Experts: What will fill UPSR gap?

KUALA LUMPUR: Experts believe the abolishment of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) will herald greater challenges to the country's education system.

Their concerns revolved around what would fill the pupil assessment vacuum left by UPSR, as well as the readiness of teachers for school-based assessments (PBS) and classroom-based assessments (PBD).

Dr Anuar Ahmad, an expert from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia's Centre of Community Education and Wellbeing, said the ministry must ensure that pupils stay motivated in their studies and prevent the onset of the tidak apa attitude.

"Based on the announcement, there was no mention of what will be done to fill the vacuum left by the abolishment of the UPSR.

"How can we ensure that students stay motivated in their studies without UPSR and the transition from an exam-based system?

"Therefore, the ministry must come up with plans to ensure pupils understand what they learn in school without the need for examinations," he said.

Anuar said the ministry must explain to pupils, parents and the public what would fill the void left by the lack of examinations.

He said the challenges would also be greater for the teachers in carrying out the PBD.

"Some believe that life would be easier for teachers as they no longer have to rush the syllabus and prepare pupils for UPSR.

"(But) in reality, their responsibility and teaching methods will be different from now on. There are many things that need to be done by the ministry to ensure teachers are prepared for the PBD."

In the PBD, the teachers will evaluate students' achievements and performance throughout their learning sessions.

Anuar, however, welcomed the move to abolish UPSR as it would alleviate pressure on 12-year-old primary school pupils.

He said UPSR had forced pupils to focus on achieving all-As in the examination.

"Those who do well will be celebrated, while those who don't will doubt their abilities at a very young age.

"Hence, the announcement is most welcome and an effort to move away from an exam-oriented education system."

Senior Minister (Education) Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin announced on Wednesday the abolishment of UPSR from this year.

He said following the cancellation of UPSR last year, the ministry had looked into how assessments were done at primary schools in other countries.

The ministry had also engaged with stakeholders, including headmasters, teachers, parent-teacher associations, students and related associations involving more than 1,700 participants nationwide.

UPSR was introduced in 1988 to assess reading, writing, counting and reasoning.

Educationist Professor Datuk Dr Noraini Idris said the Education Ministry should share the outcome of its engagements before abolishing the examination.

"Where is the data to support the decision to abolish UPSR?"

She said while it was mentioned that some 1,700 participants took part in the engagements, there were more than 400,000 pupils sitting for the UPSR every year.

"It should be at least 30 per cent of the total samples involving pupils, teachers and parents to get solid feedback on abolishing UPSR before any decision is made."

Noraini also questioned the readiness of teachers for PBD.

"It is almost May. With this ad-hoc decision, are teachers and pupils prepared for PBD? It needs readiness of the teachers to better understand and assess the pupils. Also, are the soon-to-be teachers ready for PBD?"

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