Call to extend deadline for consultation on education blueprint

Oct 19, 2012

The Centre for Policy Initiatives urges leaders from both sides of the political divide to pay heed to the urgent concerns expressed by educationists and civil society organizations with regard to the National Educational Blueprint 2013-2025.

Since its release more than a month ago on Sept 12, the blueprint has drawn markedly little response from our politicians either those in Barisan Nasional or in Pakatan Rakyat who are supposedly representing the interests of the stakeholders.

This lack of response is inexplicable and irresponsible given the importance of education to the future of our young generation and our national interest.

There is a genuine fear by Gerakan Bertindak Malaysia – a non-political, multiracial and multi-religious coalition of over 25 NGOs including CPI – that this blueprint will be hastily finalized before its many weaknesses are fully discussed and ironed out.

We share GBM’s view that the current deadline of October 2012 for the blueprint implementation is too short notice for public scrutiny of a plan that attempts to undo the damage inflicted on our education system over the past three decades and that will be in force for the next 12 years.

Extension of the period of public consultation and feedback must also be accompanied by the disclosure of key expert inputs and research data that have so far been denied to the public for reasons that cannot be justified.

As one example, the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) has advocated for the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) to be continued as an option for interested students.

Like the issue of the vernacular school stream, PPSMI is similarly excluded from the blueprint.

A decision by the Education Ministry to decisively shut the door to further appeals prompted Dr Anwar Hassan, PAGE Ipoh chapter coordinator, to suggest that if at the end of the day the cabinet refuses to budge on PPSMI and expanded English coverage, “concerned parents have no option but to look after the needs of their children on their own initiative and means. Those who can afford it will certainly opt for international schools or go abroad”.

What then about parents who cannot afford to pay for private tuition or other alternatives and remain captive to the public school system? Contentious issues such as PPSMI are yet to be brought to a satisfactory conclusion via the blueprint.

The onus is on our politicians to step up to the plate to bring the necessary discussion into the public domain. For the sake of transparency and accountability, the blueprint submissions to the Education Ministry by the academic and professional panels must be released to the public in the same way that the civil society organizations have made their memoranda and recommendations on education accessible to all.

The current Parliamentary sitting provides the opportunity for a bi-partisan push from BN and PR politicians to depart from their normal political affiliation and to speak out as parents and members of a larger community of Malaysians determined to ensure the best educational system for our young.

We hope that they will rise to the occasion by a consensus decision requiring the Ministry of Education to extend the period of public consultation and delay the implementation of key contentious policies contained in the blueprint.

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