“Open up the space for students to engage with the cross-cultural and global issues,” he says, calling for a wider choice of international and Malaysian texts to be included.


Perhaps a section on young adult literature can be included, he suggests. This could attract more students to take up the subject, he says, pointing to how the number of students taking literature has been on a downward trend in recent years. He thinks the lack of interest could be because there’s:

> A general drop in English proficiency;

> The feeling that literature does not have a functional purpose;

> The lack of qualified teachers to teach the subject;

> The reluctance of schools wanting to offer the subject due to timetabling issues; and

> Apprehension that the school’s overall academic performance would drop due to poor performance in the paper.

Universiti Malaya (UM) senior lecturer Dr Grace Lim says having fewer texts to study – a key feature in the new syllabus – means not having to rush through the list.

But Lim from the Faculty of Education, says it also means that students are exposed to less variety so it will depend on the teachers and students to explore on their own.

She’s keen to see how the assessment will be implemented.

“Students can produce reader-response creative works, put on performances and even write critical essays if they want. So I wonder if their results will still be wholly based on the exam.”

She hopes it will be a combination of both formative and summative assessments.

School Improvement Specialist Coach Gladys Francis Joseph favours how the new syllabus encourages teachers to stage performances because it’s really beneficial for students.

Gladys, who was involved in writing the new curriculum and was a trainer for the pilot project, says fewer texts to read and having the exam in the middle of the year would help ‘sell’ the subject.

But most schools say there’s a lack of English Language teachers. And to start a class, one needs at least 15 students. Without the support of the administrators, it is an uphill task.


“There are some schools which make it compulsory for students who want to enter the first two Science classes to take up the subject. So, Literature is thriving in these schools due to the policy implemented. Will these students take up the subject if not compelled? A significant number will not.”

Gladys thinks a black-and-white assurance on the prospects of taking English Literature for SPM is needed.

“Will they have an edge over other students for courses in colleges and universities? Parents and school administrators want to see the added value of the subject,” she says, adding that teachers willing to sacrifice their time to start small classes outside the timetable would be helpful. This needs the principal’s support.

The ministry, says Lim, should promote the subject to the public via infographics and social media. It shouldn’t just be done among schools and educators.

Lim says there’s a perception that SPM Literature in English is subjective and difficult to score. Maybe that’s why schools may not want their students to take the subject or let teachers teach it.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan fears that there aren’t enough teachers if there’s an increase in demand for classes.

“Training for literature teachers and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) teachers – who are the majority – are different.”

Literature, he says, is a higher form of language learning that requires a different set of skills to teach.

“Literature is a coherent part of any language learning. But when it’s a subject, it’s a different ball game altogether. Exams and the way you learn are different from learning a language to communicate.”

To get students interested, the texts have to fit with knowledge that the students can relate to, and the level of language mustn’t be too demanding otherwise only those who speak English as a first language would dare take the subject, UM senior lecturer Dr Krishnavanie Shunmugam says.

Those who are struggling with English should not attempt to sit for the new English Literature paper, says Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin.

If the ministry is serious in wanting students to learn and improve their English, the language must be made a compulsory pass in the SPM.

“English Literature is offered only as an elective subject. The new syllabus is good but it’ll only benefit those who are already good in English,” he says, adding that those who can manage it should take the subject.

“It’s definitely a plus. It goes beyond grammar and makes you think about how words are used.”

The buzzword in teaching and learning is HOTS (higher-order thinking skills), which you get ample of in Literature, says Gladys.

“We’re heading to a future controlled by artificial intelligence and machines. Literature can teach the next generation to be more humane, enhance their critical thinking and creativity, and most importantly, develop intuitive knowledge and reasoning skills to distinguish the real from the fictitious.”

Literature is one of those rare subjects that help students understand that not everything is in black and white, says Lim.

It might be unnerving at first but they soon learn that multiple perspectives can exist together. This develops their ability to consider and engage with different ideas and viewpoints.

“The point is not to prove that your opinion is the only one that matters but to give due consideration to how others interpret the texts.”

Literature helps students mature by letting them engage with experiences and situations that they might not have experienced before.

