THE Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) public examination for Year Six schoolchildren is on until tomorrow.
This is the first public examination experience for primary schoolchildren.
Even the prime minister has tweeted to wish them good luck in the examination.
The UPSR examination is used as a standard criterion to evaluate the standard and performance of primary schools.
Head teachers’ and teachers’ appraisals in primary schools are also determined by the outcome of UPSR results.
The primary school system is, therefore, focused on achieving excellence in the UPSR examination.
Many elaborate and exhaustive programmes are drawn up for Year Six children.
From the beginning of the academic year in January, pupils are put through a stringent and comprehensive schedule of extra classes, workshops, motivational seminars and mock examinations.
In some schools, Year Six children are excluded from curricular and co-curricular activities and competitions because of this examination.
Some schools go overboard and utilise every weekend, every term holiday, every public holiday and every other day to conduct extra classes.
No time is spared. The children attend these extra classes, where they are drilled with past-year examination questions.
As the UPSR examination nears, some enterprising schools “house” the children in the school premises to supervise their activities.
The children are given extra coaching, and they practically eat, sleep and drink examination questions.
The pace is hectic and intense, and the pupils are put through a rigorous regimen by their teachers.
Teachers, too, are put through much stress and pressure for the sake of the children.
Schools that fare badly in the UPSR examination are accountable to the state education departments and Education Ministry.
These schools have to hand in “show-cause” letters for their “poor” results and subject teachers whose pupils do not secure good grades in the UPSR examination will be sent for refresher courses.
Every head teacher wants his or her school to outperform other schools in the examination.
No head teacher wants to be reprimanded by the departmental head, so head teachers slave-drive their teachers and the teachers, in turn, slave-drive their pupils to score with excellence in the examination.
And, these 12-year-old pupils, who only want to have fun, games and laughter, are caught in between the schools’ expectations, teachers’ expectations and their parents’ expectations.
In some homes, overprotective parents jump on the bandwagon and put their children under tremendous pressure.
In my opinion, the UPSR examination puts Year Six children in some schools through a series of academic rituals that robs them of their childhood. Samuel Yesuiah, Seremban, Negri Sembilan NST Letters 10 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:11 AM