Muhyiddin should stop “building castles in the air” about Malaysia among the top one-third of TIMSS and PISA systems by 2021 when he seems to be comfortable or resigned to the country being a nation of mediocrity instead of being a nation of excellence


The Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will be remembered for what he failed to say instead of what he said in the past week.

On the morning of his joint opening of the annual general meetings of UMNO Youth, Wanita and Puteri on Tuesday night, the 2012 PISA results on the global assessment of 510,000 15-year-old students in 65 countries and regions on the three critical subjects of mathematics, reading and science were released, but he did not have anything to say on it although it fell directly under his portfolio.

Although Muhyiddin as Education Minister would have earlier notice of the 2012 PISA results, he continued to keep dumb on the 2012 PISA results, even omitting reference to it in his winding-up speech at the three-day UMNO General Assembly yesterday.

Elsewhere in the world, the 2012 PISA results have created waves.

They provoked soul-searching in Western countries – such as former PISA star Finland where performance declined in all three areas, and the United Kingdom with its UK Education Secretary Michael Gove describing the 2012 PISA results as “scandalous” for their education system, as UK schoolchildren are up to three years behind their peers in the top-performing countries in Asia.

Or they elicited satisfaction or delight in some countries because of good results or significant improvements compared to previous assessments like Singapore, Vietnam and even United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kazakhstan and Thailand as the last trio outperformed Malaysia in all the three subjects!

But for Malaysia, stuck in the bottom third of the PISA countries assessed, there is only prolonged ominous silence from the very top of the government and education ministry.

When launching the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, Muhyiddin announced an “education transformation” over 13 years, with Malaysia’s performance on PISA and TIMMS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) rocketing to the top third of the assessment systems by 2021.

Muhyiddin should stop “building castles in the air” about Malaysia among the top one-third of TIMSS and PISA systems come 2021 when by his silence in the past week on the 2012 PISA, he seems to be comfortable or resigned to the country being a nation of mediocrity instead of being a nation of excellence.

I am reminded of Muhyiddin’s similar prolonged and ominous silence last December when the poor results of Malaysian students in the TIMSS 2011 were announced.

In my statement “Quo Vadis Malaysian education system” on December 19, 2012, I said:

“Since the world-wide publication of the TIMSS 2011 results on December 11, Muhyiddin had commented on everything under the sun except on TIMSS 2011 results showing unchecked plunge in the standards of mathematics and science for Malaysian students as compared to other countries – powerful testimony that Muhyiddin is neither committed nor interested in his first duty as Education Minister.”

Muhyiddin is repeating the same exercise of going dumb on the 2012 PISA results as he had done with the TIMSS 2011 results last December.

In the TIMSS 2011, Malaysia’s scores for both maths and science were below the international average, lagging behind Israel, Hungary, Slovenia, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Armenia, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Lebanon in the maths test and trailing behind Slovenia, Israel, Lithuania, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Turkey, Iran, Romania, UAE, Chile, Bahrain, Thailand, Jordan, Tunisia, Armenia and Saudi Arabia in the science study.

In the four TIMSS 1999-2011, Malaysia is the country which suffered the biggest drop in scores among all participating countries for both maths and science: in maths dropping by 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011; in science, dropping by 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 points in 2011.

Muhyiddin cannot remain silent for Malaysians are entitled to know why he is unconcerned and indifferent to the TIMSS 2011 and PISA 2012 results for Malaysian students, which is an indictment of the Malaysian national education system as well as the series of UMNO/BN Education Ministers in the past– going back even to the period when the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the Education Minister from 1995-2000.

Muhyiddin’s greatest service to education is to stop playing politics with education.

At the close of the Umno General Assembly yesterday, he asked all Umno divisions through the Umno Education Bureau to play a major role in the implementation of the National Education Blueprint.

Is the implementation of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to be the preserve of only the UMNO divisions – or is it to be the role and responsibility of all political parties, NGOs and Malaysians regardless of whether Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat?

Even more important, are UMNO divisions being mobilised to ensure that the strategic objective of the National Education Blueprint to ensure that Malaysia could achieve the top third of the PISA and TIMSS systems by 2021, especially in the critical subjects of mathematics, reading and science, and if so, why Muhyiddin failed to give the UMNO delegates an in-depth analysis of the failures of Malaysian students not only to match the top-performing countries like Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea, or to come up to the OECD and international averages, but also losing out to countries which Malaysians had always thought they are more superior in educational attainments like Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan, Thailand and Chile?

