EXAMINATIONS are stressful. The word “examination” conjures fear, anxiety and pressure even to adult learners.
School examinations stress school children and take out the fun and joy of the learning process.
The Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination is the first public examination for the primary school children in Year Six and is used as the yardstick to measure the proficiency and competency of the children in their Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.
The UPSR examination is given much attention and significance by the teachers and the children’s parents.
The results determine the Key Performance Index (KPI) of the schools and teachers’ appraisal.
The headteachers make teachers work very hard and so in turn do the teachers, who want to ensure the children achieve excellent examination results.
To prepare the children for the UPSR, the school teachers would drill the children according to the examination procedure and testing.
For months the children are put through a rigorous learning and teaching process.
Extra classes, holiday classes, night classes, workshops, tuition and trial examinations are the norm for the children.
This year, 440,743 candidates sat for the UPSR at 8,100 exam centres nationwide. The children in national schools sat for six papers while those in vernacular schools sat for eight papers during the examination.
Even university students do not sit for six to eight papers in their tertiary examinations.
The examinations are made even more stressful as they are 100% centralised assessments.
The UPSR should have school based assessments to help them evaluate the children’s full potential.
The UPSR examination is primarily used to gauge how the Year Six children have progressed from Years One to Six and to measure their performance and competency in the primary schooling years.
Contrary to a centralised examination, a school based assessment will be able to adopt tools to measure the development of a child’s physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social elements more holistically.
A school based assessment will be a more comprehensive assessment of the child’s full potential. A written examination can only test the mental intelligence of a child.
We need to move away from placing too much importance on academic excellence. This is going to be an uphill task because it has been deeply rooted in our mindset that grades and As matter.
Much importance is placed on academic excellence as a pre-requisite to enter good schools and eventually in prestigious careers.
How do we undo this delicate issue?
The only option is to transform the 100% centralised assessment to school based assessment..
I hope the Education Ministry will change the UPSR examination structure and make it more child-friendly by implementing a 60% school based assessment with another 40% from a centralised examination.
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