Malaysia ranks 39 out of 44 countries in problem-solving test for 15-year-olds, says report


by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
April 02, 2014

Malaysia once again fared poorly in a world student performance assessment test conducted in 2012, ending up in the bottom quarter among 44 countries – a result that reinforces the concern that the country’s education system is in tatters.

Malaysia ranked 39 with a mean score of 422 in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) first assessment on creative problem-solving, while neighbouring Singapore came out tops with a mean score of 562, said the report released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The overall mean score for all countries was 500.

Malaysia had more than half of the share of low achievers, which means the students tested lacked the skills needed in a modern workplace.

In contrast, Singapore only had 8% share of low achievers. The mean share was 21.4%.

On the other hand, Malaysia only had 0.9% share of top performers compared with Singapore’s 29.3%. Malaysia’s share was below the average percentage of 11.4%.

This showed that only one out of 10 Malaysian students, aged 15, is able to solve the most complex problems, compared with one in five in Singapore, Korea and Japan.

Asian countries like Korea, Japan, Macau-China, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China and Chinese Taipei make up the top seven of the list.

Students from Canada, Australia, Finland, England, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United States and Belgium all scored above the average.

“Eighty-five thousand students from 44 countries and economies took the computer-based test, involving real-life scenarios to measure the skills young people will use when faced with everyday problems, such as setting a thermostat or finding the quickest route to a destination,” said the OECD, which carried out the tests.

Malaysians scored 29.1 on solution rate on tasks measuring the acquisition of knowledge and 29.3 on solution rate on tasks measuring the utilisation of knowledge while Singapore scored 62 and 55.4 respectively, way above the average score of all countries, which are 45.5 and 46.4 respectively.

“Today’s 15-year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow’s adults struggling to find or keep a good job,” said Andreas Schleicher, acting Director of Education and Skills at OECD.

“Policymakers and educators should re-shape their school systems and curricula to help students develop their problem-solving skills which are increasingly needed in today’s economies.”

Malaysia had also performed poorly in an earlier PISA assessment which measured how students in 65 countries did in mathematics, science and reading.

According to the PISA’s 2012 results, Malaysian students scored below average or ranked 52 out of the 65 countries. In contrast, Vietnamese students ranked 17 out of 65.

Just a week ago, a World Bank senior economist pointed out that the poor quality of Malaysia’s education system was more worrying than the debt level of its households.

Dr Frederico Gil Sander, who is senior economist for Malaysia, had said Malaysians should be “alarmed” that their children were doing worse in school than children in Vietnam, a country that was poorer than Malaysia.

Malaysia’s continuous dismal performance in international assessments highlights the weaknesses in the country’s schooling system, despite the fact that education gets the largest share of funds every year from the national budget.

Critics have pointed out that the PISA results contradicted Putrajaya’s insistence that Malaysia has a world-class education system.

Critics have also questioned the real worth of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) which produces many students who scored As, but who can’t compete with their peers from Singapore, China and Taiwan.

Opposition politicians have relentlessly attacked Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin over Malaysia’s poor results in international assessment tests.

Muhyiddin subsequently announced that the ministry would set up a special committee tasked with elevating students’ assessments in these tests. – April 2, 2014.

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  1. #1 by pulau_sibu on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 1:56 pm

    PISA must be inaccurate. We have so many A students. Perhaps we purposely let C students take the tests. We are just humble.

    Israeli students are not too much better than us. Can you believe in it? It implied that PISA is horrible.

    • #2 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 4:44 pm

      If everyone is a A, who is a genuine A and who is a fake A ? No wonder so egoistic because going away with the idea that one is so great. Even kindies wear jubah. Imagine that !

  2. #3 by Justice Ipsofacto on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 1:59 pm

    “Yeah.”
    “We did it.”
    (teary eyes)
    “Yes. Again.”
    (quivering lips and teary eyes)
    “Tahniah.”
    (happiness and broad smile all over)
    “Tahniah semua.”
    (lots of berpeluk peluk cara kerismuddin)

    … Once again the world had the opportunity to witness the bizzarre sense of achievement exhibited by the umno gobermen.

