Archive for category Education

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

Jenny Anderson/Amy X. Wang
Quartz
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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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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Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid should explain why Malaysia is dropped from PISA 2015 although Malaysian students participated in the OECD assessment for what is described as the “world school report”

Educationists, teachers and politicians had been waiting for the OECD’s PISA 2015 results which had been described as the world’s school report – and Malaysia is no exception, especially as the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 had as one of its objectives the elevation of Malaysia into the top one-third of countries participating in international assessments like the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science (TIMSS).

Like educationists, teachers and politicians all over the countries whose 15-year-old students had taken part in the tests taken by half a million 15-year-olds in 72 countries in maths, reading and science – held every three years – I was waiting this evening for the launch and unveiling of the PISA 2015 results in London at 11 am UK time.

In 2015 over half a million students, representing 28 million 15-year-olds in 72 countries and economies, took the internationally agreed two-hour test. Students were assessed in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy.

I was shocked and stunned when I combed through the PISA 2015 Report, and could not find Malaysia in the in the world results. Malaysia was the only one of the 72 countries omitted from the PISA 2015 results. Read the rest of this entry »

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When will Malaysia break into the dominance of Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan in rankings of TIMSS for math and science or is this a mere pipe-dream?

Is the Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir bin Khalid happy with the results of Malaysian students in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2015 made public worldwide yesterday?

The Education Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr. Khair Mohamad Yusuf seems to be quite ecstatic and easily satisfied with the results of Malaysian students in TIMSS 2015, when the results should be cause for grave concern for all educationists and parents in Malaysia.

In a way, Khair is right in that the TIMSS 2015 results was an improvement on the TIMSS 2011, as Malaysia scored 465 in mathematics and 471 in science, which is a significant improvement from 2011, when it was 440 and 426 respectively, for 14-year-old Form 2 students.

However, this is the second worst score for 14-year-old Malaysian Form 2 students in five TIMSS results since 1995, as shown by the following marks achieved by Malaysian students in the TIMSS series: Read the rest of this entry »

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Asia University Rankings 2016: Malaysia must refocus to develop as a higher education power

By Ellie Bothwell
THE World University Rankings
June 20, 2016

The country spends more on higher education than many of its regional neighbours, so why isn’t this reflected in the Asia University Rankings?

Malaysia aims to be the “education hub” of South-east Asia, says Wahid Omar, vice-chancellor of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.

“Higher education is the catalyst for innovation for the country and the key agent in revolutionising the lives of the community as a whole,” he says.

While Singapore is the strongest country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in the rankings, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are also home to some of the continent’s top-ranked universities.

Thailand leads on the number of representatives, with seven, but the highest-ranked institution in the region outside Singapore is Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, in joint 70th place.

Jamil Salmi, former coordinator of the World Bank’s tertiary education programme, says Malaysia has “more consistently focused on excellence in its university sector” than Thailand and Indonesia and has “one of the highest levels of public spending on tertiary education in the world”.

But Simon Marginson, professor of international higher education at the UCL Institute of Education, says that as Malaysia has “two-thirds of the gross domestic product per head of Korea”, it “should be doing much better”, and he questions whether the country is “paying the price for being a resource-rich economy”.

“This can lead governments to ‘coast’ and underperform in higher education,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ministers’ failure of leadership and lack of moral courage which is why the Malaysian government has lost its moral compass and Malaysia lost its way in the sixth decade of nationhood

The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh today gave an example of the Ministers’ failure of leadership and lack of moral courage which is why the Malaysian government has lost its moral compass and Malaysia lost its way in the sixth decade of nationhood.

In answering the question by the PKR MP for Penampang Darell Leiking, Idris defended the two forums against Christianisation held by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), claiming that they were meant to explain the threat of Islamic State (IS) and Syiah teachings. Read the rest of this entry »

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Umberto Eco changed my life

THE JOY OF SEMIOTICS

by Annalisa Merelli
February 20, 2016

He did so on a bright, warm day in Bologna — I think it was the late spring of 2003. I was an undergraduate student then, one year away from a degree in mass communication, and with too many ideas (my personal brand of not having a clue) about what to do next. Professor Eco was going to present the brand-new master’s degree in semiotics — the world’s first! — in the room B of the University of Bologna’s communications department, which boasted a total of three rooms.

