Social media was recently abuzz with parents as well as students claiming that the question posed to SPM students for their Bahasa Melayu oral examination was ludicrous: what is your dream wedding?
Some parents were up in arms about such a topic that was thrust upon 17-year-olds, as they felt their children were too young to think about marriage. Even some students were stumped.
Given the gravity of the allegations, former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching immediately demanded clarification from the Ministry of Education. At the time of writing, there has been no response.
Parents, who are especially uncomfortable with child marriage, certainly would not want their children to be toying with such an idea at a time when they are just about to start their life’s journey.
Weddings are obviously not on their priority list for now. Can’t a wedding dream, let alone a dream wedding, wait?
If it is true that such a contentious question was set, an inquiry is essential to get to the bottom of things.
Surely, the objective of having an oral examination is not only to test language proficiency and communication skills but also to assess the students’ ability to deal with the prescribed subject matter.
This subject matter ought to gauge a measure of the students’ intelligence, confidence and life outlook. At the very least, it should be intellectually challenging.
What is hoped to achieve from a conversation about a dream wedding? The choice of wedding costumes, marital fantasy, a good-looking spouse, a grand wedding, generous wedding gifts and a honeymoon destination?
Would the examiners instead not want to know, for instance, a student’s dream of a better Malaysia? His or her dream of being a good Malaysian? A dream occupation?
Or do the examiners think that such possible topics are beyond the grasp or interests of today’s youth in a world that, nonetheless, has given rise to new challenges, such as climate change, increasing environmental degradation and infectious diseases?
The wedding topic may also be perceived as having the effect of dumbing down the students, many of whom have an innate curiosity and thirst for knowledge that should be encouraged, not blunted.
Of course, we would not expect the students to talk about a topic that is as controversial and complex as, say, a marriage of convenience between political parties in the country. Besides, that would be stretching the notion of dream wedding too far.
Or, can the preference for a wedding topic be construed as a feeble attempt to lower the bar so as to ensure better grades among our students and reflect positively on our education system? Or, is this too far-fetched and unfair a suspicion to be cast on the education authorities whose primary task is to supposedly promote and maintain academic standards and excellence in our education system?
Be that as it may, how does a consequent good grade for a wedding topic reflect on our schools and the education system?
Hopefully, this controversy will be addressed immediately by the authorities concerned, as our students cannot afford to be tested on a wrong premise. – The Malaysian Insight