Students burdened by too many workbooks

PETALING JAYA: With education being of the utmost importance in the development of a child, parents in this day and age will often do whatever they must to make sure their child has an advantage over the rest of their peers so as to equip them for the future.

As such, parents will often, and without thinking twice, buy as many books as they can for their children.

The rationale behind this thinking is: The more books you buy, the more they learn.

Sadly, that is not the case and the children end up going to school saddled with too many workbooks that more often than not go unused.

This begs the question: Are children being saddled with too many workbooks at school?

One such parent, Stephen Ng whose child goes to a Chinese school in Bandar Utama told theSun that the amount of books a child has to take to school is excessive.

"Eight Chinese workbooks, four Bahasa Malaysia workbooks, three English workbooks, two workbooks each for Mathematics, Science and Computer, and another book on Safety, this is the amount of books my child takes to school on any given day, it is too excessive," he said.

Ng also thinks that there's more than meets the eye with the number of workbooks that parents are required to buy.

"A lot of these book companies will offer kickbacks to principals and teachers if they promote their books to the students. I don't know if it is happening in my child's school but I was told that it does happen," he said.

Persatuan Jaringan Ibubapa Pencinta Pendidikan Bahasa Zhong Hua (Jiazhong) adviser Edward Neoh, who also has been fighting this issue with schools, said it is against education ministry protocol for schools to be asking students to buy more workbooks.

"The government circular released nationwide to all schools states that only textbooks stipulated by the ministry are allowed to be used in teaching," he said.

"Parents feel that if they don't buy more workbooks for their children then they will lose out and teachers are promoting these workbooks from independent publishers," he said, adding that these workbooks mostly go unused and because of the amount of workbooks, teachers do not have time to mark them.

The circular states: "The use of workbooks and training books by local publishing companies is widespread amongst schools and parents. The Education Ministry views this as an unhealthy practice because it will disregard textbooks as the source of learning for children. Schools are required to follow the guidelines set with regards to the use of workbooks."

However, the chairman of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of the school in question told theSun that the purchase of these books is not compulsory.

"We have brought up this issue in our meetings. The teachers just recommend these books for supplemental learning but they don't have to buy these books," he said.

When theSun tried to contact the headmistress of the school, she declined to comment on the issue and urged parents to take it up with her.

MCA Religious Harmony Bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said it is not fair for parents to buy so may workbooks.

"It is not fair for parents of limited means to cough up large amounts of money for workbooks. Although it is not compulsory to buy these books, parents will want to buy them if everyone has them so that their children do not feel left out," he said.

"With this issue, there are a lot of vested interests and money involved," he said.

Efforts to obtain comments from the Education Ministry were futile at press time.