I went out of curiosity — about him, not the course. I had bent my Italian practicality too much already, had heard far too many times that the path I was on was never going to get me a job, to even consider committing two more years to “the arcane field of semiotics“ — the study of meaning or, as a relative of Steven Johnson’s brilliantly put it, “the study of how plants grow in light. Very important field.” (No one ever knows what semiotics is. No one. Ever.) Read the rest of this entry »

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Idris Jusoh should stop being elitist, patronising or even “Marie Antoinettish”, as he should stop arguing whether there are hungry university students but get down to resolve the problem of students cutting down on meals because of economic exigencies

The Higher Education Minister, Datuk Idris Jusoh should stop being elitist, patronizing or even “Marie Antoinettish”, as he stop arguing over whether there are hungry university students but get down to resolve the problem of students cutting down on meals because of economic exigencies.

His statement two days ago that he went hungry too when he was a student, but lack of money was not always the issue, was not on the level of the infamous Marie Antoinette statement of “Let them eat cake!” when the French queen learned that the peasants had no bread, but was sufficiently unsympathetic to the students’ problems as to approximate Marie Antoinette in callousness and indifference to social sufferings among the people.

Instead of spearheading a campaign to end such a serious problem, Idris could only think of browbeating the media by ordering them not to highlight such issues; while one Minister after another had followed Idris to express skepticism about the existence of the problem of hungry University students.

This is most shocking for the problem of students cutting down on meals or even going hungry because of the economic strains on the students and their families, is not synthetic problem but a very real issue, as I had met university students in such straits in the past few weeks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia is seriously sick and the only way for the country to be healthy, vibrant and vigorous again and stop being the “Sick Man of ASEAN” is the cure of a change of government in the 14GE

The first fortnight of the new year, 2016, provided fodder for the prophets of doom and gloom for Malaysia, as Malaysia is very sick, afflicted with a multitude of political, economic, good governance and nation-building ailments.

One indication of the seriousness of the Malaysian malady is my six-month suspension from Parliament, not because I had committed any heinous crime or guilty of grave misdemeanour causing Malaysia to be placed in the third ranking of world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015”, but because of my persistence in the pursuit of the question to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak: “Mana RM2.6 billion?”

This is further proof that those who want answers to the “Mana RM2.6 billion?” are punished while those responsible for these scandals continue to enjoy immunity and impunity under our system of democratic governance!

It is sad is that Parliament has again proven its utter irrelevance and impotence when the Najib government could blatantly break its promise to “answer all” about Najib’s twin mega scandals – the RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM55 billion 1MDB – on the last day of the 25-day Dewan Rakyat budget meeting on Dec. 3 and there was nothing anyone could do to demand full and satisfactory accountability from Najib and the Ministers for the twin mega scandals.

This is why I am using my six-month suspension from Parliament to tour the country – I have so far visited 66 of the 222 parliamentary constituencies – to feel the pulse of the people about Najib’s twin mega scandals.

What I had found and learnt is that Najib cannot be more wrong when he claimed that his twin mega scandals are “dead and buried” and no more burning issues of the country, for all over the country, in every nook and corner, Malaysians regardless of race, religion, region or even politics, age or gender, are demanding answers to the teeming questions about Najib’s twin mega scandals. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Disgrace of Malaysian University Education

By Murray Hunter
Asia Sentinel

January 6, 2016

Mismanagement, waste, and corruption in public universities

Malaysia’s public universities have dropped completely out of the World University Rankings maintained by the Times of London. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was ranked 87th in the top 100 Asian rankings in 2013, but has since fallen out. Not a single Malaysian university made the top 100 Asian rankings.

The collapse of higher education in Malaysia has grown so marked that World Bank economist Dr Frederico Gil Sander recently said the state of the system is more alarming than the country’s considerable public debt. The talent needed to develop the Malaysian economy is not being produced.

