Tuesday's SPM Moral Education paper has raised eyebrows on social media in recent days, over some questions alleged to be politically biased.
An SPM candidate complained to Malaysiakini that the government appeared to be trying to brainwash students through the Moral Education paper and indoctrinate them, so that they would not participate in political activities.
Recalling the question from memory, the student said candidates for the paper were asked to answer questions based on a notice and a picture.
(Examination rules prohibit candidates from removing the question paper from the examination hall.)
The notice states that civil servants are not allowed to participate in anti-government protests; the picture is of two students speaking to each other.
Student A is putting up a poster promoting an anti-government rally, saying that he would receive RM100 after he finishes putting up the posters. Student B advises Student A against doing so.
(a) Why students should not participate in anti-government rallies?
(b) How should schools prevent students from participating in anti-government rallies?
(c) We should support Student B's stance. Why?
Another SPM candidate confirmed to Malaysiakini that such questions were asked in this year's SPM Moral Education paper, while the Malay Mail Online had also reported on the same issue and quoted three candidates confirming that these were the questions asked.
The Malay Mail Online said it had also contacted the Education Ministry for comment but to no avail, while Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan reportedly said he would look into the matter and issue a statement.
'Brainwashing through examinations'
Meanwhile, six university student groups issued a joint statement today condemning the Examination Syndicate for politicising Moral Education and attempting to brainwash students through examinations.
“The student groups urge that public take this matter seriously and condemn the Examination Syndicate for not setting the questions properly, to put pressure on the syndicate, and to hold the syndicate accountable for turning the examination into a propaganda tool,” they said.
They urged the Examination Syndicate to respond to this issue, and apologise to the examination candidates.
The six student groups said moral education was meant to inculcate students with good virtues, but this examination question forced students to agree with the government before attempting to answer the question.
This meant the paper had clearly become a tool for government propaganda, and therefore deviated far from the purpose of the subject.
The six student groups were the UM Association of New Youth, Gabungan Mahasiswa UKM, UKM Student Unity Front, UTM Chinese Student Council, USM Student Progressive Front, and UUM Student Progressive Front.
The groups said the examination paper also contained another 'absurd' question, which asked candidates what were the positive effects of queuing up to collect water during a water supply cut.
“This (water cut) is something that should not befall on the rakyat in the first place, and yet the examination question forces students to find the a positive meaning behind it.
“It the Moral Education exam meant to test the ability of the students to recognise a blessing in disguise?” they asked.
The groups said the question was an attempt to influence the thinking of the students and absolve the government of incompetence in providing a reliable water supply, so that students would not pursue the root causes of the problem and not condemn the government's poor governance.
Instead, it forced students to adopt the question's unreasonable proposition and endorse it in the examination.
“The ruling government should not extend its claws into examination questions of secondary school students, to the extent of raising the government's policies to become a moral standard,” they added.
They said putting a loaded question on not participating in anti-government rallies was an affront to efforts to foster independent and critical thinking amongst the students.
In addition, they said the question vilified civil society groups as anti-government, which was inappropriate.