I RECENTLY reviewed the UPSR Science 2016 Paper 1 and was utterly shocked by the difficult questions purposely created for our 12-year-olds. Our Science and Mathematic papers are victims of our obsession towards the debatable Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings.
Supposedly by training the students to answer questions filled with graphs, diagrams and applied knowledge, our rankings would improve.
The paper was purposely created to have so many tricky questions that students had to be very careful (questions 1,3,5). For question 32, even students who have long been taught that constellation could be used to find directions stumbled when the exam writer added “daylight” to the question.
For question 8, students were given a complex figure and told to count omnivores. Is “what is an omnivore?” no longer a valid question to test the scientific knowledge of Malaysian students?
Applied science questions asked in UPSR 2016 failed to take into account the complexities and richness of the lives of the students in Malaysia. For question 14, students might consider “tiles” as a good method to prevent slipping if they come from households where bathroom tiles have patterns to prevent slipping. For some students, anti-slip mats only belong in public bathrooms and not in every single bathroom. This kind of complex experience needs to be taken into account by the exam writers. Applied science questions must have a space for justification and should not belong in a multiple-choice question paper.
For all the excellent students who will be scoring a B in Science UPSR 2016, please don’t hate Science and give up on it. It is NOT your fault. I strongly recommend parents to seek an alternative science education for their children as our UPSR and PT3 Science papers are purposely created to be difficult and have been ruined by the small numbers of Science teachers and policy makers. Science is not difficult and should not be viewed as difficult by our children. A Concerned Scientist Baltimore, US The STAR Home News Opinion Letters Monday, 31 October 2016