Schools should be decentralised, says World Bank

Free Malaysia Today
The Malaysian Reserve| December 11, 2013

Autonomy in schools will allow the resident learning centres to accommodate local needs and allow ownership by teachers, administrators, parents and students.

by Azli Jamil

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia needs to decentralise its schools, provide feedback to parents on performance and find quality teachers as a crucial step in its race to become a high income nation, according to the World Bank’s Economic Monitor report on High-Performing Education released yesterday.

The report said Malaysia’s education system, which is among the most centralised in the world, makes it difficult to adapt to rapidly changing needs and circumstances.

“Autonomy allows for greater responsiveness to local needs as well as stronger ownership of performance by teachers, administrators, parents and students,” said World Bank country director for Malaysia Ulrich Zachau.

“Schools must have more freedom to hire and fire and also to manage its own budget allocations and curriculum.”

He said autonomy must come with accountability where parents must be more involved in demanding performance from the schools as the parents’ feedback loops and bottom-up pressure are important drivers of systemic improvements.

The quality of teachers is the third priority and is a cause of concern where the key is to recruit and retain the best teachers.

Zachau said 46% of principals noted that lack of qualified teaching staff as constraint and the Minister of Education has admitted that some candidates enrolling at teacher training institutions did not meet minimum requirements of academic achievement at the secondary level.

Nevertheless, Zachau noted that there is a need to look at benchmarking the school leadership as that is a key area too in ensuring the success of Malaysia’s education aspirations.

With regard to the nation’s dismal performance at the Programme for International Student Assessment survey results released last week, Zachau said that if the comparison is made using the scores of the top 5% of Malaysian students, it would place them at par with the average level for scores for China and South Korea.

Nonetheless, out of the 65 countries participating in the survey, the overall ranking for Malaysia for 2012 remains at 52 for Mathematics, 53 for Science and 59 for Reading.

Earlier, in his speech, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Wahid Omar said the planning for the 11th Malaysia Plan is underway with the output expected to come in mid 2015. “We want to avoid over planning and focus on implementation,” said Wahid.

The Plan is premised upon six major thrusts; harnessing talent, re-engineering economic growth, strengthening growth enablers, enhancing inclusivity, improving wellbeing and maintaining environmental and resources management.

“It is the last phase of our development plan towards achieving a high-income nation,” said Wahid.

Wahid noted that the issues of school autonomy and greater stakeholder participation in the school system has been recognised in the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched last month.

“Steps have and will be taken to address these proposals,” said Wahid.

This content is provided by FMT content provider The Malaysian Reserve

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 - 3:43 pm

    I would be cautious to the decentralization idea. If there is proper accounting – especially to parents, to auditors, etc. then decentralization is a good idea. But if there is decentralization without accounting – all that happens is rather than centralized corruption, there is decentralized corruption..

    Its the same thing in Sabah & Sarawak autonomy – fine so long as the politicians are audited and forced to account to their voters thoroughly, But without it, its just decentralized abuse that will happen..

    • #2 by cemerlang on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 12:47 am

      The auditors will have a big headache when they see all the different standards use in all the decentralised education institutions or what is called at the present moment; private school. If a student with four flat is consider so good in one institution, but the other institution says a 3 pointer is good; then where is the standard ? How will you do a research and put a standard to your findings ?

  2. #3 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 - 6:52 pm

    Rakyat pay tax, in return no got dis or dat, n now got 2 pay extra 2 educate their children, what lah
    On d other hand, UmnoB kept pumping tax payers’ $$$ in2 residential schools n MARA colleges, what lah

  3. #4 by waterfrontcoolie on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 - 10:55 pm

    Even if decentralization takes place, it will make no difference as the majority of the current crop of heads are really headless chickens running around aimlessly. Unless people who have the caliber are recruited, the results will be still the same. If not for report like PISA or TIMSS, only people who are bothered would be in the know and the GOMEN would still go around bluffing the kampong folks on how good their education programme is; minting thou-sands and thou-sands of Asses. In reality, the policy will not changed as this portfolio is the source of getting elecyed into the UMNO ; the spring of power! If you don’t think so, wait for the 2015 PISA results; by then most probably Indonesia may be placed above us! And it will provide us with another round of writing on the wall!

  4. #5 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 11 December 2013 - 11:12 pm

    ///Schools must have more freedom to hire and fire…///

    Decentralization will go against government’s quota policy of how percent of the staff should be Malay and how many percent should be non-Malay. I doubt the government would allow unlimited decentralization.

  5. #6 by Noble House on Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 4:55 am

    Where quantity becomes an excuse for quality the result will be an education policy based on folk wisdom and political expediency rather than evidence and facts. The educational concept, without such testing and evaluation, will remain vague and approximate, in that sense of the word.

    “Political expedience” suggests that what the government will do or implement in this situation will be based on what is useful or convenient or productive politically rather than what will really improve education or the education system. Our children become victims of a policy that takes precedence over everything else…… :-)

  6. #7 by bangkoklane on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 12:29 pm

    Let’s improve children’s education ourselves.
    Let’s start learning centres in Pakatan service centres to provide better learning opportunities for children. Parents/guardians will need to be members of PKR, PAS or DAP and pay a nominal monthly fee. Needy children can apply for fee exemption.

  7. #8 by Cinapek on Friday, 13 December 2013 - 3:56 pm

    With the typical mindset of most civil servants that is so entrenched to receive orders instead of thinking independently and taking initiatives, it will be a Herculean task to decentralise the education system.

    Even at the highest level, we typically hear ministers replying that they have “reported to the PM” when confronted with contentious issues. We rarely hear any one at the top level explaining that they independently took a certain line of action on their own and justify their actions with lucid and rational justifications.

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