Can the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, assure parents and students that there will be no further exam paper ‘leaks’ for UPSR, PT3, SPM and STPM exams?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 11th of September 2014

The Ministry of Education announced yesterday, on the 10th of September, 2014 that three Science papers for the UPSR exams – 018, 028 and 038 – had been leaked online and as a result, this exam, which was originally scheduled for the 11th of September, will be postponed to the 30th of September. This means that the UPSR exams, which were originally scheduled to be completed today, the 11th of September, will only be finished on the 30th of September.

This major error on the part of the Examinations Syndicate does not only affect the 472,853 Primary Six students who are currently sitting for the UPSR exams nationwide, it affects their families as well.[1] Students who were preparing mentally to complete their UPSR exams in three days will now have to wait another 3 weeks. Parents who may have planned activities and holidays for the family will now have to readjust their schedules. The confidence of both parents and students in the secrecy and integrity of future exam papers would also have been affected.

It is not sufficient for the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, to apologize for the leakage of the UPSR Science paper. He must give the assurance that leaks will not occur for the UPSR Science paper which will be taken on the 30th of September. At the same time, he must also give the assurance that similar leaks will not occur for the PT3 written papers which will take place from the 13th to the 17th of October[2], the SPM written papers which will take place from the 3rd of November to the 2nd of December, and the STPM written papers. The integrity and security of the PT3, SPM and STPM papers are all the more important given that there may not be enough time at the end of the year to retake or to postpone these exams.

In this day and age, with the easy availability of smartphones and soft copies of the exam papers, the Examinations Syndicate must work doubly hard in order to ensure the integrity of the exam papers. For example, the PT3 exams are to be downloaded[3] into the computers of teachers in the schools and this makes them easy targets for hackers and other irresponsible parties who want to ‘steal’ these papers for commercial and personal interest. Hence, not only must the physical copies of the exam papers be kept safe but the soft copies as well.

It is worth noting that there were rumours that certain SPM papers had been leaked last year, in 2013. At that time, the Examinations Syndicate dismissed these rumours and allowed the SPM exams to continue as planned.[4] In response to these rumours, the Education Ministry announced the setting up of a special task force to investigate these rumours. Unfortunately, no details were forthcoming as to the findings of this special task force. If this special task force had done its work, would it have been able to make recommendations to prevent the leaking of the UPSR Science papers?

The Deputy Prime Minister can show his commitment to protect the integrity and security of the major examinations in the country by promising to resign if any leaks are identified for future UPSR, PT3, SPM or STPM exam papers under his watch. But will he be brave enough to make this promise?