It isn’t just the Times survey. Malaysian public universities have also shown mixed results in other surveys like the QS rankings,where three Malaysian universities rose slightly while Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, International Islamic Universiti Malaysia, and Universiti Teknologi MARA, all slipped. Not a single Malaysian university made the top 100, According to the QS ranking profiles, Malaysian universities have lost significant ground in academic reputation and tend to be weak in research, with no Malaysian university even reaching the top 400.

Public Universities Vice-Chancellor/Rector Committee chairman Kamarudin Hussin, also vice chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Perlis (Unimap) claims that the ranking methodologies favor older, more established universities. Yet many universities within the top 100 Asian universities were established relatively recently. Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, ranked 7th was established in 1980, Nanyang Technological University, ranked 10th was set up in 1981, and Pohang University of Science and Technology, ranked 11th, was established in 1986. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Education Minister should ensure that Malaysian taxpayers do not have to pay for RM3 million mistake in reprint of Year Six History textbook which showed Malacca in the east coast above Terengganu

Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid should ensure that Malaysian taxpayers do not have to pay for the RM3 million mistake in reprint of Year Six History textbook which showed Malacca in the east coast above Terengganu.

It is shocking as to how such a basic mistake, which should not be made under any circumstances, could be made despite the various levels of checks and counter-checks, from the choice of the author to the writing of the text, including the title to the diagrams and content to the last page.

Clearly, the whole system of checks and counter-checks have broken down in the education ministry, which does not reflect well on the professionalism of the Education Ministry, departments and agencies like the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) delegated with such tasks.

The DBP director general Datuk Dr. Awang Sariyan has said that reprinting the history text would cost RM3 million. Read the rest of this entry »

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MCA is history when it cannot even ensure that the national contributions and role of MCA founders are given proper respect and recognition in the school history text books

Today, the MCA-owned Star report entitled “Penang’s first CM will not be in history books” made the startling announcement:

“Kuala Lumpur. It seems Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee will not be joining the ranks of other local top leaders in the Year 6 history textbooks used by Chinese vernacular schools after all.

“Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the history books were already printed and would soon be sent to schools.

“’There will be no more amendments made to the history books,’ he was quoted in a report by Sin Chew Daily.

“Mahdzir pointed out that corrections were made to Malacca which was mistakenly labelled onto the state of Terengganu.”

Mahdzir’s explanation is neither satisfactory nor acceptable. If the ghastly mistake in the SJKR Year Six history textbook, which shifted the Malacca state to the north of the country near Kelantan, could be corrected, why could’nt the omission of Wong Pow Nee in the formation of Malaysia, as one of the members of the Cobbold Commission which recommended positively on the establishment of Malaysia in 1963, be rectified? Read the rest of this entry »

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UiTM must give assurance it will not organize a third anti-Christianisation or anti any religion conference and Higher Education Minister Idris should convene meeting with all universities to ensure universities do not become breeding grounds for inter-religious misunderstanding, enmity and hatred

Tan Sri Dr. Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar should be sacked as UiTM Vice Chancellor of University Technology MARA (UiTM) for setting the worst possible example as a responsible Malaysian citizen for allowing the university to host a second anti-Christianisation seminar for the second consecutive year.

The seminar against Christianisation held in the Lendu, Malacca campus of UiTM on Saturday, was the second to be held by the university, after a similar seminar held last year at the UiTM Shah Alam campus, titled “The word ‘Allah’ and Christology in the Malay Archipelago”.

It is most shocking that Sahol, who had been UiTM Vice Chancellor for 15 years since 2000, and UiTM administrators responsible for the two anti-Christianisation seminars, do not seem to know or understand Rukunegara, whose core values and principles teach the diverse races and religions in Malaysia to respect each other so that we can settle our differences through dialogue and not confrontation.

The last thing the drafters of Runkunegara would want or expect our University Vice Chancellors and administrators to do would be to turn universities into breeding grounds for inter-religious misunderstanding, enmity and hatred.

If our undergraduates are taught to hate or fear other religions and adherents of other faiths, it is not only a repudiation of the Rukunegara, it is a most anti-national act as we are laying the seeds for inter-religious distrust, enmity and hatred which can only result in national discord and disunity. Read the rest of this entry »

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Even MCA Ministers and leaders have forgotten the national contributions of past MCA Presidents like Tun Tan Siew Sin

MCA leaders are protesting that MCA’s contributions to nation-building like the formation of Malaysia had been sidelined in history textbooks.

