Khamis, 17 Julai 2008

PTK examination: Teachers need a better system

THE PTK (Penilaian Tahap Kecekapan) is an examination all government employees have to take to qualify for promotions and salary or allowance increments.

Success in the PTK is graded as follows:

- Level IV -- candidate scores 80 per cent or more, passes with distinction and qualifies for a salary increase and promotion;

- Level III -- candidate scores 60-79 per cent, passes and qualifies for promotion;

- Level II -- candidate scores 50-59 per cent, wins a conditional pass (fails one component) and repeats component;
- Level 1 -- candidate scores 49 per cent or less, fails and has to re-sit the PTK.

The PTK DG 44 and 48 repeat exam results were out on May 13 and when I checked on the Internet, I was surprised that I had obtained a Level III in the assignment section and a Level II for "ujian akhir kursus". The overall result is a Level II, the same as the first time I took the exam.

A Level II means I failed and do not qualify for any promotion or salary increment. All this, even though I really worked hard for the exam.

I had been among the top four students in a prestigious secondary school in Kuala Lumpur. I have a degree from Manchester University as well as postgraduate qualifications from Universiti Malaya.

I have never failed any exam in my whole life and I will never forget that I failed my PTK exam twice.

Is the PTK exam more difficult than getting a degree from the University of Manchester? Is the PTK exam of a higher standard than a degree from Manchester University? In what way does the PTK help us to become better teachers in classrooms?

We are not going to become ministers in the Prime Minister's Department. We are merely teachers. I hope the authorities concerned will answer all my questions.

Let's take a close look at the PTK exam. How can a teacher's performance be assessed on four essay answers and a 15-25 page assignment, which can be done by a spouse, a friend, a family member, a paid expert or by copying from books and the Internet?

A teacher obtaining Level III or Level IV (that is, pass) in the PTK exam does not prove that he is efficient. Nor does it prove that he is hardworking or capable simply because there are people who preach but do not practise. It only proves that his forte is memorising PTK model answers and PTK textbooks. There are teachers who obtained Level III and Level IV for the PTK but are ordinary and mediocre teachers.

Studying for the PTK exam distracts teachers from their work as a lot of time is spent on studying to get a promotion and salary increase.

Junior teachers become more senior than experienced teachers when they pass the PTK exam.

Lecturers in teachers' training colleges, moral education, civics and Bahasa Malaysia teachers have a definite advantage because they are in touch with the PTK syllabus when performing their teaching duties.

Bahasa Malaysia teachers have the language skills to write good answers. Only one question can be answered in English.

To make teachers sit for the PTK exam repeatedly is a waste of precious time, money and manpower.

Finally, a teacher's core business is to teach and produce results. Therefore, we should be assessed solely on our daily duties in school, our work place, by our superiors in school as well as external superiors and supervisors. That, in my opinion, is the way to assess the efficiency, capability and diligence of a tea-cher.

Assessment must be done on a long-term basis, through years of observation, and not based on one exam or assignment. It cannot be denied that there is no perfect assessment formula but I maintain that this is the best.

I am writing on behalf of all the miserable teachers who have repeatedly sat for the PTK exam and have failed to obtain a minimum Level III.

There is much more than meets the eye. Although the PTK has been implemented for a number of years and has not produced better teachers, it is still in use. We ask for a change to a better system.

The New Straits Times Online: 16 Julai 2008

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