Archive for December 7th, 2016

Why Australia’s PISA results are a catastrophe

by Jennifer Buckingham
Australian Financial Review
December 7, 2016

Problem-based learning is a problem if children don’t have the basic skills to apply.

Two sets of independent international test results released in the past week show Australia’s education system has serious deficiencies.

The results of the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 showed no change in maths and science scores for Australian students since 1995 while other countries improved, leading to a slide in our international rankings.

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 results are even worse – the performance of Australian students in reading, maths and science has significantly decreased over the past 15 years.

There has been a corresponding slide in our international rankings because other countries have either maintained their performance or improved. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jho Low Family Digs in to Stop 1MDB Asset Seizure by U.S.

by Edvard Pettersson
December 6, 2016

Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho’s family is reaching far and wide to stop the U.S. from seizing $650 million in real estate and business investments the government claims were acquired with funds stolen from his home country.

The family of the businessman known as Jho Low claims the Swiss trustees holding their assets are afraid to fight back against the U.S. for fear of being prosecuted in the global game of investment hide and seek set off by the alleged disappearance of more than $3.5 billion of the $8 billion raised by 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Four relatives of Low, including his father and brother, now say they will ask courts in the Cayman Islands and New Zealand to replace the Swiss trustees — so they can avoid having their possessions go to the U.S. by default. Read the rest of this entry »

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1MDB: The Abu Dhabi Connection

Katharina Bart
6 December 2016

Investigators are probing what they believe is a billion-dollar graft scandal at Malaysian state fund 1MDB. What is the role of Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth executives?

As investigators in at least five countries probe an alleged billion-dollar corruption scheme, Abu Dhabi has been largely silent about its association with the Malaysian state fund.

Khadem al-Qubais–, who previously ran IPIC, one of Abu Dhabi’s largest sovereign wealth funds, until last year was responsible for billions in investments for the ruling family of Abu Dhabi – including stakes in Barclays, Daimler and Glencore.

He is also believed to have run a lucrative embezzlement and money-laundering racket which brought millions to his personal account, «The Wall Street Journal» reported. Former BSI private bankers have admitted running similarly lucrative side gigs in Singapore. Read the rest of this entry »

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China to help 1MDB settle multibillion-dollar legal dispute

Jeevan Vasagar in Kuala Lumpur, Caroline Binham in London and Simeon Kerr in Dubai
Financial Times
Dec 7, 2016

Troubled Malaysian state investment fund ready to make repayment to Abu Dhabi’s Ipic

Malaysia’s troubled state investment fund 1MDB is preparing to make a repayment, with Chinese assistance, to Abu Dhabi’s state-owned International Petroleum Investment Company, as it seeks to settle a dispute in which the Emirati fund is claiming about $6.5bn.

The move to begin repaying what the Malaysian fund owes, confirmed by two people familiar with the matter, marks a step forward in efforts to resolve the financial position of the heavily indebted state fund.

The two funds reached an impasse earlier this year, with 1MDB insisting it had fulfilled its obligations and Ipic taking the dispute to arbitration in London.

The relationship between the two funds — once hailed as a “strategic partnership” between Abu Dhabi and Malaysia — has gone sour amid allegations that Emirati officials were involved in a plot to siphon more than $1bn from 1MDB.

Khadem al-Qubaisi, former head of Ipic, has been detained over his suspected role in the affair. He has not been charged with any offence.

China has been approached as a source of funds for 1MDB, according to three people with knowledge of the matter, one of whom said Malaysia would swap assets for financing. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Global Search for Education: Everything You Need to Know About PISA

C. M. Rubin
Huffington Post

“If we look at countries like Singapore, Canada, Estonia, Japan and Finland, who have combined excellence and equity over a number of PISA cycles, we can see what they do: they have high and universal expectations for all students, an unwavering focus on outstanding teaching and they target resources on schools and students that are struggling.” — Andreas Schleicher

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a triennial international survey that evaluates education systems. Once a country is approved for participation by PISA, individual schools are chosen based on stringent criteria to represent all 15 year-olds in that country. In 2015, over half a million 15-year-olds in 72 countries and economies took the two-hour test. Students were assessed in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy, although the major emphasis of the 2015 test was science literacy. The results were published today.