MCA Deputy President and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Dr. Wee Ka Siong complained about the case in the SJKC Year Six history textbook where MCA’s contribution towards the formation of Malaysia, in particular that of late Wong Pow Nee, the first Chief Minister of Penang, was not mentioned at all despite the his contribution as a member of the Cobbold Commission which recommended positively on the establishment of Malaysia in 1963.

Page 10 and 11 of the textbook showed various Malaysian leaders like UMNO’s Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Razak, two leaders from Sabah namely Tun Fuad and Tun Mustapha and three from Sarawak, Stephen Kalong Ningkan, Temenggong Jugah and Ong Kee Hui, and even Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, as “founders” of Malaysia but no mention of any MCA leader.

There was not only no mention of Wong Pow Nee, but also omission of the MCA President Tun Tan Siew Sin.

But Wee only complained about the omission of Wong Pow Nee but not about the omission of Tan Siew Sin – which shows that the present batch of MCA leaders including those who have become Ministers have forgotten the contributions of past MCA Presidents like Tun Tan Siew Sin.

How can Wee and the MCA leaders complain that the services of past MCA leaders had been sidelined or forgotten when they themselves have sidelined or forgotten the contributions of past MCA Presidents like Tun Tan Siew Sin? Read the rest of this entry »

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Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid should declare whether he had a hand in setting the immoral questions in the SPM Moral Education paper and if not, who are the officers responsible for such irresponsible conduct and whether they would be penalised

The Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid should declare whether he had a hand in setting the immoral questions in the SPM Moral Education paper and if not, who are the officers responsible for such irresponsible conduct and whether they would be penalized.

SPM students for the Moral Education paper were asked to answer questions based on a notice and a picture.
The notice states that civil servants are not allowed to participate in anti-government protests; the picture is of two students speaking to each other.

Student A is putting up a poster promoting an anti-government rally, saying that he would receive RM100 after he finishes putting up the posters. Student B advises Student A against doing so.

The questions:

(a) Why students should not participate in anti-government rallies?

(b) How should schools prevent students from participating in anti-government rallies?

(c) We should support Student B’s stance. Why?

The blatant attempt to brainwash students with politically-loaded questions in the SPM Moral Education paper is most reprehensible and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms, especially as it involved a not-so-subtle attempt to tell lies and demonise protest gatherings as anti-government and anti- national, even suggesting that those who participate in them are not high-minded idealists but “mercenaries”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Laying the foundation for fanaticism

– Sheela R.
The Malaysian Insider
16 November 2015

Imagine yourself to be seven years old. A tender age where your foremost consideration would be if you get to play your favourite game with your friends, watch a television programme or simply decide on which ice-cream flavour to indulge in.

Now imagine yourself at that age in a class, where a teacher talks of hell and heaven and the myriad punishments awaiting sinners and unbelievers.

The stuff of nightmares is introduced progressively to you, in the guise of imparting religious values. These visions terrify you, but you don’t have the maturity or intellect to challenge the teacher. Read the rest of this entry »

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As 2020 deadline looms, Malaysian students fail to shine in science

by Boo Su-Lyn
The Malay Mail Online
November 2, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 ― Less than 13 per cent of those who sat for the Form 3 PT3 examination last year scored at least a C in both science and mathematics, Putrajaya has revealed, despite Malaysia’s aim to achieve developed nation status in less than five years.

The Education Ministry also said that the average percentage of secondary school students who qualified for the science stream, based on their results of the previous Form 3 PMR examination, only hovered around 30 per cent over the past 10 years, though Malaysia has been aiming for a 60:40 ratio of science/ technical/vocational and arts students since 1970.

“The most probable reason for this could be the new format for the PT3 science and maths papers,” Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof told Malay Mail Online in a recent email interview, in explaining the PT3 science and maths results.

“There were very few multiple choice questions which most students are very familiar with; and the test items demand a lot of thinking on the part of the students to gauge their understanding of the subject matter rather than regurgitating rote-learned concepts.

