Taking formal education beyond exams


Interesting article in the New Straits Times here in Malaysia over the weekend titled Taking Formal Education Beyond Exams. IT features and interview with Datuk Dr Adi Badiozaman Tuah, the Malaysian Examinations Syndicate director in which he outlines his views on the need to review the focus of assessment in Malaysian schools. In the interview he states

    “Current practices see us focusing only on the mental capabilities and cognitive domain of our children. We want to go beyond the paper and pencil tests and look at other domains to show the individual’s progress and development”</em

The director wants to create a new assessment system that will shift the emphasis from public school examinations to more regular school-based evaluation of students.

Having spent time here on a few visits now working in local schools I can understand why this reform is being considered. There is a high emphasis here on achievement in tests and exams, which creates a focus on ‘covering what is in the curriculum’, which itself becomes extremely prescriptive. As a result, there is little leeway for the development of creativity, innovation, critical thinking etc. – or for pursuing topics/themes or ideas that may emerge in the course of the day’s study and interactions.

From the perspective of attempting to integrate ICTs into teaching and learning, this limits the opportunity to exploit the creative, expressive and communications potential of the technology and sees it become more of an electronic text book and marking device.

Of course, this is not just a problem in Malaysia – it’s a perennial problem for educators the world over – wherever there is an empahsis on high stakes testing. Thus I am encouraged to see the Minister here announcing plans for a reform at a national level. Also encouraging to see a newspaper devote so much space to such an article – the full interview took up a two-page spread in the March 4 edition.

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