• 呼吁罗斯玛与其前往英国度假,倒不如去一趟新加坡学习如何让更多马来西亚学生有机会进入牛津剑桥大学深造,帮忙节省纳税人的钱包。

    (2017年8月16日)沙登区国会议员王建民博士的媒体声明[1]

    呼吁罗斯玛与其前往英国度假,倒不如一趟新加坡学习如何让更多马来西亚学生有机会进入牛津剑桥大学深造帮忙节省纳税人的钱包。

    首相夫人罗斯玛本月初因前往英国旅行而招收到非常多的批评。她对此曾回应,此趟英国之旅,包括访问牛津大学,并非单纯度假而是为PERMATA幼儿教育计划下的孩子铺路,以便未来有机会考入该大学。[2] 可是,根据罗斯玛的说法[3],如果PERMATA的预算是如此有限,那我就建议她与其去英国,不如跨境前往新加坡,了解该国的顶尖学府如何帮助自己的学生考入牛津大学。

    根据最新的统计,目前在牛津大学共有290名新加坡学生,而马来西亚只有145名。而剑桥大学目前共有351名新加坡学生,而马来西亚则有239名学生。(请参阅下表一)

    图表一:分别在牛津和剑桥大学深造的新加坡和马来西亚学生数量(本科生和硕士生)[4]

    Oxford 牛津大学 Cambridge 2016/17 剑桥大学
    Singaporeans 新加坡学生 290 351
    Malaysians

    马来西亚学生

    145 239

    Sources: https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/international-oxford/oxfords-global-links/asia-south-east/asia-south-east-country-statistics?wssl=1#content-item–6 (Oxford), http://www.prao.admin.cam.ac.uk/data-analysis-planning/student-numbers/snapshot-nationalitydomicile (Cambridge)

    根据人口比例,新加坡比马来西亚多送9倍多的学生前往牛津和剑桥大学深造。[5] 基于新加坡拥有如此骄人的成绩,因此罗斯玛更有理由去学习新加坡背后成功的秘密。她只需要参观新加坡成功将大多数学生(包括不少的马来西亚学生)送往牛津剑桥深造的五所学府- 莱佛士学院,华中学院,维多利亚初中学院,淡马锡初级学院和国家初级学院。如果是这样,她会发现以下几点:

    1) 学术成就普遍非常

    在大多数学校,只有少数或前5%的学生会在STPM考获4颗A。能考得CGPAs 4.0的学生少之又少。举个例子,在莱佛士学院,同期考得4颗A的学生占了2016年[6] 全级的53%(1162名中的629名的学生)。因此,基本上如果你要在这所学校的人群中随便投掷一块石头,都有超过50%的机会击中考得4颗A的学生。

    学术成就高的学生越多,意味着你先拥有越多有潜力成功申请到牛津剑桥深造的学生。虽然我们可以争辩学术成绩能否真正反映一名学生的潜力,但是良好的学术成绩是被牛津剑桥录取的基本条件是毋庸置疑。牛津剑桥通常也会依照这些学生的特定学术成绩来决定是否要录取。 大多数的基本入学条件都要求学生在A level(或同等学历)至少考得3颗A或4颗A。

    作为PERMATA的负责人,罗斯玛必须回答的问题是,目前有多少高中生在A level(或同等学历)考得全颗A的成绩?而PERMATA又要如何才能取得与新加坡顶尖学院相似的学术水平?

