10803 ‘geniuses’ running around, but …


At last year’s SPM exams, 10803 pupils scored straight As, with 559 of them chalking up A+ grades in all subjects. With so many geniuses in the country, why are we in such deep … (fill in the blank)?

In the previous year (2011), 9239 pupils scored straight As of which 403 bagged A+ grades in all subjects.

A student is allowed to take up to 12 subjects.

We are told there has been an upward trend in the “National Average Grade” for SPM from 2007 to 2011. Let’s hope this is the case because the situation looked pretty bleak in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) 2007 report.

Comparing TIMMS 1999 and TIMMS 2007, we can see that the percentages of students in Malaysia meeting international benchmarks for Mathematics and Science have been dropping.

The chart below shows the Maths benchmarks for Malaysia and how the percentages meeting international benchmarks fell at all levels between 1999 and 2007. (Similar drops were seen in Science.)

This chart below provides a snapshot of Grade 8 Maths – the declining percentage of students meeting Advanced and High benchmarks. Similar falls were also seen at the Intermediate and Low benchmarks.

TIMMS 2007 results for Grade 8 Maths

You can see how far we lag behind countries such as Chinese Taipei, Singapore and Korea.

Time for a total revamp in our education system to create more thinking and analytical Malaysians, don’t you think? Don’t count on it; I don’t see any effective revamp happening under this administration, which seems to thrive on the ignorance and lack of thinking skills among Malaysians.

The term “ignocracy” has been suggested by blogger John Bald to describe “the tyrannical imposition of stupid ideas, practices and items for political purposes” – and this term has been used by Tengku Razaleigh to describe the prevailing situation.

In the UK, philosopher Professor A C Grayling has sharply criticised the exam-oriented system: “You can get students with very large numbers of A*s who are no brighter or more promising than someone with less brilliant results on paper that are interesting and with whom a lot can be done” (Daily Mail).

Please help to support this blog if you can.

Read the commenting guidlelines for this blog.
Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Gopal Raj Kumar

Perhaps a ore intelligent approach to the question would be this. Who commissioned the report. What does the body that complied and tested the results for this report stand for and who are they? what benchmarks did they set out to achieve? was it rote learning (which is not reasoning but parroting which (some groups) are good at). If balance and reasoning in diverse forms is what education is about then Malaysia fares better than Chinese Taipei and the others. One must also remember that in places such as the UK the students who are high achievers are mostly the… Read more »

Andrew I

Then no need for technology transfer.

As I See It

Here’s prove of our education standard… my kid failed accounts in 1st term exam. My kid failed accounts in mid year exam. My kid failed accounts in trial exam. My kid scored A in accounts for SPM. Miracle? You be the judge.

Gopal Raj Kumar

When you refer to you child as a baby goat (a kid) you may have identified the problem.


think he is smart, trying to tell people the word and meaning of ‘kid’…


Holy s…, when typical Malaysian learn Finland doesn’t have a “grade scoring” system from Primary till secondary school, I think they will start whining and say Finnish are “different”. So different that WITHOUT ANY A grading system, Finland are still one of the most competitive country in the world.

najib manaukau

If the education standard is so high, why is it that for decades now million of NEP (Never Enough Policy) students are being sent abroad to pursue their further studies ? Or is the DPM trying to suggest that is the reason why Malaysia is still, after so many decades, short of professionals because the government has been sending them for holidays instead of furthering their studies ? Also is that why some of our serving cabinet ministers went abroad and are so uneducated ? Minister like Rais Yatim and Umno youth chief are good examples, just to name a… Read more »

Gopal Raj Kumar

The same reason Americans send their students to places like Israel and India, Egypt, China and Australia. When you cannot reason you should never get into such arguments.


DPM contradicts himself all the time. So do not take his statement too seriously.

Gopal Raj Kumar

The country is not in such deep sh%t unless one counts those who makes such statements. Clearly (some people’s) assessment of success is based on money and money alone. Securing a degree means education to them.

Malaysia unlike Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Ireland i not bankrupt of on the skids. Unless one speaks to a … opposition man and his … coolie.

The results point to an up scaling of the quality of education which clearly has escaped the writer of this article from the “daily mail”. Even that iss un original.


Your comment lacks depth. Maybe you could explain why gangsterism is on the rise among the Indian community if the education in Malaysia is good.

Andrew I

Good one.


Darren, go to the vicinity of Botanic Garden to see for yourself.
Or wait till next January, when the whole length and breath of Jalan Utama / Jalan Waterfall belongs to you know who.
Unless you drive a Caterpillar with no eyes!

Richie Hee

Very strange that the Indian community does not emulate the spirit of ‘Sivaji The Boss’ (great movie with many moral lessons for the Indian folks) i.e. the rich ones should set up foundation to help the poor, and fight for justice against any kind of corruption. Very often the rich ones tend to distance from the poor. No wonder a poor kid that gets good education/job tend to perpetuate the trend once he has high income. Perhaps Gopal Raj Kumar can explain such phenomenon as the caste system is not practiced any more.


My true life experiences of Indian friends, regardless of religious allegiance: Once he ‘attained’ that level of richie rich, his nose level (from the nostril baseline) will automatically rise a few centimeters, revealing the 2 nostrils full of hairs or ‘airs’! If English educated, his slang will automatically evolved to Queen’s English but with the still unmistakable Kolkata echo! Yeah, the circling motion of the head typically Indian style in conversation will also be less pronounced due to the adjusted head angle to facilitate the upturned nose of ‘airs’! Otherwise he will fall due to the dizzying effect. Don’t believe?… Read more »


The caste mentality is still there, that’s why they like to distinguish themselves prominently once their status is elevated (by education or better job) as though telling people not to associate them with the lower category.


