Free Malaysia Today
The Malaysian Reserve| December 11, 2013
Autonomy in schools will allow the resident learning centres to accommodate local needs and allow ownership by teachers, administrators, parents and students.
by Azli Jamil
PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs to decentralise its schools, provide feedback to parents on performance and find quality teachers as a crucial step in its race to become a high income nation, according to the World Bank’s Economic Monitor report on High-Performing Education released yesterday.
The report said Malaysia’s education system, which is among the most centralised in the world, makes it difficult to adapt to rapidly changing needs and circumstances.
“Autonomy allows for greater responsiveness to local needs as well as stronger ownership of performance by teachers, administrators, parents and students,” said World Bank country director for Malaysia Ulrich Zachau.
“Schools must have more freedom to hire and fire and also to manage its own budget allocations and curriculum.”
He said autonomy must come with accountability where parents must be more involved in demanding performance from the schools as the parents’ feedback loops and bottom-up pressure are important drivers of systemic improvements.
The quality of teachers is the third priority and is a cause of concern where the key is to recruit and retain the best teachers.
Zachau said 46% of principals noted that lack of qualified teaching staff as constraint and the Minister of Education has admitted that some candidates enrolling at teacher training institutions did not meet minimum requirements of academic achievement at the secondary level.
Nevertheless, Zachau noted that there is a need to look at benchmarking the school leadership as that is a key area too in ensuring the success of Malaysia’s education aspirations.
With regard to the nation’s dismal performance at the Programme for International Student Assessment survey results released last week, Zachau said that if the comparison is made using the scores of the top 5% of Malaysian students, it would place them at par with the average level for scores for China and South Korea.
Nonetheless, out of the 65 countries participating in the survey, the overall ranking for Malaysia for 2012 remains at 52 for Mathematics, 53 for Science and 59 for Reading.
Earlier, in his speech, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Wahid Omar said the planning for the 11th Malaysia Plan is underway with the output expected to come in mid 2015. “We want to avoid over planning and focus on implementation,” said Wahid.
The Plan is premised upon six major thrusts; harnessing talent, re-engineering economic growth, strengthening growth enablers, enhancing inclusivity, improving wellbeing and maintaining environmental and resources management.
“It is the last phase of our development plan towards achieving a high-income nation,” said Wahid.
Wahid noted that the issues of school autonomy and greater stakeholder participation in the school system has been recognised in the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched last month.
“Steps have and will be taken to address these proposals,” said Wahid.
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