September 23, 2008

Pilot Project to Test Pupils’ Aptitude

By Farrah Naz Karim

PUTRAJAYA: Primary school pupils may soon have to sit for aptitude tests that could be used to determine the direction of their future education.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said this system would give the pupils an edge, as they would be more aware of the options available to them from an early age.

Speaking after chairing an Education Planning Committee meeting, Hishammuddin said he had agreed to a pilot project that, if successful, may see the plan's implementation by 2010.

For starters, 300 schools will have their Year Five pupils and 300 other schools their Year Six pupils put through the test, which will be conducted by the Malaysia Examination Syndicate.

"This is part of the transformation of the national curricular and this initiative is aimed at assessing the pupils' aptitude without focusing too much on the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (Primary School Evaluation Test)," the minister said.

"This is to ascertain our children's aptitude at an early stage and determine if they have the potential to excel or are possibly advantaged in certain fields. It will help them to decide on their future... if they want to go to a sports school, for instance."

Hishammuddin said the system could also help identify if pupils should be directed to the vocational and technical streams in the future.

He said reforms to the education system would seek to address the issues of racial polarisation and religious tension. Schools, he added, were the best ground to stress the importance of tolerance, respect and unity.

On another matter, Hishammuddin said he would not endorse his successor for the post of Umno Youth chief that he would vacate in the December party elections.

However, he cautioned that candidates for the post should be fully aware of the challenges, responsibilities and workload that awaited them.

On which post he would be contesting for, Hishammuddin said he was leaving it to the party grassroots as his focus was on ensuring that Umno and Barisan Nasional remained relevant.

"Positions are not for my consideration. What is important is for us to help rebuild the party.

"No matter how high a post you hold, if your part is not recognised, respected or supported, it means nothing."

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