Educationists in Sarawak have hailed the government’s move to abolish the UPSR examination taken by Standard Six students before the transition to secondary school, saying this will allow teachers more opportunity to unearth creative learning skills in their pupils.
Adam Prakash of the Sarawak Teachers Union said cancelling UPSR, the popular abbreviation for the Primary School Achievement Test or Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah, was a step in the right direction.
“This is one less stress factor for students, parents and teachers at the primary education level,” he told MalaysiaNow.
“Children will have fun being in school, and teachers will enjoy their work as the focus now is actually on teaching and learning and not the public examination.”
He said academic assessments like UPSR which put heavy emphasis on lesson drills to help students score good grades cause neglect for their social well-being. Meanwhile, he said, teachers must focus on memorisation over the application of knowledge by students.
“This is one less stress factor for students, parents and teachers at the primary education level.”
“We have robbed our children of fun learning at school and play time in the evening because they have to go for tuition classes,” he said.
“Our children have been made subject to assessments and tests from the first year in school. Facing a public exam at an early age, coupled with the demands by parents and schools to do well, is very stressful.”
Ahmad Malie, whose Sarawak Bumiputera Teachers Union had previously urged authorities to scrap the UPSR exam, agreed.
He said UPSR had made the learning environment “stiff” as teachers focused on helping their students achieve as many A’s as possible.
With more space now to focus on completing the syllabus, he said, pupils would be able to have a better grasp of their lessons.
“I think the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on education has given the ministry space for this move,” he said.
“Scrapping UPSR will give teachers and students a chance to focus more on learning the lesson content. It will encourage creativity and will definitely make it more fun for pupils.”
Education Minister Radzi Jidin announced on Wednesday that the UPSR exam would be abolished this year.
He also said the Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 or PT3 exam for this year would be cancelled.
Ahmad said it would be better for the government to get rid of the PT3 exam as well, adding that its focus is no different from that of its precursor, the Penilaian Menengah Rendah or PMR.
“Parents and many people are still asking how many A’s our children get in PT3. This exam mentality still exists,” he said.