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The Scandal of Numbers

Why are there so many straight 1As SPM scorers nowadays? 945 in 2005, and 918 in 2006. Reporters even had the nerve to query the Director-General, whether “if there had been an overall drop in quality results.” Nobody questioned the quality of the exams, but instead, the quality of the results. I wouldn’t be surprised if the MOE decides to indulge themselves in another round of feel-good ego-boasting claims next year, regardless of the possible downspiralling standard of education. Break the 1,000 barrier, we must! (sounds like recent ‘chants’ to push the KLCI…)

During my time (1997), there were less than 100 students who scored straight A1s (back then the grading notation was reversed). Scoring 9A1s or 10A1s back then needed a great big deal of talent. It was a feat only achievable by the nation’s top brains, le crème de le crème. Many of these students went on to grace the halls of top academia in US, Europe, Australia, Singapore (oh, can’t miss this out). Many more became successful in their careers and excel in their respective vocations.

So my question is, how did it go from less than 100 to nearly 1,000 in just 9 years? Population boom? Then, I supposed our total number of students now should be tenfold more, but I think that is unlikely to be the case here. I don’t believe in one generation being “smarter” than another (but I do agree that resources have become so much more accessible nowadays), so I’m basing my assumption on the fact that our talent pool should be consistent with the number of students we have. This could only lead me to one conclusion, one of an inversely proportional cause—straight 1As are definitely more attainable these days. What else could be the cause? McD’s?

This is 101% total self-praise. 4,311 is a big number and it is an over-exaggeration of something less than important. It misses the mark. By the way, just for laughs, if you had scored 16A2s, you would be enlisted as one of the 4,311, and of course, that would have been quite cursed, wouldn’t it? Is having straight 1As all you’ve got to show?

Ah, it is interesting to read about exam-related news these days, especially SPM ones. You have the media speculating on a girl to score 19 1As, apparently a new “exam record”. This is what I call celebrity treatment in school exams. Speaking of records, my university just splurged RM24,000 on 3.5 tonnes of chicken meat, more than enough to provide sufficient protein to a few cities in Somalia. The awful things people do with money for fame nowadays. You never know what that kind of money can do for research too, maybe enough to fund one project for a year.

By the way, more dismay in Malaysia’s corruption ranking in the region. Watch out for the TI CPI 2007, I smell disaster. I bet nobody’s surprised after the gargantuan amount of events that surfaced recently. I’m disappointed.

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