Look at the big collection of different variety of SPM assessment books at Popular Bookstore and the answer in drilling the students to exam-paper smart.


Our education system produces 4 different types of humanoids (different from humans supposed to live the proper ways): 1) Students who aim to ‘score’ As in exams just to get into top schools & unis. 2) Tuition teachers who aim to earn big bucks from desperate parents aiming & behaving like their children for high ‘scores’ of As. 3) Publishers & bookshops of these assessment books & past exams books & ever yearly changing syllabus aiming for annual big volumes = big revenues from desperate tuition teachers, parents & students aiming their respective goals all the same. 4) Photostat businessmen… Read more »

Jeremy Soong

As you have described it, the Malaysian Education system has created an industry where many people can cari makan. If you scrap the system, unemployment rate will go up.


Cari makan is one thing. Creating a system that drags the country down the abyss of unproductive development of nation’s resource including human talents is another.
We are not a rich country to experiment with cari makan.


Good ones join the brain drain. No good ones join civil service.

Jeremy Soong

SPM 9A+ can only get bursary of RM2.5K.
Many will still opt for the more lucrative Asean Scholarship.


1. Most of those straigtht A-ers : they go tuition after tuition – parents make sure they attend tuition. tutors make sure they practise and practise. tutors plan and strategize their studies for them.

2. If you tear away the parents and tutors…. can these students stand on their own and get the A’s as they now get?

If your answer is YES – great
If your answer is Uhhhh … ermmmm then you know the quality of A+/A students…… Lets call a spade a SPADE

Phua Kai Lit

This is similar to how students in Malaysia learn to pass piano exams !

“One hit wonders”?

Pala Richie

Numbers of As in SPM is an idicator of success for most M’sian’s parents. Ask around and see around, ask yourself (if you have kids), can you deny education is about making A in exams? nothing is more important than A+. It is about making your kid doctor!, about future!, about respect!. If you take education as grading system for University entry, it becomes one. If you take education as ‘to educate & develop of well being”, it should beyond a grading system. A kid tells you, he lies in Moral subject to score an A. He get the pride… Read more »


Muyiddin would have been spot on, if only he made his “better than advanced nations” statement a day later. It would have been a marvellous April Fool’s day joke. But uttered on 31 March, it seems to me he is either trying to fool those around him, or worse, he has started believing the far-fetched propaganda proffered to him by those around him. When the A+ grade was first introduced for SPM in 2009 it was after year after year after year of ever “improving” straight A numbers, and something had to be done when the foolishness of such “excellent”… Read more »


If we assume the top 1% of the country will get all A+ regardless of their quality, then it’s just a matter of entering that condition into the computer program and the marks (could) be tweaked accordingly to produce such a result.
We (might) even sub-categorise that 1% and group them according to the ethnic origin or religious affinity of the candidates so that candidates in that sub group will only compete among themselves.

That (might be) meritocracy, UMNO/BN style.


I don’t get it, all these straight A students but when I interview the local grads from uni especially in engineering, I can’t find even one really really top one..


Anil, I feel that one cannot rely too much on ranking (even international ones) and straight A’s during exams. Many rankings are biased in many ways. Once they hear of singapore, they immediately jump to a conclusion that it’s education must be the best in Asia which in not entirely true. Education has to be quantified in a more complete manner and not merely through tests, exams and surverys. From what I see, Malaysia produces very bright students in very large numbers (at a pre-tertiary level at least). Many of them further their studies abroad and are even then still… Read more »



Thumb-Drive Founder loves his country enough to return….

Ho Ho Ho

Ho ๐Ÿ™„ Ho ๐Ÿ™„ Ho ๐Ÿ™„

๐Ÿ™„ BRAIN DRAIN…..the no ‘1’ leader on top all ‘1’ the BACKDOOR goons n not GENIUSES bcoz too smart people will take over their position!!!!…

Ho ๐Ÿ™„ Ho ๐Ÿ™„ Ho ๐Ÿ™„

Ho Ho Ho

Ho ๐Ÿ’ก Ho ๐Ÿ’ก Ho ๐Ÿ’ก

๐Ÿ˜† GENIUSES must know what happen n what type of government they want too…. ๐Ÿ˜†

Ahmad Sobri

But, Mr. Anil, didn’t our dpm said that our education system is better than United States of America, Great Britain and Germany? Is the above article incorrect or our dpm is not giving us the correct information? Or is he bluffing? Is he? Our education system, science and maths, the graduates we are going to produce is just going to get worse. For political purposes, the much respected STPM is is scrapped effective next year. This is to ensure a certain sector of Malaysian society will be given university entry by dubious means, once again at the expense of the… Read more »


DPM confirmed that they have COW sense……


Malaysians failed to gain admission into the worldโ€™s most prestigious university for the second year in a row due to a slide in the quality of applicants, said Harvard Universityโ€™s selection panel chief for Malaysia. Not only did no Malaysian student receive an offer letter but none apparently was even good enough to make it to the interview rounds. This comes after a controversy erupted over the quality of Malaysian education when Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pointed to a World Economic Forum report to claim that Malaysians had a higher standard of education compared to that in some… Read more »

Richie Hee

A good comment on Malaysiakini:

In the 60s, you are at the top of the world when you score Grade 1 in Senior Cambridge O level. Only a handful of super bright candidates scored 6As.

Getting a full certificate with 3P or 4P was the dream entry to MU (Malaya University). Only 1% of the student population were awarded first-class honours.

Today we have students with 10As, 17As, and yet they failed miserably in the universities, costing us billions of ringgit in sponsoring these โ€˜brillant’ scholars.