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Leaked UPSR papers: Don’t blame pupils for Education Ministry’s shambles

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The Education Ministry should own up and take responsibility for a failed system and set up a high-level independent commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of this fiasco, fumes Leena Mohan.

The Education Ministry must take responsiblity

Since the time it was announced that the UPSR Science paper had leaked resulting in a postponement of the exam to 30 September, my daughter has been so distraught and upset. It is the first time I have seen her continuously sobbing and refusing to listen to any comforting words.

The effort put in to achieving peak performance during these three days of the UPSR exam has been tremendous for a 12-year-old child. As a parent, I have instilled in her that this public exam, her very first, is of utmost importance.

I know that she has taken this viewpoint seriously and has put in many hours of effort as part of her preparations. Her tears were of sheer frustration and disappointment at not being able to sit for the exam as scheduled after all the hard work. She expressed her anger at “the people who cheated and caused all this to happen”.

We have now got numerous public apologies from the Minister of Education and Minister of Education II. Apologies are not what I want. What I personally want is accountability. This incident is currently being investigated under the Official Secrets Act (OSA). I would like to know who had the audacity to sell this information and what action will be taken against these culprits.

But deep down, I know that this may be too high an expectation of a system in a shambles. There may be an investigation, and the culprits may never be found, much less charged in court. And the same vicious cycle will continue.

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This is the first major hurdle for these primary schoolchildren in terms of an education qualification, and it is messed up by the authorities. This situation is completely demoralising and disappointing. Now I am wondering, if a primary school public exam has been handled in this shabby manner, what can we expect of the management and handling of secondary school and tertiary exams?

Going by all the messages, phone calls and general public reaction, this incident has left a bad impression of the Malaysian education authorities in the minds of the young Primary Six students. It is a big let-down.

I hope this is a wake-up call – but there have already been so many wake-up calls in the past! – for the Malaysian Ministry of Education to get its act together, focus on educating Malaysians properly and weeding out corruption. We need a system that is based on excellence and meritocracy to progress.

Before we can even make sense of this issue, it has been announced that the English papers have also been leaked. There is also an indication that BM and Mathematics have also leaked out, which basically means the entire UPSR!

Here is what the Second Education Minister Idris Jusoh has to say: “Students have become too focused on just the examinations that they’re willing to cheat.”

What a ridiculous statement. Do not make baseless accusations that students are willing to cheat. The source of the leakage falls under Ministry jurisdiction and supervision.

Please take the blame, Minister. Own up and take responsibility for a failed system and set up a high-level independent commission of inquiry to get to the bottom of this fiasco.

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Leena Mohan is an Aliran member based in Penang.

Correction: We apologise for the incorrect photo and caption put up earlier.

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