While yesterday’s announcement from the Minister of Education seems to indicate that SPM 2020 will go on as planned come 22 February (by announcing that all form 5 students will be going back to school), the Ministry failed to address the concerns of Covid-19 spreading at the examination centres and how the government plans to deal with it.
With almost 400,000 students sitting for SPM 2020, there is bound to be a substantial impact on the exam timetable if the standard SOPs by the Ministry of Health for isolating close contacts and disinfection of premises are applied to the students, invigilators and schools.
If the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health are unable to deal with the questions I had raised before, perhaps it will seriously consider a proposal for an alternative evaluation or grading of this crucial examination, the same way other countries have decided to do so for the extraordinary case of the pandemic.
In place of the actual face to face SPM examination, MOE could:
Use the SPM 2020 trial results as the actual results (with adjustments to reflect fair assessment nationally). For this, the schools that were not able to complete the trial examinations should be allowed to do so.
Alternatively, to be more inclusive of those who were unable to properly complete their school year, MOE may consider taking the overall academic performance since Form 4. This is to ensure that consistently excellent students do not fall behind just because they did not have the right technological tools. This method is similar to what was conducted for students of the 2019/2020 Matriculation Program (PSPM).
The SPM examination is our country’s biggest examination. It is a key determining factor of a students’ future. As it is, some have or will be missing the application deadlines for tertiary education. Not to mention the possibly high student drop-out rate this year due to being unable to cope with or partake in online classes.
I strongly urge MOE to look into the safety and practicality for the sake of our future generation. The health and education future of some 400,000 students are in their hands.