Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Majority want UPSR, PMR scrapped?

Like all other parents with school-going children I am a stakeholder in Malaysia's education system.

As such, I have a direct interest in urging the Malaysian government to stay the course on using English as a medium of instruction for Mathematics and Science (aka PPSMI).

I also have a direct interest in the issue of whether UPSR and PMR should be scrapped.

My children are studying in an SMK. They are not ensconced in a private school or an international school. They are mainstream.

Like any other children, I'm sure they find exams tedious. Even more so, public examinations.

I'm sure that they would prefer the abolition of any exam of any sort...FOREVER.

That, certainly, was my prayer throughout my entire school life. That, I'm inclined to believe, also forms part of their prayer at some level.

This is only natural.

Examinations are an audit of our knowledge, cognitive progress and analytical ability.

Nobody likes to be audited.

Even grownups who control or work in places like Enron, Worldcom, PKFZ, Transmile and Kenmark do not like to be audited.

Like any audit, exams have this unpleasant and discomfiting habit of pitting us against other people. It exposes our weaknesses...our Kryptonite...our Achilles Heel. Too much exposure.

Many of us like to be left alone.

Like many say about the game of golf, we should only be playing against and measuring against ourselves...although the same many fail to explain why, then, is there a necessity for golfing competitions.

As a matter of fact, I famously (famously because I have been re-telling this story) wrote down my name and exam number on the Additional Maths answer sheet at SPM-level but left the entire sheet (in Zen-like spirit) blank. This probably explains why my aspiration to be the greatest aeronautical engineer in history did not come to be. It also explains why my blueprint sketches of Raptor-like jetfighters and improvements to the Tomahawk cruise missile did not contain technical specifications. And, also why I like Winston Churchill's description of his schooling at Eton in his autobiography, My Early Life.

I digress.

So, should the UPSR and/or PMR be abolished?

My heart screams YES! GODAMMIT! DO AWAY WITH THAT PESKY, NASTY STUFF! I NEVER THOUGHT IT MEANT ANYTHING EXCEPT TO CAUSE MISERY TO ME AND, NOW, MY PRECIOUS CHILDREN!

But...and, there's always a "but"...but, is that sensible?

My head...my annoying head...says NO.

Exams are audits. Exams are a way in which progress or the lack of it is measured.

In a fairly brief part of the lives of young Malaysians there is a public audit of their mental development at ages 12 (UPSR), 15 (PMR), 17 (SPM) and, some say, 19 (STP).

Much as I hated exams, especially public exams, the certificates issued are an objective measure of how good...more likely, how average I was.

But, at least, there is a record.

My school report cards have long disappeared.

The only thing left are the public exam certificates.

Those certificates are an objective record of my mental progress in school. Anyone picking up the certificates will be able to form a reasonable impression of how my present intellect...or the lack of it...came to be.

Old photos don't count. They don't tell the same story.

Maybe the focus of the proposed Roundtable should be on improving the quality of education instead of whether, or not, to scrap UPSR and PMR.

13 comments:

ondastreet said...

Your "Head" arguments sounds sensible and logical...

As for the cert part, I don't think that employers are well interested in seeing UPSR and PMR results (unless for job that minimum requirement is at par with the UPSR or PMR)...

But...

I wonder how many of us still having those certs in our possession? Haha

~ OnDaStreet

donplaypuks® said...

I think until we come up with something really better, there should be 1 major public exam before exiting Primary and Secondar School, i.e. Std 6 and Form 5.

Perhaps we can do away with that Form 3 Govt exam.

Frankly, I don't trust our current crop of teachers on any "assessment system" to replace the public exam system!

dpp
we are all of 1 race, the Human Race

Pat said...

You are absolutely right. And too many seem to be forgetting that: it is the 'audit' that's important here.

What the exams have become - the A-madness - that's what we made of it!

As a teacher, I often had pop quizes, little tests, write-in-front-of-me assignments - and all because I needed to gauge how my students were coping, and if I could safely move on to bigger and more complex things.

Parents wave their childen's A's as their own badges of success: 'See my child got 9, 10, 11 A's! I (vicariously!) must be so clever wan'!

