Wednesday, December 25, 2013


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Retrain English language teachers, enhance MBMMBI and offer PPSMI as an option

Hussaini Abdul Karim
Letter to the press:

Dear Sir,

Retrain English language teachers, enhance MBMMBI and offer PPSMI as an option

PPSMI still has a place in our national education system in spite of the calls by many parties to clear the perception about it being a superior policy. PPSMI is useful for students who are already good in English and many of our students, being taught English since their kindergarten days, are good in the language. It is however, not a way to improve one’s English. For students who are not good in English, the numbers are many too and they can be taught Mathematics and Science in the national language or their respective vernacular languages. Therefore, it will be a big waste for MOE to discard PPSMI altogether. The solution is to offer PPSMI as an option.

Recent PISA ratings registered our students poor standings, being in the bottom third, 52 out of 65 countries, but PISA ratings are not exactly based in the same way as how we asses our national schools students’ performance and so, I believe, PISA ratings cannot be used as a reference to assess the standard of our students. It is like comparing ‘apples to oranges’ and not ‘apples to apples’.

According to IDEAS Wan Saiful Wan Jan in his article, ‘Education crisis: disclose PISA results’ he said, “The latest PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test results are alarming. Together with the TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) test, PISA is seen as a global benchmark of how a country’s education system is faring.

Malaysia participates in both PISA and TIMMS. The government has said that they aim to put Malaysia in the top third of the tests. This is a very tall order because we have just been ranked at number 52 out of 65 countries, close to the bottom of the pile.

This result points to a crisis if we put the situation in its proper context. PISA tests students at the age of 15, which means it tests those at our PMR examination age. In the recently announced PMR results, more students than before achieved good results, with around 7 percent obtaining straight As.

But this relatively good PMR results is a clear indication of how bad our education crisis is. How is it possible that when we are getting better relative to our local standards, we are getting worse in global standards like PISA? Something is clearly wrong.

The answer lies in the way our school system operates. PISA tests the ability of students to apply their knowledge. It does not test how much you know, but how able you are to use the knowledge to guide your thinking.

So, PISA tells us that while our students can remember information that are tested in the PMR exams, when it comes to thinking skills, they are below average globally. Our school system produces students who can memorise but not think!”

Therefore, in order to be able to reach the upper rungs of PISA ad TIMMs in future, the entire national school syllabus will have to be revamped and emphasis must be given to ‘thinking’ instead of ‘memorising’ or ‘rote learning’. Otherwise, we will continue to remain in the bottom third.

The recent UPSR and PMR examination results show that our students’ have attained a higher standard in the two subjects Mathematics and Science in spite of those subjects being taught in Bahasa Malaysia compared to previous years. Eventually, our students attend colleges and universities for further studies, either locally or overseas and many complete their degree courses, in many disciplines, successfully. However, despite all that, many remain unemployed mainly for not being good enough in English, both oral and written.

So, how do we address this anomaly?

Obviously, our education policy, syllabus and curriculum, though they cover Bahasa Malaysia very well, lack the edge in making our students proficient in English. This is the crux of the matter and to address this anomaly, we need to have an English language policy, good syllabus and curriculum and good English language teachers in order to raise the standard of English in our national school system.

Before the 1980s Malaysia was known as one of the top English speaking countries in the world. We had one of the best national education systems in the world and our people were able to communicate with native speakers of the English language from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand at the same level. However, ever since the switch was made to use Bahasa Malaysia in place of English as the main medium, the standard of our English has deteriorated so much that we now need interpreters to communicate with people from the countries mentioned. Only very few are able to maintain the former standard and the number is dwindling. This has affected almost two generations of our people and we cannot allow this to continue.

I suggest MOE should look at some of the teaching methods used in the 80s and earlier and adopt them into the present system. I am not suggesting that a re-vamp be carried out but perhaps what is needed is a change in the way English language is taught in primary and secondary schools. The ‘old way’ of teaching English language starts form the basic, i.e. the foundation of the English language, and that includes learning the alphabets, spelling and dictation, grammar, simple sentence construction, composition and essays and not forgetting reading. Now that we have IT and many programs and applications that can be used as teaching aids, it would be easier and more convenient to enhance the teaching and learning of English language.