Some fascinating highlights: Just four provinces in China now provide 13% of the world’s top-performing students; Singapore, Canada, Estonia, Japan and Finland have combined excellence and equity over a number of PISA tests, and interestingly these countries have a steadfast commitment to outstanding teaching and to supporting schools and students that are struggling. While socio-economic status accounts for 13% of the variation in science, maths and reading, the 10% most disadvantaged students in Macao (China) and Vietnam outperformed the 10% most advantaged students in 20 PISA participating countries. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Guardian view on the Pisa tests: slicing them up

The Guardian
6 December 2016

Tony Blair wanted to be remembered for his education reforms, and the latest results from the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment – Pisa – the triennial survey of the skills of 15-year-olds suggest that if only he had concentrated on his domestic agenda, he probably would have been.

The Pisa scores are notorious for revealing no consistent message, but it is striking that England’s 15-year-olds are performing about as well as three years ago, where Scotland and Wales, where reform was rebuffed, are in decline.

Overall, the UK’s performance is almost unchanged: a little above the OECD average, still a long way behind Singapore, Japan and Estonia, but well ahead of Italy, Israel and Iceland. There is a marginal improvement in the UK’s ranking, despite a slight decline in scores. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the world’s biggest education test, one small country has raced past all the others

Jenny Anderson/Amy X. Wang
December 06, 2016

Every three years the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) tests 15-year-olds around the world on their math, science and reading abilities.

Then, countries around the world celebrate, or panic.

For example, in 2000, the world learned Finland was a global education superpower (that was news to many in Finland too, according to some). Somehow the country managed to start kids in school at 7, have short school days, assign little homework, test kids infrequently, and still eke out amazing results.

Finland’s schools became a top tourist attraction, as educators around the globe flocked to understand their secret (basically, stringent selection of teachers, who are given autonomy to teach).

But what goes up sometimes comes down. In the OECD’s latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) ranking, for 2015, Finland has fallen from its perch (though it remains a very high performer), and Singapore trounced the rest of the world on math, reading and science.

PISA 2015 includes data from 72 countries and economies, including all 35 OECD members and 37 other countries and economies. In some cases, regions stand in for countries: Taiwan’s results are based on testing in Taipei, in Argentina only the city of Buenos Aires participates, and in mainland China, four provinces — Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong (B-S-J-G) participate.

In addition, some countries paid to have subnational regions tested separately; the US, for instance, asked for rankings for Massachusetts and North Carolina. Approximately 540,000 students took the test, which aims to capture what students know toward the end of their formal schooling, and how well they can apply that knowledge more broadly. Read the rest of this entry »

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Family of Malaysia’s Jho Low moves to protect assets in 1MDB probe

Dec 6, 2016

Relatives of Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho are seeking fresh court action in a bid to prevent the U.S. government from seizing assets as part of an investigation into the scandal-tainted 1MDB fund, according to a U.S. court filing.

Four relatives of Low Taek Jho are planning to file court actions in New Zealand and the Cayman Islands this week to have real estate and other assets transferred to a new trustee, according to a motion on Monday in federal court in Los Angeles.

The motion seeks to push a hearing on the case out to a later date, noting that there is an effort to take the case to courts in New Zealand and the Cayman Islands.

The businessman, commonly referred to as Jho Low, is among the people named in civil lawsuits filed earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Justice, which alleged that more than $3.5 billion was misappropriated from the 1MDB fund. Read the rest of this entry »

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How can the Education Ministry claim that Malaysia has achieved higher scores in PISA 2015 when PISA 2015 authorities have dropped and de-recognised Malaysia’s results from the OECD “world school report”?

I am amazed as to how the Education Ministry can claim that Malaysian students had registered better scores in mathematics, science and reading according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015 results announced in London yesterday, when PISA 2015 authorities have dropped and derecognised Malaysia’s results from the OECD “world school report” in this triennial test, for reasons which have yet to be disclosed.

