Sunday, September 14, 2014

UPSR—A Different Kind of Test

The case of the leaked exam question papers of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), of which my daughter is one of the 470,000 victims. I must admit that I’m a little pissed off, as are many other parents, based on this article in The Star.

I find the suggestion by one of the affected parents, Saiful Bahri Ab Rashid, very interesting; he said the Education Ministry must investigate where the leaks occurred and only pupils from affected schools should have to resit the papers. Looking at the matter as a daddy, it’s very tempting to agree with Saiful Bahri.

I’ve been through a similar situation some years ago when I moved back to my hometown, Kota Kinabalu. You see, I spent 13 years of my working life in Brunei. I qualified as a Chartered Valuation Surveyor while I was in Brunei, and when I relocated back to Sabah, the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents, Malaysia insisted that I should go through the Test of Professional Competency again. So for the second time in my life, I went through the same test—in the Malaysian context. It was a painful process that took up over 2 years of my life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I did try, however, request to be interviewed without going through the process of recording the practical experience (again), but the Board would not hear of it! Anyway, I went through the test and eventually became a Registered Valuer. I wanted to be able to stand in a crowd of professional valuers in Malaysia, and proudly claim that I’ve been through the same qualifying standard that they did.

My view is that the UPSR exam is not worth very much these days—certainly it is worth hardly anything in the job market. In fact, even the SPM cert is not worth much in the job market. But we are talking about integrity here. There will always be a stigma that my daughter might have had the benefits of leaked papers in her UPSR. Whether or not she did enjoy such benefits is not so important; the fact that the papers leaked may come back to bite her many years from now. It’s frustrating, annoying, and downright a waste of time, but it is absolutely necessary for everyone to resit the leaked papers, period.

This is not the first time we've had leakages in exam papers in our national education scene. All the other major national exams, including the SPM and STPM have suffered similar fate in the past. And this reminds me of the time when Mia sat for her CLP many years ago, passed it, and then had a major blow when it was announced that the exams had to be cancelled because someone tampered with the results.

One has to wonder how leakages are still happening up to now, and my view is that this, one way or another, is a reflection of the competency of the people in the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate. But an even more disturbing fact is that the leaks are now happening in the UPSR exams, thus indicating the Malaysian obsession in producing straight-"A"s students. It is almost like if a child gets anything less than straight-"A"s, there is something seriously wrong with him.

Well, I'm an exception from the norm—as usual—I'm not obsessed with straight-"A"s. In fact I'm immune from it! I've seen way too many of these so-called exceptional students arriving at our doorstep, and not measuring up to what's indicated in their exams transcripts. Don't get me wrong though, I'd be happy if my daughter can achieve straight-"A"s. But I'd be much happier if those "A"s are true reflections of her abilities.

So anyway, I suppose my daughter will just have to resit for her Science papers on the 30th September. Whatever will be, will be. If she gets an A, I'd be thrilled; if not, it's OK. All I want from her is for her to try her best. I'm not asking for anything more.

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