Needless to say, English language teachers in primary and secondary schools must be properly trained before they are sent to schools to teach English and they should use the same basis in teaching the language as suggested above. This, of course, cannot happen overnight, but given time, we can attain our old high standards in being proficient in this language.

Whatever that have been done to improve our teachers and students command of English, such as employing the services of the British Council, engaging language consultants, using assistant teachers from the US and the UK to teach, etc. all seem to be wasted as the results do not show much success and a lot of money have been spent on them. It is therefore totally foolish and a waste of more money for MOE to continue with those programmes.

The National Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 is a well thought out document and one that has been deliberated thoroughly with the involvement of all the stakeholders and being a keen observer of the developments that take place in the country from the days before the idea to come up with a national education blueprint was conceptualised, I know that MOE did a lot of work, took a lot of trouble and pains to come out with it. It should be made a living document with the current benchmarks set in it as its base but improved from time to time.

To make the National Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 active rather than using it as a reference document only, it should be revised every six months and amendments or changes introduced at that frequency. There is no such thing as a ‘one size can fit all’ solution, especially one that involves something very big, general and sometimes vague such as education, but if the blueprint is revised periodically, given time, it will or come very close to it.

The majority of the people of our country, from all cross-sections and levels, want the best in education for our people especially for the young ones who are tomorrow’s leaders, and many, like me, express ourselves in the form of letters, for example, to get what we want. Beside us, I am sure, MOE itself have people monitoring the progress of the blueprint and from time to time may suggest or introduce new ideas, improvements and changes to make the blueprint better.

Amendments to the National Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 in the form of booklets or leaflets should be distributed to the public and published on MOE’s website from time to time. I also would like to suggest MOE to conduct a national education dialogue every year to discuss progress in education and to welcome new suggestions, ideas, improvements and changes from the public to continue to improve the national blueprint.

Last but not least, our quest to improve the standard of English should not be done at the expense of our national language, i.e. Bahasa Malaysia, and let the MBMMBI policy continue unabated but the portion on the teaching and learning of the English language need to be enhanced and the use of PPSMI, as an option, if it is allowed to continue, will be an added advantage. This can be the first step at making the National Education Blueprint 2013 - 2025 ‘grow’. This way, our students can master two languages, at least, with equal proficiency and be effectively bilingual and hopefully the anomaly of many of our graduates to remain unemployed for not being good enough in English, both oral and written is cleared. This is what we call a ‘win-win’ solution for all.

Hussaini Abdul Karim, Shah Alam, Selangor

Saturday, November 02, 2013

English Perfect Score
SPM 2013
Novel: Catch Us If You Can
(15 marks)
SCORE: 9 - 10
Response - relevant to specified task.
Elaborations given - well - supported and linked with evidence or knowledge from text.
Main and supporting ideas - relevant to specified task.
Ideas - clearly presented, well - organised and easily understood.
Written by: Cikgu Marzuqi Bin Mohd Salleh
B.Sc. (hons) Ed USM
Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013 ENGLISH 1119/2
Novel: Catch Us If You Can

Character you like best

Event that teaches you an important moral lesson
Moral value

Character you sympathize with

Memorable event

Love is important in a family. How is shown in the novel
Moral value

you have read?

The main character’s determination

Character in the novel that you look up to

What happens at the end of the Novel. Why the ending

is either happy or sad.

character who has to make a difficult decisionDid

he make the right decision?

Which part of the story do you like most?

Event that make you angry.

Marks awarded are as follows:



15 marks

Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM

SCORE A+ in SPM 2013


Elements of the Novel



Challenges of growing up and coping

Main characters

with responsibility

Rory McIntosh


Granda McIntosh





Minor characters

Power and authority.

Val Jessup

Generation gap

Mr Foley, Dr Nicol

Social bias

Darren’s mum, Tony, Tess

Sammy, Tyrone and Ruby

Bernie, his wife, and daughter Zara

Rab, Annie, Norma, Nicola

Jeff McIntosh

The mad bunch of the
Castle Street

Children’s home.

Moral values


Love and care of family

In is important
to love,

Compassion and kindness

protect family members.


