PETALING JAYA: Abolishing the Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) exam will augur well for the country’s primary education, say education groups and activists who welcome the government’s move.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said they have been pushing for the abolition of UPSR as a public exam for primary pupils for over five years.
“UPSR is so bent on pupils producing As and neglecting wholesome education.
“The whole education system is geared to achieving excellence in UPSR and nothing else, ” he said yesterday.
Earlier, the Education Ministry announced that the (UPSR) will be abolished starting this year while the Form Three Assessment Examination (PT3) will be cancelled for this year.
Tan said physical education has taken a backseat, while arts and music subjects were non-existent under the system.
“Even the obesity level among our primary students has increased tremendously.
“Taking a leaf from countries successful in Pisa (Programme for International Student Assessment), they have dropped public exams for elementary students. One such country is Singapore.
“Wholesome education is everything from their social, emotional and physical development besides academic achievement, ” he added.
Tan said monthly tests, year-end and mid-year exams, course work, quizzes and all kinds of evaluation instruments would still be used by teachers to see how far their students have achieved in their studies.
“The thrust of the primary education is the mastery of the 3Rs... reading, writing, arithmetic, so they should not have a problem advancing to Form One.
“We are only against UPSR as a public exam where there is grading and comparison but at the end of the day, there is very little gain for the students.
“We wholeheartedly welcome this development as it augurs well for our primary education, ” he added.
Asked on the decision to cancel PT3, Tan said it was not an issue as it was not a public examination but a school-based assessment instead.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) president Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said although it was a good move by the Education Ministry, there should be some form of assessment for students.
“When there are important public examinations, teachers tend to teach mainly for testing purposes rather than to educate.
“A continuous form of assessment throughout the academic year may be more meaningful as it is currently being conducted for school-based assessments at all levels save for Form Five, ” she said.
Noor Azimah added that the ministry should also consider the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) Grade 4 and 8 benchmark level or even Pisa as an assessment benchmark similar to international standards.
“Where students are continually assessed, the foundation to prepare them for secondary education should be intact, ” she said.
The Education Ministry should also reconsider having History a must-pass SPM subject.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said the group had foreseen the announcement following the introduction of school-based assessment.
“Why can’t they tell us that they intend to do so two years ago instead of telling us that they want to change the UPSR format?
“Teachers and students did not get the new format until the month of June?
“Not only has it caused so much stress and confusion to students, teachers and parents at the time, parents had to fork out extra money to buy new books, which are now of no use, ” he said.