Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Fate That Awaits UPSR And PMR

Picture taken from New Straits Times

I read with interest and listen in earnest to all the discussions and debates that have been dominating the local media for weeks now on whether or not to abolish the UPSR and the PMR. The proponents to abolish these two exams have gone to great lengths to prove their obsolescence while the opponents have not budged an inch in their efforts to retain them.

I find it hard to remain neutral and indifferent. Having been a teacher for the best part of my life, all 32 years of it, it is extremely difficult to detach myself and make a clean break from the profession. When an issue of this magnitude surfaces yet again, I feel as though I am still a part of the whole system and hence the need to give my views. So, here goes.........

I strongly feel that PMR should be scrapped and immediately, too. What is the point in having an examination which serves only to......

i)     complicate a student's already tight and hectic schedule 
ii)    burden a teacher's already heavy workload
iii)   meet a principal's unrealistic target
iv)   heighten a parent's anxiety
v)    exaggerate the Ministry's role in increasing the percentage of passes

And all these for NAUGHT!!!!!

Yes, PMR serves only to bring a moment of glory or despair to students, teachers and parents. It has no long term discriminating effects on the student. In fact, emphasis is often placed on these weaker students to ensure that they would not bring down the overall percentage passes of the school in the next exam, the SPM.  A student who scores straight A's will continue to Form 4 on an equally same footing as another who scores straight E's. The only concession being, the top scorers will be placed in the Science classes where as the mediocres and the failures will fill up the rest of the classes. And they start all over again regardless of their performance in PMR. This time they strive for the final and most important exam in their 11 years of schooling, the SPM. Unlike PMR, SPM is the one which will ultimately determine whether they can continue to pursue their education right through the tertiary level.

So, why be sentimental over an exam which has no significance whatsoever. It is wiser to scrap it and devote time, energy and money in preparing for SPM. But my hunch says that the Ministry will retain, if not both UPSR and PMR, then at least one of them. Well, may be not exactly a hunch.....

Mahyuddin who holds the Education portfolio has made his stand loud and clear. He is all for the termination of the exams. Read more of what he has to say here. Mahathir (our ex-Premier), on the other hand, is against the termination. It is interesting to see what the final outcome would be. If I remember correctly it was to old man Mahathir that Mahyuddin ran for help during the Badawi crisis. It would be impolite to go against the old man's wishes now, wouldn't it?

We'll just have to wait and see  but whatever it is, l am all for the abolition of UPSR and PMR once and for all. 


  1. Exam to me is an enabler to gauge how far the student learnt/achieve.. the exam will also gauge how effective the teacher has impart..
    Without exams.. .the motivation might not be there.. although the current extreme emphasis on result of those exam is quite uncalled for..
    Power-that-be has messed up too much with so many changes in curriculum etc.
    My 2 cent...

  2. En. Wan,
    Yes, you've got a point there but I'm not saying that we don't assess them at all. A school-based periodic assessment is good enough to keep the students on their toes and prepare them for SPM. There is no necessity to get all hyped up for a centralised examination which culminates into nothing more than just an ordinary assessment which could be easily taken over by the school. There were times, when I was still teaching, I felt all the drilling that was forced upon the students, beat the actual purpose of the PMR. Students regurgitate all that has been drilled into them without having to use their brains and still able to score straight A's. Well, thank you for commenting. Salam

  3. My say -Straight A's students.Ask them to problem solving,making strategy and other necessary living skills ,they're naught.Yes,even more so for UPSR.5A's for rote learning of facts.Ask them orally,ummm,errr are what you would get.So yes to NO upsr and PMR.
    Malaysia needs healthy living thinking youngsters not living encyclopedia.
    So one vote for you ,Siti.

  4. En. mokjadeandell,
    Yes, you are absolutely right. Let's just hope that the exams are scrapped, the sooner the better, before the damage goes beyond repair.