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  1. #1 by boh-liao on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 2:57 pm

    Don’t worry, more $$$$ will b pumped in2 residential schools/colleges 4 Malays/Bumiputras, Maktab Rendah Sains Mara, pusat asasi, kolej matrikulasi, n UiTM, where English is used as d medium of instruction
    D rich UmnoB kaki will continue 2 send their progeny 2 local or overseas private international schools

  2. #2 by SENGLANG on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 3:05 pm

    Malay under UMNO will be very difficult to excel. It is not because they are inferior but they have being made just like that. The only reason that we could think off is because by making Malay always reliance on hand out they will be easy to be influenced and controlled by their leaders. It is easy to manage those who could not think for themselves.
    Now yet we have seen proposal like giving free scholarship even they are not on the top marks, instead of encouraging them to excel in their respective field to be awarded. With such a carrot for all how could they have the urge to excel ? Human nature is such if you can get it free what should you work for it.

  3. #3 by john on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 6:08 pm

    Talked like an airbag or suddenly become ‘pekak’, gagged when tried to play dumbhead in the face of no result,” makan telur saja tak tahu buat kerja langsung, gaji buta “.
    ” MOOOooooo lebih senang ” besides ” tahu masuk kuat ” only.

  4. #4 by Di Shi Jiu on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 7:19 pm

    There is no urgency for UMNO/BN to fix the education system – 13 years to fix it – an entire generation of Malaysians.

    I guess the current crop of Malaysian students are doomed .

  5. #5 by cinaindiamelayubersatu on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 8:45 pm

    Pegang jawatan untuk kepentingan sendiri dan kerabat, maknanya kerja tak ikhlas. Siap sedia ya kamu di akhirat nanti untuk hukuman dariNya…

  6. #6 by Layla Sujang on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 9:14 pm

    To acknowledge & accept the quality of our education is going downhill is a good start for everyone – from leaders to teachers, students and parents. It is time for us to move out of our comfort zone and aim to be better & compete globally.

  7. #7 by yhsiew on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 9:17 pm

    Former New Straits Times group editor-in-chief Datuk A. Kadir Jasin suggests that Muhyiddin be replaced by Rosmah!?
    http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/why-not-remove-ministers-and-replace-with-rosmah-says-ex-nst-chief-editor#IDComment764170914

  8. #8 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Sunday, 8 December 2013 - 11:55 pm

    OK, Muhyiddin can continue to build sand castles. After all, he is quite experienced building cow sheds (NFC fame) and education fiasco, all structures like sand castles which cannot withstand the smallest waves.

    Rosmah can be Minister of Education (Egypt experience), Minister of Finance (Dubai shopping experience), Minister of Women Affairs (Third Wrld First Ladies Seminar experience), Minister of Foreign Affairs (Arabian Nights’ experience). Maybe, she can also be our Minister of Defence if she can solve the Sulu terrorists.

    Kadir Jasin may be just right: why don’t make Rosmah PM and so-useless Najib, her personal assistant. That way, they can still fly government private jet at taxpayers’ expense and Rosmah can bayar gaji Najib in whatever way he desires.

  9. #9 by Rufus Mallu on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 12:08 am

    If you want to compete with the world, the education system has a long way to go. Malaysian Education is a crucial matter that needs urgent attention.

  10. #10 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 12:09 am

    I thought Muhyiddin should try this question for 15-year-olds:

    “Bacteria that live in our mouths cause tooth decay. This has been a health problem since the 1700s when sugar became available from the expanding sugar cane industry.

    Today, we know a lot about tooth decay. For example:
    1. Bacteria that cause tooth decay feed on sugar.
    2. The sugar is transformed into acid.
    3. Acid damages the surface of teeth.
    4. Brushing teeth helps to prevent tooth decay.

    Q. What is the role of bacteria in tooth decay? .

    a) Bacteria produce enamel.
    b)Bacteria produce sugar.
    c)Bacteria produce minerals.
    d)Bacteria produce acid.
    e)Bacteria produce sand castles.

