Malaysia to go ahead with national exams despite calls for deferment

The first exams will begin from Feb 22.
The first exams will begin from Feb 22.PHOTO: THE MALAY MAIL

PETALING JAYA • Several major national examinations will go on as planned in Malaysia despite calls for deferment due to the worsening Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

The first exams will begin from Feb 22. These exams are the SPM, Malaysia's GCE O-level equivalent; STPM, the GCE A-level equivalent; and SKM, a vocational skills certificate.

Education director-general Habibah Abdul Rahim said there would also be no lowering of the examinations' standards despite calls to do so as students were left learning from home throughout most of last year, leading to many of them missing out on fully understanding the syllabus.

"The dates and the standard of the examinations remain the same," she said in a virtual press conference on operations in schools for this year. "The ministry has already issued the exam schedules and they still remain."

Malaysian health authorities reported 4,275 new coronavirus cases yesterday, the highest number of daily infections so far, raising the total number of confirmed cases to 180,455. There were seven new fatalities, bringing the total number of deaths to 667.

Dr Habibah added that schools will adhere to strict health protocols, called SOP or standard operating procedure in Malaysia, that were used during the repeat SPM papers held last August.

"Our SOP is stricter and (all) need to comply," she added.

Dr Habibah also said that any changes to the exam format, semester arrangement, marking scheme or standard of questions would affect the examinations' international accreditation.

For example, any changes to the SPM would jeopardise its accreditation as an O-level equivalent, she said. And changes to this accreditation would affect a candidate's chance of being accepted into a higher education institution.

"This is why we are trying to ensure our students are ready (to sit the exams)," she said in reference to exam candidates having to return to school since Wednesday for face-to-face teaching and learning.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that it was better for the exams to continue according to the schedule to avoid damaging a student's future.

"Do not deprive students of their SPM certificate through no fault of theirs," she told The Star. She also said that it was better for them to be back in school for face-to-face teaching and learning as online learning was proving to be ineffective.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK; REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 24, 2021, with the headline 'Malaysia to go ahead with national exams despite calls for deferment'. Subscribe