Malaysia does not need any more robotic responses to sliding educational standards but innovative reactions like making public the minimum passing marks of public exams and allowing parents to decide whether to adopt PPMSI


Malaysia’s declining educational standards is presently a taboo subject for the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who does not want to talk or to be asked about it, especially after two events in December which highlighted the sad reality that the Malaysia education system is facing a real crisis of confidence, unable to achieve the quality of education necessary to nurture skilled, inquisitive and innovative workers for Malaysia to break out of the middle-income trap to reach the goal of becoming a high-income nation.

These two events were the release of the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results on December 3, the first day of the week of UMNO general meetings, and the official release of World Bank’s latest Malaysian Economic Monitor themed “High-Performing Education”.

Instead of delegating to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. Datuk Seri Wahid Omar, Muhyiddin should have personally officiated at the release of the World Bank’s “Malaysia Economic Monitor: High-Performing Education” which highlighted the importance of building a high-performance education system for Malaysia’s transformation into a high income, sustainable and inclusive economy.

In fact, the World Bank report is not about Malaysia’s “high-performing education” but how Malaysia has fallen short of producing a high-performing education system based on Malaysia’s poor performances in two international education assessments – the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) where Malaysia’s scores were significantly lower than those in 2003 and 2007 for both Math and Science, and the 2012 PISA, where the Science and Reading scores fell compared to 2010 although the Math score showed improvement.

As the World Bank report pointed out: “Among East Asian countries that participated in the 2012 PISA, Malaysian students only outperform their Indonesian peers, and lag even lower-income countries (including by a wide margin, Vietnam).”

Malaysia suffers from three failures as a result of its poor performances in international educational benchmarks, below what would be expected of a country with its income per capita or level of educational expenditures, and well below the performance of the high-income economies that Malaysia aspires to compete against for innovation and knowledge-based investments.

Having failed to make a single mention of Malaysia’s poor performance in the 2012 PISA at the week-long UMNO general assemblies, whether in his opening speech of the Joint Annual General Meetings of Umno Youth, Wanita and Puteri on the night of Dec. 3 or the winding-up debate during the Umno General Assembly the following Saturday, Muhyiddin should have taken the opportunity of the release the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor: High-Performing Education in Kuala Lumpur yesterday to convince Malaysians that the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) for Malaysia to be among the top one-third world-class education systems in the world by 2012 is a serious undertaking and commitment.

Instead, Muhyiddin evaded the best opportunity for him to assure Malaysians that despite the poor performances of Malaysia’s 15-year-olds in 2012 PISA – falling below the international average in the three critical subjects of Math, Science and Reading (or literacy), as well as three or five years behind their peers in the top performing PISA countries/regions in Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan – Malaysia’s MEB plan to be a world-class international education hub to be among the top third best education systems in the world is no “pie in the sky” .

Be that as it may, the constant bombardment on Muhyiddin and the Education Ministry for the poor Malaysian performances in the 2012 PISA since its results were released on Dec. 3 had certain effect, for it was announced in yesterday’s media that the Education Ministry has formed a special committee to elevate the ranking of Malaysian students in PISA.

Large groans could be heard all over the country at this announcement as Malaysia does not need any more robotic responses to sliding educational standards like establishment of another toothless committee but political will for genuine educational reforms and innovative reactions to firstly ensure greater educational accountability like making public the minimum passing marks of public exams and secondly, greater parental participation and ownership of national education systems as allowing parents to decide whether to adopt PPMSI.

In its response to the 2012 PISA results, the Education Ministry said in its statement: “Although the results of PISA 2012 were not so encouraging, the ministry is confident that Malaysia is capable of getting a better position in PISA 2015 through the implementation of Malaysia Education Blueprint, which was launched on Sept 6.”

Clearly, the person responsible for the Education Ministry statement does not know what is in the Malaysian Education Blueprint, for it is not about “getting a better position in PISA 2015” but breaking out of the bottom-third PISA bracket and achieving the international PISA average in the 2015 PISA and 2018 PISA and breaking into a top-third PISA bracket in the 2021 PISA.

In other words, can Malaysia become a “wonder nation” to achieve what no other country had ever achieved in four PISAs – a double quantum jump from bottom-third to top-third PISA brackets?

Are these PISA 2015, 1018 and 2021 targets for maths, science and reading still in place after the poor PISA 2012 results and the World Bank’s most adverse reports on “High Performing Education” in Malaysia?

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  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 7:18 pm

    stop giving out tens of thousands of full A students in public examinations

    • #2 by cemerlang on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 9:51 pm

      When you are high up there, you forget what it is like down here. SO, you depend on your reports verbal and written. It is either you screw others or others will screw you up. Can you deny a good girl who gets A because she has been so faithful in following your every advise, every assignment, every thing that she needs to do in order to be an A student ?

  2. #3 by Di Shi Jiu on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 7:31 pm

    Mr Lim,

    Pls do not think me rude for correcting you but the words “Muhyiddin” and “High-Performing Education” should not be used in the same sentence.

    Heheheheheheh!!!!

