The philosophy of Malaysian
education aims to produce individuals who are well adjusted through
intellectual, spiritual, emotional and also their physical by the developing of
the potential in a holistic and integrated manner among the individuals.
Besides, the education contribution of developing the pupils who are
knowledgeable and competent, having high moral standards towards personal
well-being, responsible towards the family, society and the nation also being
highlighted in the policy. Therefore, the implementation of the efforts to
reflect the growing global expectations of national educational systems has
been consistently initiated by the Malaysian government (Ministry of Education,
2003). Generally, Malaysians accepted the education as offering opportunity to
enhance the chance for a better life towards their children.
In 2010, all schools in Malaysia
have been targeted by the Malaysian Ministry of Education to be Smart Schools.
In order to ensure the agenda become reality, ministry took the responsibility
to work on all the regular schools for them to become effective schools. The
elements that should be categorized for the schools to be effective is the
strong instructional leadership, shared the vision and goals, high academic
expectation, systematic evaluation procedures, safe and conducive learning
environment, school and class size, also the home-school relationship. Besides,
the holistic national perspective and also the international issues that
present challenges to its effectiveness and global relevancy also need to be
encountered in effective schools elements. However, there are still people who
claim that many schools in Malaysia still not fulfilled the qualities of being
the effective school. Therefore, the ministry took the efforts to ensure the
effectiveness of schools in Malaysia.
of the important elements that viewed the effectiveness of the schools is the
students’ academic achievement (Lezotte, 1989) in United States Department of
Education. Mortimore (1995) viewed that there is strong relationship between
the high expectations and the effective learning as viewed in large number of
studies from the several countries. High expectations of the effective learning
are related with the curriculum management of the school.
One of the alternatives by Ministry
of Education towards the better curriculum management of the schools is through
the school streaming. Mansor (2016) indicates in (Macqueen, 2008; Kumar, 2004)
refers streaming as the action taken by the schools in grouping students into
the classes based on their intellectual or academic performance. The process of
streaming also includes placing and separate the students based on their
comparable skills and needs. The placing of the students to the homogenous
achievement classes are based on some of the measure of overall skills and
abilities and also the academic achievement among each of the students. One of
them is the students’ previous year end examination results that usually will
be taking as the reference for the schools to group the students. The yearly
streaming of the class usually will be permanent through the year. But, the
grouping also might change depending on the next year-end assessment. There is
also some cases where the students are streaming into the classes by the mid
year examination and the end of the year results. Macqueen (2008) in her study
viewed that method of allocating the students to classes in larger schools
become popular after the standardized testing is introduced in 1920s.
(2012) in his journal entitled Kemiskinan
and Keciciran Dalam Pendidikan state that the implementation of streaming
system in schools also due to the students’ living standards that are different
among all of them. Besides, people also have the way of thinking where they do
not want their children to mix with the inequivalent status of the people that
are from a social class. Students’ placement within the specific group in
schools may enhance the school performance. Jamaludddin also said most of the
students who drop out come from poor education background. When there are
placement of the underprivileged students in class retarded also the one with
the low ability and academic achievement students in specific group, it can be
as the prevention of the dropouts in education. This is because these groups of
students can be offered with the education that able to train their skills in
streaming is known in worldwide. The system of streaming school that have been
introduced in the elements of curriculum management is also implemented in
other countries such as the Hong Kong, Australia and also the western
countries. Baker (2001) reported in BBC News the alternatives of streaming for
the curriculum already implemented in United Kingdom since 1970. It has been
practiced by 70% of schools there during the time. The method is used until
this century. Another example of the countries that implement and practice the
school streaming is Singapore. Up until now, Singapore emphasize on streaming
system at schools to encourage students compete with one another as to be place
at the top classes (Jelita, 2017). This country’s school system is geared
towards high achievement in exam, therefore the streaming is practiced in order
for the students to focus on the examination.
