WHILE I feel that our education system is too exam-oriented, I wouldn’t agree completely with the views aired in favour of dropping the UPSR and the PMR. I think that in most developing countries, exams so far have proven their value and shouldn’t be discarded so hastily.
As a former school principal, I feel our problem lies with teachers and not so much with the exams as such. How are our teachers selected? How are they trained? Do we instil in our teachers a love for the teaching profession? To me, without this basic love for this profession, no matter what assessment system we follow, we will be found wanting.
Teaching is a vocation unlike all other professions and those who enter it must see it as such. It requires enormous dedication and commitment.
If the teacher comes to class simply to off-load facts and figures no matter how interesting in themselves, he will not be addressing his basic duty of teaching, which is to form and not just inform.
How many teachers today read? And if they don’t read how can they offer any new ideas to their students?
The student has a soul and that soul must be formed. This has nothing to do with religion; it is simply a basic tenet of education.
That is why I say teaching requires unusual dedication.
So to come back to the exam system, does it really matter? I think the exam system should stay but let us be a bit more inventive. As many writers have suggested, it’s not the exams that are at fault but the way in which we set exams. How is it possible for so many students to obtain A’s so easily? It’s only because they have good memories and that is really all that we seem to test in our exams.
What about our creative and critical faculties? They seem to be lying dormant and waiting to be awakened. But the chances of doing so are doubtful unless our teachers develop their own creative skills.
Is it too late now? No, I don’t think so but we need to start at once. It is about time that we set it right. School assessment will not address this issue. It can only be answered by a better selection of teachers and a more critical approach to education if we want our next generation to communicate more articulately and learn to think outside the box.
Source : The STAR News Home > News > Opinion Thursday July 15, 2010