Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said during his by-election campaign in Kajang today that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is unfit to be Selangor Mentri Besar as he seems to be “clueless” about Selangor’s water deal with Putrajaya despite being the state economic advisor.
Anwar is the best person to respond to Muhyiddin’s allegation that Anwar is “clueless” on the Selangor water issue, but the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister raises the important question whether he himself should resign as Education Minister as it is clear that Muhyiddin is quite clueless about education in Malaysia.
That Muhyiddin is quite clueless about education issues which come under his direct Ministerial responsibility is presently in full display, when he pleaded on Monday that he knew nothing about the mean, petty and punitive transfer to a rural school of the head of Suara Guru Masyarakat Malaysia (SGMM), Mohd Nor Izzat Mohd Johari, who had spearheaded the protest against the weaknesses in the implementation of the student-based assessment (SBA) system and Muhyiddin has remained in this limbo of cluelessness for the past five days.
As Nor Izzat, a visual arts teachers, said in a statement today: “Regarding my transfer…the Education Department is still keeping silent. Whatever that was said by the education minister has completely been ignored.”
Is Muhyiddin seriously suggesting that as the DPM and Education Minister, he has not been able to countermand the 24-hour transfer of Nor Izzat from Jerantut to a rural school for his anti-SBA activities or is it just that he has neither the time nor interest to check on the mean, petty and punitive action against Nor Izzat by the “Little Napoleons” in the Education Ministry – although Muhyiddin had been very busy on the BN Kajang by-election circuit having visited Kajang at least twice in the past five days?
In actual fact, Muhyiddin must accept full responsibility for the SBA mess as he should explain why he had given the green light for the implementation of SBA without proper planning, consultation or thought.
Introduced in 2011 in primary and secondary schools, its purpose is to reduce the reliance on examinations and ensure students are not left behind.
It requires teachers to monitor the progress of students individually and key in their progress to government databases.
However the Education Ministry and the national examination syndicate have proven ill-prepared.
They had insufficient resources computer-wise and simply could not deal with the vast amount of information feeding in from the whole country.
Teachers found the system hung much of the time. They had to key-in the data several times or work in the wee hours of the morning.
Some parts of the country, especially in rural areas, are lacking in internet access resulting in difficulty in the teachers to key in the results.
All these factors were not taken into consideration. To make matters worse, classes have not grown smaller but bigger.
As a result, teachers complain of being burdened with clerical work, compromising their core responsibility of teaching.
These issues were highlighted during the Umno general assembly in December but they were not taken seriously.
The fact that unsung heroes like Nor Izzat had to come forward to spearhead the anti-SBA protests to force a suspension of SBA is a measure of the educational problem facing the country when there is an Education Minister who is quite clueless about education.
The first step for Muhyiddin to end his “cluelessness” about education is to take ownership and responsibility for all the educational challenges and problems in the country, starting with countermanding the mean, petty and punitive measures against Nor Izzat and other teachers for their anti-SBA protests.
Secondly, Nor Izzat should be roped in to help evaluate the SBA and to decide on what follow-up measures should be taken that is in the best interests of the students to ensure a proper level of competency of our future labour force, which will affect not only the competitiveness of our country but the national economic wellbeing as well.
Nor Izzat has suggested the immediate scrapping of the SBA, and that if a new SBA is to be introduced, it should go through pilot testing of three to four years before implementation nationwide.
Muhyiddin should make a Ministerial statement on the first working day of Parliament which is to reconvening in two weeks’ time on the SBA mess and the current position.
Meanwhile, Malaysians, as well as the voters of Kajang, should start a daily countdown as to how long Muhyiddin will remain “clueless” about the mean, petty and punitive action against Nor Izzat, the SBA and even the myriad of educational problems caused by a clueless Education Minister.
(Media Statement in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 28th February 2014)