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SBT DI STAR ON LINE

The best schools in Malaysia?

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday announced that 20 schools -- 14 secondary and six primary -- had been accorded the status of high performance schools (SBTs).

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said of the 14 secondary schools, 10 were fully residential schools and the rest were day schools.

“These schools were chosen from among schools that showed outstanding performance in the field of academia, co-curricular activities and niche areas.

“The schools will be guided and monitored closely to ensure they continue to attain even higher levels of performance,” he told reporters at his office here Monday.

The 10 fully residential schools are Sekolah Tun Fatimah (Johor Bahru), Sekolah Dato’ Abdul Razak (Seremban), Malay College Kuala Kangsar, Sekolah Seri Puteri (Cyberjaya), SM Sultan Abdul Halim (Jitra), Kolej Tunku Kurshiah (Seremban), Kolej Islam Sultan Alam Shah (Klang), Sekolah Menengah Sains (SMS) Tuanku Syed Putra (Perlis), Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah (Putrajaya) and SMS Muzaffar Syah (Malacca).

The four day schools are SMK (P) Sri Aman (Petaling Jaya), SMK Aminuddin Baki (Kuala Lumpur), SMK Sultanah Asma (Alor Setar) and SMK (P) St George (Penang).

The six primary schools are SK Seri Bintang Utara (KL), SK Taman Tun Dr Ismail 1 (KL), SK Bukit Damansara (KL), SK Zainab (2) (Kota Baru), SK Convent Kota (Taiping), SK Bandar Baru Uda 2 (Johor Bahru).

Muhyiddin stressed that SBTs were not elite schools which benefited only a limited number of students.

Instead, he said each school in the country had the same opportunity and a level playing field to be recognised as an SBT.

“Any school that meets the targets of excellence and criteria set (by the Education Ministry) will be recognised as an SBT and get the same privileges,” he said.

Muhyiddin said the ministry targeted 30 SBTs by next year and 50 in 2012.

He said the rationale in having SBTs was to raise the quality of the best schools in the country to be world class, produce outstanding students and narrow the gap between schools within the system.

He said SBTs would be given additional autonomy to pursue innovation in school management and raise the productivity of students.

As for the curriculum, he said, it would be flexible in terms of teaching and learning as well as syllabi for compulsory and elective subjects, conforming to public examinations and the use of the national language as the medium of instruction, or multiple languages.

Muhyiddin said the schools concerned were also given leeway in fixing the minimum periods for subjects, extending schooling hours and allowing students to complete their studies a year earlier, just like the express promotion system that was introduced previously.

In terms of budget, he said a lump sum grant would be channelled to the schools at the beginning of each year and that they would have the full flexibility to spend it as needed and were exempt from the ministry’s centralised procurement system.

“Every school has its own budget, but with this status, they will be given additional funds and they can use the money as needed,” he said, adding that the grant might be less than RM1mil but had not been fixed yet as this depended on the size of the SBT.

He also said management of staff at these schools would be based on meritocracy and not seniority, besides flexibility given for the paying of overtime and performance incentives.

“There will also be flexibility to re-assign under performing staff and delegation of functions based on academic and non-academic reasons,” he said.

Muhyiddin said the SBTs would be appraised yearly based on their annual reports with the appropriate performance indicators and inspections by the ministry’s officers in accordance with the revised Malaysian Education Quality Standard.

In relation to this, he said the SBTs would have to fullfil six criterias -- attain academic excellence, produce outstanding students, win awards at the national and international level, be invovled in community work and network with other schools and higher learning institutions, both locally and internationally.

One of the roles the SBTs would have to play was having their teachers act as mentors to teachers in other schools through the “immersion” programme involving principals, headmasters and teachers, he said.

Towards maintaing their status as SBTs, he said their strategic plans, management structure, academic and co-curriculum programmes should serve as benchmarks for other schools, locally and abroad.

Muhyiddin said that schools in rural areas could also be selected as SBTs if they fullfilled the criteria.

“I know not all the 10,000 schools (in the country) can reach this status, but irrespective of whether they are urban or rural schools, they stand an equal chance of being accorded SBT status.

“But if the (rural) schools are constrained because they do not have the same facilities as their urban counterparts, we will speed up action to narrow the gap,” he said. -- Bernama

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