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… laporan dipetik dari NST hari ini:

Maybe it’s in the fish, e-books, and effort

KUALA TERENGGANU: Whenever public examination results are announced, all eyes will be on Terengganu.

It has made a name for itself and broke numerous records for producing the best results in the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR), Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examinations.

Last year, for instance, was the tenth consecutive year that Terengganu came out with the best UPSR results with 15.4 per cent of its 23,143 pupils obtaining straight As.

To top that feat, it was also an improvement over the 2009 results, which 15.3 percent of pupils scored straight As.

What’s the secret of their success?

Is it the students’ diet? Or their proximity to the sea? Would students in other states be able to produce similar results if they were put on a diet of keropok lekor and other fish-based dishes for which Terengganu is famous for?

State Education, Higher Education, Science, Technology and Human Resource Committee chairman Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman felt it’s not just the ikan tongkol that did it.

“Although the protein and fatty acids in fish contribute to physical growth and brain development, we cannot say that it is the main reason for the students prowess.”

He said the consistent excellent results was because of the state government’s focus on education with a huge yearly capital injection into the sector.

State Education Department director Razali Daud said the efforts of teachers, parents and students must also be taken into account. The parent-teacher associations in the state took an active role in ensuring the students did well.

A father and teacher, Rossdee Ali, 39, said night and weekend tuition classes by teachers were the norm.

“The teachers here sacrifice their evenings and weekends to see their students succeed.”

Having been a teacher outside Terengganu, Rossdee said he immediately noticed the difference in teachers’ attitude when he was transferred here 10 years ago.

“The teachers never ask for tuition fees. However, the PTAs would contribute to a special fund for the teachers to give extra tuition,” said Rossdee, who teaches Form Five students at SM Kompleks Gong Badak.

Some parents said the lack of distractions were also a factor.

Housewife Nor Azlina Ahmad, 40, said the absence of shopping malls and entertainment outlets made it easier for children to study.

“They spend most of their time in the state library or take a stroll by the beach.”

Her son, Muhammad Arif Muhammad Nandi, 15, scored 9As in the PMR examination last year and her eldest son, Muhammad Afif Fathullah, is now studying architecture in the United Kingdom after scoring 12As in the SPM examination in 2009.

For those in rural areas, the students’ dogged determination to free their family from the shackles of poverty drive them to excel.

Nik Haqimi Muaz Nik Mat, 15, one of the best students of SMK Pelong in Setiu, is one of them.

The tenth of 12 children said he wanted to lighten the burden of his rubber tapper father, Nik Mat Mohd Noor, 55.

Life was difficult for another straight-A student at the school, Errissa Nadira Rusli, who lost her father five years ago to an illness. The second of six children said it was her mother, Maziah Salmuna, 43, who kept her focused on her studies.

It was a proud moment for the rural school, too, as their PMR candidates achieved a 100 per cent pass rate and made it into the top 20 schools in the state.

Principal Adam Che Muda said it was a historic moment to have all its 89 candidates passing the exam, including 10 students scoring all As.

Razali said the state Education Department had a plan dubbed “201052”, which stands for 20, 10, 5 and 2, the targeted percentage of students scoring straight As in next year’s UPSR, PMR, SPM and STPM respectively.

Ahmad Razif said the students who excelled in UPSR would be given a chance to study in the many premier, elite and Imtiaz schools, which are just different names given to “super schools” with upgraded educational infrastructures.

“We will build more of these super schools to cater for the growing number of excellent students and allow them to repeat their excellence during PMR and SPM examinations.”

The adoption of cutting-edge education technology in classrooms in the form of e-books had also played a part to further nurture the culture of educational excellence.

To date, 50,000 e-books had been distributed to students to replace textbooks and revolutionise the way lessons are taught. The e-book also gives students a hands-on experience with information technology.

However, at RM1,000 apiece, the e-book approach would be a very tough act for other states to follow.

The versatility of e-books is such that students are not only freed from the hassle of lugging heavy textbooks to school, but they can also recite the Quran with the integrated Quranic verses programme installed.