Sunday, July 30, 2017

School Books too prohibitive in cost?

MM Online - Parents accuse school heads of pushing workbooks for profit (extracts):

KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — Parents are reportedly claiming that headmasters are forcing students to buy additional workbooks in return for commissions from publishers.

The Sunday Star reported the parents as complaining that the additional workbooks were adding to the physical burden that students already bear from carrying their textbooks daily.

One parent, identified as J. Andrew, alleged that he was informed by salesmen that school heads could earn as much as 30 per cent from the sale price of each workbook.

Another parent, who declined to be named, was quoted as saying he spent an estimated RM200 for workbooks alone each year.

It's not so much the physical load the kid has to carry but more the associated financial cost the parents have to bear.

I recall in my school days I did not require workbook for primary schooling but hallelujah, there were tons during my secondary years. 

In my days, wakakaka, t'was not so much nicely published workbooks, but merely tons of mass printed stacks of subject 'exercises' (usually stapled together) which weighed just the same or in fact more than today's workbooks.

The person complaining most about textbooks and subject 'exercises' was my mum. We were bloody poor and she just couldn't afford the expenses, no matter how necessary that might have been for me.

It was my uncles who came to the financial rescue, though those was not regular, more due to my personal embarrassment and thus reluctance in asking them continuously for money than their neglect in supporting me.

But school heads should realise not every school student can afford their demands for them to buy workbooks.

The thought that those school heads might be making financial commissions out of their pupils' misery makes me mad and sad.

In my days we students used to curse our principal for aggressively berating, yes, berating (scolding, shouting, insulting) us for not buying books and (to be fair to the principal, only 'optional') subject exercises from the school, which in general costed at least 20% more than the bookstores in Carnarvon Street (in Penang Hokkien, 'Lam ch'aan nah') in Georgetown Penang.

It was an ominous street for Chinese because the coffin shops were located there, wakakaka.

Carnarvon Street seen from Malay St
note Nanyang Bookstore on right

photo from Penang, Penang lang(槟城人) lah......

But yes, we were 'bullied' by the ultra aggressive hallelujah-ing principal, wakakaka, who insisted that we must buy from the school even if the books costed more than similar ones in commercial bookstores.

That was well and good when the students had well-off parents but poor kaytee and poorer mum were higher stressed at the beginning of each year (after my father passed away) when new books were required with each ascension of class levels.

Quite a few of us impoverished chaps especially half a dozen living in Ayer Itam were caught between the Devil (school principal) and the deep blue sea (mums) during purchases of books for the new year's class.

During my final year, I did not purchase the subject 'exercises' to prepare for my do-or-die exams but lied to the principal I had. Mum did not have the money and as mentioned I did not want to further trouble my uncles who had been stupendously generous (and I did not like to as well as dare not look at their wives in the faces, wakakaka).

I saw those better-off classmates not only furnished with all sorts of (extra) textbooks and mountains of subject 'exercises' but also trained in special tuition classes which their parents arranged for them.

I then learnt too late (after the final exams) and indeed to my immense regret that there were certain recommended practices by the 'special' tutors on writing up a physics and chemistry practical test paper, which my tutored classmates knew about but poor dungu kaytee was clueless on.

Though handicapped by my inadequate knowledge on writing up a good practical test paper for both chemistry and physics, I did reasonably well in chemistry but only managed an average pass in physics. Of course I wished I had performed better, but asked why didn't and couldn't the school classes teach that?

Recently, an old classmate, who was as equally poor as I was, and I got together in Penang and while reminiscing about our school days, we had a big laugh at how miraculously we manged to pass the big final kahuna without all those special workbooks or subject 'exercises' and tuition classes.

But in the end, cost had been and would still be the major setback for many parents.

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