THE recent proposal to abolish the UPSR and PMR examinations had created a heated public debate among Malaysians, who in general are against such a move. I too join in the chorus calling for the idea to be dropped. It would be irresponsible and unwise to abolish these exams which have been in place for many decades and served their purpose reasonably well.
Our education system may have become very exam-oriented but the cause is not the exams themselves. Many major changes to the education system are made abruptly without due debate and consideration. The folly of such decisions are then realised a little too late when the damage has already been done.
Tendency for education to become exam-oriented is a universal problem and is not just peculiar to us. Even advanced nations have gone through such problems, some even worse. They have not done away with exams but found alternate ways to overcome it to some extent.
Doing away with exams may be the easy way out, but it will only lead to greater repercussions which we will regret later.
Whether we like it or not, exams are necessary as there are no better means available to assess the capability of the student.
If we abolish exams, what are we going to use to gauge a student’s knowledge and capability for selection to enter universities and get scholarships? How are we going to set a national standard for all students to measure up?
Instead of abolishing existing exams, we should device ways to make the exams more “intelligent”, whereby they can be used to assess the overall ability, aptitude and capability in critical thinking, reasoning and maturity of thought.
Examinations should be tailored to evaluate these aspects instead of the usual “vomiting” out of memorized facts as it is being done now. There should be more stringent criteria for awarding As in examination.
It is deeply disturbing that the national education system has long been used as a political tool which is the main reason for the pathetic state it is in now. There seems to be no sense of purpose or direction with repeated changes to the education policies. It should be left to the officials in the Education Ministry, academia and teachers to run the system in a more professional manner without undue political interference.
by Dr. Chris Anthony, Butterworth.