Malaysia’s Education Disaster: The power to change the system is in our hands

by Koon Yew Yin

As election day comes closer, we will be asked for reasons as to why we should want to change the Barisan Nasional Government (BN). When the question is put to me, I tell people that there is no need to enumerate three, four or five reasons. One reason alone is sufficient for Malaysians to elect a new government.

The reason is that the BN has ruined our educational system and put us back at least one generation in our educational standards and standing.

When the country became independent in 1957 our educational system was acknowledged to be amongst the best in the region. Today, after the introduction of NEP policies in education, we are scraping the bottom of the barrel in our standards of educational achievement at all levels.

BN’s Record

Whether it is in primary, secondary or tertiary education, the rot is clear. Half literate primary school products that cannot write or speak properly in either English or Bahasa and drop out early; secondary students with abysmal standards in Mathematics, Science and other core subjects; tertiary students who are provided with university degrees but in fact are unemployable except in the civil service.

This is the disastrous outcome of BN rule. This is the result of the politicization of the educational system and UMNO’s cynical use of it as a political and racial football.

Whether it is with regard to mission schools or vernacular or SRJK schools; teaching of science and mathematics; teaching of English; appointment of administrators and heads of schools; the curriculum; examinations; vocational education; funding and allocations – UMNO has inserted its racial and political agenda to debase and corrupt the system.

If readers think that I am over critical of the BN, let me provide two pieces of evidence on the disaster in our education.

The first is from the Government itself. According to the national education blueprint (Preliminary report, Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, pp, E4-E5)

• Malaysia was ranked in the bottom third of 74 participating countries of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2009+.

• 60% of the 15-year-old Malaysian students who participated in PISA failed to meet the minimum proficiency level in Mathematics, while 44% and 43% did not meet the minimum proficiency levels in Reading and Science respectively

• A comparison of scores shows that 15-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are performing as though they have had three or more years of schooling than 15-year-olds in Malaysia

• Low achievement standards in TIMSS (Maths and Science): far behind first tier; now comparable to countries such as Indonesia

• By 2007 (last published cycle) 18% and 20% of our students failed to meet the minimum proficiency standards in Maths and Science.

The conclusion of the Blueprint is shocking. Not only are the gaps between Malaysia and other countries in our region growing, international assessments also revealed that Malaysian student performance is declining in absolute terms.

This damning conclusion – that we are going backwards in our education standards and achievement – shows that the problem is not a new one. It is a long standing crisis which the BN has successfully concealed from Malaysians thanks to media manipulation and its diversionary focus on language and Chinese school issues.

But it is no longer easy to fool Malaysians thanks to the internet media and the availability of international assessment results.

Hence the latest educational scandal in which the Ministry of Education is accused of lowering the maths and science standards for the PMR and SPM examinations to artificially increase the pass rate does not shock me in the least.

Such efforts have been taking place for the past thirty years, especially in the public universities. How else then to account for the hundreds of thousands of graduates who are unemployable?

My Personal Experience

The second piece of evidence is one derived from personal experience. For several years now, I have been providing scholarships to poor young Malaysians so that they will be able to go to the university to improve their life and career opportunities. Below are examples of letters I have received from two applicants requesting for financial assistance (details of my scholarship program are available from

What is important to note is that although these are written by pre-university students, the level of English language competency attained is lower than that of a primary student during my time.

Sadly, they are not isolated cases – in fact they are typical of students who have been through our educational system and whose decline in standards has been due to BN rule.

Letter 1:


I am ____________,I already take my SPM result~I’m interest on account Can you sponsor me about the study fees at Utar?


This are my SPM result.

Letter 2:.

Mrs.Koon, i am October Intake UTAR new degree student , my name is ______ from kampar, i am facing financial problem after i successful register Utar degree course, now i am stay at Kampar and open school already. As i know UTAR can let student to borrow PTPTN loan to complete Degree. But after i successful register Degree course, UTAR stuff just tell me UTAR are not offer student to apply PTPTN loan on this semester, and i need to pay course fee and register fee first.

