Despite having returned to ‘normal’, many Malaysian youth are still suffering the aftermath of COVID-19. Between navigating the tribulations of a worldwide pandemic, Malaysian students were also required to face their final battle culminating at the end of their school life: the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).
The years 2019 to 2022 were dark times for SPM candidates which reflected aptly when the statistics of their results were presented. Having recently been tallied, it was found that in 2022, over 90,000 SPM candidates had failed Mathematics while over 50,000 failed English.
According to research presented by an NGO, over 200,000 students had failed or skipped their SPM within the 2019-2021 period cumulatively.
What are the causes for this?
The blanket fault lies on the pandemic, but on a granular level, there were many causes for what is arguably the saddest turnout. Focusing particularly on students in poorer developed areas, it showed that they suffered the most as they were unable to access the proper channels and technology to attend lessons. This was caused by insufficient amenities such as stable internet connection and laptops / personal devices that could have aided them in accessing lessons.
Furthermore, the inability for public schools and the education system in general to adapt to trying times had ultimately disrupted the education flow, causing students to lose interest and will to learn. Both students and teachers had suffered greatly, with teachers being overworked and underpaid across the nation. These factors had caused a lack of visibility in tracking student progress, ultimately contributing to the aforementioned statistics.
What will be the effects of this turnout?
It’s important to look at the long-term and short term effects. Poor results and attendance had spawned from several catalysts:
- Students losing concentration and interest in studying
- Students and their families struggling to make ends meet, especially during a time when parents weren’t able to go out to work
- Dimming importance on SPM as a stepping stone to tertiary education
Because many were forced to be on ‘survival mode’, their education was ultimately relegated to the backseat.
This will have a considerable effect in future: students without their SPM certifications will not be able to further their studies. Many education opportunities are not reachable because of this. It is certainly easier said than done, but the fact of the matter is: the government plays an integral part and must recognise that the trying times and limitations these students faced are valid and perhaps direct their efforts to mitigate the circumstances. Overall, it looks like the future is uncertain for these students – but not all hope is lost, and at the very least, we should hold onto the plethora of other opportunities that might arise out of this.