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Losing focus

Publication Date : 10-10-2012


The Malaysia Education Blueprint should lay a foundation for the high-income economy target, but it has neglected the quality of education while lacking the spirit of openness.

The Malaysian Chinese Associaiton, Chinese groups and Chinese education organisations have reached 30 consensus at a symposium on the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, including resolutely opposed to the use of a standard Bahasa Malaysia curriculum for all students in both National and National-type schools starting from the Year 4 cohort in 2014; requesting the retention of Remove Class, making National-type schools part of the education mainstream and removing the argument saying that National-type schools are not conducive to national unity.

Education activists have been engaged in the same controversy while opposing to the single-stream education policy for decades, showing that the national education is still trapped in the existing framework.

According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2012–2013 released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Malaysia slipped four notches from last year's 21st spot to the 25th this year. And none of the Malaysian universities was ranked among the top 200 universities of the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

These reports reflected that something is wrong with the national education system, resulting in the lack of ability among young people. News about Malaysian contestants winning foreign singing competitions can always be heard but we seldom hear about Malaysians winning foreign academic achievement awards. The winners of the Mahathir Science Award over the past few years were foreigners, too.

University graduates have failed to meet the requirements of the business sector and to assist unemployed graduates, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced in his budget speech that the government will establish the Graduate Employability Taskforce with an allocation of 200 million ringgit (US$64.92 million). In addition, the government will also allocate 50 million ringgit to train 3,200 Malaysian Indian students in the estates to equip them with skills in line with market demand.

Examination-oriented education system will eventually be eliminated and being replaced by quality education. Quality education attaches importance to ideological and moral qualities, capacity-building, personality development, physical and mental health, and allow them to fully develop their potentials and build good characters.

The US, European countries and other advanced states stimulate the creativity of young people through quality education. To ensure a successful economic transformation, the key lies on research, development and innovation. Without research and development, Malaysia will then destined to retain as a Third World country.

Since there are loopholes in the education system, correction must be made. The National Education Blueprint, however, stays on the old path of stressing on language education, reading, writing and calculating, without fully utilising the advantages of diversity in education.

If National-type schools students have to attend 570 minutes of Bahasa Malaysia class, it would nibble up the time for other subjects, which would lead to an unnecessary controversy. Focusing on language teaching is actually a superstition believing that language is capable to unite the people. It is also a refraction of racism. Language proficiency does not mean excellence in capability and competitiveness.

The national education has also been heading towards elitism in recent years, such as the outstanding school award which is issued based on students' performance in the UPSR (Primary School Achievement Test) and the SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education). At the same time, the National Education Blueprint also introduces the Accelerate System Improvement to raise the country from the bottom-third to the top-third in international assessments, while ignoring the importance of gradual progress in education.

The National Education Blueprint has lost its focus and the national education might be trapped in stagnation in the long run.

Translated by Soong Phui Jee.


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