Goodbye, UPSR: Scrapping exam a good idea to promote joy of learning

BIG changes in the country’s education system are coming, if the recent abolishment of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) is of any indication.

After more than three decades of being used to assess students’ cognitive achievement at the end of Year 6 in primary schools, the announcement by Senior Education Minister Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin is a good move that is long overdue.

UPSR has long since ceased to be detrimental to the development of primary school students. For many ‘kiasu’ parents, the examination was a be-all and end-all, and many parents had unnecessarily pressured their children to do better than their peers.

On the children’s part, they were scrutinised and isolated based on their grades as early as 12 years old. If anything, this sent the wrong message to children that they must do well in the examination (the ‘or else…’ threat is often left unspoken).

As a result, many students – especially those from SJKCs – were often subjected to rote learning as a means of acing their examinations. The most frightening part about this is the almost-robotic way they could recite essays – verbatim, no less.

They could do so often without breaking into a sweat, and without even taking the time to truly understand and appreciate the subject matter. This might sound terrible, but such is the focus of the country’s flawed – and very examination-orientated – education system.

Before you brush off the abolishment of the UPSR as a bad idea, ask yourself this: Do we seriously want a generation of children whose only purpose of going to school is to ace examinations?

Isn’t it more important for them, at that age, to develop interpersonal and social skills and just embrace the joy of learning?

The abolishment of the UPSR can hopefully reset our education system and allow teachers to focus on what’s important, which is the well-rounded development of the students.

A student’s primary school years should be about character-building, after all. The stress and the examinations can come in their later years.

This is not to say that public examinations are not important. They are, after all, an integral part of education. However, there is simply no need to subject children to the unnecessary burden and stress that would hamper their personal development. – May 5, 2021


Photo credit: The Malaysian Insider

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