Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Scrapping UPSR & PMR: Fait Accompli?

[My earlier statements on Examinations: "Scrapping UPSR & PMR A Good Move?" and "Academic Studies Support Retaining Examinations"]

Pua says government seems to have decided to scrap UPSR, PMR
By Boo Su-LynJuly 27, 2010

PUTRAJAYA, July 27 — The Education Ministry seems to have already decided to scrap the UPSR and PMR examinations though talks with stakeholders are still ongoing, said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua today.

Malaysia Examination Board director Datuk Dr Salbiah Ismail had presented a proposal today on a replacement for the two public examinations.

“This showed that the ministry is taking active steps to work out a replacement for the exams,” Pua told reporters today after finishing his five-minute presentation at the second roundtable dialogue on the issue of scrapping UPSR and PMR.

“The position by the ministry seems that they are going to do it,” added Pua.

Salbiah’s proposal included creating an internal school assessment system and a guided methodology on how to conduct assessments up to the Form Five SPM level, as well as implementing “psychometric tests” on students’ emotions and character, said Pua.

Education Director-General Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said last week that a report on the roundtable discussions would be submitted to the Education Minister by the end of August.

The ministry’s first official roundtable discussion took place on July 19, and was attended by over 120 educators, district education officers and teachers’ unions representatives.

Pua also expressed surprise when about 20 speakers at today’s roundtable discussion seemed to reject the scrapping of UPSR and PMR, contrary to past media reports showing that most parties generally supported the abolishment of the public examinations.

The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), the Sarawak Teachers’ Union, the West Malaysia Malay Teachers’ Union, and education academics reportedly favoured replacing the two public examinations with school-based assessments.

“Hardly anyone voiced direct support of [scrapping] UPSR and PMR,” said Pua, adding that about 20 out of the 40 scheduled representatives had spoken before him.

Pua noted that representatives from the Barisan Nasional (BN) parties like Umno Youth, MCA, MIC and Gerakan voiced reservations against abolishing the two public examinations.

The DAP is also against scrapping the UPSR and PMR examinations and claimed yesterday that students performed better when subjected to public examinations as shown by international research.

“They (academics) had reservations too,” said Pua, adding that representatives from universities like the Selangor Industry University (Unisel) and the Sultan Idris University of Education, as well as former civil servants of the education ministry were present at today’s dialogue.

“A lot of their reservations were expressed on the ability of teachers to cope in a non-standardised environment,” he added.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP also said academics were concerned that a school-based assessment system may be prone to abuse as headmasters and teachers could manipulate student scores.
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