For three years, Laila Husna Kamarulzaman sent her son, Mohammad Humam Shah, to a tuition centre in Pasir Tumboh, Kelantan, to prepare for his Standard Six exam or Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).
Their routine came to an abrupt halt this month after news that the primary school leaving examination would be scrapped from this year on.
Humam is one of thousands of students across the country who spent months, if not years, attending extra classes in the hope of attaining good grades in the exam. Now, though, with the exam out of the picture, tuition centres may have to re-evaluate their approach to classes.
Muhamad Huzaimi Abdul Ghafar, a spokeman for the Association of Muslim Tuition Centre Operators, said many parents had withdrawn their children from classes following the government’s announcement.
He said this was especially the case in rural areas.
“Parents in these areas still relate studying with exams,” he said. In urban areas, though, parents are continuing the extra classes as they prioritise education even without exams, he added.
In general, though, tuition centres would have to come up with new modules now that the exam-oriented approach appears to be on the wane, he said.
“The module must focus on skills such as reading, calculating and even artistic skills. Schools will have a new educational environment and tuition centres can support that.”
“In general, tuition centres will have to come up with new modules now that the exam-oriented approach appears to be on the wane.”
His suggestion is for tuition centres to focus on one segment of their expertise and to develop that in their approach.
Muhammad Azrin Ahmad Zahar, who operates the Ilmu Studio tuition centre, said it was too early to comment on the fate of tuition centres now that UPSR has been scrapped.
“We have yet to see a pattern,” he told MalaysiaNow. He acknowledged that students had been opting out of extra classes but attributed this to the long closure of schools last year.
“Most tuition centres have been badly hit, not because UPSR was abolished, but because of the pandemic,” he said.
“I had four branches in the Klang Valley before the pandemic. Now two are closed down.”
Asked if tuition centres would remain relevant in the future, Azrin said what mattered was the learning process.
“Our concern is that students will not prepare at all, or that they will reject self-improvement.”
Even at the Form Three level, he said, most students are not mature enough to plan their lives.
“If they are given the freedom to choose between studying and playing, they will choose the latter. We fear that the time they used to use going to tuition centres will be replaced with playing games, for example.”
For now, he believes that tuition centres will be able to survive.
“The emphasis on academic achievements is not as heavy as before.”
“There are students who do not come for exams alone, but because they love the way our teachers conduct the sessions. It is the informal way of communicating and teaching that makes them happy to learn.”
And with more and more of life shifting online, he said tuition centres might be able to leverage this and attract students even from other states.
For Laila, the move to abolish UPSR will give her son more space to focus on his co-curricular activities.
Humam loves sports and with the exam out of the way, he will have time to develop his skills in this regard.
“It’s not that we abandoned his academic studies,” Laila told MalaysiaNow. “But the emphasis on academic achievements is not as heavy as before.”
She will continue sending her younger son, who is in Standard Four, for tuition as she wants to make sure that he can keep up with his classes in school.
While UPSR has been abolished, Huzaimi is mindful of the fact that other exams still lie ahead – exams such as the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia or SPM in Form Five.
“If parents want their children to excel in SPM, they must still start early and not scramble only when their kids have entered Form Five,” he said.
“It will be hard for students to keep up if they have a laid back attitude simply because there is no UPSR or PT3.”