THE Education Ministry should consider taking a bold step of removing all national exams that still exist within our education system and replace them with other more suitable methods of assessment.
The abolishment of the UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) in 2021 and the PT3 (Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga) last year is a clear sign that our country is ready to move away from an assessment system based solely on exams.
What remains are the SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia), STPM (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia) and STAM (Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia) for Forms Five and Six students, and those who attend Islamic schools for pre-university studies.
We can no longer rely on exams to assess our students. There are many things they need to master that go beyond theories and classroom academics.
In today’s world, students need to learn survival skills so that they can compete and survive in a modern, complex and highly interconnected world.
These include social and communication skills, skills in using new and modern technologies, and the art of critical thinking, which cannot be assessed in an exam.
Every student needs to be assessed on their capabilities, instead of their ability to simply memorise lessons.
Furthermore, abolishing exams can reduce the stress on students which is one of the problems plaguing our academic system. For far too long, our students have been pressured to score straight As in their exams.
Those who fall short often feel that they are not smart and have no hope to succeed in this world.
This perception is wrong and must change. There are many people who have gone on to achieve great things despite not scoring well in their school exams.
Abolishing exams also means less stress for parents. This prevents unnecessary conflict between parent and child – a common problem that arises when competitive adults compare results of their offspring with those of the children of friends and family.
The time has come for Malaysians to change their mindset. Scoring As is not the only way to evaluate an individual’s talent and potential.
The ministry should set up a special committee comprising various education stakeholders like teachers, non-governmental organisations and the students themselves, to come up with a detailed assessment proposal for students across all levels.
ASSOC PROF DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW
Faculty of Syariah and Law
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia