Many views and comments have been heard about whether the two exams should be abolished or not and the DPM invites more views on the matter. Yes, we can go on listening to more views while the children and the young students involved grope around in the darkness of uncertainties surrounding their future with the teachers unable to give any help or assurance.
Views are easy to come by. What we lack is expert findings based on research and ground experience with the kids and students. Is the education policy of the nation to be based on popular views, majority vies that will make people happy and support the government even if the future of the Malaysian children is endangered by shortsightedness and political convenience?
I feel strongly that we should be guided by the views of professional educationists from all over the world as contained in learned journals and magazines. What bothers the public most, it seems to me, is not the examinations but the kind of questions asked, the nature of alternatives given in the objective tests, and the quality of teaching that goes into preparing the students for the examination. When the questions asked are so narrow and subject-specific or, on the other hand, too general such that the alternatives given from which to select an answer are so vague and overlapping, the student will surely become confused. UPSR examination must surely be more on testing the IQ and ability to discern between right and wrong (ethics), possible and impossible , logic and illogical. facts and fiction. It must be aimed at bringing out the children's understanding and grasp of the life and the world.
Can such an evaluation be done by the school itself? Yes but sooner or later the school's own standard will prevail or be imposed and you cannot compare the achievement of students in various schoois on the basis of some common criteria. We also have vernacular schools which impose their own priorities and standards. How will you be able to compare the achievement of these UPSR level students on a national basis?
The same can be said for allowing schools to arrange their own PMR level examination. The implication is greater for streaming begins after PMR and a wrong selection will have disastrous effect on the children's education. Even with a nationally standardized examination, the wrong streaming of children can happen resulting in children with no interest in science being forced to go into that stream. Imagine what can happen if a school is given the full authority to select students for the science and arts stream. It might take the heat away from the central authority now responsible but it will not help the students to pursue studies in the field where they have a greater potential to achieve.
In conclusion, I wonder if the continuation or abolition of the UPSR and PMR is the right issue to debate at all. The more pressing issue is on the all-consuming emphasis given to the examinations and what is actually evaluated by the two exams, whether they help evaluate the total personality and capability of the children or just their ability to learn things by rote. Our basic concern today is that school children don't seem to be able to think for themselves and that our education system is not geared towards creating individuals who can think both logically and creatively. Teachers just teach and don't help to develop the personality and mental capability of the children. Leaving the evaluation of their progress to the individual schools will just perpetuate this type of teaching and not arrest the tendency to produce little zombies that will later cause more problems to the nation instead of becoming agents of change and progress.