“It does not encourage teaching to the test and teachers need to engage the students in the learning process by asking more higher-order thinking questions. It is hoped that this kind of format will encourage the students to learn meaningfully and in future, the PT3 results will become better,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Parliament should form an all-party Parliamentary Committee on tragedy of the seven missing Orang Asli children of SK Tohoi in Gua Musang if Government is not prepared to have high-powered commission of inquiry

Parliament should begin its 25-day budget session on Monday with a minute of silence in memory of the five of the seven Orang Asli children of SK Tohoi in Gua Musang who perished after missing from the school hostel 54 days ago on August 23.

The nation and government failed the Orang Asli children when they should be cared and nurtured to be future leaders of the nation, and the least Parliament can do is to start its new parliamentary meeting with a minute of silence for Members of Parliament, the government and the nation to remember the wasted lives of the five children ranging from seven to eleven years because of government failure, negligence and incompetence.

It is scandalous that the Ministers and ministries concerned for the socio-economic and educational upliftment of the Orang Asli community to bring them into the mainstream of national development are not taking the SK Tohoi scandal and tragedy in sufficient seriousness – as up to now, the Education Minister Datuk Mahdzir Khalid has still to visit SK Tohoi or even to utter a single word of concern!

Would Madhzir be so indifferent, irresponsible and even callous if the five kids who perished and the two kids who were found as “bags of bones” were Malay kids?

Malaysia wants an Education Minister who would show equal care, concern and compassion for all school children, regardless of their race, religion or region. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can the government announce a New Deal for Orang Asli in Parliament on Monday in the debate on Teresa Kok’s urgent motion on the scandal/tragedy of seven missing Orang Asli children of SK Tohoi for seven weeks?

The announcement by the Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob that the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) will provide transportation services for 16,905 Orang Asli pupils at 94 primary schools with hostels nationwide to enable them to return home every fortnight is most laughable and grossly inadequate as a proper government response to the scandal and tragedy of the SK Tohoi seven missing Orang Asli children for seven weeks five of whom had perished.

What the country wants is not just a new transportation service to Orang Asli pupils in school hostels to go home once a fortnight but a complete review of the 58-year government programme to bring Orang Asli communities to the mainstream of national development (which is clearly an abysmal failure) and a total revamp of government services to uplift Orang Asli in all fields of human endeavour.

Why for instance, after 58 years of upliftment of Orang Asli in the country, there is not a single Orang Asli who is a Minister or even a Deputy Minister in the Federal Government, or members on State Excos in the various states with significant Orang Asli communities?

Let the Minister for Rural and Regional Development announce in Parliament on Monday on behalf of the Najib Cabinet a “New Deal for Orang Asli” in the emergency debate requisitioned by DAP MP for Sepueh Teresa Kok on the aftermath of the scandal and tragedy of the SK Tohoi seven missing Orang Asli children in Gua Musang. Read the rest of this entry »

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Proper agenda for the first week of 2016 Budget Parliament beginning on Monday

Never before in Malaysia’s parliamentary democracy has so many issues compete and contend for attention in the first week of the forthcoming 2016 Budget Parliament beginning on Monday, 19th October 2015, whether the Malay Rulers’ Statement of Oct. 6; the political, economic, good governance and nation building scandals shaping up to be a “perfect storm” to batter Malaysia; the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) or the approval of toll rate hikes for 15 highways across the country.

Members of Parliament have not received the Parliamentary Order Paper for the first week or the first day of the 25-day Parliamentary meeting which is to be held from Oct. 19 to Dec. 3, but the following should be the proper agenda for the first week of Parliament from Monday.

For the first week of Parliament from Monday to Thursday, I have given notice to pose oral Parliamentary questions on the hot topics of the day, viz:

1) To ask the Prime Minister to state when and why the multi-agency Task Force on 1MDB was formed and dissolved, what it had achieved; and the reasons and scope of the new Task Force formed by new Attorney-General.

2) To ask the Prime Minister to state who had donated the RM2.6 billion deposited into his personal accounts in AmBank in March 2013; which Ministers and MPs had benefited from it; what is the balance and where are the monies. Read the rest of this entry »

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