Students will also be more sensitive to how word choice and phrasing are ways through which language represents subjects.

“For example, calling someone a visitor instead of a guest indicates a different attitude towards that individual. In this sense, language is rarely neutral,” she says.

Krishnavanie believes that students who take SPM English Literature have an edge over others when applying for college or university degrees related to languages and linguistics, performing arts, creative writing, media studies, mass communication and language education.

“Even if they’re applying for a degree in the hardcore sciences, having SPM English Literature on their certificate would be impressive because it would imply that the students have not only been exposed to the kind of analytical skills needed for science, but have also been trained to have critical thinking skills necessary for reading literature.”

Literature, in whatever language, mirrors various facets of life – happiness, suffering, evil, goodness and foolishness – in creative forms, she adds.

“Literature has made me more sensitive to what’s happening around me. It’s given me a fresh perspective to stereotypes.”

UM language teacher J. Yasodhara N.V.J. Menon agrees.

“Many people are still stuck in the misconception that literature is old and boring. But they fail to realise that literature is alive, fluid, and in the present. It’s a written record of human consciousness and personal experiences. It tells us that humans are one in their needs and desires.”

Prof Ganakumaran says the study of literature has many benefits. It improves vocabulary and understanding of the different ways language can be used. This gives students the confidence to communicate and express themselves better.

By Christina Chin and Rowena Chua
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New SPM English Lit syllabus

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

PETALING JAYA: A Cambridge-based English Literature syllabus will be introduced to secondary schools next year in a move to boost proficiency in the language.

Form Four students will study the syllabus in January and sit for the SPM exam with a new format in 2021, Examinations Syndicate director of examinations Adzman Talib said.

The 18-month curriculum is drawn from 10 poems, one novel or six short stories, and one drama, he said.

Among others, these students will read The Merchant of Venice (William Shakespeare), The Clay Marble (Minfong Ho), and Embra­cing Your Shadow (Chua Kok Yee).

The poems would include To Autumn (John Keats) and When You Are Old (by William Butler Yeats).

Under a pilot project which started in 2017, 300 Form Four students from seven schools in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak sat for the International General Certificate in Secondary Education (IGCSE) Eng­lish Literature exam in June 2018 instead of the SPM English Litera­ture paper.

Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin explained that re-branding the English Literature curriculum was among the ministry’s efforts to enhance the English proficiency of students.

The new Standards-Based English Literature Curriculum for Secon­dary Schools emphasises the importance of sustaining the use of the Eng­lish language within and be­­yond the classroom.

The elective subject serves as pre­paration for studying language or literature at higher levels as well as to enrich students’ knowledge of English, he said.

To encourage uptake among STEM (Science, Technology, Engi­neering and Mathematics) students, the 2021 English Literature exam will be held either in June or July, said Amin.

“This is to alleviate the stress of sitting for many subjects in November and to encourage more students to learn this subject,” he said.

Amin said the ministry wanted to encourage all students, including those in the science and technical fields, to learn this subject, as it would help improve their command of the language through the exposure and study of both local and international texts.

Literature, he said, would improve their proficiency while enhancing their knowledge of history and cultures.

“It also provides vicarious experiences through reading and promotes critical thinking and analytical skills,” he said.

The English Language Teaching Centre and the ministry’s master trainers will train teachers who are interested.

Those with a background in English Literature can be re-posted to the states of their choice.

State education departments will promote the subject at premier and residential schools and oversee the implementation of the new curriculum.

By Christina Chin
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Let SPM start during year-end holidays

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019
Close schools one month earlier to facilitate the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations. FILE PIC

THE Malaysian Examination Syndicate must be lauded for making adjustments to its initial proposed Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia timetable this year to accommodate the views of stakeholders.

It reduced the number of daily papers and spaced out more taxing subjects. This move is most welcome.

There is, however, another aspect that needs looking into.

SPM is from Oct 14 to Nov 28. In essence, it begins 1½ months before the year-end holiday starts.

As a former school head, I think having SPM encroach on the school term is disruptive.

When SPM is on, some teachers are required to leave their schools and be invigilators in examination centres in other schools.

Most teachers teach more than one form in a school. This means that other classes won’t have teachers.