School have been looking to use
various methods for a long time to determine the streaming of students such as
parental demands, homogenous and heterogeneous skills, and cluster grouping.
Therefore, clustering methods have been used extensively in education for the
distribution of students according to their performance (Gentry, 1999). Bellin,
Dunge, & Gauzenhause (2006) view the previous studies regarding the
academic streaming of the students where it is obvious that the academic
performance is the primary criterion of the evaluation for the streaming. For
the future development plans, students are streamed based on their performance.
The way of streaming used through the performance aims to map out students’
learning pathway and also for facilitating in the decision making process
according to the clustering technique analysis. IT is used to interpret the
combination of data and the analysis for the recommendation of the suitable
streams for the students.
System in Malaysia
Malaysia practices the streaming
system on the students since year one. For example, the 6-year-old students
from the kindergarten will took a basic writing, reading, numbering and
calculation test before they are categorized through the classes. These tests
usually practices in schools at the urban area since they are higher number of
students register for the schools. While as for the schools in the rural area,
the tests are not regularly practicing in the school. It is because of the
lower number of students at the area and due to lack of facilities such as few
numbers of classrooms available. The implementation of streaming system in
school is not only applied on the higher performance schools such as the
cluster and the boarding school. However, this streaming system is practices in
most of the school in Malaysia such as Sekolah
Kebangsaan, Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC) Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil
(SJKT), and the religious school
at the primary level. As for the secondary level, schools such as boarding
school, higher performance schools and also daily schools also practice the streaming system.
At the secondary level, students are
stream according to the classes based on their last final-year examination
performance following the first three years. As for form 3 students, they will
be categorized based on their achievement in the lower certificate education, Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) examination and the courses they
want to study on the upper secondary level. Streaming system is not only
focusing on the improvement of curriculum at school, but it is also involving
the tertiary level of education. The difference that can be analyzed through
the school and tertiary level is the rigidity of the streaming implementation.
In higher institution, students are stream only once or twice along the period
of their study. For example in Education courses, students are being
categorized by the groups of their preferences of major courses they want to
study such as Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Arts, also the Physical
Education courses. Then, the second streaming is being practiced during the
second semester where they will be group into the minor courses they will study
based on the academic performance for the specific subject from the semester 1.
After all, the groups will last until the final semester of their study.
of School Streaming
the Ministry of Education introduced the streaming system in schools, there
must be the reasons that will benefits the education which being as the
alternative way of improving the curriculum. As for the first, streaming system
enable teachers to be more skillful where teachers able to focus on the on
manage and choose the types of teaching methods can be use towards the
different groups with of students. The teaching approach might be focus on the
ongoing assessment, delivering the knowledge, teacher-centered or
student-centered approach based on the level of performance of the students.
Mansor (2016) in his study state that streaming system helps the teachers in
lesson preparation that focused group needs of streamed groups that have been
streamed as opposed to unstreamed mixed ability groups. The information that
response to the study agreed that streaming is a good alternative to group the
students according to their capabilities where the different capabilities of
the students are having the different needs. Therefore, the knowledge will be
constructed effectively as they were trained according to their strength and
school streaming benefits in enhancing the improvement of time management. As
for the time management aspect, school streaming helps in the planning of
remedial classes for the weaker students and also concern on the smarter
students’ needs (Mansor, 2016). Teachers also able to manage their time in
covering the syllabus contents based on which group they need to teach. As an
example, Additional Mathematics is one of the crucial and tough subject learn
by the students. This subject is allowed to be taken by the selective students
that have higher achievement in mathematics. Therefore, with the good time
management based on the streaming classes, teachers able to provide more
teaching materials and related questions regarding the subject so they are able
to assess the students’ performance. Besides, time management also important
for both teachers and students so that the schools able to predict the school
target that can be achieved on the students’ academic performance. This is
because streaming system will cause the school to be more alert on what is
happening academically. Thus, teachers able to identify the rate of success and
failure earlier based on the academic performance.
advantages from the school streaming is the ability of the teachers and school
to target the better result. Mansor (2016) again believes the streaming classes
enable not only the teachers and school, but also for the students to have the
target for their achievement. Based on the response to his study, Mansor found
the students streaming based on the groups has allowed the school to be able to
manage its resources more effectively. As they are placed and classified by
their performance, teachers will be able to analyse the needs for each groups.
