PMR... UPSR...Much have been said about this topic for the last few weeks.. The local newspapers, TV channels, Mamak stalls, Ah Chong's coffee shops, Warung Wak Sameon......., everywhere, except teachers' staff rooms. There was an uproar among the public with all the "pros" and "cons" of scrapping off these two public examinations were highlighted... Round table discussions are going on at the moment to finalised the issue. Some says it has already been finalised!! I'm not surprised...
Why do teachers NOT talk about this issue? Care to know?
1. Whether the PMR/UPSR will be abolished or not, there's still at least 4 exams in a year to all students in a school. In SMK Derma, you will have 6, irrespective of what Form (level) you are in...
2. Exams or shall I say assessments/valuations is a MUST in schools. It's the only way we can assess a student's performance. It's the mode of assessment that might be different among schools or among different countries...
3. Statistics is the only way you can know a student's capability. Capabilities of students differ from each other, thus statistics of his/her achievements in studies is the only way to channel the student into the correct field.
4. Some students are late developers. These students may not be that excellent in Primary schools, but as he/she grows up, good skills are well developed. Likewise, a straight A primary student might get only 3 As in the PMR... There are many examples....
5. It is part and parcel of a teacher's life to set exam papers and mark them. Even if you are teaching Music or Moral Studies. Even Physical Education.... You cannot escape!
My suggestion is NOT to scrap those public exams... In fact, more subjects are to be added in these public exams. Subjects like Physical Education, Civics and Moral Values, Music, Computer Studies MUST be included in the UPSR and PMR..
But, but..., the Final Exam (PMR/UPSR) should only be 50% of the whole assessment system. The other 50% will come from practical work and project papers... In this way, we will have an "all round" student to walk into the real world/public, once he/she leaves school.....
I picked one good comment in the local daily today:
JAYARAJ K.G.S., Sitiawan, Perak
I WATCHED with amazement the news on Bernama TV and TV3 on the roundtable talks attended by 140 people who are supposed to chart the future of the national education system.
From the interviews given by a few, it’s rather obvious that the decision to abolish the UPSR and PMR exams is a predetermined one, with the roundtable talks being merely an eyewash.
The many letters that have been written and published in the newspapers show the strong objection to this proposal.
What is wrong in having these public exams? Don’t blame it on the present system; the real problem lies with the implementation.
How do we intend to measure the achievements of pupils? Schoolbased assessments? It is easier said than done. The repercussions of replacing the UPSR and PMR exams with school-based assessments are plenty.
Firstly, there is the lack of manpower.
As it is, there is a shortage of qualified teachers. We would need enough teachers to implement and ensure the success of such a system.
Next is the problem of infrastructure.
Most classrooms these days consist of 40 pupils or more. To ensure a conducive environment for the implementation of school-based assessment, we need smaller classes so that pupils can get personal attention from their teachers.
If the ministry decides to reduce the size of classrooms, where do we go for more space for new classrooms? And where do we go for the extra teachers required? A school-based assessment system was initiated in the late 1980s in primary schools in the Manjung district. Despite all the ideas, it was a miserable failure.
School-based assessments mean that teachers would have to shoulder a heavier burden and this won’t do any good for the teachers or pupils.
Teachers are a stressed lot as it is.
If this system is introduced, parents would start to curry favour with the teachers.
No parent wants his or her child to be left behind and school-based assessments could lead to abuse of power by teachers.
The authorities may promise to put in place mechanisms to check such problems, but will they work given the circumstances? School heads will clamour to produce results and when teachers are under pressure, cheating can take place.
As a parent, and a teacher with some 30 years’ experience, I dare say that doing away with the UPSR and PMR exams is not the solution.
Instead, look at ways of improving what is already a good policy. Take into account the welfare of teachers.
Do not suffocate them with more paperwork.
As for the next round of the roundtable talks, why not invite a teacher and a representative of the parent-teacher association from each school? These people would be able to convey the sentiments of parents and teachers without fear or favour.
Let these teachers and parents meet without the presence of school administrators and we would be able to see for real whether there is support for the abolition of the two public examinations.
I urge the Education Ministry to get in touch with the real stakeholders — the teachers, parents and the pupils themselves — instead of relying on the views of people who are hardly in the classroom.
Conduct surveys and send questionnaires to all parties involved to get the real picture. This can’t be a difficult thing to do.
A decision on such an important policy cannot be reached by just 140 people.