  3. #4 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 9:46 pm

    Bottom line is this. ANY GOOD SOLUTION MEANS GETTING RID OF UMNO IN POWER. Period. Anything else will far below…

  4. #6 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 11:06 pm

    I believe the majority of THINKING Malaysians are simply not bothered with what the Ministry of Education is doing. They have been talking to a WALL. We can only sympathize with the poorer sector who cannot support their children through lack of education themselves. To those who have the ability, please do spend some time every day with your school going children and do some part time teaching of your own. Let those who still believe in the story of flying cow in our national schools continue to do so. By supporting such Gomen, then they deserve such handouts from the Gomen! They deserve to be trained to work as coolies for the 21st century!

  5. #7 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 11:08 pm

    Muhyiddin should not unilaterally put the passing marks of maths, Add Maths, English and all other subjects under the Official secrets Act?

    Malaysians have a right to know if their children have been given A*s for marks below 10%, for instance. If not, what are the real marks for all the grades? How can something so important and so needful of transparency be so opaque?

    Is this how Muhyiddin wants to be future Malaysian PM? Ughhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! No way, bro.

  6. #8 by Noble House on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 4:07 am

    Had they not thought of the significance of the “common core standards” that are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our students need for success in college and careers? Are they fully prepared for the future to be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy? Do we have what it takes for a victory that is twice itself when the achiever brings home full numbers?

    The answer to these questions may never come from the UMNO Baru government, I am afraid.

  7. #9 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 8:02 am

    In a interview this is what the Director[?] of PISA said of Singapore: ” Actually a country that is doing really well is Singapore. If you go to Singapore you find nothing you haven’t seen somewhere else, but they REALLY MADE IT REALLY WORK COHERENTLY over time, coherently across the System. They are very very GOOD at POLICY IMPLEMENTATION”. Isn’t our ME equally good at implementation? although NOT the RIGHT THING!
    And Germany has improved since the previous test:
    “… the country has really worked hard on those kind of issues, giving immigrant students better chance in schools,…… the gap between richer and the less wealthier children has halved within 9 years”. In any aspect, there is an objective, a purpose towards solving a problem. Here they simply stick their heads into the MUD and pretended nothing had happened! They will repeat the same shiok sendiri achievements every 3 years. Maybe they will even withdraw from the forthcoming PISA test just like India did when their top provinces came second last in the 2009 test?

    • #10 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 9:04 am

      Nah. No way singapore is better. Just ask yourself this question: Has singapore any angksawan?

      And I am being kind by asking just this question.

      Look. I could well have asked whether singapore has an angkasawan who could flip patties in space, you know.

      Any way, yeah jib is great. The greatest. I mean the very bestest.

      Jib Jib 1 Boleh.
      Ros Ros 1 Cantik!

      • #11 by cemerlang on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 1:55 pm

        So what can the angkasawan do ? He comes back and goes back to being a doctor again. His everyday job is treating his patients. His everyday job is not flying into space and being a scientist conducting experiments after experiments, connecting himself to some alien world, being an ambassador to Mars and Martian, prevent intergalactic conflict; those things that you watch in movies

  8. #12 by Sallang on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 9:20 am

    It was not mentioned as to what racial composition of the 15 years old took the test. However, if the government had all this while claimed to one race, Malaysian, our results could be just behind S’pore, because we had the same education system under the British.
    The people in the ministry must have forgotten that the passing marks were brought down, and those 15 years old that were selected, were not the cream.

  9. #13 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 10:18 am

    /// In other words, can Malaysia become a “wonder nation” to achieve what no other country had ever achieved in four PISAs – a double quantum jump from bottom-third to top-third PISA brackets? ///

    Malaysia IS already a wonder nation in education – its Education Minister is wondering what to do next!!!

  10. #14 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 10:20 am

    lee tai king (previously dagen) :
    Nah. No way singapore is better. Just ask yourself this question: Has singapore any angksawan?
    And I am being kind by asking just this question.
    Look. I could well have asked whether singapore has an angkasawan who could flip patties in space, you know.

    And Singapore does not produce a Proton that can be dropped onto the North Pole.

    • #15 by cemerlang on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 1:56 pm

      Does the Proton sell and give us billions and billions of ringgits so that our country look like your country ?

  11. #16 by bangkoklane on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 1:29 pm

    Let’s improve children’s education ourselves.
    Let’s start learning centres in Pakatan service centres or annexes, to provide better learning opportunities for children. Parents/guardians will need to be members of PKR, PAS or DAP and pay a nominal monthly fee. Needy children can apply for fee exemption.

  12. #18 by yhsiew on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 3:26 pm

    Making public the minimum passing marks of public exams could cause a problem. Once the passing marks are made known to the public, parents will rush to send their children to schools with high passing marks and few will send their children to schools with low passing marks. In the end, schools with high passing marks will be overcrowded with pupils and schools with low passing marks will be deserted.

  13. #19 by tuahpekkong on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 6:20 pm

    Hardly a year ago, the DPM was bragging about the quality of education in our country, saying it was comparable if not better than that found in Western countries. Now it has been found that even relatively backward Vietnam is ahead of us in Maths and Science. How not to feel embarrassed?

  14. #20 by tak tahan on Saturday, 14 December 2013 - 12:58 am

    How n possibility ?..recognized by bull n cow government ?? Thought and real action are always contradicted here before and here after..how…………….

  15. #21 by sotong on Saturday, 14 December 2013 - 10:51 am

    They don’t care.

    You are dealing with very arrogant, misguided, incompetent and irresponsible people.

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