Malaysia deserves a new Education Minister who is fully committed to resolve the national education crisis with a practical and achievable action plan to transform the country from a mediocre to a world-class education system

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is trying to minimise the enormous damage caused by the three-week-long thunderous silence of the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to the “triple whammy” of relentless erosion of educational standards in the country, viz

* 2011 TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study);

* 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment); and

* World Bank’s adverse Malaysia Economic Monitor themed “High-Performing Education”.

In his Facebook post yesterday, Najib said Malaysia is capable of providing the best education system for all with the co-operation of all stakeholders, i.e. parents, educators and students themselves.

Describing the issue of education as closest to his heart, he also acknowledged that various efforts had to be taken to empower the national education system which “encompasses all aspects of human capital development inclusively as well as bridges the education gap between the urban and rural students”.

He said: “We can only produce excellent human capital through a holistic education system. Therefore, I support any education development effort, such as that formulated in the National Education Blueprint.”

The education system is another infamous example of the breach of Najib’s promise of “Janji Di Tepati”.

The Prime Minister has made a valiant attempt to salvage public confidence in the national education system and in particular the 13-year Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) to transform the Malaysian education system from a mediocre one stuck in the bottom third of the countries into a world-class quality system.

But Najib’s effort is a totally inadequate response to the national educational crisis when he has an Education Minister who has shown utter unconcern, indifference and disinterest to Malaysia’s deteriorating educational standards as Muhyiddin has not said a single word on the “triple whammy” on deteriorating educational standards in the past three week.

Neither Muhyiddin nor Najib has been able to explain the “unique character” of our national education system, where year after year Malaysian students make great strides in their educational quality and standards according to local examinations like SPR and PMR, every year achieving increasing hordes of students scoring straight As in all their subjects, but at the same time suffering serious erosion of educational standards and quality according to international educational assessments like the quadrennial TIMSS and triennial PISA.

For instance, when Malaysia first participated in TIMSS in 1999, our scores on both Mathematics and Science (519 and 492 respectively) were above the international average, with a ranking of 16 among 38 countries in Mathematics and 22 in Science.

In 2003 TIMSS, Malaysia’s performance was similar to that of 1999. The Science score actually increased, remaining well-above the international average, while the Mathematics score dropped somewhat but also stayed above the international average and the country’s rank actually improved to 10th place among 45 countries.

However, the 2007 and 2011 TIMSS showed a significant deterioration in performance for Malaysian students as compared to their peers in other countries.

By 2011, the Mathematics score had dropped to 440 points (26th position among 42 countries), while the Science score benchmarks fell to 426 points (32nd among 42 countries).

In the four TIMSS 1999-2011, Malaysia is the country which suffered the biggest drop in scores among all participating countries for both maths and science: in maths dropping by 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011; in science, dropping by 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 points in 2011.

Neither Muhyiddin nor Najib has been able to offer a cogent and acceptable explanation for such deplorable deterioration of educational stadards in our schools, whether TIMSS or PISA, in the past decade.

Neither can the Prime Minister nor Deputy Prime Minister explain how the government and the Education Ministry could spend RM20 million to get foreign consultants to prepare the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB) with a “fairy tale” objective which requires Malaysian students to perform three miracles in the Three Waves of the 13-year blueprint to catapult from the bottom third to the top third of the PISA and TIMSS system – a “double quantum jump” in educational standards which no other country on earth had ever achieved!

When I had repeatedly asked Muhyiddin whether he is serious and thinks that it is practical, achievable and do-able for Malaysian students to set a world record of catapulting from the bottom third to top third of the PISA and TIMSS systems in 13 years, there was complete silence not only from Muhyiddin and the Malaysian education planners in the Education Ministry, but most interestingly, also from McKinsey & Co, the foreign consultants who were paid RM20 million to prepare the MEB!

Malaysia deserves a new Education Minister who is fully committed to resolve the national education crisis with a practical and achievable action plan to transform the country from a mediocre to a world-class education system.

If Muhyiddin still thinks that he is a good Education Minister, then he should welcome and ensure the convening of a special meeting of Parliament in January on the national educational crisis to prove his mettle and worth as the education czar in the country.

Otherwise Najib should take the opportunity of the imminent Cabinet reshuffle to appoint a new Education Minister who can do justice to the country and future generations as the quality of the education system of a country is intimately and intricately linked with its economic future.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 - 2:21 pm

    Malaysia also deserve new Finance Minister, Work Minister, Health Minister, i.e., just about every Ministry ESPECIALLY A NEW PRIME MINISTER since its clear he committed fraud to get his job now.

    You make your kids clean up the mess they make to teach them life’s lesson. But when they become Adults, lessons are over, they have to pay for what they make – you let them have their full consequences – which means getting fired.

  2. #2 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 - 11:22 pm

    As always, we can have all the grandiose plans and blueprints etc.etc. launch with lots of fanfare and promises and what happens in the end? it falls flat on the face. And the reason why? Poor implementation. We have plenty of those and one of the biggest white elephant is right on Putrajaya’s doorstep – the multi media super corridor.

  3. #3 by Di Shi Jiu on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - 1:33 am

    Mr Lim,

    I have said it once, and I’ll say it again.

    It is essential that Malaysians remain poorly educated so that they will remain dumb.

    If Malaysians are dumb and stupid, they will not know there are better options out there.

    If Malaysians do not know there are better options out there, they will not ask for better options.

    Simple, really.

  4. #4 by Noble House on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - 4:33 am

    I believe that the whole point of going to school is to prepare our students for the future. We want our students to be able to walk out in to the real world and be successful. But when you have politician belongs to a society or culture that has often been described as narcissistic by scholars and social thinkers alike – how much of his behavior can be attributed to his milieu and which of his traits are really his?

    Well, that’s precisely what we are telling our kids – these politicians are morons.

  5. #5 by Cinapek on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - 12:37 pm

    The Malaysian education system is like the story of the Aegean stables of Greek mythology. The rot started several decades ago and the cumulative filth landed on Muhyuddin’s lap. It does not help he does not have a clue how to resolve the problem so he went to consult with expensive consultants. We have a Govt now who thinks the panacea for every ill plaguing this country can be easily resolved by appointing expensive consultants who will gladly give them the crutch they need in return for hefty fees. The reports and recommendations may be good. But do we have the people to implement them successfully?

    What we need is a Malaysian Hercules who can clean out this education Aegean mess.

    And Muhyuddin is not that Hercules

  6. #6 by worldpress on Wednesday, 25 December 2013 - 2:18 pm

    It need non-racial human to admit to a world-class standard

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