“Is the government kidding with the blueprint of the Annual Report 2022?”

THE 2022 Annual Report was launched by Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek at the Raja Tun Uda Library in Shah Alam, Selangor today.

According to Fadhlina, every annual report on the blueprint from 2013 shows the transformative achievements over the past decade by improving student performance improved teacher training in integrating technology in the classroom environment.

Introduced in 2013, the blueprint presented a forward-looking strategy that outlined a holistic educational agenda aimed at revolutionising Malaysia’s educational framework. It asserts that the blueprint achieved its goals in areas of accessibility, quality, equity, unity and efficiency, yet acknowledges that it simultaneously encountered difficulties and impediments.

Malaysian-born and Canadian-trained surgeon in private practice in Silicon Valley Bakri Musa has given presentations on Malaysian affairs at Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Centre and said in his book titled “The Rot in the Malaysian Educational System and Other Essays” he provides a counterpoint to the statements made by the Minister during the blueprint’s launch.

An excerpt from the book offers a succinct overview, which follows.

An Education System Worthy Of Malaysia (2003). Despite successive Administrations professing to transform the system, the rot continues. The challenges of today are as monumental as they are obvious.

The remedies offered by the government are nothing but repeated assurances and earnest statements, coupled with endless expensive blueprints and white papers. The greatest indictment of the system is that Malays are abandoning the national stream. The rich opt for international schools; the poor opt for Chinese schools, much to the embarrassment of Malay nationalists.

The former, which offers something other than the Malaysian curriculum and pedagogy, is mushrooming. Malaysian high school students perform poorly in comparative international assessments like TIMMS and PISA. It’s no surprise that Malaysians are now a rare species on elite campuses. Employers shun local graduates, and the teaching profession no longer attracts the best.

The Education Ministry, the largest in terms of budget and personnel is blighted by inept management and a bloated bureaucracy intent on pursuing narrow nationalistic and Islamist agendas. Each successive minister is consumed with exploiting the prestige of the office to further his political agenda.

Even when rare, enlightened policies were instituted, as with opening up higher education to the private sector in the mid-1990s by then Education Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the process was exploited to become lucrative conduits for corruption. Najib granted nearly 600 permits in the space of about two years!

More than half of those new institutions went out of business within a few years, stranding their students and crushing their dreams, quite apart from literally robbing them.

Looking at a statement made by an academician of international standing with a minister with a political agenda to appease the stakeholders makes me wonder if the blueprint she launched with challenges and obstacles is pulling wool over the Malaysian public.

Fadhlina claiming that the blueprint was a success in terms of accessibility, quality, equity, unity and efficiency is very rhetorical. If experts and the Malaysian public were to examine accessibility and equity, the Kepala Batas incident with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim dialogue with a student is sufficient proof of the frustration among the Malaysian public.

Is she kidding the Malaysian public by saying there is quality? This is opposed to what Dr Bakri said in his book, that Malaysian high school students perform poorly in comparative international assessments like Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

In terms of unity it is bizarre to say we are united. Our politicians are creatively devising methods to divide and rule which affects the young minds in schools.

As aptly said by Dr Bakri, “Remedies offered by the government are nothing but repeated assurances and earnest statements, coupled with endless expensive blueprints and white papers.”

The government must be very conscious in this interconnected world which provides fake news and in the same breath scholarly research-based information that the public cannot be fooled. The government must not be perceived as covering up or camouflaging. The perception of the Malaysian public must always be positive and truthful, if not we are building castles with sand. – Aug 25, 2023


Tamil Maran (KT Maran)

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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