    2) 积极在各种高智力的挑战赛事曝光

    新加坡顶尖学府的学生都有机会扩展自己的视野,并投入超越其一般教学大纲之外的赛事。在数学,物理,化学,生物学,地理学和信息学等科目中表现出更杰出的学生们都有机会获得培训,在国际舞台上代表新加坡团队参加奥林匹克竞赛。由于学校[7]和国家[8]都拥有各级别的奥林匹克训练设施,导致了新加坡能够不断地强化和改进在这些国际学生比赛中的表现。例如,新加坡自2011年起在国际数学奥林匹克竞赛都成功挤进十强排名。[9] 许多参加这些奥林匹克竞赛的学生都有很高可能性地成功申请进世界顶尖学府,包括牛津剑桥。

    除了参加只允许相对较少的学生开放的奥林匹克竞赛之外,一些对其他领域包括艺术,公共政策,科学研究和信息技术感兴趣的学生都有其他管道参与这些领域的专业计划。[10]

    另外,想要了解大学程度课程的学生们也可以选择在A-levels参加H3级别的考试(“一般”A-levels同时也拥有一份被称为H2级别的考试)。参加H3级别考试的学生们也因此学习了如何在自己的领域提出更多有启发性和重要的问题,并有助于他们在牛津剑桥的入学考试里撰写文章和回答问题。

    这也可能是国家学前教育精明计划(PERMATApintar)诺贝尔得主思维计划(Nobelist Mindset Program)的出发点之一。[11] 该计划是为了协助马来西亚学生了解诺贝尔奖得主的认知和观念。但是此计划的以下描述中,我们甚至连要训练可以用英文写正确段落的毕业生都还有很遥远的路要走,更别提培养诺贝尔奖得主:

    “This workshop was held for 5 days at the PERMATApintar Center. Students are divided into 12 groups and will be taught by two instructors in the classroom. Students will learn and be exposed sciences to become a scientist and features a prize winner. The workshop was also attended by the students of the boarding school from the outside (SBP, BPT, SKK and so on. The highlight is the selection of students and Young Scientist who managed to qualify for Londo trip. The trip to London was to provide an opportunity for participants to visit special laboratories relating Nobel there.”

    3) 拥有经验丰富的学术职员

    要考进这些顶尖的海外大学不仅仅是要求杰出的学术成绩。例如,你需要精心撰写可以让自己脱颖而出的申请论文。这包括可信度高的引荐信,额外准备牛津剑桥考试所需要的科目,如何应付这些考题,及如何在面试期间与牛津剑桥的职员进行交谈。新加坡大多数的顶尖学府都拥有经验丰富的全职学术职员,他们的工作就是为了帮助学生准备申请给这些顶尖大学。[12] 这也是莱佛士学院能成功送学生进剑桥的方面排名最高的原因之一。[13]

    据我所知,PERMATA Pintar是没有任何全职学术职员来帮助学生准备如何选择高等教育。最接近的计划,相信就是其中一个辅导计划,一名来自国民大学的学术人员会在学生的兴趣领域范围内提供相应的指导。[14]

    4) 拥有合格和训练有素的教师

    这些顶级学府里的许多教师都是新加坡教育部教学奖学金的得主。这意味着在这些教师任教之前,他们都曾被教育部赞助前往海外留学深造。 有则到像牛津大学般的海外顶尖大学深造。 此外,在这些顶级学府里,我们也有看到在海外高中教学经验丰富,包括曾在英国学校任职期间成功送进了大批学生进牛津剑桥的外籍教师。

    PERMATA是否拥有类似的教职人员,以便协助为在PERMATA学习的天才们创造最优的学术环境呢?这些教职人员是否拥有正确的经验,不仅协助这些学生在学术上表现杰出,而且能提供学生一种心智上的准备,好让自己未来能成功申请海外顶级大学如牛津剑桥?目前,我们好像没有看到有任何迈向以上目标的迹象。

    PERMATA的职责是为其高智商学生创造超群的学习环境。一个能让高表现者全方面成长和人才辈出的学习环境。最后,我们最不想要看到的是,用马来西亚高官(如罗斯玛)参访和捐赠所“换”来的牛津剑桥学生名额。

