PETALING JAYA: From next year, pupils in Years One, Two and Three will not have to sit for examinations.
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik tweeted yesterday that the exams would be replaced with more objective assessments.
In his winding-up speech in Parliament on Tuesday, Dr Maszlee said the assessments would be on the pupils’ learning development.
“This is in line with our desire to replace the exam-oriented culture with learning-centred assessments,” he said.
National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan welcomed Dr Maszlee’s statement, saying the union had always called for holistic education for the young.
“Summative examinations have contributed to rote learning and the only yardstick to assess the success of our pupils are As in UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) or a good ranking in class.
“Pupils are deprived from having fun, learning good values of friendship, respect and love.
“The time for them to run and play have been replaced with numerous hours in the classroom and also tuition classes,” he said when contacted.
Tan also called for the abolishment of UPSR, saying it has evolved into an industry.
Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam described the move as “a step forward in improving the country’s education system”.
The idea of not having formal exams in the early years, Siva Subramaniam said, had been successfully implemented in many developed countries.
“This is mainly because educators want to get rid of the fear of exams and produce meaningful learning.
“Children should enjoy their first three years in school,” he said, adding that schools should be an institution that plays a major role in developing pupils’ basic skills.
Siva Subramaniam said the ministry must give teachers clear instructions and enough time to prepare, and ensure strict implementation of the assessment.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin was supportive of the announcement but the assessment should also be conducted objectively.
“Will the teachers be properly trained? Will they be burdened with extra paperwork?
“All these need to be looked into before implementation,” he said.
A parent, who only wanted to be known as Kim Lee, said she was against abolishing exams.
“There should be more lead time to prepare all the stakeholders involved, especially teachers and pupils.
“Some pressure is good to build resilience and prepare kids for real life too,” said Lee, who has a child in Year One.
While Fergus Ong agreed that exams could be stressful, he believed it intensified learning.
“I’m concerned about how big a transition to Year Four would be where exam culture, UPSR focus and streaming in schools will begin.
“It should be gradual like some formal assessment should be introduced by the end of Year Three,” said Ong, a parent to a seven-year-old.
Priya Chetty, however, was glad with the proposal.
Sharing an example of her daughter’s Year One mid-term exam results, Priya said despite scoring high marks in her core subjects, her child came in second last in her class due to her lower results for Bahasa Malaysia.
There must be tests, Priya said, but urged the ministry to do away with class rankings.