BINTULU: The decision to scrap Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and Pentaksiran Tingkatan Tiga (PT3) this year has received mixed reactions from the public here.
Sarawak Teachers Union (STU) Bintulu Division chairperson Soo Siew Huong agreed with the decision to cancel the two exams.
“Since we are yet to know when the school is safe to open, if UPSR exam continues, teachers will be rushing, parents and pupils will be under pressure.
“However, PT3 assessments, as stated by the Minister of Education, will not affect the assessment of the pupils because PT3 is only one of the four assessments under the overall school-based assessment system,” she said when prompted for comments on the recent announcement by Ministry of Education (MOE).
Besides that, Soo said since 2016, the MOE has introduced the classroom assessment system (Pentaksiran Bilik Darjah)-PBD which is an ongoing assessment of teaching and learning sessions for each subject to gain information on pupils’ development, progress, ability and achievement.
“A copy of the report of PBD will be given to all the parents for them to know their children’s progress, ability and achievement.
Asked on what teachers can do or contribute during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, Soo believes that teachers have taken various initiatives to ensure teaching and learning process still goes on.
According to her, the MOE had introduced Google Classroom to all the primary and secondary schools in Malaysia last year.
The learning platform provided by the MOE is accessible via http://www.moe-dl.edu.my.
This platform provides links to Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams for teaching and learning (PdPc) purposes, digital textbooks and links to PdPc-assisted apps like Edpuzzle (interactive video teaching app), Quizizz (quiz shape games) and Kahoot (game-based learning).
“Teachers are able to utilise a variety of online and social media platforms suitable for planning and directing lessons and homework, to ensure no student is left behind, and each student is able to follow continuous learning in a safe manner,” she explained.
Nevertheless, she believes that since this is a new evolution, many are not ready and used to it.
An Education Ministry survey as mentioned by Minister of Education Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin during a press conference on Wednesday revealed that 36.9 per cent of up to 900,000 students affected by school closures due to the Covid-19 outbreak have no access to an electronic device for e-learning purpose.
“We need to change the pupils to be more independent learners and self-access learners. There are hurdles to overcome.
“This method is unable to be considered as a whole of national education, face to face education method is still the best way for basic learning stage pupils,” Soo said.
She pointed out that for the pupils in rural areas, due to the unavailability of internet access, the MOE had introduced the Program Rancangan TV Pendidikan @ TV Okey through RTM and Astro.
Surprisingly she said, there are even teachers who have taken further initiatives to send homework from village to village to the pupils through village chiefs.
“No pupils should be left behind in education. Although teachers are not required to go to school and stay at home, they still need to plan and continue to carry out their teaching tasks.
“Teachers will do their part but in order to ensure the effort they made can be carried out successfully, cooperation and involvement of the pupils and parents is highly required,” Soo stressed.
A parent, Sophia Laka, considered the decision to scrap the two exams as drastic and would give a big impact to those affected.
“We know that UPSR takes 40 per cent of the percentage along with other co-curriculum, so when Ministry of Education (MOE) scraps this examination and perhaps replace it with PBS (Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah) the standard might not be uniform nationwide because questions are set by respective education offices,” she said.
Sophia said this will create uncertainty on how selection is to be made later when the examination is no longer set by the Examination Board, as has been done.
“As a parent with a child that is supposed to sit for UPSR this year, I totally disagree with the cancellation of the exam,” she said.
Dwelling on another matter, a mother Michelle Chu Wan Cheen finds helping her children do their homework at home quite challenging.
“My children Ewan Chen (Primary 5) and Dione Chen (Form 1) like to do homework at home but they feel bored since they have no friends around.
“For parents, it is quite challenging because parents need to understand the videos shared by teachers in the WhatsApp group before we can explain it to the children,” she said.
According to Chu, Dione enjoys doing online learning at home.
“Now she can use a laptop to do her homework because before this, she never used it for that purpose,” she said.
However, her daughter prefers going to school where she can play with friends and meet the teachers, she added.