    罗斯玛不必劳师动众带领约30名或更多的团队前往英国,以便协助PERMATA的学生前往牛津剑桥深造。反之,她只需携带几位PERMATA高级管理层和老师们跨境前往新加坡探访。如果罗斯玛想节省更多的费用,那她应该直接前往本地的一些 A level顶尖学院,因为它们常年经常把许多学生送往牛津剑桥大学深造。这些学校包括马友乃德基金学院(KYUEM),端姑查化学院(Kolej Tuanku Jaafar),卫理公会学院,泰莱学院和位于莎阿南的INTEC学院。如果是这样,那么罗斯玛就不用时常要求自己丈夫-纳吉首相为PERMATA提供更多的拨款。

    最终,无论罗斯玛代表PERMATA进行多少次的海外访问,我不确定她是否学习到一个最根本的启示,那就是要真正要使这些为“天才学生“而设计的计划拥有可持续性和成功,我们必须建立起强大的教育体制基础,而非将它当成踏脚石来推动个人议程或增添自己感觉良好的面子。

    王建民博士
    沙登区国会议员

    [1] Disclosure: Dr. Ong Kian Ming did his ‘O’ levels in Raffles Institution and his ‘A’ levels in what was then Raffles Junior College under the Asean scholarship

    [2] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/391057

    [3] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/391059

    [4] These figures may underestimate the number of Oxbridge entries the Singapore education system is responsible for since some of the Malaysians who go to Oxbridge also studied in Singapore.

    [5] Abbreviation for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge

    [6] https://rafflespress.com/2017/02/24/a-level-results-2017-rafflesian-excellence/

    [7] https://rafflesmatholympiad.wordpress.com/programme/

    [8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Mathematical_Olympiad,

    [9] https://www.imo-official.org/results.aspx

    [10] http://www.ri.edu.sg/#Page/RafflesProgram-36/

    [11] http://www.programpermata.my/en/pintar/nobelist

    [12] http://www.ri.edu.sg/#Page/Student-45/ for Raffles Institution; http://www.hci.edu.sg/advantage/future-after-hci/tertiary-education for Hwa Chong Institution; https://sites.google.com/a/vjc.sg/the-vjc-scholarships-guide/scholarship-programme-at-vjc for Victoria Junior College.

    [13] https://www.crimsoneducation.org/au/blog/cambridge-acceptance-rates-schools

    [14] http://www.programpermata.my/resources/download/RESEARCH-MENTORING-PROGRAM-2013.pdf

  • Datin Seri Rosmah should save taxpayers’ money and go to Singapore to learn how to get more Malaysians into Oxbridge rather than travel to the United Kingdom

    Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 16th of August, 2017[1]

    Datin Seri Rosmah should save taxpayers’ money and go to Singapore to learn how to get more Malaysians into Oxbridge rather than travel to the United Kingdom

    Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, the wife of the Prime Minister, received much criticism for a trip she took to the United Kingdom earlier this month. In response, Rosmah said that her trip to the UK, including a visit to the University of Oxford, was not for a holiday but to ‘pave the way for children under the PERMATA early childhood education program to join the university’.[2] If PERMATA is under budget constraints, as claimed by Rosmah[3], I suggest that instead of visiting the United Kingdom, she can take a trip across the border to Singapore to learn how the top institutions there help their high achieving students to get into Oxbridge.

    The latest statistics show that there are currently 290 Singaporean students at the University of Oxford as compared to only 145 Malaysians. At the University of Cambridge, there are currently 351 Singaporean students compared to 239 Malaysians. (See Table 1 below)

    Table 1: Number of Singaporean and Malaysian students at the University of Cambridge and Oxford (Undergraduates and Postgraduates)[4]

    Oxford Cambridge 2016/17
    Singaporeans 290 351
    Malaysians 145 239

    Sources: https://www.ox.ac.uk/about/international-oxford/oxfords-global-links/asia-south-east/asia-south-east-country-statistics?wssl=1#content-item–6 (Oxford), http://www.prao.admin.cam.ac.uk/data-analysis-planning/student-numbers/snapshot-nationalitydomicile (Cambridge)

