Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Splitting up the PMR dates - good or bad?

OK, a break from the GE now. Just saw this report on the Star stating that the PMR dates have been set for Oct 13th to 15th and Nov 4th and 5th. The ostensible reason is to decrease the level of truancy which happens at the end of the year. Does this proposal make sense?

According to this website, the school holidays in Malaysia starts on November 18th and goes to January 1st. Having the PMR in early October means that those who finish their PMR have one more month of holidays compared to their peers who don't have to take their PMR. The reason why the exams where not all postponed to Nov 4th and 5th is because the 'subjective' or 'non-objective' exams cannot be marked in time for the results to be released by the end of the year.

Frankly, I'm a bit perplexed by this decision. I've not experienced any 'major' exam in my primary and secondary school life where the paper exams are separated by a period of 2 weeks. I remember sitting for my A levels in Singapore where I had to take some of the 'lab' exams a couple of weeks early but the paper exams were taken in a span of about 2 weeks. I've always preferred taking exams in a relatively short period of time and getting it over as soon as possible. I find it difficult to keep up the momentum and adrenaline of studying and preparing for exams if they are spread out over a longer period of time, in this case, for almost 4 weeks.

But perhaps, some students will like this. They can cram hard for the first few exams in the middle of October, take a break and then use the remaining two weeks to study for the objective type exams.

Still, the rationale of delaying the exams is a little mystifying. Perhaps some parents complain that they don't know what to do with their kids because they finish school a month earlier than everyone else. But can't the Ministry ask the schools to use this time more productively, by, for example, organizing the students to do volunteer work, to learn a new skill, to play games, etc...? Isn't the Ministry running the risk of forcing the markers to mark the papers in a shorter period of time (the non-objective ones) and perhaps increase the chances of them making mistakes? Isn't the Ministry also running the risk of making mistakes in compiling the grades because of the smaller time window to release the results? Frankly, I would prefer the students to have more time off than to make mistakes in the preparation of the PMR grades.

I'm curious as to the effect splitting up these exams may have on different students. For example, are those who are low performers more likely to do worse under this 'split' system because they cannot sustain the necessary momentum to study and prepare for exams over the course of 3 to 4 weeks? Or are they more likely to do better because they have more time to prepare? I'm inclined to think the former.

My gut feeling tells me that the Ministry will try this out for 1 year, find that they have problems finish marking the papers and compiling the grades and perhaps find that there are some changes in the average grade of students and then go back to the former policy of having the exams in early October. Those who suffer will be the 'guinea pigs' this year.

What do our readers think of this? Especially those who have kids who are taking their PMR exams?


Anonymous said...

here's something interesting

the BN candidate for Ipoh Timur has a very suspicious PhD from this even more suspicious American University of Hawaii

tried googling the university up... and this uni is even more worse than those irish ones as it does not even have a site proper to at least bluff innocent people

shame on that certain "Ir Dr" L...
omg wat a shame indeed

Anonymous said...

some students prefer such arrangement due to the 'study break' in between. nevertheless, such exam-splitting arrangement is unusual. btw, i must add that splitting or not, it doesn't really matter, cos government examinations (except stpm) can hardly evaluate the academic performance of students nowadays.

p.s.: all the best to Tony! =)

Anonymous said...

Under pendidikan hadari, everything is possible!
So dont forget to vote BN hadari or Unmo hadari....

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous said...

here's something interesting

the BN candidate for Ipoh Timur has a very suspicious PhD from this even more suspicious American University of Hawaii"

What's worse is that there's actually a Casewatch website about the "degrees" being offered by this unregulated university:

Ian Beh said...

as a student in the malaysian school system. I think what the government has done here is absolutely ridiculous. it is making the torture period much longer .

Anonymous said...

I am a form 3 student, thus making me a pmr-taker. This splitting of dates is very inconvenient to us. I'd rather it be over in a week compared to splitting it up, causing more stress and tension.

mayfoo02 said...

Good Lord! The Education Ministry definitely lives up to its name of being a brainless department. That one month when the 15 year olds are completely free of exams can be put to good use by the schools and teachers by offering students the opportunity to be trained in something they are interested in, e.g public speaking, debating brass band, choirs, choral speaking floral arrangement, cooking, talent time shows etc, etc.I can think of a whole load of things these students can indulge, so why can't the schools and the teachers/ The only reason why students start skipping school is because it has become irrelevant and absolutely boring!!


Anonymous said...

hey there Tony. I've attended your ceramah at SS2 yesterday evening and it was stupendous! Do wish you all the best for today.

The PMR split issue has no doubt, caused a flurry. I've been a PMR candidate just last year and I too, share the concerns of the form3 students on the excess pressure they might face due to the split. Do hope the education ministry gives us an explanation. less stress for the students it will be if the examination would be held in just one week.

the girl said...

really mah?
i dun get it why they keep mucking with education, like a toy that needs tinkering.

Anonymous said...

Tony,many congratulations and now I hope you help rebuild the country again.


Anonymous said...

Well, many experiment has been conducted by the government for years. Spliting the duration for PMR examination is only on part of it. But one thing important is the resultant of all those changes, is it positive or negative?

