The removal of mid-year examinations was heralded as a bit of a success to move away from the traditional education system that was seen as rigid, fixated on testing. But it has caused anxiety once again as the main stakeholders including parents, teachers and students themselves became unsure whether more stakes are going to be piled on the end-of-year examination and they also wonder what kind of measure would be a good way of knowing where the student is by way of mastering the materials.
If you ask me, the exams were a poor way to determine the level of mastery of the students anyways. And ultimately, it is not exams that we need to abolish but the attitude of over-emphasizing it. I still remember distinctly my Chinese teacher for Secondary 3 and 4 telling the class, ‘grades are not important; what is important is the process’ but goes on to get students to memorise the materials in order to score A1 on exam. He took away my motivation to gain true mastery of the subject when he gave me 2/3 for forming my own sentences rather than regurgitating the ones he gave us to memorise. When asked why I was marked down, he said it was easier for him to mark and determine that I was correct when I gave him a ‘perfect answer’ which I was supposed to memorise.
This overall society’s idea of education as being about perfect answers, grades and studying for exams, is what is preventing us from truly moulding a future.