Yes, yes know I'm being bad and speaking in generalities, but I think the whole exam thingy here has gotten way out of hand.

The solution? Certainly not the way they are doing it via stuff like the 'internal' Matriculation programmes that're now going on here. I've seen students 'qualify' for Law and Medicine and get tendang-ed outta there - and end up struggling even in the so-called 'easy' Arts Faculty!

So how?

semuanya OK kot said...

Let us do away with all exams including those for higher education. In fact, we can save a lot of money by doing away with schools.

The teachers must continue to be paid, of course. All racially and religiously exclusive extra-curricular activities should contnue, as should orientation. The latter can be outsource to RELA.

CPL said...

For those of you who are not as old as some of us, getting one or two A's was a great achievements for us. And many much earlier, there were public exams for primary six and those who fail had to leave school. Then,the same for the form 3 exams which was called LCE, out of the school system for failing. It seems rather cruel to have children out of school at such a early age.

But these days, with the automatic promotion one can reach Form 5 and know nothing.

Our problem is that those in power keeps experimenting with education and they think that changes are for the better. Ask the kids whether they know the capital towns of all the Malaysian states. Most probably, they do not. Ask them about the countries in Latin America. Most probably they know about Brazil due to football. Someone who is now in her 20's does not even know that there is North Korea and South Korea. Don't expect them to know that there was once East and West Germany nor was there North and South Vietnam

walla said...

Since i don't even have UPSR or PMR, i am not qualified to write anything on this topic.

But because nature abhors a vacuum, such as this empty comment box, it needs to be filled.

That Churchill was great with prose but bad with maths shouldn't mean that those who are good with prose are also bad in maths in much the same way that Keynes was good with maths (especially probability science) but cryptic in prose which explains why American economists never really understood fully his great theory which explains many other things today.

Because Russell was good in both prose and maths.

Some have theorized that to draw the US into the war, Churchill had bombs planted in a liner filled with american passengers, duly sunk by a german submarine. The same ruthlessness? hiding the fact that the british had cracked the enigma code by allowing the germans to bomb an english city without raising an alarm.

But i too have digressed. I would go one more step than the majority. If tomorrow you vote me to run Unesco, i shall make it my duty to ban all exams targeting teens. That includes the SPM, O-Levels, SAM and et cetera.

The time of the teens is the best time of one's life. Full of life and gaiety, drama and discovery. Don't believe me? Look at the varicose veins of our thoughts as we slide into the greyscales of life's screen. Filled with forebodings and clauses, conditionalities and caveats. Look at us, look at what they have made us do (Bourne Legacy).

Today's teens need a better deal so that as they become adults, they will create a better world.

Their peer-to-peer interactivity is peerless. Mobile SMS, blogging, facebook, twitter, youtube, rss-feeds and other new social-media tools a-coming, they are piped into a virtual world.

And they are drawn back into the real world by friends' birthday parties, camps, outings, movies and popcorn, music and videos, the promise of prom, the dalliance and dance.

In such rich experience, how does remembering who got speared while bathing have to do with anything? Or roting (and rotting) through word for word on how to behave?

But since we are no longer young (and by that exceptions can be arranged), we have to think of things like without qualifications, how to get admitted into further studies, or if the place is under IPTA as opposed to IPTS, finito the applicant's entire future who only has pass for BM and not credit because the government no allow admission, even if the government no paying the fees.

And in this dreadful situation, we have to say go on with SPM exams which are a must because they are needed for the young to get out of here, the promise of high income economy notwithstanding.

Like what Wigner said of motorcars, exams are thus a necessary evil. Because without exams, the parents will only know how their children are performing in classes from test results. No, school test results, not pathlab test results.

walla said...

Since i don't even have UPSR or PMR, i am not qualified to write anything on this topic.

But because nature abhors a vacuum, such as this empty comment box, it needs to be filled.

That Churchill was great with prose but bad with maths shouldn't mean that those who are good with prose are also bad in maths in much the same way that Keynes was good with maths (especially probability science) but cryptic in prose which explains why American economists never really understood fully his great theory which explains many other things today.

Because Russell was good in both prose and maths.

