Saturday, November 3, 2012


When I  got out of a Form 2 class for Religious Studies exam, I heard of the students said “yes!!!” as he now could copy his friend’s answers as I was being strict during my period, invigilating the exam. Even at that age, these kids have no respect what so ever to the sanctity of education and they have no idea of the importance of examination. No real-life motivation, nothing to prove by doing well in the examination. Nobody to be proud of their exam results. As for them, exam is nothing but a competition where who can get more marks without reading any single damn thing or without paying any nanoseconds of attention when the teachers are teaching in the classroom.

And now with the implementation of Penilaian Berasaskan Sekolah or PBS, for short, God knows what would happen to these kids. UPSR and PMR will be abolished (UPSR will be no more next year and PMR will be obsolete the year after next). These kids would not experience the pressure to do well in exam. They would not be toughen up, attending school in the morning and going to tuition in the afternoon and extra class in the evening. They would not know how it feels to have very little sleep to cram the whole textbook or notebook within one night to face the exam tomorrow. Most importantly of all, they would not know nor can they taste that bittersweet feeling when victory is finally theirs after a long, hard road leading up to success.

Sure, PBS has its own reasons to be implemented. Policy makers claimed PBS will lessen teachers’ burden and students’ pressure to do well in the examination. Teachers can sit back and relax since the school would not be pressuring them to come to school after class or during the evening or while other people are enjoying school holidays to do Golden Holiday or extra classes or last minute preparation for exam. However, such is not the case. Such is not the reality. Even before PBS is wholly implemented next year, teachers are already complaining about PBS. An average classroom holds 40 students. How can 1 teacher gave a fair and objective assessments to each and every one of these students? What happen if the teacher herself is the mother of one of the kids in the classroom? Wouldn’t that create a conflict of interest? How can a mere mortal be absolutely earnest and honest to award these kids and place them according to their supposedly ability according to bands (Band 1 the lowest and Band 6 the highest)?  And imagine the work burden for teachers who have to key in every mark for every student in the classroom in an online system which is unstable and takes forever to be fully displayed?

Sure, the intention of PBS is good. To value students’ uniqueness and evaluate them on their own terms. Not by a standard performance. However, the truth is far less interesting than the fantasy and romantic notion of being able to cater to each student based on his or her performance. In Japan, or in the UK or the US, the average students per class is much lower than the students in Malaysian classroom? When we are trying to be fair to students, we are indirectly depriving them of valuable lessons to be learned from striving hard to do well in exam. Don’t judge me like a dork, I hate exam myself. Who likes exam? That person must have some brain damage if he likes pressure intentionally. Nevertheless, exam is one of the ways to make us tougher. To make us endure and appreciate delayed gratification. To teach us to be responsible for our own mistakes and to make us learn not to repeat those mistakes ever again.

Sure, exam is hard. Life is hard. Not every question that you imagine would come out in the exam. Not every topic discussed in the classroom would come out in the exam and students can graciously answer every single point according to the sequence which it was discussed in the classroom. exam teach us spontaneity is a surprise element. The same goes to life. Not everything that we plan will go accordingly. Sometimes, we are faced with problems so big that you could not even breathe to get out of the problem. The same situation during Add-Maths exam where you are given the formula but for the love of God, you have no fucking idea how to solve the equation. Or how about during Chemistry exam where you are given the Periodic Table, but for the love of God, you don’t have the slightest idea how to solve the chemical equation? Exam taught us to face problems as it hits us in the face. We learn to be thick-skinned through all the disappointment, failures after failures in the exam. Even from my own experience, if I didn’t enrol in Science Stream class, I would not know how it felt like hitting rock bottom, making countless attempts and still failed because I don’t have a fucking clue what the hell I was studying for.

Sure, everybody hates exam. Exam is evil. Exam is the source of pain and sorrow. But some people don’t need a hammer on the head to wake them up. They need a frigging machete to split their head in two so that they would wake up and realize life is no fairytale. By studying, feeling frustrated, failed, tried, failed again, prayed, being hopeless, failed, never gave up and finally succeed; through all these fruitless attempts after attempts, can we finally taste the sweet and hard to attain fruit of success. Through exam, we know our limits and how far we can push ourselves. We know how to accept disappointment, how to never give up, how to clench out teeth when people annoy us by calling names like “fail”, “stupid” and other names that are easy to spell but hard to hear. Through exam, we live and we learn to be a better person, to let go when we already tried our very best, to never stop trying (hence the July paper for resilient students who do not wish to be contemplated) and finally to accept compliment when it is due.

Exam has become a part and parcel of the education business. What can we, teachers blabber about aside from doing your best, read the notes given, complete the exercise given and don’t copy or cheat in the exam? I’m going to miss exam. I would probably have nothing to nag about if it weren’t for exam. That’s our ultimate goal. That’s the end of the destination for our torturous journey. What would we look forward to if exam is not there?

P/S: SPM starts tomorrow. All I can say that never stop believing in yourself and never believe that you can’t do something until you try. The day that you truly FAIL is when you stop TRYING!

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