Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, must break his month-long “inelegant silence” on the Malaysia’s deteriorating educational standards and state whether he supports the convening of an emergency Parliament in January to debate the national education crisis and the formation of an Opposition-headed Parliamentary Select Committee on Education to provide direct and constant parliamentary oversight over educational policies and measures in the country.
These two initiatives are urgent and imperative as Muhyiddin’s Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to spearhead educational transformation in the next 13 years have proven to be unrealistic, impractical and Utopian – overtaken by the adverse results of Malaysian students in the 2011 TIMSS (Trends in International Maths and Science Study) and 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment).
The MEB was formulated to deal with the adverse performance of Malaysian students in the quadrennial 2007 TIMSS and triennial 2009 PISA, resulting in the policy statement that the 13-year MEB will catapult Malaysia in a triple “hop-step-jump” from the bottom-third to the top-third of PISA and TIMSS systems by the turn of the next decade, viz:
*Wave 1 (2013-2015) to achieve a “turn-around” of the system of deteriorating educational standards;
*Wave 2 (2016-2020) where Malaysia’s performance will be at par with the international average of PISA and TIMSS benchmarks; and
*Wave 3 (2021-2025) where Malaysia’s performance on PISA and TIMSS will be in the top third of PISA and TIMSS assessments.
However, far from preparing the national education system for a “turn-around” so that Malaysia can be at par with the international average of PISA and TIMSS systems in Wave 2 and jump to the top third of PISA and TIMSS systems in Wave 3, Malaysia has fallen further down the grades in the 2011 TIMSS and 2012 PISA.
In fact, Malaysia suffers the ignominy of being the country which suffered the biggest drop in scores among all participating countries for both maths and science in the series of four TIMSS in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011: in maths dropping by 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011; in science, dropping by 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 points in 2011.
Although the latest PISA scores showed improvement in maths, the scores for science and reading fell in the 2012 PISA compared to 2010. Evidence also suggests that English proficiency has deteriorated over time.
As a result, Malaysia’s current educational standards are at an even lower level than that assumed by the MEB, making its objective to catapult Malaysia from the bottom-third to the top-third of the TIMSS and PISA systems in a decade an impossible task.
The question is not whether Malaysian students can catapult from the bottom-third to the top-third of TIMSS and PISA systems, but whether Malaysian students can achieve the TIMSS and PISA international averages by the end of the MEB, i.e. medium ranking of the middle third of TIMSS and PISA – which is still many school years behind their peers in the top-performing nations in the international educational benchmarks like Shanghai, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan.
This is why I describe the MEB as a “Miracle Education Blueprint” in asking Malaysian students to do the impossible – as performing three educational miracles in a decade – something no country has ever achieved before.
For the first time in Malaysian educational planning, the government spent RM20 million to commission foreign consultants McKinsey & Co., who is not an acknowledged authority in the field of education, to prepare the MEB.
The MEB must have set a world record of a kind, as within a few months of its official launching by Muhyiddin in September this year, it is now proven that its objective to catapult Malaysian students from the bottom-third to top-third of international educational benchmarks, i.e. in 2021/2024 PISA and 2023 TIMSS, are entirely utopian and not achievable.
Is Muhyiddin going to be humble and professional as an Education Minister and admit that the objective of MEB to catapult Malaysian students from the bottom-third to top-third of PISA and TIMSS systems by the turn of the decade has been completely knocked out of kilter by the adverse 2011 TIMSS and 2012 PISA results and needs to be revised downwards.
This is why there should be an emergency session of Parliament next month not only to debate the MEB which has been knocked out of kilter in less than three months of its launching but the overall national education crisis in Malaysia.
Or is Muhyiddin waiting for the next Education Minister to admit the impractical and utopian nature of the MEB?