The Education Ministry aims to establish at least one Form Six college in each state by 2020.
This is one of the initiatives that the ministry has rolled out to encourage Form Six enrolment, which has dwindled from 51,697 candidates in 2012 to 43,235 candidates last year.
School Management Division director Aminudin Adam said local colleges had been developed exclusively for the programme under the Form Six Transformation initiative since 2014.
“We have 14 Form Six colleges in nine states that apply the Mode 1 Programme ,” he said, adding that the Mode 1 Programme allowed colleges to have their own premises and administrations, separate from mainstream schools.
Aminudin said Mode 2 and 3 Programmes were located in mainstream schools, differing in the number and location of classes — 12 or more in separate school blocks (Mode 2), or fewer than 12 in the same block (for Mode 3).
Mode 2 and 3 Programmes have been applied in 620 schools.
“The country caters to 634 schools for the Form Six programme,” he said.
He said Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) results had also improved since the transformation began, a testament to the successful use of the modular approach in the teaching and learning process.
“We use the modular approach, just like in universities, where students complete required coursework and sit the final examination at the end of each semester.
“These will be accumulated by semester, and make up their STPM results,” he said, adding that the modular approach was first put in place by the ministry in 2012.
In comparison with the previous system where students had to sit only one main examination at the end of their two-year programme, the modular approach made it easier for students to perform well and improve, he said.
“Students are more interested and perform better when it involves research and projects.
“Apart from gaining knowledge, they learn scientific, manipulative, investigative and presentation skills.
“This approach quashes claims that STPM is a difficult exam to obtain good marks.”
He said Form Six education should also attract students and parents as it was fully subsidised by the government.
“The Form Six programme is free as it is entirely supported by the government.
“Even the STPM examination is free, except for students sitting repeat papers.”
Students choose four or five subjects throughout their three-semester programme, and the absence of any kind of payment allows for more voluntary contributions by parents to the school’s parent-teacher association.
This, he said, would make Form Six education more attractive to poor families.
“We have maintained Form Six education primarily to support low-income families, but it also welcomes those from high- or middle-income families.
“In line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, we want to increase access to education.
“We do not want money to be an obstacle to obtain good education.”
STPM, he added, was recognised by Cambridge Assessment, allowing certificate holders to be accepted by almost all institutions of higher learning, nationwide or across the worldwide.
“The recognition of STPM also means that it can be accepted as a qualification to join the workforce.
“If STPM graduates choose to work right after finishing Form Six, they can use the certificate to request an STPM-level salary.”
Petaling Jaya Form Six College principal Ghumiat Kamdi said Form Six education had many benefits that many were not aware of.
Other than the fact that it was free, he said, Form Six students would benefit from its modular academic approach.
“Form Six students learn based on modules.
“At the end of each semester, they sit a major examination and submit coursework, which will be accumulated as their STPM performance.
“This approach helps students perform better (in STPM) because it prepares them earlier in the programme and not at the end.
“Students who are inclined towards academic study will find Form Six a breeze,” he said.
Students are also given the choice to repeat the subjects they did poorly in the year before, improving their performance in STPM.
Ghumiat said character development would be included in the programme.
“Students will have a platform to make decisions and organise their own programmes and other character-building activities through the Form Six Student Council. From this, they can develop leadership and communication skills to prepare them for university life.
“We make it a point to ensure everyone has a chance to be a leader, build self-esteem and develop leadership skills,” he said.
The smaller number of students in schools, unlike most pre-university institutions, he said, would ensure that introverted and reserved students were not cast aside.
Form Six teacher Noor Ashikin Mawardi, who has more than 20 years of experience under her belt, said the rebranding of Form Six education by allowing them to have their own colleges was timely as it would help to increase the number of students in the programme.
“The rebranding has sparked an interest in students.
“Many have expressed high hopes in the system that is providing them with the education they need.”
Noor Ashikin said the revamped lecture system made it combined classes possible.
“The small number of students in classes allows them to receive the individual attention they need, if necessary,” she said.
SMK Puterijaya Form Six assistant principal Rosefarieda Abdul Samat said most Form Six students did well in their tertiary
education after completing STPM.
“STPM students are exposed to more coursework and oral examinations, similar to thesis presentation in universities.
“Most of our students choose to further their studies in engineering, biotechnology, accountancy, economics and law courses,” she added.
SMKA Maahad Hamidiah Form Six assistant principal Shaharuddin Abu Kassim echoed the same observation, saying many former Form Six students achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.50 and above in institutions of higher learning.
This, he said, was due to the experience they had gained in Form Six, where they learned skills that were applicable in their tertiary education.
Form Six Mathematics teacher Lee Sai Kim said the revamped system allowed students to learn in a much more interactive environment compared with how it was 30 years ago.