Relief teachers won’t solve the problem as there are too many periods to replace.

Not all schools have examination halls, therefore some exams are conducted in classrooms.

Sometimes even the school hall is unable to accommodate all the students, so extra classrooms are allotted.

The regulations governing seating arrangements of candidates require more than a classroom to seat all candidates from a class.

So, a school with six Form 5 classes may need at least eight classrooms to accommodate the candidates.

In addition, you need a standby quarantine room and sick bay. Also, if a few classrooms in a block, whether single, double or three-storey, are used, the block has to be declared out of bounds.

With these constraints, schools have no choice and are given the discretion to allow some classes off on rotation.

Anticipating teachers and classrooms shortage, schools will have to conduct their year-end examinations for other forms well before SPM. So all “necessary teaching and testing” has to be done earlier.

At about the same time, we have the Form Three classes that have finished PT3 (Pentafsiran Tingkatan Tiga) earlier.

The ideal is that they are engaged in extracurricular activities. While it cannot be denied that some schools try to implement this, there are exceptions.

Once again, we don’t have teachers teaching only Form Three classes. The proposal is good on paper as most Form Three classes “disappear” after PT3 and long before the school term draws to a close.

Beginning SPM six weeks before the school term ends will aggravate this.

While SPM is on, the rest of the school is off. This sounds alarming, but there is truth to it.

I understand and support the decision to move exams away from the flooding season and I sympathise with candidates who have to sit their exam in a flood environment.

Close the school one month earlier to allow SPM to begin during the year-end school holidays.

“Recover” the “lost” one-month school term by opening the new school year one month early. This means opening a new school year in December instead of January.

The floods may impinge on this plan, but it is regional, not national as in the case of SPM, and schools are positioned to adjust school days so that no schooling days are lost.

By Liong Kam Chong.

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Sabah rural students outperform urban peers

Friday, March 15th, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Innovative approaches taken by the Sabah Education Department are beginning to show a positive result, especially in addressing the rural-urban gap in academic achievement. For the first time, the students in rural schools in Sabah outperformed their peers in urban schools in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2018 results.

Sabah Education Director Mistirine Radin said the rural schools recorded 88.18 per cent of candidates passing all subjects while their urban peers at 87.19 per cent, indicating the quality of education in rural schools in the State has been improving.

She said the placement of interim teachers in rural schools beginning early last year was one of the main factors contributing to the improvement of rural schools’ achievement.

“This is because all this while, the main problem faced by the Sabah education sector was the lack of teachers in rural areas. However, with the appointment of interim teachers based on option and locality, the move has helped the districts which are in critical need of teachers,” she told reporters after announcing the SPM 2018 results for Sabah at SM Lok Yuk, Likas, here, Thursday.

She said the commitment and skills in teaching and learning process displayed by the interim teachers, comprising Sabah-born educators, also impacted the achievement of rural school students. Currently, there are 239 interim teachers in Sabah, comprising 197 serving in rural areas and 42 in urban areas.

That apart, performance dialogues focusing on certain issues, that involved collaboration between the academic management, schools and teachers also contributed to the good result, said Mistirine. She also commended former Sabah Education Director Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul for her tireless effort in lifting the State’s education performance during her tenure as the State Education Director.  A total of 214 schools across Sabah participated in the SPM 2018 examination, comprising 61 urban schools.

Meanwhile, 14 schools achieved excellent School Average Grade (GPS) with SM Sains Sabah Kota Kinabalu emerging top with a GPS of 1.97, followed by SMK St Michael Penampang (2.44 GPS), SM Sains Lahad Datu (2.54), SMK Agama Tun Ahmadshah Kota Kinabalu (2.70) and SM Islamiah Tawau (3.00).

The SPM 2018 also saw district education offices given recognition for the first time, with the Penampang District Education Office recording top place with 4.81 District Average Grade (GPD). Following this are Tawau (4.83), Tenom (5.13), Kota Kinabalu (5.23), Kuala Penyu (5.28), Kudat (5.28), Tuaran (5.29), Beaufort (5.34), Ranau (5.34) and Kunak (5.40).