Hence, it enable for the school to plan the funds to be allocated in supporting
the different level of students’ needs by buy the specific reading materials
and work books to equip students with their necessary needs. The materials for
different groups will also be different. Thus it is important for the teachers
to identify what are the needs for their students so that they can helps those
who are good in academic to perform the excellent results and encourage
students with the low achievement to have the higher results.
streaming system also benefits to the curriculum by exhibit the different
abilities. Students’ different abilities are very important things that must be
concerned by the teachers. Different abilities in school also included their
interest towards the subject. For example, there are different subjects offered
in schools such as the science stream, arts, accounting and others. Students
who like to make a drawing tend to choose the arts stream while those who are
good in laboratory skills will have higher interest in learning science.
Students who choose to study account are usually the one who are not interested
in drawing and scientific terms thus they are mastery in calculation and
business. Students will be eager to develop their self-managing skills during
their learning process (Butler, 2013). They also will have the courage in
engaging towards their interest subjects. Therefore, streaming students
according to their interest subject helps them to be focused and performed the
best results. Besides, it will motivate them to learn what they are interested
more personalize support to the lower ability groups is the fifth advantages of
the school streaming system. Streaming to the higher classes is not only
motivates the higher achievement students, but it is also become as the
benefits with the cooperation to help the lower achiever students. the
cooperation needed by both the excellent and poor achievement students as
emphasize in Kaizen that being introduced by the Japan’s Father of Continuous
Improvement, Masaaki Imai in 1997. Brunet (2000) view Kaizen as the spirit of
improvement based on the spirit of cooperation and commitment equally relevant
in personal, home, social and working life. This concept of Kaizen is said able
to help the quality improvement in school as this ideas aims for fixing
something instead of waiting for it to be broken. As before results can be
improved, processes must be improved, as opposed to result-orientation where
outcomes are all that counts (Imai, 1986, p. 16-17). Therefore, it teaches us
to have the good cooperation such as the improvement of learning process
between the experts to the lower ability students.
of School Streaming
Iaeng & Kaur in (2012) viewed that charting the learning path of the
students is presently become as one of the biggest challenges in education in
directing students based on their academic performance also their abilities
towards the best and appropriate streams to be choose. Implementation of
streaming system in school is seen to benefit both teachers and also the
students. Nonetheless, there are also the disadvantages that for this streaming
practices in school. For example, streaming students in groups causes the low
ability group exhibit low self-esteem and motivation. This is because students
tend to hide their abilities in the academic due to low motivation of being
placing in lower grade class. Feehan (2017) in his study shows the performance
of students during the Junior Cert exams is at the poor state among the lower
stream groups. This is due to the classes streaming that cause them to feel
lower self-esteem and have the negative thoughts about school thus end up
drifting or becoming disengaged.
second disadvantage from the streaming system is that it expressed as an
antisocial tools. Students whose groups into the lower ability level will
communicate and interact only with their group mates that seen as having same
level as them. Benn (2011) in the study of students’ mobility due to the
streaming followed two groups of young adolescent where one is separated into
the rigid ability group while the other group were taught in the mixed ability
grouping. From the observation, Benn found that the mixed-ability group
achieved more social mobility in relation to the peers of the other groups,
their parents and teachers compared to the streamed group.
