The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and the head of Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), Datuk Seri Idris Jala should “walk the talk” to “stop politicizing education” and get the agreement of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet for the establishment of an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on Education as a bipartisan response to the “triple whammy” of relentless erosion of educational standards in the country, viz:
* 2011 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study);
* 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment); and
* World Bank’s adverse Malaysia Economic Monitor themed “High-Performing Education”.
If Idris can announce such an agreement by the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to the establishment of a bi-partisan Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on Education, this will be the most cheerful and best end-of-the-year news for Malaysians who had been buffeted by an avalanche of bad news on all fronts in the past seven months after the 13th general elections creating unprecedented division, disunity and negative vibes about the future of Malaysia.
Idris made the call on both Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional to stop politicizing education at a forum on Monday to commemorate the third anniversary of the Economic Transformation Programme, which was attended by at least four Cabinet Ministers – the Minister for International Trad and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamed, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar, and the Minister for Communication and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Idris himself.
This was reported both by Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider but strangely not by any print media.
The Malaysiakini report by Aidila Razak and Wang Yuan, entitled “Urgent overhaul needed to our education system” said:
Despite Malaysia’s goal to be a high income nation by 2020, he (Idris) said the National Education Blueprint will only start bearing fruit in 20 years time.
“In 50 years from now, if we don’t up our game in education, we will be overtaken by countries who run faster than us. In the long-term, the agenda for poverty eradication, is education,” he said.
Meanwhile, Idris, who was appointed senator so he can run the Performance and Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu) called on both Pakatan Rakyat and the BN to stop politicising education.
“Wahid and I are not politicians. If there is one thing we…hope for both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat, it is to lay down their swords and not to politicise education. Come together and agree about education,” he said.
The Malaysian Insider report headlined “Barisan, Pakatan should agree on education, says Idris Jala” by Trinna Leong said:
Both the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) may disagree on issues, but that should not cover education which must be improved to ensure Malaysia remains competitive, Datuk Seri Idris Jala said today.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said all lawmakers must work together to ensure the education system is a success.
“Both BN and PR need to come together and agree on education. We may disagree on other things, but not on education,” Jala said at the Economic Transportation Programme (ETP) panel meeting in Putrajaya today.
He warned that the quality of education has to be improved or Malaysia would risk losing out to other countries.
“In 50 years if we don’t up our game in education, we’ll lose out to other countries running faster than us,” said Idris, who heads the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).
Others at the meeting were International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar and Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
Speaking of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, Jala said that the transformation of the education system can only be seen years from now. In the meantime, the government has taken immediate action to remedy problems at hand.
“If anyone were to say they can fix problems in education in one or two years, that guy must be lying. There is no shortcut in education. By the time we do this, the real results will come out in 20 years from now with the kids getting through the new education system,” he said.
We in the Pakatan Rakyat fully support Idris’ call that both the BN and PR “lay down their swords and not to politicise education”. We in PR are prepared to “lay down our swords” but is BN prepared to do so?
If so, then let Idris take the next step to get the agreement of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to form a bipartisan Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on Education.
How long will Idris need to get such an agreement so that a Parliamentary Select Committee on Education could be set up as the first item of business of the March meeting of Parliament next year?
In fact, if the Cabinet is serious, a preparatory panel of MPs for the Parliamentary Select Committee on Education could be set up immediately to start work even before the reconvening of Parliament in March.
In this connection, Idris should explain what he meant when he said on Monday that the Malaysian Education Blueprint (MEB) “will only start bearing fruit in 20 years’ time”.
Have the Cabinet, Parliament and Malaysians been misled all this while by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister,Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who have clearly promised that the MEB will bring about significant changes in the national education system in three Waves in the next 13 years until 2025 – and not to “only start bearing fruit in 20 years’ time” which is 2033!
Are Malaysian students to be condemned to mediocrity and the bottom-third of countries whether in PISA or TIMSS international educational benchmarks for the next 20 years, or at least for the entire 13-year period of the MEB from 2013-2025?
I have checked Muhyiddin’s speech when he launched the MEB in September this year, and he specifically promised that the entire education system will see significant transformation by the end of the 13-year MEB.
Muhyiddin will not be around in public life to deliver on his MEB pledge come 2025, but why is Idris, as czar of Pemandu responsible for Government and Economic Transformation Programmes, now backing off from these pledges by claiming that the reforms in MEB will “only start bearing fruit in 20 years’ time?”
Is this a ploy to evade and avoid responsibility and accountability for the proposed reforms and the three Waves of educational transformation promised in the MEB?