Meanwhile, seven schools were awarded the Pencapaian Lonjakan Sekolah Terbaik for showing a surge in GPS of above 0.80.

The schools are SMK Wallace Bay Tawau, SMK Taman Tun Fuad Kota Kinabalu, SMK St Mary Sandakan, SMK St Patrick Beaufort, SMK Timbua Ranau, SMK St Michael Penampang and SMK Ulu Sugut Ranau.  Last years’ SPM also saw an increase by 484 candidates with a total of 34,322 compared to 33,838 in 2017.

There was also an increase by 0.80 per cent passes with a total of 17,420 candidates (51.68 per cent passes) last year compared to 17,217 candidates with 50.88 per cent passes in 2017.  The exam also saw a total of 152 candidates scoring straight A’s last year.

A total of 53 subjects were taken by the SPM candidates last year, with a total of 22 subjects recording 100 per cent passes.

Meanwhile, from the seven core subjects, three showed an increase in terms of quality. These are Science from 5.36 Subject Average Grade Point (GPMP) in 2017 to 5.28 GPMP last year, Pendidikan Moral from 4.32 GPMP in 2017 to 4.17 GPMP last year and Sejarah (5.73 GPMP to 5.47 GPMP last year).

by Sherell Jeffrey and photo by Locksley Ng.

2018 SPM results record improved GPN

Thursday, March 14th, 2019
The 2018 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results recorded a better National Average Grade (GPN) of 4.89 from 4.90 in 2017.-Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: The 2018 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results recorded a better National Average Grade (GPN) of 4.89 from 4.90 in 2017, said Education director-general Datuk Dr Amin Senin.

He said the improvement, though “small”, continued the positive trend which had been recorded since 2015.

A lower GPN indicates better performance.

Amin said 58.9 per cent, or 230,465 candidates, obtained at least a pass for all subjects they sat for, with 8,436 of them getting grade A+, A and A- for all subjects.


“The percentage of candidates who are eligible to be awarded the SPM certificate also increased by 1.2 per cent, where 86.4 per cent of the 391,641 candidates who sat for the examination last year are eligible to receive the certificate, from 85.2 per cent in 2017,” he added.

He said generally the achievement of the 2018 SPM candidates was better than in 2017 and with a narrower gap, of only 0.04, in the performance of urban and rural candidates.

Amin said a total of 296,673 candidates or 75.8 per cent were able to master two languages by obtaining at least a pass for the subjects Bahasa Melayu and English Language.

On candidates who failed in all subjects, he said this made up only 1.12 per cent of the total candidates.

Amin said the overall results showed that 61.1 per cent of the 2018 SPM candidates were able to master Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) subjects.

In the analysis, he said, it was found that 70.1 per cent of the candidates mastered the skills to evaluate, innovate (63.2 per cent), analyse (56.9 per cent) and apply (54.3 per cent).

“The thinking skills should always be nurtured in the candidates while in school and at home,” he said.

“Mastering of HOTS is important for the candidates to ascertain that they are able to face challenges and also to compete at international level.”

HOTS was introduced in the SPM examination in 2014 to test the candidates’ capability to apply knowledge in a new situation, to analyse, evaluate and innovate when answering their examination questions.

By Bernama.

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SPM results out next Thursday

Tuesday, March 6th, 2018
Students sitting for the SPM exams at SMK Putrajaya Presint 11 (1). - Bernama

Students sitting for the SPM exams at SMK Putrajaya Presint 11 (1). – Bernama

PETALING JAYA: The 2017 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results will be released next Thursday (March 15).

The Education Ministry said in a statement that candidates can obtain their results from their schools after 10am on the day.

“Private candidates will receive their results through the post or can contact their state education departments where they registered for their examinations,” it said.

Candidates can also check their results through SMS by typing SPM <space> identity card number <space> index number and sending it to 15888 from 10am on March 15 to 6pm on March 21.

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443,883 Candidates To Sit For SPM Exam

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 31 (Bernama) — A total of 443,883 candidates will sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) written examination from Nov 6 to Dec 4, the Education Ministry said today.

It said in a statement that the candidates would sit for the examination at 3,363 centres throughout the country, and that 35,341 invigilators had been selected to conduct the examination.