  3. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 3:38 pm

    If the Gomen refuses to study carefully the results of PISA Tests, and refuses to take IMMEDIATE remedial action to change our approach to educating the nation; we are indeed doomed! Having to deal with local students and even graduates, most of us cannot be surprised! When the education policy is bent on making the future generations stopped thinking, you can have only ONE RESULT! Even Think-tanks like Lynn, Murray & Rouston thought that the Yellow race has undue advantage in their DNA, they still worked like hell to do their best through fierce competitions to excel. Here we thought, our laurel of mere good structure of the past and Petronas’ pumping could carry us forward; with information becoming irrelevant because of technological changes; our pace is real pathetic in spite of the BILLIONS SPENT on MSC! Shouldn’t the Grand Proponent of MSC provide us with some explanation as to why we failed more than miserably? Every Malaysian parents should wake up and ask themselves the chances of of their children being able to compete even within the Asean Market in the next 10/15 years. Personally, I used to think Indonesian graduates were just on par with our Form Sixers in the 70s; today I am uncertain though I know for sure a large portion of today’s local graduates could not have passed the HSC of the 60s/80s. So Malaysians the REAL choice is in your hand!

  4. #5 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 4:27 pm

    1. Singapore
    2. Korea
    3. Japan
    4. Macau
    5. Hong Kong
    6. Shanghai
    7. Taipei
    8. Canada
    9. Australia
    10 Finland

    Note that the top 7 in the world are all from chopsticks wielding countries/economies.

    Is it surprising then that Malaysia fared so badly when it is doing its damnest to get rid of the chopstick wielders by wield the kris?

  5. #6 by Justice Ipsofacto on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 4:37 pm

    As if the mh370 scandal is not bad enough news like this will surely plunge the image and reputation of the country even further down the drain.

  6. #7 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 5:04 pm

    TheWrathOfGrapes :
    1. Singapore
    2. Korea
    3. Japan
    4. Macau
    5. Hong Kong
    6. Shanghai
    7. Taipei
    8. Canada
    9. Australia
    10 Finland
    Note that the top 7 in the world are all from chopsticks wielding countries/economies.
    Is it surprising then that Malaysia fared so badly when it is doing its damnest to get rid of the chopstick wielders by wield the kris?

    by wielding and waving the kris at UMNO assemblies.

  7. #10 by digard on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 5:39 pm

    Do not worry! – It all is only a Jewish conspiration trying to shed a negative limelight on the very successful country Malaysia.

    • #11 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 11:11 pm

      There are many richer countries out there. There are many other countries who possess advanced weapons. There are other Islamic countries surrounding this country.

  8. #12 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 9:20 pm

    it is the vernacular school fault. blame the chinese and anwar. we, the ketuanan, know best. all we need is world class bomohs.

  9. #13 by undertaker888 on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 9:23 pm

    it is the vernacular school fault. blame the chinese and anwar. we, the ketuanan, know best. all we need is world cl@ss bomohs.

    • #14 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 11:13 pm

      All you reporters should interview them and ask if they have find out anything that could help the government.

  10. #15 by winstony on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 9:34 pm

    There is a simple logic in keeping Malaysians stupid and ignorant.
    Remember what Mamak used to say about Malaysians?
    They are easy to govern!
    That is exactly what they want!!!

    • #16 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 11:14 pm

      It is good to pretend to be stupid and ignorant. That way you know the hearts of men. Out of the heart, the mouth speaketh

  11. #17 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 10:21 pm

    One should not rule out that the government deliberately drops the standard of education so that the young people cannot think critically and acquire knowledge to solve problems. Once the young people fail to think critically and solve problems on their own, they will not be able to go against the government and BN’s perpetual hold on power is ensured.

    • #18 by cemerlang on Wednesday, 2 April 2014 - 11:22 pm

      Nothing is indispensable. That is why we have history. History tells us that we change, the world change, everything change. Human being are not robots because robots are made of metals and programmes. Human beings are more than just the bodies. More than just the soul. MH 370 will be a real interesting research subject.

