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Where Have All The Straight-A Students Gone? : We Have Bled Enough Talent To Developed Countries Like The US, Australia, Singapore & The UK

A 23-year-old Malaysian created history on May 29 when she became the first Malaysian woman to graduate from the prestigious US Naval Academy.

Not only that, Janushaa Balakrishnan Muthiah, a senior cadet officer of the Malaysian navy graduated with a double degree in computer engineering and electrical engineering after four years at the academy.

She had scored straight A’s at the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination in 2016 before going to Universiti Pertahanan Nasional for her tertiary education.

Janushaa appears to be a promising citizen but how far will she go in Malaysia?

Barring any racial or religious obstacle thrown her way, or the unwritten quota in government departments and services that might deprive her of what she deserves, she should easily become one of the top officers in the Malaysian navy. We can only hope, going by past records.

This is one straight-A student for whom we must keep an eye out, to see where she ends up. We hope this talent won’t be drained away like many others.

Last week, the 2021 SPM results were announced by a jubilant education ministry, which said a total of 9,696 candidates scored straight A’s.

This meant these students had scored the highest grades in all their subjects despite not having attended actual classroom lessons for nearly two years. A remarkable feat indeed, some are saying.

Looking back, the number of straight-A students has been growing steadily each year. In 2018 there were 8,436 of them, then 8,876 a year later and 9,411 in 2020. If you go back several years, the number has been increasing steadily every year.

The ministry said the results were encouraging because the candidates were the first cohort to follow the Secondary School Standard Curriculum (KSSM) from Form One in 2017.

It said these candidates had gone through a challenging learning experience while in Form Four and Form Five due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

There are two sides to the pattern of a glowing number of top scorers. One view is that the quality of Malaysian education has been improving. On the other hand, some may construe this as the examination syndicate lowering the cut-off mark.

Some say the quality of the students leaving schools and colleges these days does not seem to reflect the results we see on paper. Employer groups, too, have been questioning the standard of education for some time now.

Based on the annual increase in the number of straight A students, we should have produced thousands of these top scorers by now. But where have they all gone?

At a recent discussion, one of my friends remarked that the bright students are definitely not the ones in political parties running the country now. Neither are they the technocrats in charge of government agencies or departments.

Teachers? Nah, there have been many complaints about the poor quality of teachers. Also, straight-A students are not given scholarships to do degrees in education, those are mostly from the second echelon of the SPM top scorers.

No one knows where the brightest have actually ended up. The cream of the crop, I am told, have been lured by companies abroad after completing their degrees there.

One straight-A Malaysian scholar in the United States did so well he was taken by an engineering firm there soon after he graduated, even paying off the hefty penalty for breaking the bond with the government, amounting to some RM500,000.

He is now a happy US citizen, leading a team of inventors. There are tens of thousands of Malaysians like him out there.

There are probably many of these top scorers remaining in the country working for the private sector and staying away from government service as their talent will not be fully utilised.

One can hardly blame them as serving the government under its current policies, unwritten or otherwise, would mean working under incompetent managers at many levels.

They fear being blatantly overlooked for promotions or rewards, especially in a racially biased civil service.

We can only hope that genuine Keluarga Malaysia efforts are put in to ensure talented people like Janushaa are given their rightful place. We have bled enough talent to developed countries like the US, Australia, Singapore and the UK.

Source : FMT

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