The Abolishment Of Exams In Malaysia’s Lower Primary Schools
A friend once asked if exams would be abolished. To be honest, I’m rather torn on this issue. On one hand, I am happy to have my children grow up in an environment where they will not be pressured to learn. On the other hand, I wonder if my child’s future will be left to teachers instead of a centralized entity. I know its a bit confusing, so let me explain.
Why Exams Are Great?
There is actually only one reason for this. That is how the entire system is structured. Unlike many other countries, obtaining scholarships, education aid and even sending my child off to boarding school relies solely on exams.
If my child were to perform really well in exams, I can be sure that the government or other entities will help in paying off some part of my education expenses. This is especially important for families of the lower socioeconomic group. As such, exams evolve from just a norm at school to something that could potentially help families break the poverty cycle.
My country is not exactly giving up on exams altogether. This is because taking away exams for the first three years of schooling may do more good than harm. Yes, countries like Japan spend the first 3 years developing a child’s character. However, there is no data as to how the child would fare if they are not exposed to exams early on in life.
Thus, when faced with exams, it may come as a shock to them and the teacher may need to spend more time helping the child get used to the system. This is why it may be better to start exposing the child to exams at a younger age. In sum, exams are good because it prepares the child for the real world and because it could be used as a ticket to help children break the poverty cycle.
It should be noted that the problem with exams is not with exams per se. I feel that it is with the implementation of exams that is the issue.
I feel that over time, exams has transformed from a way to assess someone’s understanding to a game. Specifically, a game like Destiny / RPG game. The game starts off with you going around on different quests, collecting these magical items called ‘good grades’. The problem with all these quests is that they are all similar, you fight the same monsters and use the same techniques to accomplish the quests.
In case, you didn’t get what I meant by the term ‘using the same techniques’, I was referring to memorization and regurgitation. As such, I feel that it would be best if exams are conducted in a more dynamic manner. This can be done with less paper and pen but more projects. Furthermore, I think that students should be allowed to explore the world instead of being confined to the classroom. This I feel would better prepare them for the real world.
All in all, I’m more excited to see how the government will abolish exams. I think that even if exams are abolished, there is the issue with culture. I remember once hearing a parent lament when it was rumored that exams would be abolished. They wonder how will they know if their child is doing well in schools.
As such, while I support the abolishment of exams, I think we have to first change the perception of the entire culture. If this can be done, we can see learning change. Hopefully, learning will be directed from mere memorization for good grades, to just learning for one’s improvement.