‘Pupils will still be assessed’

Meeting the press: Mohd Radzi (centre) and deputy ministers Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon (right) and Muslimin Yahaya speaking to the media in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: With the centralised Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination being abolished, primary school pupils’ progress will still be evaluated but through a school-based assessment before they proceed to secondary school.

Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said scrapping the UPSR does not mean Year Six pupils will not be evaluated.

From now on, Year Six pupils will be evaluated under an enhanced school-based assessment (PBS) that empowers schools to evaluate pupils, a system that has actually been practised since 2016.

“There will not be any other centralised exam to replace UPSR.

“The ministry will explain to the teachers the methods for PBS, ” he said when announcing the abolition of the Year Six exam yesterday.

The move, he said, is part of the government’s plan to create an education system that does not focus on exams.

Mohd Radzi said UPSR was a component of the Primary School Assessment Report (PPSR) which included classroom, psychometrics, physical activities, sports and co-curricular activities.

(Psychometrics concerns skills and knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, clinical constructs and mental disorders as well as educational achievement.)

UPSR was implemented to test a pupil’s ability to read, write, perform basic arithmetic and reason, he added.

The decision to terminate the national exam for primary school pupils was made after engaging with stakeholders including school heads, teachers, Parent-Teacher Associations, relevant organisations and pupils, said Mohd Radzi.

“Among the feedback received during these sessions involving over 1,700 participants nationwide was that teachers concentrated more on examination subjects and trying to complete the syllabus quickly to begin revising for UPSR, ” he revealed.

The ministry, he said, also researched assessment methods in primary schools in other countries, especially those with the best education systems, after UPSR was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mohd Radzi said the Alternative Primary School Assessment (PASR) – the assessment taken by special needs Year Six pupils – will also be axed beginning this year.

Vernacular school pupils will sit for the Bahasa Melayu Literacy Screening test to determine whether or not they will enter Remove Class, he added.

Talk of abolishing UPSR began in November 2016 when former education minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said that a study was being done on whether to continue with the examination.

Then on Dec 5 last year, Deputy Education Minister Muslimin Yahaya announced that the ministry was in the final stages of its study on scrapping UPSR.

Mohd Radzi also announced that the PT3 examination for Form Three students this year has been cancelled for the second year running as a result of the pandemic.

“Even without PT3 for 2021, an assessment can still be done using the main components – classroom, psychometrics, physical activities, sports and co-curricular activity assessments, ” he said.

He said this was decided after considering the shorter time that Form Three students have to prepare for the exam amid the threat of Covid-19, especially in having face-to-face teaching and learning time with their teachers.

PT3 is a component of a centralised exam that includes school-based assessments.

Mohd Radzi also said that Year Six and Form Three students wanting to enter special schools such as boarding schools will have to undergo the Special School Admission Assessment (PKSK).

On another matter, the minister said about 13,000 laptops have been distributed to underprivileged students to date.

When tabling Budget 2021 last November, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz had announced that government-linked companies and government-linked investment companies would contribute RM150mil into a fund, to be known as Tabung Cerdik, to provide laptops to 150,000 students in 500 schools as a pilot project.

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