Respect and concern
for others

Religious piety

their rights is important.

Not to be judgmental

Community and social workers need to

Maintaining family relationships

be sensitive and caring.


Faith in the Almighty is essential.

Appearance may be deceiving

Prejudices in society must be




Catch Us If You Can is a heart-warming

Tangkap kami jika kamu boleh’, ialah hati-
story of love between Rory and his grandfather. On

Pemanasan Kisah Cinta antara Rory dan datuknya.
another level, it is a story of adventure and escape.

Granda is dependent on his grandson, Rory,

pengembaraan dan melarikan diri. Granda hanya
because he is forgetful and often misplaces things.

bergantung kepada cucunya, Rory, kerana dia
Rory is very good to his Granda and does

seorang pelupa dan kerap kali tersalah meletak
everything possible to make him comfortable. One

barang. Rory sangat baik dengan Granda dan dia
day, Granda sets the flat on fire. Soon after, Rory is

membuatkan datuknya senang. Pada satu hari,
taken into foster care and his Granda is sent to care

Granda membakar di flat. Tidak lama selepas itu,
home. Rory hates being away from Granda and

Rory dimasukkan ke dalam rumah anak angkat dan
think of escape plan. Their attempt to escape is not

Granda dihantar ke rumah penjagaan. Rory benci
easy as their pictures are in the newspapers and

dengan tangkapan Granda dan fikir untuk melarikan
aired on television. Their journey is full of

diri. Percubaan mereka untuk melarikan diri bukanlah
unexpected twists and turns and a number of

mudah kerana gambar-gambar mereka telah tersebar
people help the young boy and his ailing

luas di televisyen dan surat kabar. Perjalanan mereka

penuh dengan ranjau yang tidak dijangka dan

sebilangan orang telah membantu Rory dan datuknya

yang sedang sakit

Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013
How is the theme love shown in the novel you have read? Support you answer with close reference to the text.
How is the theme love shown

I have read the novel ‘Catch Us If You Can’, written by
Catherine MacPhail. It is an interesting novel. One of the main themes

of the novel is love.

First and foremost, Granda has been taking care of Rory ever
Evidence +
since his mother passed away and his father walked out of their life.
Granda sees the needs of Rory in schooling and goes to see the

class teacher whenever being called.

On top of that, Darren gives the key of his mom’s caravan to
Evidence +
Rory in the Great Escape. Tyrone agrees with her mother Ruby to
help Rory and Granda in their journey because he could empathise

with Rory and his Granda.

Apart from that, Rab gives shelter to Rory and Granda knowing
Evidence +
that they are in trouble. Norma and her daughter, Nicola allow Rory
and Granda to stay overnight at their house.

To sum up, the theme love is shown between the main
character, Rory and the people surrounding him that is his

grandfather, his best friend, Darren and the new friends like Tyrone

and his family, Rab and friends. It is true that ‘Love does not count’’

and ‘A friend in need is a friend indeed!’.

In the novel that you have studied, which characters do you like most?

Which characters do you like most

I have read the novel ‘Catch Us If You Can’, written by
Catherine MacPhail. I like Rory the most as compared to other


First of all, he is a young boy who is very attached to his aging
Evidence +
grandfather, Granda. His dedication in taking care of Granda
impresses me as it shows that he is a caring and mature boy for his


Besides, his courage and determination to remain united and
Evidence +
close to his Granda even when faced with desperate situations is
endearing. This is especially clear when Granda was admitted to the

old folks’ home at Rachnadar and Rory became very upset.

This shows that he is a caring person. Another trait that makes
Evidence +
me like Rory even more is helpless and clueless in dealing with the

Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013
simplest of situations. Rory’s sacrifice and commitment towards his grandfather really makes him my favourite character of the novel.
To sum, it is clear that I like Rory best because of his positive Conclusion values, strength and determination.
Write about a character you sympathize with/admire. Give reasons for your choice.
character you sympathize with/admire

From the novel ‘Catch Us If You Can’, written by Catherine
MacPhail, the character I sympathize with/admire is Rory. There are

many reasons why I choose him.

