The Deputy Prime Minister and the Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should ask the American consultants McKinsey & Co to answer the question how Malaysia is to become a “wonder nation” and make the double quantum jump from the bottom third to top third of 2021 PISA in four triennial PISA tests which had not been achieved by any country in the world from 2003 to 2012.
If Malaysia can achieve what no other country could do in four triennial PISA tests to make the double quantum jump from the bottom third to top third of the PISA system from 2010 to 2021, Malaysia will become the envy and even poster boy of all countries in the world as a miracle nation which could make a double quantum jump in educational transformation from a nation of mediocrity to become a nation of excellence through four triennial PISA tests.
Malaysia is presently stuck in the bottom third of the PISA system for all three subjects, i.e. 421 for maths, 420 for science and 398 for reading, when Malaysia needs to achieve scores of 450 for maths, 442 for science and 446 for reading to get into the middle third and scores of 532 for maths, 511 for science and 508 for reading to get into the top third of the PISA assessment.
This is based on 2012 PISA as from the four triennial PISA tests of 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012, the threshold for each third of the assessment rises, for instance, the top performer in maths in 2003 was Hong Kong with a score of 550 while Shanghai topped the 2012 PISA with 613.
Similarly, the top performer in science in 2003 was Finland with a score of 548 while the top performer in 2012 PISA is Shanghai with a score of 580; and the top performer in reading in 2003 was Finland with a score of 543 while Shanghai topped the 2012 PISA with 570.
Based on the 2012 PISA without taking account that the thresholds for each level would be raised in the next ten years, Malaysia would have to improve a minimum of 111 points for maths, 91 points for science and 110 points for reading between the 2012 PISA and the 2021 PISA to get into the top third of the assessment.
Malaysians are entitled to a prompt answer from Muhyiddin and McKinsey as no country had accomplished the double feat of catapulting from the bottom third to the top third of the PISA assessments through the four triennial PISA tests of 2003, 2006, 2009 and 2012.
Brazil registered the biggest improvement of 35 points in maths scores in the four PISA tests from 2003 to 2012, i.e. an increase from 356 points to 391, but it remains in the bottom third of the system.
Turkey had made the biggest improvements in science scores in the four PISA tests, recording the biggest increase of 29 points from 434 points in 2003 to 463 in 2012 but it could only rise one level from the bottom third to the medium third – which is still 48 points short of getting into the top third level.
For reading, Japan registered biggest improvement of 40 points in the four PISA tests from 2003 to 2012 but it remained in the middle third of the benchmark.
How then could Malaysia make the double leap for all three subjects from the bottom third to top third of the PISA system in the four PISA tests from 2009 to 2021, when this had not been achieved by any country before?
Or is the objective of Malaysia achieving the top third of international education benchmarks by 2021 mere “pie in the sky” or Utopian day-dreaming by McKinsey at Malaysian taxpayers’ expense and sheer building “castles in the air” by the Deputy Prime Minister/Education Minister and all Barisan Nasional leaders and educationists?
For the past week, I had been asking Muhyiddin to outline concrete plans how Malaysia’s 15-year-olds could achieve the miraculous improvement to make the double quantum jump from the bottom third to the top third of international educational benchmarks in a matter of four PISA tests by 2012, but there has only been thunderous silence from Muhyiddin and his gargantuan education bureaucracy which is swallowing up RM54.6 billion or 21 per cent of the 2014 Budget.
I will therefore stop asking this question to Muhyiddin or even his gargantuan education bureaucracy as they clearly have no clue, but Malaysians are entitled to such an answer and who else most qualified to answer this question than the American consultants McKinsey & Co which had been commissioned by the government to prepare the Malaysian Education Blueprint at the exorbitant cost of RM20 million!
The RM20 million consultancy fees to McKinsey & Co for the Malaysian Education Blueprint had drawn the sarcastic comment from the Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who said that he too could do it.
Actually, Mahathir touched on a very pertinent point. I stand corrected but to my knowledge, this is the first time in the nation’s history for over half a century where Malaysians could not prepare their own national education reports or masterplans but have to outsource and commission it to foreign consultants.
Are there no talents and expertise in the Education Ministry, which spends over RM50 billion a year of taxpayers’ money, or in our universities whether Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, University Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia or Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris who could be entrusted with preparing the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 – or has the Malaysian Government itself completely lost confidence in the capability, competence, professionalism and academic excellence of our universities to prepare our own national educational masterplans?
Be that as it may, as only McKinsey & Co seems to be able to answer the question in the wake of the 2012 PISA results as to how Malaysian is to make the double quantum jump from the bottom third to top third of international assessment benchmarks come 2012, Muhyiddin should immediately contact and demand from McKinsey the answer to this question – which should immediately be made public on receipt.
McKinsey, through Muhyiddin, owes Malaysians an answer for the RM20 million spent on it for the Malaysian Education Report. If there is no answer or satisfactory proposals, Muhyiddin should reclaim the RM20 million from McKinsey.