third disadvantage that can be seen by the streaming practices is the arising
of students’ discipline issues. Students’ from the lower ability group feels
like they are not at the concern from the teachers, thus they will create the
unethical behaviour that will attract the teachers’ attention to them. As an
example, teacher’s teaching is distracted by the behaviour of the students in
the class. Teachers need to face this challenge in the main from the lower
ability groups during the class observation (Mansor, 2016). The discipline
issues might not only happen in the class, but students also will create such unethical
behaviours outside the school session for some attention.
other study, streaming system also disadvantage towards the curriculum as the
biasness in teaching and learning process occur. Biasness in teaching and
learning process of this streaming system happen when teachers provide the
lower ability group of students with the easier task. This easier task will
cause lack of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) skills among the students
(Jamaluddin, 2012). Besides, students will be in the comfort zone when they are
only exposed to the easier questions. Thus, it will affect students’ motivation
to increase their achievement beyond their comfort level.
also can cause the changes in the syllabus plan. For example, as school
practices the streaming after the mid-year examination, students who are
transferring either to the upper class or the lower class will face the
distraction with the learning syllabus. They will have the difficulties with
the continuous lessons. For example, when students already gain the knowledge
of the subject for certain part then they enter the classes that already
advance with the subject, thus they will face the difficulties to cover by
themselves on the left behind contents. This is because teachers will reluctant
to re-teach the previous contents due to lack of time. Hence, it will affect
the students’ performance itself.
(2017) in the new of South China Morning Post reveals that there are suicides’
cases happen in Singapore due to the streaming points. This case is one of the
worst impacts of streaming towards the curriculum in Singapore and also the
students. Such cases reported by the reason of increasing stress level as they
were enforced to score the higher results in their academic achievement.
Students’ pressure on achieve the best results not only come from the teachers
and school expectation, but also from their parents. As we gain the knowledge,
Singapore consists of large number of population that creates higher
competition, thus education and higher score of the results in tests and
examination is very important to them. Example cases happened in the country
reported in 2015 where 27 the people who commit suicide are among 10- to 19-
year-olds. There is also case in 2016 as mentioned by Jelita (2017) where
11-year-old boy jumped to his death from the 17th floor of the flat
block due to the fear of sharing his examination results with his parents
although it was only the first time that boy had failed a subject. This is
because the children facing the stress to performed in academic aspect and they
are afraid to lose.
From the discussion session,
teachers able to alert with the situation happen in Malaysian education
practices based on the streaming classes based on the shared experiences. When
it comes to the choices offered for the students to choose their path of study,
there are limited choices of subjects available at the school which leads the
teachers to place the students directly based on their PT3 performance without
considering the students’ interest and abilities. There are also cases where
students are not allowed and be given the opportunities to choose the subject
they want to study as being discussed by the audience. Once in that stream
though, switching opportunities are limited. From other experience, some
schools practiced the streaming of classes more than once a year. They streamed
the students based on mid-year examination performance and also the final-year
Besides, novice teachers also
shared where students who are placed in the higher ranking classes have the low
self-esteem as she feels like she does not suit to the group, thus she tend to
hide her abilities in the academic achievement. Later, as she being stream
again into the lower grade classes that have the average level of achievement,
the students be more comfortable and able to express her ability in the
academic subjects. Besides, her communication skills also improved as she felt
to be more confident with her ability. Therefore, the streaming system
introduced and practices in the school not only disadvantage to the students on
the lower classes, but it also does affect the higher performance classes of
Regarding the discipline issues of
the unethical behaviour, it were created by the students and not only happen in
the daily school, but it is also happen in the higher achievement schools such
as the boarding and cluster schools. Therefore, as the conclusion, streaming
system in schools have the own pros and cons. Although there are a few
advantages, people are quite positive that it could be overcome. There should
be more investigation carried out in analyzing whether this streaming practice
we have in many schools in our country is best made compulsory in all schools
with the necessary improvement or taken away. Hence, it is important for the
school management to acquire more information concerning the students, such as
their results in order to measure the success of each streaming or class.
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