PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - National examinations in Malaysia, including the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM, a GCE O-level equivalent), Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM, vocational skills certificate), Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM, a GCE A-level equivalent), will not be deferred. The first exams will begin from Feb 22.
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 missing out on fully understanding the syllabus.
"The dates and the standard of the examinations remain the same, " she said during a virtual press conference on operations in schools for this year.
"The ministry has already issued the exam schedules (last year) and they still remain."
She added that it was not just about taking the examinations but also the student's health and safety. Therefore, she said, they would follow the strict standard operating procedure that were used during the repeat SPM papers held last August.
"Our SOP is stricter and (all) need to comply, " she added.
Datuk 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 for the exams), " she said in reference to exam candidates having to return to school since Wednesday for face-to-face teaching and learning.
Dr Habibah also said that the Education Ministry aired programmes on national television as part of home-based learning, with plans to add more.
"There is a total of nine hours of content as of now, " she added.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that it was better to go on with the exams 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.
"Those without Internet connectivity would be even worse off, " she added.