KUCHING: An overemphasis on good academic results could be the reason three Year Six pupils of SK Bandar Bintangor were prevented from sitting the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination recently.
The three boys, regarded as “academically weak”, were locked in a remedial classroom from 8am until noon while their classmates sat the exam on Sept 13 and 14.
The school, located 600km from here, was said to have resorted to this to ensure the boys did not “pull down” its overall performance.
The three were identified as Idie Ganyol, Edward Ujoh Augustine and Richmend Mangi.
Bintangor district police chief Deputy Superintendent Mohd Hafifi Mohd Salim confirmed the case and said police reports were lodged by the boys’ parents last week.
“They were locked in a room to prevent them from sitting the exam because they were said to be academically weak and this would affect the school’s performance.”
However, he said, the case was now considered closed as the parents had agreed to withdraw their reports after they were given an assurance that action would be taken against the headmaster. He added that the state Education Department was aware of the incident.
National Union of the Teaching Profession president Hashim Adnan said what the school did was wrong.
“The children have every right to sit the exam, notwithstanding their poor academic record. It is not the school’s business to handle the matter in such a way as this would ruin the pupils’ future.
“At the end of the day, it’s not all about achieving As in exams but our capability as teachers to ensure they become good citizens who will contribute to the country.
“If the pupils did not do well in their studies, there must be something wrong with the school’s teaching methods.”
Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, who is president of Parents Action Group for Education (Page), shared similar sentiments, saying it was wrong to stop the three boys from taking the exam.
“The rule in every school is clear; every child needs to be educated.”
She said there were ways to handle pupils with special needs, including the autistic and mentally disabled.
“There are few schools with special classes for dyslexic children but there are ways to handle these children instead of shutting them out.”
Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datin Fatimah Abdullah expressed her concern, saying UPSR was an important examination.
“However, I have not received any report (about the incident) yet. Let the police investigate.
“As far as I am concerned, no pupil should be deprived from sitting any exam, regardless of their academic performance.”
Bernama quoted Fatimah as saying that the Malaysian Examination Syndicate had been asked to study whether there were any regulations to stop candidates from sitting the UPSR because of problems like truancy and indiscipline.
The school and state Education Department officials, however, could not be reached for comments.
Meradong assemblyman Ting Tze Fui, who was approached by the boys’ parents, claimed the boys were only allowed to sit the exam on the final day on Thursday.
Ting said the school had been unfair to the boys.
“On receiving the reports on Wednesday, policemen who went to the school found the boys locked in a room. They were eating and playing there.”
She chided the school for denying the pupils the right to take the examination.
“Not everyone is born smart but they can learn. That is why we need education. No discrimination should exist in our education system.”