RECENTLY, students sat the Penilaian Menengah Rendah examination. Last month, pupils sat Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah and before the year ends, the Form Five and Six students will be sitting the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examinations respectively.
Looks like public examinations are here to stay. Our education system is deemed to be examination-orientated.
An examination-oriented culture is not healthy because the results do not reflect the students' abilities or the schools' performance.
Due to the emphasis on examinations, it has been drummed into our students that good results are reflective of their abilities. They compete with their peers to get good results.
What happens after that? All the long hours of studying, extra tuition and stress take a toll on our students.
Unless the format of public examinations is improved, we will never gauge the real abilities of our children. Now, it involves mostly memorising facts.
There is little understanding of the subject matter and analytical thinking is kept to a minimum.
Our students are not taught to think.
Memorisation is not all wrong but it does not constitute true learning. Facts that are memorised have to be understood.
Critical and analytical thinking must be involved in the learning process.
Otherwise, the student will only be parroting what he or she has read.
The National Education Philosophy aims to produce students who are balanced intellectually, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Therefore, the learning process must be holistic.
Society tends to "read" too much, and wrongly, into examination results. Those without a string of As are branded failures. This is not good for their self-esteem.
Let's bear in mind that when we send our children to school, we want them to learn and gain worthwhile experiences to become wholesome human beings. This will, in turn, help them to be models for their generation.
Examination results should not be the sole yardstick. At best, they are a reflection of academic abilities and inclinations, and not whether one is smart, stupid, lazy, good or bad.
Many with no distinctions in SPM have become successful and contributed to the nation's progress.
Zaleha Izhab, Kuala Lumpur New Straits Times Online Opinion Letters to the Editors 04/10/2013