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 2:50 am

    Moooo n UmnoB kaki inform rakyat: Nothing 2 worry 1, all dis just a chopstick plot 2 belittle UmnoB’s 1UmnoB-Melayu M’sia

    Just look at d facts: We hv
    *many public n private universities n university colleges (easily >50 in total),
    *many medical schools/faculties (we r producing >3,000 M’sian doctors a year, local n overseas graduates),
    *many faculties producing tons of graduates with professional degrees,
    *more n more ALL As n CGPA 4.0 students in all our national public exams n matrikulasi exams,
    *many talented M’sian students proficient in more than one language (most of them proficient in two or more languages)

    Furthermore, we export lots of talented students 2 Singapore, Taiwan, China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Australia, NZ, USA, Japan, UK, Europe, Timbaktu

    Who said our education system sucks?
    B proud of our achievements, majulah M’sia

  12. #12 by Noble House on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 3:50 am

    Looking at the way our education standards is heading, one may even tend to believe that children with autism can have 70 per cent more brain neurons than those neurotypical bureaucrats running the Education Ministries.

  13. #13 by Bigjoe on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 8:22 am

    Its Muhiyiddin performance in Education portfolio ultimately seals his fate to be denied the PM job.

    UMNO despite their rhetorics and delusions, do understand that ultimately the time has ran out for taking education improvement for granted. They may not have much to contribute in improving it but they do know that once the financial and social reserves they are using up are gone, then education is their last reserve – which is in high deficit.

    The mediocre performance by Muhiyiddin in this key portfolio is not unnoticed even if they won’t say it. But ultimately when there is challenge for the PM job, and it already exist, Muhiyiddin will be disqualified because of this.

  14. #14 by sasha pranth on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 8:24 am

    Just read a report of how ‘badly’ UK students did in the PISA. Yet while the report condemned the quality of education over there, I could not help but wonder just how the writer would react if he/she saw Malaysia’s. We’re way below the Britons… it’s a sad day in Malaysia’s education system history. We need a major revamp and we need it now :(

  15. #15 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 8:31 am

    Moo moooooed triumphantly: look b4 U jump, look b4 U criticise negatively
    2009 PISA, M’sia: Maths 404, Sciences 422, Reading 414
    2012 PISA, M’sia: Maths 421, Sciences 420, Reading 398

    Malaysia is one country whose result in mathematics shows d GREATEST improvement

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment

  16. #16 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 8:57 am

    oppositions are dreaming too much. How can you expect boleh to be a nation of excellence. The nation has deteriorated so much. Your job now is to make sure boleh will not be at the bottom of all the nations.

  17. #17 by yhsiew on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 8:58 am

    Poor leadership will lead to a mediocre Malaysia.

  18. #18 by boh-liao on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 11:46 am

    Moo moooooed triumphantly: look b4 U jump, look b4 U criticise negatively
    2009 PISA, M’sia: Maths 404, Sciences 422, Reading 414
    2012 PISA, M’sia: Maths 421, Sciences 420, Reading 398

    Malaysia is one country whose result in mathematics shows d GREATEST improvement

  19. #19 by waterfrontcoolie on Monday, 9 December 2013 - 1:04 pm

    When education is politicized, the real objectives of education can never be achieved; especially when racial factor becomes part of the requirements. In the USA, although they are alarmed by the results of PISA resulting in educators questioning themselves what has gone wrong; here as expected, the teaching profession appeared to be in dead silence. Does it reflects that the profession itself has nothing to offer because of the very quality itself within the teaching fraternity? Without doubt as the report has shown, quality of teaching counts and it also inspires the students to do better. As a matter of fact, the ‘good’ schools or even universities normally gather quality and competitive brains together so that they will move along through their interaction among the students and their professors. There are no other formulae to change this! And obviously our leaders here thought they could revolutionize such thought by doing exactly the opposite! Like putting 90% 0f a single community in an established schools thinking pressto the students will become top scholars by being there! So don’t question why IA is made a Board Member of UITM! They also expected him to change by being associated in such gallery of grey matter? { the name may be reversed to AI, Artificial Intelligence?] With such a gap especially against our little dot, our graduates will have to re-educated for another 5 years to meet the needs of the nation! That shows how the nation is drowned in third world education system! UMNO, backed by BN components still think the world owes them a living. Shall we bet that by the 2015 PISA test, Indonesia will beat us to the tape?

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