In the past two days, I have asked the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to stop “building castles in the air” or he should outline concrete plans to prove that the Malaysian Education Blueprint for Malaysia’s 15-year-olds to be in the top third of 2021 PISA is no “pie in the sky”.
I now understand why Muhyiddin has been conspicuously silent about the 2012 PISA results in the triennial global test of 510,000 15-year-old students in 65 countries in reading, science and maths, with Malaysia’s 15-year-olds not only falling below the international average in the three critical subjects but ranging from three to five years behind their peers in the top-performing PISA countries/regions particularly in Shanghai, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
For instance, for mathematics with score of 421, Malaysia’s 15-year-olds is five years behind their peers in Shanghai (613), four years behind Singapore, and more than three years behind seven countries/regions – Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Macao, Japan, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.
For science, with score of 420, Malaysia is 4.2 years behind Shanghai (580), and more than three years behind six countries/regions – Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Finland and Estonia.
For reading, with score of 398, Malaysia is four-and-a-half years behind Shanghai (570), more than three years behind 13 other countries/regions – Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Finland, Canada, Taiwan, Ireland, Poland, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Australia and New Zealand.
The reason for Muhyiddin’s prolonged and conspicuous silence on 2012 PISA is simple and straightforward – he has no concrete plans to catapult Malaysia into the top third of 2021 PISA as Malaysia would have to become a “wonder country” to achieve what no nation could do in four triennial PISA tests.
The 2012 PISA shows that among countries which participated in every PISA assessment since 2003, seven countries record an average improvement in mathematics performance of more than 2.5 points per year since 2003.
They are Brazil which improved 35 points from 356 to 391 in the four triennial PISA tests of 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012; Italy which improved 19 points from 466 to 485; Mexico which improved 28 points from 385 to 413; Poland which improved 18 points from 490 to 518; Portugal which improved 21 points from 466 to 487; Tunisia which improved 29 points from 359 to 388; and Turkey which improved 25 points from 423 to 448.
Malaysia is presently stuck in the bottom third of the PISA system, i.e. below 450 points for mathematics. If Malaysia is to catapult to the top third of the PISA system, Malaysia must score at least 532 points, which means an improvement of 111 points in the four triennial PISA assessments of 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2021 – which no country had ever achieved as the best improvement in maths through four triennial PISA tests from 2003 to 2012 is Brazil which improved by 35 points.
The same position basically applies to the PISA science and reading tests,
As I asked yesterday, are these targets realistic, possible and achievable, or have Malaysians spent RM20 million to engage foreign consultants to write the Malaysian Education Blueprint to sell a “pie in the sky” about educational transformations in the next 13 years?
Under the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB), Malaysian 15 year-olds are expected to achieve the international average in the 2015 PISA and 2018 PISA and to reach the top third of the system in PISA 2021.
The OECD average for maths is 494 points, science 501 and reading 496. As Malaysia’s 2012 PISA score is 421 for maths, 420 for science and 398 for reading, is Muhyiddin seriously suggesting that Malaysia can attain these OECD averages for the three subjects in the 2015 or 2018 PISA tests?
Muhyiddin should not think that Malaysians are so gullible that they can be so easily taken for a ride in a RM20 million foreign consultancy job to write the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
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