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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Covid-19 shows exams are not the be-all and end-all, say educationists

 

A file picture of the SPM exam in progress. Educationists say the current evaluation system must be revamped if we want to produce creative and innovative future generations.

KUALA LUMPUR: Since the movement control order (MCO) was first implemented in March last year, the education sector is among the most affected.

Following this, the education ministry was forced to make several important decisions, including the cancellation of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah for Year Six and the Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 for Form 3 students.

There was debate on plans to abolish these two examinations even before the pandemic, but it could not be done due to various constraints, including objections from parents.

The Covid-19 pandemic also caused the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), Sijil Pelajaran Vokasional (SPVM), Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) 2020 examinations, which were supposed to be held at the end of last year, to be postponed and scheduled to be held early this year.

Nearly 500,000 SPM, SPVM, STAM and 47,008 STPM candidates are expected to sit for the crucial examinations next month and March.

With what is happening in the sector now, this pandemic effect could be the starting point for changes in the assessment of primary and secondary school students, which previously focused on examinations.

The suggestions by several quarters that we no longer look at the examination system but explore talents and ability of students to make them more self-reliant, should be given serious consideration, according to a lecturer at the Centre of Community Education and Wellbeing, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Anuar Ahmad.

He said the evaluation system can be done in other forms, including through continuous appraisal.

“A good and quality assessment may be implemented in other forms. The examinations syndicate needs to be more open in exploring this matter.

“A new mentality is very much needed, in line with the changes that are happening today because we have been too long in the traditional examination aspect,” he told Bernama.

He said an important lesson learnt from the pandemic is that we can no longer depend on examinations alone to assess students.

“We must move to a better, newer form of assessment that is more appropriate with the changing times.”

For example, he said there are students who can memorise and obtain A in a subject, but whether they are able to explain and elaborate on it is questionable.

“Therefore, the current evaluation system must be revamped if we want to produce creative and innovative future generations,” he said.

National Association of Parents and Teachers Association president Associate Professor Mohamad Ali Hasan opined that it is time for the examination-based assessment system to be overhauled.

The Malaysian education system is currently too “exam oriented”, especially the dependence and emphasis on academic achievement, he said.

Students’ assessment should be on various aspects to achieve high-level thinking.

Ali said these elements of creative, scientific and high-level thinking need to be instilled in children as early as possible, even at the preschool level.

He suggested several measures, including implementing school-based assessment and not using year-end examinations as an absolute yardstick to assess students’ abilities. - FMT

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