The schools would have prepared them for it since Year Five. They will sit six papers in national schools and eight in vernacular schools.
The English Language paper has been categorised into two components — Reading Comprehension and Writing.
These will be graded separately for national and vernacular schools.
From this year, national schoolchildren will need to score six As and vernacular schoolchildren will need to score eight As to achieve excellence.
This will become the ultimate UPSR clarion call in every primary school. But why do we put such undue stress on 12-year-old children by making them sit six to eight papers over four consecutive days?
The word “examination” conjures fear and anxiety in pupils. Examinations rob them of the joy of schooling and learning. It is even more stressful when conducted under a central marking system.
Public examinations involve memorisation and rote learning
The UPSR examination should be made into a school-based assessment.
The examination gauges how Year Six pupils have progressed since Year One and is just a measurement of their development in the primary years.
The objective of primary school education is to teach pupils to master the 3Rs: Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic.
Whether they score all As or all Es is irrelevant as they still go on to Form One.
Children who get top scores can enrol in residential and premier secondary schools but most are placed in regular schools. So why is there a need for a 100 per cent centralised assessment?
A centralised examination not only creates pressure and high expectations from parents and society, but has also driven some pupils to suicide.
Though the number of pupils in the country who commit suicide because of poor examinations results is not high, it is still a cause for concern.
It is hoped that the Education Ministry will change the UPSR structure to be more child-friendly and implement a system of 40 per cent school-based assessment and 60 per cent centralised examination.
There have been many calls to do away with the centralised examination. The present UPSR structure takes pre-eminence in primary schools.
The whole system is geared towards achieving excellence in the examination. The results are used to gauge, assess and evaluate the standard and performance of primary schools.
Headmaster and teacher appraisals are largely determined by the exam results. So, to get good appraisals, Year Six teachers will, from the beginning of the academic year in January, put pupils through a stringent and comprehensive schedule of extra classes, “how-to-answer-question” workshops, motivational seminars and mock examinations.
In some schools, Year Six children are excluded from all co-curricular activities and competitions. Some schools go overboard and utilise weekends and holidays to conduct extra classes in the morning, afternoon and night.
Pupils just want to have fun but they are caught between the teachers’ and parents’ expectations. We must realise that public examinations involve memorisation and rote learning, and children endowed with good mental and intellectual capabilities have an edge over others.
Examinations only measure the intelligent quotient of a person. There is no fun in being a child these days.
The 100 per cent centralised assessment in UPSR has broken many a young child’s heart.