The first reason I choose Rory is because he was a loving
Evidence +
grandson. Ever since his grandfather had not been well, Rory took
care of almost everything. He would make sure that Granda took his

medicine every day. He would also buy food for Granda during his

school lunch break. To Rory, Granda was everything and he loved his

grandfather very much because after his mother died, Granda was

the only person who brought him up.

Another reason is because Rory was a brave boy and acted
Evidence +
like a savior to his grandfather. First, when he knew that his
grandfather would not last long at Rachnadar, the resting home, he

planned an escape for both of them. He ran away from the orphanage

in Castle Street and saved his grandfather from Rachnadar. This

shows that Rory is brave and cared very much of his grandfather.

In addition, Rory is also a high risk taker because he ran away
Evidence +
with an old and sick grandfather. His plan almost cost him his
grandfather’s life when at one point, his grandfather collapsed and

fainted while they were escaping from a house of Rab’s friend,

Norma. He received the news from Nicola, Norma’s daughter that her

mother had gone to the police to report their where about. Therefore,

Rory and Granda ran away again. He planned to take his grandfather

to Liverpool with an intention to reunite with his long lost father.

Based on the reasons and evidence from the novel, I really
sympathize with/admire Rory. From the beginning until the end of the

story, he had to face so many problems. However, in the end he

managed to save both himself and his beloved Granda. He was also

united with his own father and his family.

Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013
Describe what happens at the end of the novel. Explain how you find the ending of the story. Support your answer with close reference to the text.
what happens at the end of the novel (Plot)

Based on the novel that I have studied, Catch Us if You Can
by Catherine MacPhail, at the end of this novel, Rory had a great

shock in his life when he thought that his grandfather was dead before

he at last met his biological father and together with his grandfather,

they both reconciled with Jeff McIntosh, Rory’s father, his stepmother

and his two sisters. Rory then had a happy time with his new found


When Granda fainted at the bus shelter while on their run,
Evidence +
Rory ran away to get help, leaving Granda at the shelter. He received
a help from a stranger who recognised him from the news on the

television. He and his grandfather were taken to the hospital but on

their way, a man whom Rory thought a policeman in plain clothes sat

beside him in the patrol car and he later found out that the man was

his father.

Rory spent the next few days with his new found family while at
Evidence +
times visiting his grandfather who was recovering at the hospital. His
father’s wife, Karen was kind as she came and asked Rory to go and

stay with them while Granda was hospitalised. He also found out that

he got two little sisters, Ronda 5, and Ava, 3. Granda loved the

granddaughters soon as he saw them even though he was still mad at

his son.

Rory’s dad was an apologetic man. He asked for forgiveness
Evidence +
from Rory and Granda every now and then. He was sorry about
leaving his son away with his father because he could not accept the

insults from his father. He asked Rory to give him a chance to be a

good father and a good son to his ailing father. They were given a flat

and helps came around every day which made him wonder why not

before? But he realized that he had found what he had looking for.

In conclusion, I find that the ending of the novel is a joyful one.
This is because Rory had found what he had been looking for, a

family of his own and a comfortable life for his grandfather. It is very

convenient to find that Rory could forgive everyone who had caused

him pain and fear of losing hope. I am also happy to cherish the

friendships that Rory had built with the people he met along his

journey: Ruby, Sammy and Tyrone; Norma, Nicola, Annie, Rab; not

forgetting his ever good buddy, Darren.

Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013
Choose an event in the novel you have studied which you find to be the most memorable. Give reasons for your choice and with close reference to the text, discuss the event.
An event in the novel you have studied which you find to be the
most memorable.

The novel I have studied is Catch Us If You Can by Catherine
MacPhail and I find the most memorable event is when Rory and his

Granda had to go away from Darren’s mother’s caravan after Darren

sent him a message telling him that the authority had known where

Rory and his Granda were.

It is a memorable event because from there Rory and Granda
Evidence +
started to have more interesting adventures. For instance, Rory had
to urge his grandfather to move faster and in doing so, he could see it

was very funny because Granda was trying hard not to show his

panic. Granda was also forgetting his shoes which Rory had to shove

the shoes to his feet while wrapping his coat and scarf around him

and also buttoning his jacket as well. Rory had also not forgotten his

grandfather’s things including the food and warm clothes.

