The death of 12-year-old Subashini Sivakumar who hanged herself in her room with a blanket came as a shock to the whole nation. The fact that she committed suicide due to her poor achievement in the UPSR examination may sound rather preposterous for a 12-year-old, but that is the reality. And while it may be just one case, it is in fact a depiction of the reality of the nation. It is the extreme manifestation of reality, the product of our education system and our socio-economic environment.

In light of Subashini’s incident, we have to admit that our exam-oriented examination system puts pressure on the students, especially when the parents, teachers and friends put high hopes on the student. I am not trying to imply that the parents’ are to be blamed for what Subashini did. No, instead I am very sure that the parents’ love their daughter very much and would’ve given anything to save her. However, the practice of suicide amongst students who have failed to academically perform to expectation will become a detrimental trend if we do not hunt for the cause and solve the problem at its root level. Therefore, let us take Subashini’s incident and some of the other similar cases which has occurred before as a lesson.

One of the elements to be blamed in such incident (students performing suicide) is of course the exam-oriented nature of our education system. The exam-oriented nature of the education system brings our students into a world where they believe that their purpose of studying and going to school is to sit for and excel in the examinations. Hence, when the students are being given high expectations – sometimes far beyond the capacity of the students themselves – they are being put into severe pressure. Since the examinations are being so hyped about in their lives with sayings that it would determine their future and that their future depends on it (this brings a connotation of ‘it and only it’), it is only natural that they will be frustrated and depressed when they fail to meet the high expectations in the examinations.

This phenomenon, to my belief, is not entirely due to the education structure alone. Examinations are rather important in order for us to assess the students’ level of understanding for a certain subject. Therefore, to say that the unnecessary and unhealthy pressure that the students have to cope with is due to the exam-oriented nature of our education system does not imply that we have to abolish examinations. In fact, I think that our education structure or curriculum itself has little to do with the creating of an exam-oriented environment. The more fundamental factor, perhaps, is our attitude and our perspective of education and examination. It is the society – teachers, parents, peers, political leaders, media – who plays the more important role in making such an important matter out of examinations.

Our society, due to being so engulfed by the idea of capitalism, has the perception that everything must by materialistically measurable. Developments, for instance, is seen as the rising of high towers, the constructing of sophisticatedly-engineered buildings, and the high figures that the country makes from investments and taxes. In education, excellence is measured almost entirely by the number of As a student gets or how much grade point the student manages to score. In order to obtain those, of course the most important thing is the examination. Thus, much weight is put onto examinations; to such an extent that it may have just been too much weight.

The fact is the idea of capitalism has brought upon our society a fundamentally distorted perception of what is ‘learning’ and what is ‘education’. Education has to be perceived as a process of giving meaning to a person’s life; instilling values, knowledge and skills that is required for a person to fulfill his or her role as a human being and as someone responsible in their specific discipline to help make this world a better place for living. Therefore, it’s not all about scores; but it is about values, knowledge, and character. If this is understood well, then we will not confine the process of education to such a small scope that is based on examinations entirely. Sean Covey, son of popular author Stephen R. Covey, pointed out on this matter in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens”. He wrote: “Although grades are important, becoming truly educated is more important...

When we understand that education is not all about examinations, but rather it is an ongoing process that never stops and can happen in various situations, we would not make such a fuss out of failing in examinations. Instead, ‘failure’ in examinations is actually just another part of the process of education and has to be perceived in a positive way. A student may fail to get good grades in examinations during school but excel during their tertiary education. Likewise, a student may get excellent grades but still fail to contribute anything in the job market, and fail to contribute anything to the society. The important thing is not so much on the examination results, but rather on the education process itself. Assessment should not be based entirely on examination results, but on a student’s performances and character; because education produces a character of towering personality.

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Mobile Phone Winner
4:24 pm ×

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