It is completely unthinkable that the Education Deputy Director-General Datuk Dr. Amin Senin could announce Malaysia’s results for the PISA 2015, claiming better scores in all three PISA domains, scientific literacy, reading literacy and mathematical literacy, when Malaysia was the only one of the 72 countries/economics which took part in the PISA 2015 tests last year but which had been dropped from the PISA 2015 results released yesterday.

The Education Ministry should know why Malaysia had the dishonour and ignominy of being the only one of the 72 participating countries/economies to be dropped and derecognised from the PISA 2015 results announced in London yesterday as well as from the PISA 2015 Report and the Education Ministry owes it to the Malaysian people, and in particular to the 9,660 Form III students from 230 schools and involving 5,750 teachers and 230 administrators who were selected to participate in the PISA 2015 tests, to reveal why Malaysia had been officially dropped and de-recognised from the PISA 2015 tests after Malaysian students had participated in the programme last year. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th GE likely to be after 60th National Day celebrations in September as Najib would want to secure a first conviction for Guan Eng to disqualify him from standing as a candidate for next general election and to stop him from continuing as Penang Chief Minister

With the news that the Penang High Court had fixed 34 days next year for the corruption trial of DAP Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, most Malaysians would have wondered how many days would have to be set aside if the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had been charged locally for kleptocracy for the multi-billion dollar international 1MDB embezzlement and money-laundering scandal which is the subject of investigations in at least six countries, including Switzerland, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and the United States.

When Guan Eng was subjected to a three-day interrogation spanning some 23 hours by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in May this year in connection with the corruption allegations about the discount over his RM2.8 million bungalow, it was calculated that if Najib had been given the same MACC treatment as Guan Eng for his RM4.2 billion “donation” scandal, the Prime Minister would be questioned for over 12 years by the MACC.

This is because Najib’s RM4.2 billion “donation” scandal is 1,500 times greater than Guan Eng’s RM2.8 million bungalow allegation, and if Najib is given the same MACC treatment as Guan Eng where the Penang Chief Minister was questioned for three days, Najib will have to be questioned 1,500 x 3 days, yielding 4,500 days. This works out to 12.3 year! Imagine Najib going in and out of MACC office to be questioned for 12 years and four months, from wake-up in the morning to retirement for sleep at night, and doing nothing else!

Similarly, if 34 days are set aside for Guan Eng’s corruption trial, then 34 x 1,500 = 52,500 days (or 143.8 years or more than two lifetimes for Najib) would have to be set aside if there is a kleptocracy trial for Najib in a Malaysian court!

The dates set for Guan Eng’s corruption trial are an important indicator for the 14th General Election as Najib would want to secure a first conviction for Guan Eng to disqualify him from standing as a candidate in the 14th general election and to stop him from continuing as Penang Chief Minister. Read the rest of this entry »

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Election Warning Shot Sounded: Is the Opposition Prepared?

Koon Yew Yin
7th Dec 2016

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. There were two photos which came out in the media during the last few days which are worth at least two thousand words if not many more .

The first shows UMNO President sitting side by side with Dato Seri Awang Hadi, President of PAS. Although they were together at a rally to condemn the violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar support, the picture of Najib and top Umno leaders sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Barisan’s long time enemy shows clearly that the union of PAS and UMNO is only a matter of time. Not only that but the two parties are working secretly as well as openly together in their joint attempt to kill off the Malay and Islamic opposition.

This marriage of PAS and UMNO is no ordinary marriage. It is meant purely for both Najib’s and Hadi’s personal advantage. Both leaders have been guilty of the worst possible mistakes and scandals – Najib on 1MDB and Hadi with hudud. Both leaders, in the recent past, have shown that they could not give a damn about the plight of the Rohingyas. However, this time round, they have – in typical hypocritical fashion – decided that it was important for these two who have never shown any love for each other in the past to shower each other with hugs and kisses. Read the rest of this entry »

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