Some have theorized that to draw the US into the war, Churchill had bombs planted in a liner filled with american passengers, duly sunk by a german submarine. The same ruthlessness? hiding the fact that the british had cracked the enigma code by allowing the germans to bomb an english city without raising an alarm.

But i too have digressed. I would go one more step than the majority. If tomorrow you vote me to run Unesco, i shall make it my duty to ban all exams targeting teens. That includes the SPM, O-Levels, SAM and et cetera.

The time of the teens is the best time of one's life. Full of life and gaiety, drama and discovery. Don't believe me? Look at the varicose veins of our thoughts as we slide into the greyscales of life's screen. Filled with forebodings and clauses, conditionalities and caveats. Look at us, look at what they have made us do (Bourne Legacy).

Today's teens need a better deal so that as they become adults, they will create a better world.

Their peer-to-peer interactivity is peerless. Mobile SMS, blogging, facebook, twitter, youtube, rss-feeds and other new social-media tools a-coming, they are piped into a virtual world.

And they are drawn back into the real world by friends' birthday parties, camps, outings, movies and popcorn, music and videos, the promise of prom, the dalliance and dance.

In such rich experience, how does remembering who got speared while bathing have to do with anything? Or roting (and rotting) through word for word on how to behave?

walla said...

Since i don't even have UPSR or PMR, i am not qualified to write anything on this topic.

But because nature abhors a vacuum, such as this empty comment box, it needs to be filled.

That Churchill was great with prose but bad with maths shouldn't mean that those who are good with prose are also bad in maths in much the same way that Keynes was good with maths (especially probability science) but cryptic in prose which explains why American economists never really understood fully his great theory which explains many other things today.

Because Russell was good in both prose and maths.

But i too have digressed. I would go one more step than the majority. If tomorrow you vote me to run Unesco, i shall make it my duty to ban all exams targeting teens. That includes the SPM, O-Levels, SAM and et cetera.

The time of the teens is the best time of one's life. Full of life and gaiety, drama and discovery. Don't believe me? Look at the varicose veins of our thoughts as we slide into the greyscales of life's screen. Filled with forebodings and clauses, conditionalities and caveats. Look at us, look at what they have made us do (Bourne Legacy).

Today's teens need a better deal so that as they become adults, they will create a better world.

walla said...

Their peer-to-peer interactivity is peerless. Mobile SMS, blogging, facebook, twitter, youtube, rss-feeds and other new social-media tools a-coming, they are piped into a virtual world.

And they are drawn back into the real world by friends' birthday parties, camps, outings, movies and popcorn, music and videos, the promise of prom, the dalliance and dance.

In such rich experience, how does remembering who got speared while bathing have to do with anything? Or roting (and rotting) through word for word on how to behave?

But since we are no longer young (and by that exceptions can be arranged), we have to think of things like without qualifications, how to get admitted into further studies, or if the place is under IPTA as opposed to IPTS, finito the applicant's entire future who only has pass for BM and not credit because the government no allow admission, even if the government no paying the fees.

And in this dreadful situation, we have to say go on with SPM exams which are a must because they are needed for the young to get out of here, the promise of high income economy notwithstanding.

Like what Wigner said of motorcars, exams are thus a necessary evil. Because without exams, the parents will only know how their children are performing in classes from test results. No, school test results, not pathlab test results.

But the gremlin whispers in the ear, in that case, some of the more entreprenuarial teachers will say hints to the tests will be given at the next tuition class. So tuition will continue and students will pass with flying colours in unauditable tests fully unmoderated by external bodies. So that there is no benchmark when public exams are replaced by just internal tests.

Then there's coursework. The marking schemes of coursework are suspect. The condition and environment for doing coursework are bad. Many parents cannot afford things needed for coursework. Prejudice comes into play because the results are not quantificalably determinable (my prose is either awesome or awful; wait until you see my math). It all depends on the person in charge. And with prejudice, sure to get politics. Now that's really bad, introducing you help me i help you to the young. End of discussion.

Now i want to move on. Either Edgar Rice Burroughs or something about how to be a billionaire.

