NSTP file pic
NSTP file pic

THE nation may not be celebrating the 2022 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination results which were released on Thursday, but the Education Ministry is.

Releasing the SPM results to the media at a press conference in Putrajaya, Education director-general Datuk Pkharuddin Ghazali said they were the best thus far, with 91.6 per cent of the candidates eligible for certificates.

Granted, 91.6 per cent is better than last year's 88.1 per cent, but that is not the entire story. Leaving behind 8.4 per cent of the 403,637 candidates, or 33,905, without certificates is one.

Astro Awani puts this number at a more disturbing 70,445. There are other depressing numbers. A total of 24,941 candidates who were supposed to sit for the exam last year didn't. We are not told the reasons for this, but this isn't surprising.

Our public service hardly goes public even when it should. Putrajaya encourages speculation, thus. Family problems? Financial problems? Or is it because of the introduction of new subjects in our ever-changing curriculum? Here is one more troublesome number.

Of the candidates who sat for the exam, 75,322 obtained average results. We take it to mean a grade C in all subjects. Add all these numbers up and they equal "reform".

This an old cry, but it has been misinterpreted by education ministers as requiring only a tweak here and a tweak there. Tweaks do not add up to a reform. They may even make the existing system worse. So where do we begin? Or where does the Education Ministry begin? Begin at the beginning.

Purpose, delivery and deliverers. In that order. What is the purpose of education? We advance an answer. The purpose of education is to make the student a good human being, one whose knowledge is driven by values and virtues. Everything else flows from here. If the Education Ministry doesn't get this right, everything else will be wrong.

Enron is a tragic reminder of how only sharpening the intellect at the expense of the heart, the seat of values and virtues, can destroy not just individuals and companies, but also a nation. The smartest person in the room need not necessarily be a good person, but a good person can be the smartest one there.

This needs a serious deep dive. As the nation is poised to celebrate 66 years of independence, there is no better time to reimagine our education system.

No tweaks, please. Getting the purpose of education right ensures that we know where we are going as a nation. Fail here, then any place may appear like a good place to head to.

As the SPM results and other ailments of our students show, we are headed to a wrong place. Correction of the course is needed and is needed now. But do we know where we want to go? For the very longest time education ministers have been coming and going from Putrajaya like they were visitors on a five-year pass.

As one educationist put it to a news portal, do not make our students lab rats. Our students are in schools to be made good human beings. Make them the best they can be.