In general, the education system that implement in Malaysia currently, hardly train students to be creative and critic. If you really go deep into understand how student nowadays learn, you can easily notice that they learn by memorizing facts. The science subject, which actually need analytical mind of students in the pass, nowadays, student can refer to pass year papers and memorizing sufficient amount of facts to score a grade A. In physics paper like SPM, the passing grade can even be as low as 30++(may be going to be 20++ in future) out of 100, while the difficulty of paper is actually reducing yearly(i got this information from my secondary school teacher who mark spm physics papers).

The education nowadays too concern of the quantity but neglect the quality. Meanwhile the leader of the country still do not forsee possible problem arise from neglecting this issues. While everyone is concerning ranking of university drop yearly, not much people pay attention to the root of problems, which atually start from the foundation of the education.

In many view of points from private sectors on local(Malaysia) university students, quality of graduates is declining yearly. In fact, even from view of point of lecturer(information that i received from lecturer in UM and MMU) on local students who currently studying in university, spoon feeding is the only way to teach student nowadays.

Do we really want the education system end up to train us a dozen of examination machines, who have a few tetrabyte of hard disk storage to keep information, some more those information will loss when time get long?

In my view of point, a successful education system, is a system that train their people in such a way that, they not only able to reproduce knowledge given to them, but are able to use those knowledge to solve daily problems(of course not during examination period only). Mean while, the ultimate target of an successful education system, is to produce people(mostly refer to undergraduate and postgraduate) that can use available knowledge, come out with new knowledge.

Warlock said...

I think there is nothing wrong with giving students more time to prepare. This would be advantageous for those who did not manage to complete their studies before the exams start. Students will also be under less stress since they will have time to recuperate between papers now.

As for the truancy isses, yes I believe this will help too. Lets face it, after PMR the students are just coming to school to socialise. Some don't come to school, during my time we came to school to play games the whole days. Monopoly and "game watches" were the norm. It was fun .. but utterly unproductive :p

Lets give it a try and see who this works out for the children taking PMR.

Anonymous said...

I posted that question to my PMR students. Only 10 students (and they are the very good ones) prefer to have the PMR staggered while the majority prefer to complete the exam within the week.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the more basic question---also raised by some commentators in previous blog posts---is the relevance of PMR in the Malaysian education system?

Bernard Chung said...

Congrats Tony on your victory as the new MP's. I hope people's vote is not a waste since they want changes.

PMR and SPM examination date. What an issue!!

I believe it shouldn't be split. Break is possible but what a gap in between. It might be a distress for some people but it will also won't solve the truancy problems. Truancy are done by people who are wanting to do so, thus no point setting it in a two different time, because if i'm the one who is taking the exam, I will still go for fun or loitering during the break if i wish to.

Anyway all Malaysian exams (except STPM) are low standard. See how easy to get 20A1s nowadays. 6 years ago when i took SPM, I only managed 10As which was something to be grand for, the greatest in my states but only a handful are really able to get that. Now, you can see a street filled with people with 10As.

danceguru said...


i would like to know if there is anyone concern about the year 2011, where the UPSR examination will be taken out from the standard six!

i have two children that will not be able to go thru this at all and the many children after them.

frankly speaking,all who did the local schooling survived and still not regretting i believe.

what i am afraid is we are not putting the importance of knowing how much each child understood form 6 years in proper school and this is a guide for teachers to know how a child fare and in which area help is needed.

we will be building a generation of students and teachers who will not be so serious about learning or teacher seriously care about her/his service produces results,because no line in drawn on how a child progress and a teacher is committed.

i believe there is a generation of studetn currently who were form 5 school leavers but do not even know how to take a simple messages and notes or answer phone calls.

being a employer i do come across people like these! degree holder from local uni who cant speak proper english or able to handle task given or documentation. they are not properly qualified in simple general knowledge and information like handling simple projects! their english can be much more broken than what i am writting now???

my,my are there any representative from any parties that is elected doing anything about it?

i think we should look at the way they train teachers in the teacher training colleges more than taking examination out! it has survived so many generations!!! are these teachers well trained with class plans and in the art of teaching??? i dare to say this because i am a teacher too. of course not trained locally la.but it is all about personality,attitude and most important the training recieved!

i am posting this just to see if i am able to get some support or advice from anyone on this blog.

thank you.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I'm taking my PMR examinations this year and I do think the decision to split the exam dates are ridiculous and troublesome.
That one month after PMR is to let students engage in more co-curicular activities rather than academics. After all, they've studied for a long period of 8 to 9 months already!
To avoid cases of students playing truant, government should order schools to keep track of students attendance and contact their parents instead of splitting examination dates. This year, we can't even have Aktiviti Lepas PMR.

p.s. Some say this is not a case of helping to decrease the number of students playing truant, but rather to avoid the examination marking dates which clashes with Hari Raya.

Anonymous said...

Read the comment by the Minister of Education on Friday that he will look into the matter about the split in PMR dates.
Perplexing to me is :
- How come the Minister did not know about this earlier, as after all this has been his ministry?
- Having been a Teacher both in Singapore and Malaysia I can tell you that planning and scheduling is a critcal yet no-brainer issue that ALL schools deal with at the END of the year for the NEXT year. Therefore who was on the planning committee with regards to this matter?
- Who was consulted or provided feedback with regards to this matter ? Principals ?? Teachers?? Parents?? Stakeholders?? Students??
- And finally (not quite a question but a statement!) : THIS is the Minister who has been reappointed to the Education portfolio. Hang on Malaysia for en endless downward spiral !