As a parent with kids attending sekolah kebangsaan, I was tremendously happy on the first day of school this year. With SPBT books (both text and activity) given out at the end of the previous school year and no school fee to pay, there was no need to hang around in school and queue with some 40 other parents in front of each respective class to hand in any payment. A huge relief, if you ask any parent of schoolgoing kids..what more parents with kids attending different schools.
But the joy and relief were somewhat marred when my teenager and junior primary brought back the dreaded Sistem Maklumat Murid (SMM) form from their respective schools on Monday and had instructions to send them back before the week ends.
So, what's the big deal, you may ask.. Well, the big deal is that not only is this form 3 pages long, it asks for information on each child - personal, medical and education journey from kindy..
It also requires information on the child's siblings and employment details of both parents or guardians.
It is perfectly understandable for public schools to gather such information so that they would be able to provide under-privileged or special needs students better assistance or aid. I have very little complaint on that as information is needed to make such arrangements. As long as the information is kept private and secure. But I do object to having to fill up this form year after year.
Take for example, my eldest who is in Form 2 now. I have been filling up forms like this since she was 7. Each year without fail. And I have 2 children..what if I have 6 or 7 schoolgoing kids? As I understand it, the information is already keyed into the school system the first time the form was submitted for each child and the yearly form filling is for subsequent updates. Couldn't just the students with updates be the ones required to fill in the forms?
But as a person who once was on the other side of the desk, I know exactly what those in the school system face. Giving instructions to students (40 in each class on average) doesn't ensure each and everyone understands what is required of them. And teachers have to ensure each student receives their allocations ..whatever that may be. All on top of trying to engage each student in the learning process, co-curriculum activities, be their chaperone, coach and whatever.
So, where does that leave us parents at this period where this all-important form needs to be sent in? One of my friends who have 5 kids at school was wise enough to scan all her children's SMM forms and just print them out every school year and updates them accordingly.. Woaaahhh.. why didn't I think of that? After all technology is right there at our finger tips, why not make use of it...
Well, clearly the procedure of how student information is gathered needs to be looked into. But in the mean time, even if it irks us parents, we could just conform in a pain-less way by using that scanner..