Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Why Malay Muslim Organizations In Singapore Cannot Solve The Math Problem

I express my own opinions here. May Allah s.w.t. forgive me for the next few statements. And yes, I believe I know better. I add – those who have consistently help turn failures (especially consistently failing in Math over the years) will be able to verify I say. Why do I say this? Because every time I succeed in turning a failure, some failing for several years, to a pass, it follows the same pattern. Therefore, there is no ambiguity in this issue of breaking the Math glass ceiling for the Malay Muslim community.

Well, if such is the case, then why have the Malay Muslim organizations failed to find the right approach to the problem? Here’s what I think the problem is. They did not carefully think about the process of solving this Math challenge. Let me hold your hand and walk you through this simple oversight.

Let’s identify the problem. The problem simply put is that the Malay Muslim community is underperforming in PSLE Math. In 2015, only 61% of our PSLE students passed standard Math while 90.6% of Chinese students and 81.6% of Indian students passed. This is the result for Standard Math only; it would be much worse if Foundation Math students were included; we are over-represented in Foundation programmes at the P5/6 levels.  So we trail by about 30% behind the Chinese and 20% behind the Indians. This has been the case for the last 20 years. So simply put – the challenge is to close the academic gap, to ensure that there is no significant difference between in the performance of Malays, Indians and Chinese students in PSLE Math.

Our Malay Muslim organizations have done a lot to try to close this gap but the gap is still there. I mentioned that they committed an error, an oversight; what is that oversight? Did they not consult experts? I am sure they did. Did they not discuss the problems in detail? Of course they did. Did they not try very, very hard? I am sure they did. So what was the oversight?

Let’s understand this issue by using an analogy. Imagine you are living 200 years ago and you want to travel through a forest in Borneo to reach an ancient cave. Who should you consult? Will you consult academics or even explorers who have travelled to Antarctica? The answer is simple. You consult the people who have been to the ancient cave you plan to visit. Don’t just consult one person. Consult as many people who have been to the cave. After finding out about their journeys, you get a very clear picture of how to get there – not just by one way but by many ways.

So what did the Malay Muslim organizations not do to close this Math gap of our community? It’s simple. They did not consult the people, the teachers and tutors, who have successfully helped very weak students in Math pass the subject. I am sure they consulted academics, teachers and experts. But the question is – did they consult the teachers and tutors who have helped very weak learners (scoring less than 30% for current and past years) to pass with As? I confidently infer that they did not.

How do I know that they did not? Simple. As I said in the beginning – there is a common pattern that most, if not all, weak learners in Math go through as they progress from F to A. If you have experienced this as a teacher or tutor, you will know what I have said is true. The fact that we are still grovelling in the dark, trying to find the right approach, means we do not know how to solve this problem and we do not even realise that the approach exists, is crystal clear and it works.

So what is the approach? Attend my talk and you can draw a simple outline of it. It’s free and only takes an hour. What is costing us millions to find the solution to, well, you can get it free. Then perhaps our Malay Muslim organizations, if you tell them, will not grovel in the dark for the next 2 decades.

Actually, I had planned to have this talk for parents of weak learners in Primary Math. However, I realise that interested parties in our communities can benefit from it too. The talk is not focussed on the Malay Muslim community but the world of weak learners in Math.

Talk 1
Venue: Singapore Learner
Blk 644 Bukit Batok Central, 01-68, Singapore 650644
Date/Day: 25 November 2017 (Saturday)
Time: 5.45 pm to 7.00 pm

Talk 2
Venue: The Education Experts
Blk 825 Tampines St 81, 01-48, Singapore 520825
Date/Day: 26 November 2017 (Sunday)
Time: 5.45 pm to 7.00 pm

To attend the talk, message/Whatsapp Shaheed Salim at 97739441.

Speaker's Profile
Trained at NIE, Mr Shaheed Salim was a former school teacher. Throughout the years, Mr Shaheed has experimented with numerous teaching strategies for teaching English, Math and Science. His systematic and progressive teaching strategy for comprehension has been very popular with schools; Mr Shaheed’s The Ultimate Guide For Mastering Comprehension books have been used by thousands of students since 2001; this is just one the many teaching strategies he has created. An experienced and effective teacher, students love his classes because they are not only learning and improving; the fun factor is pretty high. Able to read the internal fears of students rather well, Mr Shaheed addresses them positively and helps students overcome them. Tuition is not just tuition for Mr Shaheed Salim; for him, it is a opportunity to make a positive and transformative impact on students’ lives. Many uninterested students have become enthusiastic learners through him.