Sure i come from poor family, my family income below RM 1600 per month. My family never and not able to pay my fee around RM4000 at my first semester, i need to pay the bill before 23 october, if not i forced to leaving school, i am very anxious now!

Before I am getting news from Mr.__________, may be i can getting financial aid from Mrs.Koon, so the purpose i send the gmail to Mrs.Koon is i requesting for financial aid to start and continue my degree course program in UTAR, i really want to start my study life and dream at UTAR.

Reminder to all when at the Election Booth

In conclusion, private education has become a very profitable business as parents scramble to remedy the damage in the public system and use up their precious savings or mortgage their houses to enable their kids to get a decent education.

For this reason too private universities and colleges are springing up like mushrooms. All of them are lowering entry requirements to capture more students. As a result, students like the two above were accepted to study in UTAR.

Many people have the wrong impression that MCA’s UTAR is a charitable organisation set up to help the Chinese. In fact if you examine MCA’s annual report, you will see that UTAR is one of the best profit-making ventures for MCA.

Remember, the power to change the rotting education system is in your hands when you go to vote. This message is especially directed at all parents and students – Malays, Chinese, Indians and other Malaysians – who have suffered as a result of BN incompetence and bad governance.

  1. #1 by Winston on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 9:08 am

    Not only the education system must be completely revamped when PR takes over Putrajaya.
    Everything under the Malaysian sun must be completely revamped!
    In fact, for five and a half decades, the scums in the ruling party have done nothing worthwhile at all except to empty the till!!
    In addition to an endless run of scams and scandals!
    There is complete, criminal dereliction of duty towards those who have given them the mandate!
    They have turned a very resource rich country into a basket case.
    And make all Malaysians suffer.
    For what?
    For giving them the mandate for the past fifty-five years!!!!!
    For giving them their unquestioned trust?
    That’s the greatest crime Malaysians have committed in their lives!!!!
    Yes, we need to take over Putrajaya so that we can even have a future at all!!!!!
    Not only for now but for all future generations!

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 10:32 am

    A big fat beast moooed: Y rock d boat?
    Everything OK 1, lots of students got 100% A in public exams, veri brilliant 1, who cares abt PISA (in UmnoB/BN’s 1M’sia, we oredi got all sorts of PIZZA) n TIMSS, b confident with our own system lah, don’t b brainwashed by outsiders’ devious scheme 2 belittle us mah

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 11:14 am

    The power to change the system is currently in the wrong hand. It is time to change hand come GE13.

  4. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 11:50 am

    Basically the nation is been driven by one objective: the doctrine of lining up your pocket by any means through NEP. In the process, everything is being trodden under this policy. In their euphoria to achieve NEP, even if it is only an illusion in the real world, education is the most effective in every respect. They give the majority of Malaysians an immediate ‘shiok feeling’ everyone scoring A’es; an illusion proven by PISA and TIMMS surveys. In the Flat World as proclaimed by Fredmann, this magic show is easily proven to be false. Local graduates, with a small exception, are unable to compete outside the country. With the world trade and business being globalized, even staying at home under the coconut shell will not save them from such competition. I believe so long that Petronas can bring in the cash, we may not feel threatened especially among those who have been feeding on EASY cash. Let us wait and see the first round of impact with the opening of Asean Framework on Services in 2015!

  5. #5 by undertaker888 on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 12:30 pm

    Blame mahathir. I always do.

  6. #6 by drngsc on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 12:47 pm

    “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family.” Kofi Annan
    All of us know that, yet this evil regime will withhold education, corrupt it, so that they can make the people subservient to them. They feel that it is easier to win an election if the people are stupid and poor.
    Well, the people have stood up. No more be fooled.

