Major examinations, including the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) will not be postponed. According to the Ministry of Education, major examinations will remain scheduled; to begin in February but separate sessions will be arranged for candidates who tests positive for Covid-19 or are under mandatory quarantine.
Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim, the education director-general said the affected candidates would be allowed to sit for the examinations only after they recover from the illness or have completed their quarantine period.
“The quarantine period is 14 days and the examinations are usually held longer than that. So, when they have recovered, the candidate can sit for the other papers which are ongoing and the ministry will arrange different sessions for the missed papers,” she said in a virtual news conference on 22 January 2021.
Despite calls to postpone the examinations in view of the risk of Covid-19 infection among teachers and students, Habibah said that the MOE will stick to this year’s planned calendar but with stricter compliance of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and guidelines.
“If we look at reports, the transmission is among the community and no cluster has emerged from government schools or government-aided schools. This is because the ministry has a guideline and SOPs to be adhered to by the schools, and examinations SOPs which must be complied with before, during and after the examinations,” she added.
According to her, the same SOPs and guidelines were used during the 2019 SPM repeat test last year and no candidates were infected with COVID-19.
Habibah also said that the MOE’s decision was based on advice from the National Security Council and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
No Lowering of Standards
A different set of examination papers will be provided to ensure no question of leakage, Habibah also added that MOE will ensure the papers are of the same standard.
According to BERNAMA, when asked on calls to lower the marking grades as there are students who got left behind in their school lessons due to the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO), Habibah said the examination’s existing standards must remain to avoid losing its recognition from Cambridge.
“The SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) has been recognised by Cambridge as equivalent to the O-level. If we make any changes, we will lose its recognition and we don’t want the 2020 candidates to lose that in their certificates which might affect their opportunity to pursue their further studies or join the workforce,” she explained.
She also added that the same applies to Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) which is equivalent to the A-level.
A shorter period of marking and result-processing
The ministry has planned a different approach for the marking and results process as the time frame is much shorter this time around compared to previous years, according to Habibah.
“That way, candidates still have sufficient time to apply for tertiary admission or to join the workforce,” she stated.
This year’s SPM, STPM, Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (SVM), Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM), Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) and Diploma Vokasional Malaysia (DVM) examinations, as well as last year’s equivalent international examinations, are all scheduled to begin in February.
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