  12. #19 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 12:53 am

    Perkosa-UmnoB/BN kaki all moooed dat NO WORRIES, all is well

    Dat @$sessment on creative problem-solving was NOT done properly n NOT a true reflection of what our 15-year-olds r capable of doing

    PISA should hv @ssessed our 15-year-olds on HOW 2 solve problems related 2 identifying a sodomee perpetrator fr mixed DNA inside an anus/rectum, or missing immigration entry record, or some1 dropping down fr a tall gomen building while there 4 an interrogation
    Sure will do well 1 what

  13. #20 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 1:08 am

    MMK, najis, krismuddim, n mooo ALL must b veri proud of their LEGACY 2 dis 1DERful land as past n present education ministers
    Guess WHICH direction will our national education system b heading

  14. #21 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 7:13 am

    Actually 39 out of 44 “countries” (Shanghai, HK, Macau – actually belong 2 1 country 1) NOT BAD lah

    Furthermore, there r at least 193 nations in d world, so M’sia BOLEH lah, 39, man, TAHNIAH!

    Mooo most likely will also mooooo dat NOT FAIR 1, should not b Malaysia, should b Kuala Kangsar or Shah Alam where crème de la crème Malay 15-year-olds should take d @$sessment on creative problem-solving

  15. #22 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 7:59 am

    May be the independent schools should apply to PISA for the same test so that Malaysians can evaluate the REAL quality of education in this country. Of course, by now, we know where we stand in the world parade but we are not certain as many still thought that those independent schools have not contributed to the society in general. The biggest problem in this nation is that the BETTER EDUCATED MALAYS are not putting their weight together! They just allowed characters like AI and his kind to drag the nation to the trench of Mariannas in the Pacific Ocean! We still find jokers who think we are ONLY behind the littile dot in the south! They forgot Thailand is many steps ahead of us, and soon enough Vietnam and Indonesia! Yes our Petronas can still float us in our sleep!

    • #23 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 9:14 am

      singapore is so proud being number 1? how many nobel laureates has it produced? look at this list of 1 to 10 (excluding Japan), is there a total of 10 nobel laureates? what i wnated to say is most of them are like malaysia, having zero or one nobel laureate.

  16. #24 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 11:10 am

    pulau_sibu :
    singapore is so proud being number 1? how many nobel laureates has it produced? look at this list of 1 to 10 (excluding Japan), is there a total of 10 nobel laureates? what i wnated to say is most of them are like malaysia, having zero or one nobel laureate.

    How many nobel laureates has Malaysia produced? Oh, I forgot Malaysia got its taxi-astronaut.

    • #25 by cemerlang on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 3:33 pm

      I am thinking of the research hypothesis for the disappearance of MH 370.

  17. #26 by winstony on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 12:31 pm

    So, all the straight As are just to assuage Malaysian parents while the government is making dunces of their children.
    The crooks are assured of their grip on power and they can also laugh all the way to their banks!

  18. #27 by waterfrontcoolie on Thursday, 3 April 2014 - 11:20 pm

    Pulau Sibu, Nobel Prize is based on European’s perception of achievements; it must be European-centric. The main issue is when a society STOPS THINKING IT ALSO STOPS PROGRESSING. Whatever your impression, all those countries have progressed faster than we have in spite of their lack of natural resources! You can wait for them to find a solution for sourcing FREE Energy from the sun and other renewal sources, maybe you can talk big of what you have then! Yes, I hope to live to the day when the black gold is no longer available!

  19. #28 by Bigjoe on Friday, 4 April 2014 - 2:37 am

    BUT so long as we have “sanctity of ‘contract'”, semuanya OK…

    Its these kind of ranking that leads to a ‘research house’ of a ‘leading investment bank’ to argue that sanctity of ‘contract’ means that even if the contracts allows the govt to make it less profitable for the contractor, the govt cannot exercise it for the good of the people. ‘contract’ apparently include crony-capitalist entitlement no matter what the law, facts and history says which we have an entire population believing it so..

  20. #29 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Friday, 4 April 2014 - 10:24 am

    pulau_sibu :
    singapore is so proud being number 1? how many nobel laureates has it produced? look at this list of 1 to 10 (excluding Japan), is there a total of 10 nobel laureates? what i wnated to say is most of them are like malaysia, having zero or one nobel laureate.

    Why do you say Singapore is so proud being number 1? What gives you the idea? Have they declared a holiday for the students? Give them awards? Shout at the top of their voice.

    What about Nobel laureates? Barack Obama got his laureate in 2009 and Jimmy Carter in 2002. Aung San Suu Kyi, Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin are all Nobel laureates. Great thinkers – all of them? Stockholm and Nobel have their own political agendas.

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