Sunday, 28 September 2014

True story of SPM forecast result being tampered with


I fully agree with the Education Ministry’s decision not to allow school trial exam results for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) to be used as entry qualifications for pre-university or foundation programmes starting from next year as reported by Sunday Star. Although the main reasons for Education Ministry to come up with this decision is not reported and whether will this decision only take effect on local higher learning institutions or it does involved foreign institutions, many of us know that these results can easily be tampered with and the big differences between forecast and actual result.
We’ve also heard of students that were admitted to programs in private higher institutions were asked to sit for additional papers when the actual result were presented or when the students who got in with “good forecast grades” do poorly in classes. There are also instances where students were asked to leave or change course because they are totally incapable of coping up with assignments and tests. Tampering with forecast results have been happening since my days in secondary school back in the 90s and those who wishes to “shortcut” their way to private higher learning institutions can do it with ease.
Back then, all you need is a good quality liquid paper, typewriter (before the days of printer) and a couple of visits to the shop with photocopy machine. These days, needless to say, it is even easier with so many graphics editing software that one can easily download. I would like to ask how many private higher learning institutions actually check the forecast result with the school authority before admitting a student into many of its programs? With quotas to achieve, with shareholders and bosses to be answerable to do, with profits to chase, it does not come as a surprise that quantity and profit comes first.  Hereby are two true stories on which I was involved in one while the other is from a friend.
Story one
This happened when I was in form 5 after the release of all trial examination results. Students who wish to further their education without waiting for the actual result can have obtain a “result sheet” from the school’s office with a stamping to prove true copy either by the Headmistress, Penolong Kanan ( asst. HM ) or the Penyelia Petang ( asst. HM in charge of afternoon session). Back then, it was sheet of printed paper on which the student fill up their actual trial examination result and the school clerk will type it, then the stamping done by either one of the three.
Due to the high standard set by our school, the trial exam was actually much harder than the actual exam and most of us scored badly. There are a few of my friends who wish to use the trial examination result to further their studies overseas including myself. I did quite well, and extremely well for BM, English, History, Geography, Economics except for Add Math ( a subject I loathe and a worry to my Add Math teacher, Mrs. Lim Siew Yong ) and Biology.  However, two friends of mine didn’t do well and they were desperate for a more “presentable” result to be handed over to an education agency that is helping to do placement for students in Australia.
So, what do we do? A few of us assembled in my house, scheming and thinking of how to help out these two friends when we came up with the daring idea of typing out the “result sheet” using the type writer that belongs to my dad’s company (coincidentally it is of the same type writer as our school’s) and send it for “stamping” by the Penyelia Petang who will certainly be not aware of the actual trial result and probably won’t check it against our report cards. It was a daring attempt for if caught, God knows what will happen to my friends. My friends typed with great diligence the altered “result sheet” and we waited till late afternoon before going to the school to have it stamped because we know by then the HM and the other assistant HMs will most probably have left office.
We went to look out for the Penyelia Petang, with my friends saying apologetically the “reasons” why their “result sheets” were not stamped earlier that day. With good luck, my friends got their altered results stamped without any checking by the Penyelia Petang. Happily, we went for celebration at the ice kacang store next to our school and a few months later, we bid each other goodbye at KLIA and not long later I left for Auckland. These two friends of mine have since settled down in Australia. It was something wrong to do but back then we thought it was a "smart" idea.
Story two
Another real story was shared by a friend who used to work as marketing / business development executive for a college based in Mantin. Each month he was given a set of quota of number of students that he must bring in to be enrolled in that college. He was only given basic pay but he will get around two thousand ringgit per student that he managed to be enrolled.
There are many students with results that will never get enrolled by the boss of my friend told him some tricks that they can do to make these students eligible to be enrolled. My friend and his colleagues were taught how to alter the forecast result of the students. For years, that is what they did, confessed my friends. When the students can’t cope, they were told to re-sit for the examination or sign up for extra courses to ensure the continuation of their study.
While I agree that all students be given the opportunity to further their study after SPM, I do not agree with the way forecast results being tampered with; therefore, I fully support the decision by the Education Ministry to do away with using forecast result as the passport for pre university or foundation programs. Let the final SPM result be the yardstick for the basis of qualification and it is fairer too as everyone sit for the same papers instead of different standard by schools.

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