Of the 443,883 candidates, 87 per cent are from government schools, government-aided schools and government-aided religious schools, 1.9 per cent from schools under agencies besides the Education Ministry, 1.9 per cent from state religious secondary schools, 0.4 per cent from people’s religious secondary schools, 3.4 per cent from private schools registered with the Education Ministry and 5.4 per cent, private candidates.

“The Examinations Syndicate reminds all candidates to refer to the examination time-table for information on the examination times as well as the directives to be adhered to during the examination.

“The time-table can be downloaded from the Examinations Syndicate website at,” it said.


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Is education a journey or a race?

Sunday, October 15th, 2017
In today’s competitive world, the rat race starts early. Excellent grades in academic subjects are the primordial benchmark that sets kids apart from their peers. FILE PIC

UPSR, SPM, STPM, GCE — just a few of the acronyms haunting many young minds at this time of the year. Young minds and their parents alike.

Remember the days when everything was a race? First to reach the bathroom in the morning, first to down their Milo, first to call shotgun for the ride to school. First to sit on the swing at recess, first in line for canteen lunch. First on the school bus to secure the best seat and first to reach the front door and ring the bell. A happy childhood consisted mostly of healthy competition among friends and siblings, a race to be the first in all things that, from an adult’s perspective, don’t really matter.

Most children gladly put their competitive mind to rest between recess and lunch. Pupils used to run out of the classroom, not into it. Hardly anyone pushed and shoved to be the first at the blackboard and try their luck at a complex math formula. Oh, happy childhood days. Not the most ambitious of times, but happy days, nonetheless.

So, what happened? Instead of a rambunctious crowd, today’s pupils march in single file from their parents’ cars onto the school grounds, born down by a school bag so big and heavy that the child who carries it could easily find space to sit in it herself. If Malaysian schools run two sessions per day, a fact that absolutely boggles the outsider’s mind, where are all the students that have the other half of the day off?

Why are they not playing outside, in their front yard, in the neighbourhood park? Why are they not hanging out at the local mall or mamak stall? Where and when are today’s children being children, where are the nation’s teens being pubescent?

Youngsters have no time to be childlike, or rebellious, or sullen, or dreaming, anymore. Youngsters are at tuition. They are at tuition centres that have popped up all over the country like “mushrooms growing after the rain”, to borrow a local saying.

In today’s competitive world, the rat race starts early. Excellent grades in academic subjects are the primordial benchmark that sets kids apart from their peers; the yardstick that determines a parent’s measure of success at their job as a progenitor.

Academic excellence is a must in secondary school; it is even the norm in primary school. Parents and guardians send their scions for after school tuition up to seven days a week. Gymnastics and piano lessons are squeezed in somewhere in between.

The “Asian F” is a very real notion. It is the widespread understanding that an A- is not good enough. The pressure on school children and their parents is growing to unhealthy proportions.

At the same time, many life skills are thrown overboard in a constant effort to be the best among the best. Professors in tertiary education lament the fact that they lecture classes of exceptionally well-instructed students who don’t understand what further education is all about. Students are bright and diligent, but they don’t know how to think critically, how to build an argument, how to debate, or how to work towards a solution as a team.

If parents and schoolchildren willingly submit to the burden of pushing for always better grades, it is in an effort to be best prepared for the real rat race, the demands of modern career perspectives.

However, it seems that academic excellence is not the whole ticket. Employers undoubtedly look favourably upon perfect scores. But, recruiters also look for attributes such as individuality, drive, passion, curiosity. These aren’t skills learned in the classroom, nor in a tuition centre, no matter how well intentioned the teachers and tutors might have been. These character traits are fashioned on the playground, on a football field, in a band, even while playing video games.

At first glance, this argument might come across as irresponsible, dismissive of academic values, rebellious even. It is not. It is simply an attempt at widening the scope of modern education.

A healthy education should be a marvelous journey, not a race. It is a plea for restoring a childhood that leaves space for learning how to fail, in order to better succeed, a childhood that is given the opportunity to grow at one’s individual pace.

It is an appeal, to give children the chance to spend time in a meadow, so that they know how to stop and smell the roses when they grow up.


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