Maths teacher in Malaysia slammed for marking student's answer as incorrect: 'Where is the art of teaching?'

Can teachers be wrong too? This Malaysian lecturer thinks so.

Othman Talib took to Facebook on Monday (Feb 5) to share a photo from a completed mathematics question, which said in Malay: “Ahmad bought one book and two pencils as shown below. Calculate the total sum of money he has to pay.”

Each book and pen is shown to be priced at 80 and 60 cents respectively.

The written answer from the student shows that they concluded the total to be ‘RM2’ after adding up 80 cents, 60 cents and another 60 cents.

However, it was marked as wrong—presumably for converting the amount from 200 cents—which Othman disagreed with.

“The answer of RM2 should be accepted as correct. In mathematics and a kid’s everyday life, the value of 200 cents is indeed mentioned as RM2,” he wrote in his post, adding that the student’s answer was “mathematically, absolutely correct”.

“RM2 is a clever and useful answer to ‘total sum of money he has to pay’… Please give full marks for this answer. This is indeed a KBAT (Kemahiran Berfikir Aras Tinggi, which translates to High-level Thinking Skills) answer.”


Othman neither mentioned the student nor the teacher’s name and school in his post, which has since gone viral with close to 900 comments and almost 1,000 shares at the time of writing. 

Users in the comments section also criticised the teacher and expressed their dissatisfaction at the perceived rigidity on the teacher’s part.

“This is a strict teacher who follows the marking scheme. Where is the art of teaching? In math, there is more than one solution. This kid is considered smart for being able to convert cents to ringgit,” wrote one netizen.

“There are also stupid teachers. It’s not that they don’t exist,” slammed another.

Another remarked that educators teaching primary school students should make sure that they are able to pique a student’s interest: “Don’t kill his interest with a mistake that isn’t his mistake.”

One, however, tried to explain the teacher’s reasoning: “Yes the student’s answer is correct, but in mathematics you are supposed to add the decimal points and unit… RM2 is also the correct answer, it’s just that the unit is wrong.”

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