PETALING JAYA: More than 40,000 people have signed a growing online petition calling for the upcoming SPM exams to be cancelled or postponed in light of the difficulties facing students nationwide.
The organisers of the petition cite the toll the pandemic has taken on students’ mental health, the effect of the postponement on their academic timeline and the threat of transmission during the SPM or preparation classes as reasons for their request.
In their statement, the organisers said that with daily cases “rocketing,” they believe the government was putting students at unnecessary risk.
The SPM examinations are scheduled for Feb 22 with close to half a million students expected to sit for the papers. In 2019, a total of 416,416 students sat for the exam, and 400,445 are registered to take it in the 2020 cohort.
“We believe children are the future of the country, and no one has the right to make them pay the price for the ‘recent disaster’,” they said.
“We understand the MOE’s (ministry of education) decision to extend the dates for SPM examination came after much deliberation, but we believe it is not a wise one, considering that there is so much uncertainty and unpredictability with this pandemic.”
They singled out the mental health of students as a major concern, with the stress of the pandemic and looming exams taking a heavy toll on many.
“We have received hundreds of comments from students, mostly saying they are mentally affected and can no longer focus on their studies. This is very worrying, with some mentioning that they had suicidal thoughts.”
In lieu of the formal SPM exam, the petitioners suggest using prior results or trial exam performance to generate a forecasted grade, or allowing students to take the SPM during the period usually reserved for the SPM Ulangan (repeat exam) to allow students to maintain their existing entry schedules.
They said that with the current deferment dates, candidates could miss out on early intakes for colleges and graduate later than planned from pre-university courses.
“With the deferred SPM examination, students can only apply for August 2021 intakes (for A-level courses), which means that they can only apply for universities in 2023 (rather than mid-2022).”
They said that while they understand the education ministry’s concerns about maintaining the fairness of examination given that roughly 15% has yet to sit for trial exams, the circumstances of the year have already jeopardised fairness.
“In our opinion, the fairness of this examination has already been compromised, as students have not received the same duration and quality of teaching.”
“Hence, an absolutely fair solution for this examination is a pipe dream, not to mention that deferring examination dates only for red zone areas opens up the possibility of examination questions leaking.”
The petition has received vocal support from students online, with some questioning why their voices are not being heard.
“We are humans too!!” said one, “Why is politics being cared about more than student health issues? Enough voices are being raised but sadly these voices are being ignored by the authorities.”
Another said that “as a student in Malaysia, keeping up with the syllabus without the help of a teacher, or a schooling environment has been difficult and put this year’s SPM candidates at a serious disadvantage.”
Those interested can sign the petition here.