    Singapore sends 9 times more students to Oxbridge[5] than Malaysia on a per capita basis. Given Singapore’s success in sending so many more students to Oxbridge than Malaysia, it would make sense for Rosmah to visit Singapore to learn more about the ‘secrets’ of their success. She would just need to visit the top 5 ‘A’ level institutions in Singapore – Raffles Institution, Hwa Chong Institution, Victoria Junior College, Temasek Junior College and National Junior College – which are responsible for sending most of Singaporean students to Oxbridge (as well as a number of Malaysians). If she did, she would find the following:

    1) High academic achievements across the board

    In most schools, only a handful of students, perhaps the top 5%, would get 4As for their STPM. Those with 4.0 CGPAs are even rarer. In a top A level college like Raffles Institution, the percentage of students in a cohort with the equivalent of 4As was 53% for the class of 2016[6] (629 out of 1162 students). Basically, if you were to throw a stone into a crowd of students in this school, you would have a more than 50% chance of hitting someone who scored 4As.

    Having a larger number of academic high achievers means that you have a larger pool of students who can potentially apply to places like Oxford and Cambridge. While we can discuss whether or not academic results are the best reflection of intellectual potential, there is no escaping from the need to have good academic results to gain entry into Oxbridge. Offers from Oxbridge are usually given to students contingent on them obtaining a certain academic result. Most entry offers are contingent of students obtaining 3As or 4As for their A levels (or the equivalent).

    The question which Rosmah has to answer, as the patron of PERMATA, is how many of its pre-university students obtain straight As for the A level exams (or its equivalent)? What does PERMATA need to do in order to reach similar academic standards as the top pre-university institutions in Singapore?

    2) Exposure to Various Intellectual Challenges

    Students in these top A level institutions in Singapore are given opportunities to expand their intellectual horizons beyond their normal academic syllabus. Students who show greater aptitude in certain subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Geography and Informatics, are given the training and the opportunity to compete for selection into the Singapore team for Olympiad competitions at the international level. The Olympiad infrastructure which exists at the school[7] and national[8] levels has allowed Singapore to improve its performance in these international student competitions over time. For example, Singapore has placed in the Top 10 in the International Math Olympiad since 2011.[9] Many of the students who participate in these Olympiads will go on to gain entry into top universities around the world, including Oxbridge.

    The exposure to various intellectual opportunities goes beyond training and participating in Olympiad competitions, which are only open to a relatively small number of students. Students who show interest in other fields, including the arts, public policy, scientific research and information technology have access to specialist programs in these fields.[10]

    In addition, students who want to gain exposure to university standard courses can opt to take H3 level papers for their A-levels (This is an addition to their ‘normal’ A level papers which are called H2 level papers). Students who take H3 level papers are better prepared to ask more insightful and critical questions in their field of studies which would also help them when writing essays and answering questions during interviews for Oxbridge entry.

    This is perhaps one of the intentions of Permata Pintar’s Nobelist Mindset program which is a program to give Malaysian students a sense of what it takes to have the mindset of a Nobel Prize winner.[11] But from the following description of the Nobelist Mindset program, we have a long way to go in terms of producing graduates who can write proper sentences in English, let alone Nobel Prize winners:

    “This workshop was held for 5 days at the PERMATApintar Center. Students are divided into 12 groups and will be taught by two instructors in the classroom. Students will learn and be exposed sciences to become a scientist and features a prize winner. The workshop was also attended by the students of the boarding school from the outside (SBP, BPT, SKK and so on. The highlight is the selection of students and Young Scientist who managed to qualify for Londo trip. The trip to London was to provide an opportunity for participants to visit special laboratories relating Nobel there.”

