Pupils to benefit from character-building activities

A hands-on experience: The first stage of schooling will focus on building character, instilling moral values and developing communication skills, among others.

PETALING JAYA: Pupils will now get to enjoy an exciting learning environment with more fun forms of assessments, which can include roleplay, storytelling, quizzes, games and simple projects.

This is what schooling during the early years will be about from now on – allowing children to enjoy their childhood while receiving an education.

The removal of mid-year and year-end examinations is in line with the Education Ministry’s aim to shift the focus of schooling away from scoring As to a meaningful learning environment.

The first stage of schooling is about building character and instilling moral values, developing communication skills, and learning how to think critically and creatively.

Doing away with these examinations is also to stop the culture of pitting pupils against each other.

Instead, it allows them to learn at their own pace and be assessed on their individual capabilities, ultimately building their confidence.

As the saying goes: “Every­body is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Parents have nothing to fear with the culling of these examinations as their children will still be assessed, except that this time, it will be in a more holistic manner.

A “report card” of sorts will be given, showing how strong or weak a pupil is in certain aspects.

It is time for society to change its mindset, time to let go of the concept that written examinations are the only way to assess pupils’ performances.

There have been too many pupils with perfect examination results who can barely communicate or contribute to the workforce later.

Mother-of-two Sheila Chetty said the idea sounded “beautiful” but she hoped that the ministry would spell out the details for teachers to carry out the proposed changes.

“I fear without exams, parents will have no idea where their children stand.

“However, I am all for fun learning, class projects, experiments and outdoor learning – which can take place at the school compound.

“At year end, parents should also be given a report showing them their child’s project-based work,” she said.

Urging teachers to not take a step back with the new system, Sheila said there should be written exams along with the proposed projects.

Parent V. Yabitha expressed worry over whether pupils would be able to cope with the level of difficulty for subjects like Bahasa Melayu (BM) after Year Three.

“Some parents have said that BM becomes extremely hard in Year Four and above.

“So, what will be the level of difficulty as these kids will not have sat for exams in Years One to Three? Will they be able to cope when they are in Year Four?

“The children find that BM is hard in the current exam-oriented system,” said the mother of a Year Two pupil.

Suhana Koting said the abolishment of mid-year and final-year exams had its pros and cons.

The advantage, said Suhana, was that a class-based assessment would ensure the continuous assessment of pupils.

“However, I’m not sure whether it will be a burden for the parents, pupils and teachers, and whether we are ready for it as it will demand higher commitment from all.

“If we really want to change the assessment method, we have to examine and consider it comprehensively,” she added.

The ministry should do a thorough study before implementing any changes, she said, adding that consideration should be given to manpower and facilities too.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said the union was on the same page as the ministry.

Tan said one of NUTP’s concerns, however, was that parents might feel teachers weren’t fulfilling their duties, by doing away with exams.

Tan said parents should meet teachers more than once a year (on report card day) to discuss the child’s progress.

“This way, you have direct access to teachers – and vice versa.

“Both parents and teachers will help each other to ensure the right education is delivered to the child,” he said.

Tan said the plan was to bring back fun learning to pupils and not stress them about getting As.

“Developing character and instilling values are important during their formative years.

“They should view this as a means of obtaining a holistic education.

“It will be a challenge to change society’s view and embrace this new change, but as an educationist, we feel it is important to start with this step for the future of our children,” said Tan.

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