Cancel SPM, adopt trial exam results instead

AS a parent of a child who will sit for the SPM exam, I am writing this letter with a heavy heart. On the one hand, I sincerely want my child to realise the fruits of his efforts by sitting for this exam. On the other hand, like many other parents, I am more concerned about the safety of sending our children back to school to prepare for the Feb 22 exam in the shadow of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Education Ministry postponed SPM exam dates twice last year in light of the pandemic. We appreciate and applaud the ministry’s decision to act responsibly for the safety of all students. Now, the new date is causing even more anxiety what with daily

cases going past the 4,000 mark. This new infection level makes previous levels insignificant and yet it was those insignificant figures that were the basis for the ministry to postpone the SPM date previously.

It is time to think of the unthinkable.

I appeal to the ministry to make another bold and courageous move and cancel the upcoming exam and instead legitimise school trial exam results as de facto SPM certification.

Here are the reasons for this appeal:

> Foremost, of course, is to help break the chain of Covid-19 transmission. The surge in infections and affected areas clearly indicate that the virus has now spread to many corners of communities compared with earlier cluster-based transmission.

> At 400,000 plus, the sheer number of SPM students nationwide returning to school and, subsequently, sitting for the exam will certainly be a bombshell for the Covid-19 infection curve.

Stringent adherence to the SOP will not help either as close contact among students is unavoidable. This increases the risk of spreading the virus to their loved ones at home, which could include those in the vulnerable, older age group.

> Students who were affected by the flood are probably too traumatised to face another exam shortly after their trial exam. Furthermore, all students are under great pressure because of the uncertainty arising from this pandemic, which has been ongoing for almost a year.

> Trial exam papers are on par with SPM exam papers in terms of quality and standard, as both are under the guidance of the Education Ministry

> Many higher learning institutions are now accepting students’ trial exam results as an intake prerequisite.

> Further postponement of the SPM exam date, if any, instead of cancelling it altogether will result in students missing pre-U and tertiary enrolment dates as they would have to wait for their SPM results. The duly legitimised school trial exam will solve this predicament.

I strongly urge the ministry to consider this move and act for the benefit, and especially the safety, of our children in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.



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