After being regarded worldwide as a global kleptocracy, PISA 2015 should not be the second international infamy Malaysians have to suffer for the year 2016

Ten days are long enough for the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid to abdicate from his responsibility to explain the shame and infamy from the exclusion and rejection of Malaysia’s results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, described as the world’s school report.

Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Chong Sin Woon, raised eyebrows when he said yesterday that “A report being prepared by the committee conducting the mathematics, reading and science under PISA 2015 will explain the reason for the inadequate sampling which resulted in Malaysia’s disqualification”.

Let me tell Mahdzir – Just tell the truth. There is no need for a committee to crack its head as to how to “massage the message” of Malaysia’s disgraceful disqualification from PISA 2015 although 9,660 Form III students from 230 schools reportedly took part in the PISA 2015 tests.

If the Education Ministry tries to cook up a cock-and-bull story to put it in good light over Malaysia’s disgraceful exclusion and disqualification from PISA 2015, it bears the risk of double infamy when it is exposed a second time.

When the PISA 2015 results were released worldwide in London on 6th December, and Malaysia was excluded from PISA 2015 rankings although Malaysia took part in the PISA 2015 tests, I had on the same day called on Mahdzir to give “a full and detailed explanation”.

In the past ten days, DAP MP for Serdang Ong Kian Ming had asked whether the Education Ministry had tried to rig the PISA 2015 sample schools in order to artificially boost Malaysia’s scores while DAP National Publicity Secretary and MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua, had called on Mahdzir to take stern action against all senior Education Ministry officials complicit in the attempts to cheat PISA in trying to produce fake performance outcomes by using a biased sample of schools.

Even the Parents Action Group for Education (Page) has urged the Education Ministry to provide detailed explanations on Malaysia’s performance in PISA 2015, especially why only 51 percent of those assessed were from schools, falling short of the 85 percent requirement for Malaysia to be ranked on PISA 2015.

As Education Minister, Mahdzir must have the courage to come forward to bear responsibility for the disgraceful PISA 2015 episode and explain what actually happened.

Let PISA 2015 not be the second international infamy which Malaysians have to suffer in the year 2016, after being regarded as a global kleptocracy following the biggest kleptocratic action by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to forfeit US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland from US$3.5 billion embezzlement and money-laundering of 1MDB funds.

Mahdzir should explain four matters with regard to Malaysia’s disqualification from PISA 2015, viz:

1. Why was Malaysia’s excluded and disqualified from PISA 2015, one of the three countries to suffer such ignominy. The other two countries are Kazakstan and Argentina. It is not that Malaysia is taking part in PISA for the first time. PISA 2015 is the third PISA tests for Malaysia and there can be no excuse or reason for such an educational disaster.

2. How can the Education Ministry maintain its claim that Malaysia’s PISA 2015 results showing improvements in mathematics, science and reading were accurate when they had been disqualified and excluded in the PISA 2015 rankings – especially as the Education Ministry had been informed of the disqualification before the official launch of PISA 2015 results in London on Dec. 6?

3. The improvement in the scores for the three subjects claimed by the Education Ministry are: for science, score of 443 points, an increase of 23 points from the 2012 PISA score; for reading, score of 431 points which was up by 33 points while for mathematics the score was 446 points, up by 25 points. What would be Malaysia’s score if there had been no rigging of the school samples – will Malaysia’s PISA 2015 be the same or worse than PISA 2012?

4. Whether PISA 2015 is a major setback for the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to achieve above global average and be in top one-third of countries in international educational standards in less than a decade by 2025?

Even going by the Education Ministry’s claims of improved PISA 2015 performance, which is not recognized by the PISA authorities, Malaysia is still below the OECD average for all three subjects, which is 490 for Mathematics, 493 for Science and Reading.

If Malaysia is to in top one-third of countries in the PISA tests, Malaysia will have to perform better than countries including United States, Austria, France, Sweden, Czech Republic, Spain, Latvia, Russia, Luxembourg, Italy, Hungary, Lithuania, Croatia, Iceland, Israel, Malta, Slovak Republic, Greece, Chile and Bulgaria which are countries in the second one-third ranking of PISA assessments, and better positioned than Malaysia, even going by the Education Ministry’s claims of PISA 2015 results which are not recognized by PISA authorities.

Is this likely without even talking about Malaysia edging out countries in the top one-third of PISA 2015 tests, led by Singapore, Japan, Estonia, Taiwan Finland, Macao, Canada, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, New Zealand, Slovenia, Australia, United Kingdom, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Belgium, Denmark, Poland, Portugal and Norway?

The Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) has announced that it is taking action against 11 universities under suspicion of selling fake degrees where students don’t have to attend classes.

Can Mahdzir explain why the Education Ministry has so lost its moral compass as to be involved in trying to fake PISA 2015 results?

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