    3) Having well-trained Academic Councillors

    Gaining admissions into a top overseas university is not as simple as merely getting good academic results. It requires well-written application essays which can make you stand out from the crowd. It requires good reference letters from credible sources. It requires extra preparation for Oxbridge courses which require subject exams. It requires knowing what questions to anticipate and how to converse with professors from Oxbridge during interviews. Most of the top A level institutions in Singapore have well-trained academic councillors whose full-time jobs are to help students prepare their applications to these top universities.[12] This is one of the reasons cited as to why Raffles came out top in terms of number of students accepted into Cambridge.[13]

    As far as I know, PERMATA Pintar does not have any full-time academic councilors to help guide students on their higher education options. The closest item I found was a research mentoring program whereby a student can be mentored by a UKM academic in an area of his or her interest.[14]

    4) Having well-qualified and well-trained teachers

    Many of the teachers in these top institutions are Ministry of Education teaching scholarship holders. This means that they were sponsored by the Ministry of Education to study overseas before coming back to Singapore to teach. Some of them have studied in top overseas universities including Oxbridge. There are also expatriate teachers in these top A level institutions with experience in teaching in some of the top secondary schools overseas including schools in the UK which send a high number of students to Oxbridge.

    Does PERMATA have a similar cohort of teaching staff who can create the right academic environment for the geniuses who are studying at PERMATA? Do the staff have the right experiences which can help these students to not just do well academically but create a mindset among the students which can enable them to apply to some of the top universities overseas including Oxbridge? The evidence does not seem to confirm this.

    The onus is on PERMATA to create a high achieving environment for its high IQ students. The environment at PERMATA should be one where high performers are created across the board. The last thing we would want is for places at Oxbridge to be ‘bought’ in exchange for visits and special donations to Oxford or Cambridge by Malaysian dignitaries such as Rosmah.

    Rosmah does not have to take a contingent of 30 or more people to the United Kingdom to help future generations of PERMATA students gain entry into Oxbridge. She should just go across the border to Singapore with a few of the PERMATA top management and teachers. If she wants to save even more money, she should visit some of the top A level colleges in Malaysia which routinely send many students to Oxbridge including KYUEM, Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar (KTJ), Methodist College, Taylors College and INTEC Education College in Shah Alam.  Then she wouldn’t have to ask her husband, Prime Minister Najib for more funding for PERMATA.

    Ultimately, regardless of the number of overseas trips which Rosmah takes, on behalf of PERMATA, I’m not sure if she will learn a much more basic lesson – which is that programs for ‘gifted’ students such as PERMATA cannot be the launchpad to promote one individual’s agenda or to make one person look good but must be built on strong institutional foundations in order to make the program sustainable and successful.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming
    Member of Parliament for Serdang

    [1] Disclosure: Dr. Ong Kian Ming did his ‘O’ levels in Raffles Institution and his ‘A’ levels in what was then Raffles Junior College under the Asean scholarship

    [2] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/391057

    [3] https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/391059

    [4] These figures may underestimate the number of Oxbridge entries the Singapore education system is responsible for since some of the Malaysians who go to Oxbridge also studied in Singapore.

    [5] Abbreviation for the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge

    [6] https://rafflespress.com/2017/02/24/a-level-results-2017-rafflesian-excellence/

    [7] https://rafflesmatholympiad.wordpress.com/programme/

    [8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_Mathematical_Olympiad,

    [9] https://www.imo-official.org/results.aspx

    [10] http://www.ri.edu.sg/#Page/RafflesProgram-36/

    [11] http://www.programpermata.my/en/pintar/nobelist

    [12] http://www.ri.edu.sg/#Page/Student-45/ for Raffles Institution; http://www.hci.edu.sg/advantage/future-after-hci/tertiary-education for Hwa Chong Institution; https://sites.google.com/a/vjc.sg/the-vjc-scholarships-guide/scholarship-programme-at-vjc for Victoria Junior College.

    [13] https://www.crimsoneducation.org/au/blog/cambridge-acceptance-rates-schools

    [14] http://www.programpermata.my/resources/download/RESEARCH-MENTORING-PROGRAM-2013.pdf

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