I have written last month on the need for standarised assessments such as UPSR and PMR in malaysia. the post was published in my column in Malaysian Insider a well as in this blog. Read here for those who miss it.
2 days ago I attended a round table talk by Sedar, which was attended by educationists — notable professors from some of the universities, Ministry officials especially from exam board, representatives from teaching unions, retired heads of schools and teachers — and many concerned public, including many who spoke as parents. The collective opinions of these people will be submitted in a memorandum to the Ministry.
Most spoke against abolishing the examinations, even though most are for revamping them.
I was given 2 minutes to say my piece. I quoted a personal experience.
When I was in Form 3, more than 4 decades ago, we had a good English teacher. This teacher had a private home tuition class. At that time tuition was a luxury that few could ill afford, and there was no tuition mentality among parents and students yet!
Many of us noticed that those who attended his tuition class had very good grades in the school English examinations marked by the same teacher. It could be that his tuition class was so good that even a bad student could become good. But to have this trend consistently and every year meant that there was something funny. In addition, some of those who got high marks by attending his tuition class did not have good command in English in daily lives.
In actual fact, there was this element of personal bias coming into play. The Teacher was biased and might have subconsciously graded those in his tuition class higher .
This personal experience, I told the gatherings, goes to illustrate one point. Personal bias will come into play in any form of assessment, be it for awarding scholarship, choosing school prefects, recruiting members into school teams, marking papers s in school examinations, and class evaluations.
We cannot escape this personal bias since we are all human, and we have certain emotions and attachments.
Our culture has not evolved to such a stage where professionalism has minimised personal bias, like in some of the countries such as Finland, and Sweden, where school based assessment is used for the first 12 years of education, and where population at large is homogenous, unlike the multiethnic and multireligiuos society existing in Malaysia.
With our diverse background, personal bias will certainly come into play in any form of school based assessment system.
We therefore need some form of standardisation of assessments of students in the form of unified national examinations like UPSR and PMR, in order to minimise personal bias, whether such bias is ethnic-based, religious based, or just simply due to personal dislikes of certain aspects of a particular student.
By all means revamp the system; in fact the whole education system needs to be overhauled to produce thinking and innovative students. Get the educationists together, exclude the politicians and revamp the standardised assessment examinations and the whole syllabus. But
To abolish these examinations in haste will only create more problems which will affect the future of our children as well as our nation.