In explaining the rationale behind the move, its minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, said it was to prevent over-competitiveness among pupils.
Success cannot be measured based on academic performance alone, as achievements in curriculum and psychometry, among others, are important as well. The ministry “was almost ready to implement this proposal, but it has been postponed...
The ministry hopes to seek the views of stakeholders on the proposal in stages this year, and if they and a majority of the public agree, the plan could come into effect in between one and two years’ time. Examinations Syndicate director Datin Nawal Salleh had, last year, announced that UPSR candidates in national schools would sit for a minimum of six papers beginning this year, while those in vernacular schools would sit for eight.
The English Language paper will be split into two — Comprehension and Written — to help pupils boost their proficiency.
The ministry’s latest intention has provoked another round of argument over school exams and the vitality of Malaysia’s national school system. Why transform UPSR now?
Common sense dictates that the ministry should concentrate on refining PT3, which replaced the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination last year. PMR, which was introduced in 1993 to take the place of the Sijil Rendah Pelajaran examination, was held for the last time in 2013.
The school-based assessment system was introduced in primary schools in 2011 and in secondary schools the following year.
The UPSR announcement came against a backdrop of growing unhappiness over the implementation of PT3. It was done hastily, and students could not cope with the new system, said National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan.
The ministry must give teachers time to become familiar with the new way of doing things. The thinking is that it should focus on improving PT3 and not rush to alter another system.
We wonder if the decision-makers considered the impact of their UPSR amendment proposal on young learners.
How do they feel about assessments, marks and comments? Did anyone bother to ask them?
Clearly, young learners have different needs compared with adult ones — they react differently to stress and get distracted easily, for example — and thus, it is necessary to factor in such differences when assessing them.
While the ministry’s desire to move away from the 100 per cent exam-based format is commendable, it is too soon.
Yes, we need to foster collaboration rather than competition in classrooms to help pupils feel connected, and kindle their love of learning by using real-life experience, current events and other lively sources of knowledge instead of depending on textbook information.
Lawmakers must take steps to encourage this, but they must give schools time to put earlier reforms in place before announcing the next move.