    We must change the tenant at Putrajaya. GE 13 is coming soon. Let us work very very hard. Support the opposition. Help them raise money to fight the evil devil. First to 12th Jan 2013 PR rally, then to GE 13, then to Putrajaya.

    Change we must. Change we can. Change we will.

  7. #7 by cseng on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 5:45 pm

    Now we know, the many As scored in public exams, actually mean 4 yrs behind their peers in other Asian countries.

  8. #8 by cseng on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 5:52 pm

    //15-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Shanghai are performing as though they have had three or more years of schooling than 15-year-olds in Malaysia//

    Why? Muhyuddin refuses to compare with them, because they eat with chop-stick.

    But, in reality, it is the opposite!, it is because we eat with fingers.

  9. #9 by sotong on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 5:55 pm

    Like other matters, education is not spared from narrow, divisive and damaging politics of race and religion.

  10. #10 by john on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 7:03 pm


  11. #11 by tak tahan on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 8:07 pm

    Aiseh man,why so much noise about learning English or BM or monther tongue language,adoi so said En Moo bin lembudin.Just only learn how to moo like me,good enough la.You don’t believe,kan? Go and ask how our cowgirl had made big fat fortune from rearing cow-condos which exactly also mooo like me,no less no more.Easy dan lagi best macam see.Ok ok no worry,i try my best,from now on,moo sylabus will be incorporated in the Malaysia Edication Blueprint 2013 -2015.Everybody,yeah,MooOOOOO

  12. #12 by tuahpekkong on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 11:15 pm

    The rot in our education system began sometime in the mid-seventies, after the implementation of the NEP on the education sector. I haven’t heard of any of my Malay friends who obtained a grade I in MCE then not sent overseas for further studies. The better of the “left- over” were sent to MARA while the rest enrolled in Form 6 before entering local universities. Quota was introduced and standard lowered to suit this mediocre group. Also, most teachers were recruited from this group. Then, around 15 years ago, we started to construct a public university in every state and private universities began to mushroom. The standard was lowered further to allow more people to have tertiary education.

  13. #13 by pwcheng on Friday, 21 December 2012 - 11:42 pm

    That’s UMNO’s, (particularly the Mamak) trick of the trade .
    Keep the people semi illiterate or if possible illiterate so that these same people can keep on voting for them. In this cruel world, you can almost identify with certainty that all bad governments will try to keep their people illiterate. Knowledgeable and intelligent people are always their enemies as history has proven why Hitler wants to exterminate all the Jews and Pol Pot wants to kill all their fellowmen whom they think has some intelligence.
    Likewise you can surmise why UMNO always wins most of the votes from the rural areas and loose big in the urban areas.
    To me,its a matter of putting their act together to ruin the education system in order to immortalize their rule and allow them to steal and plunder the country. These UMNO devils with evil intentions can run but they cannot hide. They can only bluff the kampong people.

  14. #14 by boh-liao on Sunday, 23 December 2012 - 2:22 pm

    D beast moooooed: Don’t worri, everything is OK 1
    No need 2 teach ppl, esp Malays, HOW 2 FISH, only need 2 remind them dat UmnoB can give them fish n hence, they must always vote 4 UmnoB/BN
    No need 2 worri too much abt good English 1, as long as can tulis: “I hv d write 2 write a wrong n I will right to you soon about it”, sounds like it, ppl understand, OK what
    We want 2 train our students 2 b creatif, 2 horse around or better still 2 cow around, so dat d hole world will watch d cow dance on U-tube, who cares abt English, PIZZA, or TIMSS, mooooooooo

  15. #15 by chengho on Sunday, 23 December 2012 - 7:06 pm

    1School only , with national language and agenda, any taker?

  16. #16 by monsterball on Wednesday, 26 December 2012 - 6:10 am

    hehehehehehe….Chengho skipped so many posts..and here he is…asking a question which all know Najib is using National schools to poison minds with racists teachers as HM.

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