THE first 20 high-performance schools have been named. There are primary, secondary and fully-residential schools among them, spread across several states. (What a proud achievement for my alma mater, SK Convent Kota, Taiping!)
But questions have been percolating in the afterglow of the initial triumph. What does such an achievement entail? What does “high-performance school” mean?
We know the official answers: these top schools get special privileges, and more autonomy and money.
But how are they different from the other types of schools announced by ministers past?
There were cluster schools and premier schools, and Vision schools and smart schools before them. And most recently, there have been “hot” schools.
Parents are understandably goggle-eyed over the variety of schools we have in the country. And these are just the public schools.
What are the implications of their children being in a particular type of school?
Does enrolment in a “hot” school necessarily mean a student will end up a Mat Rempit, triad taiko, pirate DVD seller, or worse?
Here, as a public service, is a guide to the various types of government schools we now have in our education system:
- High-Performance Schools: These are outstanding schools that will be given special annual allocations and increased autonomy in staffing, enrolment and curriculum.
- Cluster Schools: These are outstanding schools that are given special annual allocations and increased autonomy in staffing, enrolment and curriculum. (Sounds familiar?) Sixty schools were designated cluster schools two months ago, bringing the total to 120. Some cluster schools are also high-performance schools.
- Smart Schools: Simply put, these are schools equipped with Internet access and computer labs, the better to introduce students to information and communications technology as “a culture in education”. Eleven years after being introduced, smart schools are still grappling with the essence of being smart. Some smart schools are cluster as well as high-performance schools.
Confused yet? There’s more. We also have:
- Premier Schools: These are schools more than a century old. They excel in academics and co-curricular activities and have produced many national leaders, corporate figures, professionals, sportsman and scholars.
In 2008, four such premier schools — SMK Victoria and SMK Convent Bukit Nanas in Kuala Lumpur, SMK St Thomas in Kuching and SM All Saints in Kota Kinabalu — were honoured with special sets of stamps and first-day covers by Pos Malaysia Berhad. Curiously, none of them made the cut as high-performance schools.
- Vision Schools: These involved putting a national school and one or two other vernacular schools together at the same site to share common facilities such as the school canteen and sports grounds. It was hoped that the proximity of students of other races would encourage greater interaction among them and foster national unity.
This encountered strenuous resistance from Chinese schools. There are now eight Vision Schools nationwide, but only three — Subang Jaya, Lurah Bilut in Pahang and Teluk Sengat in Johor — comprise national, Chinese and Tamil schools.
- Controlled Schools: Top schools where the number and quality of students enrolled are “controlled”.
That’s not the end of it. There are also:
- Central Schools: Schools with boarding facilities to accommodate students from villages in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak; and,
- Sports Schools: Incubators for potential sports champions. Talented students are groomed in these schools with proper guidance from experts.
And, of course, there are the “hot” schools — those the police have an eye on because of indiscipline, crime and social problems among students. Needless to say, parents will not be scrambling to enrol their children in such schools.
Placing schools in specific categories will definitely raise their profile and perhaps, in time, help them attract students of all races.
The Education Ministry wants to memperkasakan sekolah kebangsaan (making national schools the school of choice), after all.
Some cluster schools are already getting a deluge of applications from non-Malay students, so much so they have waiting lists as long as that of a famous golfer’s conquests.
Parents whose children’s schools are in none of these categories should not despair, however.
A non-descript school in the backwoods is as capable of spurring its students on to unimagined heights of excellence.
All any school really needs is a capable headmaster, teachers of quality, and an active parent-teacher association.
by Chok Suat Ling.
Read more @ http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/17HISA/Article/index_html