The event is also memorable because Rory and Granda were
Evidence +
always alert for the authority not to get them. He was careful not to let
his grandfather lose the way by taking and pulling his grandfather’s

hand at him. He also flung his hand phone into the bushes because it

would be useless to him since the phone had run out of battery and

there was no way for him to charge it.

It is a memorable event because from there Rory and Granda
Evidence +
met more kindhearted people who jumped in to give them a helping
hand. For instance, the man and his son, Sammy and Tyrone whom

Rory and Granda met at the loch while they were fishing the other day

helped them by giving them a ride in their caravan to get away from

the camp site which was full of police and their search party. Sammy’s

wife Ruby gave Rory and Granda food and drinks in the journey. This

also tells us that not all strangers that we meet are bad people or

unkind. We should learn to respect people in order for people to

respect us.

In conclusion, the most memorable event from this novel is the
part when Rory and Granda got away from the caravan because this

has caused them to face more interesting adventures and

encountered with some kind-hearted people like Sammy, Ruby and


Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013
Choose a message that you obtained from the novel that you have read and say what you have learned from it.
message that you obtained from the novel

In Catch Us If You Can by Catherine MacPhai, one important
message the author conveys is that we must show respect and

concern for others and uphold their rights.

We are told that people like Granda need special care and
Evidence +
attention. Rory remembers that the good days when his Granda made
toffee apples for him, put up Christmas trees and carried him on his

shoulders at footfall matches. He remembers Grand’s better moments

and therefore wants to care for him now. Rory hides Granda’s

smoking pipe and drills him on how to behave at Parents’ Night. Rory

treats his Granda with respect all the time and even when he teases

Granda, it is done in a kind and humorous manner.

The authorities think that Granda should be put away in an old
Evidence +
folks’ home but both Rory and Granda think that is not right. Granda is
unhappy about it and does not want to be separated from Rory. I think

the elderly should have their wishes respected and be cared for at the

same time. They must have proper home help, meals and medical

care. They have done much for us before. Now it should be our turn

to do good for them. Let them live their remaining days in pride and


Children need to be given the right care and attention too.
Evidence +
When they become carers, it is harder for them to enjoy the childhood
they are entitled to, go to school and get the right education. So it is

important that they get the use of proper services from the authorities.

They emotional needs too must be addressed.

People who are different from us must be treated with respect.
Take the travelers for example. People look down upon them, but

they have their rights too and need to be treated with respect and

dignity. This is an important message that is most relevant in today’s


Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013
What is the important moral value you have learned in the novel of your choice? Give evidence from the novel to support your answer.
The important moral value you have learned in the novel

In Catch Us If You Can by Catherine MacPhail, I learnt about
compassion for fellow human beings. Many characters

compassion for each other and act in a kind manner because of their

compassionate nature.

Rory and Granda care for each other and there is compassion
Evidence +
in their actions. Rory cares for his grandfather’s well-being and
protects him from anything he considers bad, offensive or dangerous.

Granda tries his best to help Rory unfortunately makes mistakes, but

there is still compassion. He strongly says that no grandson of his is

going to a home for as long as he is around.

Dr Nicol, Val Jessup, the police and the nurses act
Evidence +
compassionately towards Granda and Rory. They are affected by the
dilemma of an ageing man who is so dependent on a young boy and

therefore do what they think is the best. Even Darren’s mum thinks

Rory has taken on too big a responsibility and worries over him. Mrs

Foley, Rory’s teacher, wants to foster Rory because of this same


Darren offers his mum’s caravan to them because he cares for
Evidence +
Rory and Granda. He warns them about the arrival of the police. Tony
and Tom look after Rory in the children’s home because they know he

is miserable. Sammy, Ruby and Tyrone help pair on their escape

because of their kind nature. All the others, like Bernie, Rab, Annie

and Norma are concerned about the pair’s well-being. They feel for

both Granda and Rory and do their best to make things better for


I think the nature of the characters proves that the author thinks
that being compassionate helps you lead a good life.

Credited by Cikgu Marzuqi M.Salleh
BSc. (hons) Ed USM
SCORE A+ in SPM 2013