The former was the author of the Tarzan of the Apes series and astronomy adventures as well. Apparently he was poor when young and didn't get much public education. So how come his prose is numero uno, some will say? I dunno cos i stopped at Enid Blyton. Or was it moth-eaten Beano comics from the storeroom? But Mills & Boons are best (secretly said).

Now, about how to be a billionaire...
http://is.gd/db96w

It's alright, i mean no malice.

I was just about to read this:

http://is.gd/db8Z2

but got distracted by these:

http://is.gd/db915
http://is.gd/db936

With such a flippin' mind, how to pass any exam?

The reality of life - aim for best results in widely recognized benchmarks, keep away from trouble, make friends, avoid enemies, build assets and take medical exams more regularly. Ailments may snuff out grand plans.

And read a lot.

And stay away from blogs.

The end.

walla said...

2

Their peer-to-peer interactivity is peerless. Mobile SMS, blogging, facebook, twitter, youtube, rss-feeds and other new social-media tools a-coming, they are piped into a virtual world.

And they are drawn back into the real world by friends' birthday parties, camps, outings, movies and popcorn, music and videos, the promise of prom, the dalliance and dance.

In such rich experience, how does remembering who got speared while bathing have to do with anything? Or roting (and rotting) through word for word on how to behave?

But since we are no longer young (and by that exceptions can be arranged), we have to think of things like without qualifications, how to get admitted into further studies, or if the place is under IPTA as opposed to IPTS, finito the applicant's entire future who only has pass for BM and not credit because the government no allow admission, even if the government no paying the fees.

And in this dreadful situation, we have to say go on with SPM exams which are a must because they are needed for the young to get out of here, the promise of high income economy notwithstanding.

Like what Wigner said of motorcars, exams are thus a necessary evil. Because without exams, the parents will only know how their children are performing in classes from test results. No, school test results, not pathlab test results.

But the gremlin whispers in the ear, in that case, some of the more entreprenuarial teachers will say hints to the tests will be given at the next tuition class. So tuition will continue and students will pass with flying colours in unauditable tests fully unmoderated by external bodies. So that there is no benchmark when public exams are replaced by just internal tests.

Then there's coursework. The marking schemes of coursework are suspect. The condition and environment for doing coursework are bad. Many parents cannot afford things needed for coursework. Prejudice comes into play because the results are not quantificalably determinable (my prose is either awesome or awful; wait until you see my math). It all depends on the person in charge. And with prejudice, sure to get politics. Now that's really bad, introducing you help me i help you to the young. End of discussion.

Now i want to move on. Either Edgar Rice Burroughs or something about how to be a billionaire.

The former was the author of the Tarzan of the Apes series and astronomy adventures as well. Apparently he was poor when young and didn't get much public education. So how come his prose is numero uno, some will say? I dunno cos i stopped at Enid Blyton. Or was it moth-eaten Beano comics from the storeroom? But Mills & Boons are best (secretly said).

Now, about how to be a billionaire...
http://is.gd/db96w

It's alright, i mean no malice.

I was just about to read this:

http://is.gd/db8Z2

but got distracted by these:

http://is.gd/db915
http://is.gd/db936

With such a flippin' mind, how to pass any exam?

The reality of life - aim for best results in widely recognized benchmarks, keep away from trouble, make friends, avoid enemies, build assets and take medical exams more regularly. Ailments may snuff out grand plans.

And read a lot.

And stay away from blogs.

The end.

CPL said...

Now the DPM/MOE wants to start roundtable discussions and decide by this year. Question .......who will be at the roundtable discussions ? Why not a national referendum involving parents ?

See today's Star
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/7/2/nation/6588645&sec=nation

In today's NST, Raja Muda of Perak says.......Learn from PPSMI flaws : avoid poor execution of education policies

http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2010/7/2/nation/6588645&sec=nation

de minimis said...

Thanks for the heads up, CPL.

mokjadeandell said...

Its a pity that children these days are made to sweat and slog because of parents pleasure in parading their all A's .Go to any school during these exam results time.Its A's A's that matter.The tone of voice of jubilant and proud parents drown those whose children arent likewise. I hate those moments.Especially,what it does to the young twelve years old who didnt measure up.