SYMPTOMATIC of a condition verging on insanity; this is what the leaked papers for the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination is about. Parents and their children have entered a competition where there are no holds barred. The innocence of old has obviously disappeared. Today, private after-school tuition is the rage as parents struggle to ensure an edge for their children when the examination approaches.
And if there was graft involved in the recent UPSR leaks, then there can be no doubting that parents have lost touch with morality. Granted, the straight As, so much the target of all involved, is about getting into the right secondary schools that have unimpeachable reputations. Schools nowadays trumpet the quality of their education with such slogans as: “Where future leaders are made!” Parents fall into the trap and Malaysia confronts what is an appalling example of criminality: breach of trust.
Of course, wanting the best for one’s children is no crime. In fact, it would be considered a good parental attribute. It is how the objective is arrived at that could prove to be the slippery slope of unreasonable intervention. If, then, parents could lose their moral bearings at this level of the child’s education — the tender age of 12 — to what degree of questionable behaviour would this irrationality push them? The Sijil Pelarajan Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examinations are fast approaching. Tuition centres are filled to the brim; it is a flourishing industry where teachers moonlight. This latter is definitely a conflict of interest — likely to induce corrupt practices — and should not be tolerated.
Teachers must teach their charges during school hours and not encourage children to enrol in tuition centres where they teach. Now that education has spawned a thriving industry where the pursuit of profits is the be-all and end-all, stringent supervision must be the imperative. Turning Malaysia into a seat of educational excellence is a highly credible end, but if the industry’s growth is unchecked with respect to its ethical practices, then it becomes the road to perdition. It is this “anything goes” climate that contributes to the flawed concept of merit.
The question then is, will parents be willing to pay for a peek at the SPM and STPM examination questions to ensure university enrolment for their children? If the answer is “yes”, then there will be attempts by the crooks to exploit this sentiment.
There must be an assurance, therefore, that there are no weak links along the way. Indeed, the authorities must be held responsible and the suspension of the two most senior officers on the Examination Board is amply justified. Harshness of retribution for any failure to safeguard the security of examination papers is now a clear signal that the Education Ministry will not tolerate any nonsense, let alone criminality. For, fear alone will plug the holes immediately before the standard operating procedure’s flaw is rectified. NST Editorial 15 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:08 AM