PETALING JAYA: Anxious parents and jittery students are urging the government to nail down the dates for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2020 examinations as they are worried the recent rise in Covid-19 cases could result in a further delay.
Stakeholders are hoping that the SPM exams will start on Jan 6 as scheduled, even as many schools are closed and students have returned to online studies with more states being placed under the conditional movement control order (MCO).
The written SPM examination was initially scheduled for Nov 16 to Dec 7 but was postponed to Jan 6 till Feb 9 next year due to the pandemic.
The uncertainty is causing students distress, said Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh.
“We need to do all we can to facilitate their progress (into tertiary education), ” he told The Star.He added that if other international bodies could conduct their GSCE O and A Levels examinations, Malaysia should also be able to do so in the interest of the students.
If the examinations are held as scheduled, the Education Ministry should come up with a strategy together with the National Security Council (MKN), said National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan.
“This would help to clear the anxiety among parents and more importantly the students who need to concentrate on their preparations for the exams, ” he said, adding that SPM should not be postponed further.
“Our school principals are already in a dilemma, hoping there would be no change in the dates, ” he said, adding that they would heed any instruction from the authorities regarding the examination dates.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said a clear standard operating procedure (SOP) for the SPM exams during the pandemic was needed, should the current rise of Covid-19 cases persist.
“The most important national exam to be held during a pandemic must be tested out carefully and urgently, and the best time to test it out is during the trials where adjustments can still be made.
“Unfortunately, even the SPM trials are on hold due to the conditional movement control order and school administrators are scrambling to find the best way to conduct the trials, ” she added.
She also said postponing the exams would have “a massive domino effect moving forward” as matriculation, pre-university courses and Form Six intakes would be affected.
Parents and students are also concerned about missing out on lessons in school and some are relying on tuition centres, she said.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said parents did not want further delays to the SPM exams and many were concerned as online learning had not been too effective.
“There is no clear direction from the ministry on this matter. SPM may not be carried out if certain areas and states are going to still be under CMCO, ” said Mak.
National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said teachers were in a difficult position as they had to deliberate between their student’s future and their safety.
“One thing is certain, teachers will always place the interest of the students under their care as their utmost priority.
“If the students fall behind, rest assured that the teachers will do their level best for their students to catch up
“However, in facing the pandemic, teachers will abide by the orders by the authorities, ” he said.
S. Sri Murugan, an English language teacher in a secondary school in Subang Jaya, said everything was “a blur”.
If everyone adheres to the SOP and guidelines strictly, he is optimistic Form Five students will be able to sit for their exams on time, but he said he wouldn’t be surprised if SPM was postponed.
He questioned the logistics of how the SPM exams would be conducted.
“Are teachers going to move around to invigilate the exams or will schools handle the SPM exams with their own teachers?
“I hope that school reopens with Form Five students being given the priority of attending school as it is their final leg.
“Allow them to complete their trials and go through the last rounds of revision before school ends, ” he said.
The Education Ministry said it was not commenting on this matter for the time being.
When schools began closing following the rise in Covid-19 cases, the Education Ministry released a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for schools with positive cases, those in areas under the conditional MCO and those in red zones with infections within the community. The FAQs, released on Oct 14, stated that trial examinations can be postponed to a suitable date.