National shame that foreign bodies like World Bank more concerned about Malaysia’s educational crisis and deteriorating educational standards than even the Education Minister himself

Since the publication of the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) results more than three weeks ago, the World Bank has come out with a special report themed “High-Performing Education” in its latest issue of Malaysian Economic Monitor, organised a forum in a local university presenting the World Bank report zeroing on the question whether Malaysia can develop a high-performing education system to support our high-income aspirations and featured in several online and printed, local and foreign, media reports (including Wall Street Journal on Christmas Eve) quoting World Bank officials from its Bangkok office attributing the cause of Malaysia’s poor performance in international educational benchmarks to inefficiencies in the Malaysian education system in the allocation of resources for education in the country.

The World Bank’s “Malaysian Economic Monitor:High-Performing Education” is an indictment of the Education Ministry and the national education system for failing to provide access to quality education to Malaysian schoolchildren 56 years after Merdeka as Malaysia has one of the most inefficient Education Ministries and education systems in the world although the Education Ministry has been allotted RM54.6 billion in Budget 2014, highest for any sector.

As a result, the World Bank Monitor in Chapter of its report states (para 90):

“Malaysia’s performance in standardized international student assessments is below what would be expected of a country with its income per capita or level of educational expenditure, and well below the performance of the high-income economies that Malaysia aspires to compete against for innovation and knowledge-based investments. Moreover, performance appears to have deteriorated over the past decade.”

It is a national shame that foreign bodies like the World Bank is more concerned about Malaysia’s educational crisis and deteriorating educational standards than even the Education Minister himself.

Malaysians cannot fathom the continued thundering silence of the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to Malaysia’s poor performance in the 2012 PISA, the 2011 TIMSS and the World Bank indictment on the low quality of Malaysian education system as compared to its peers in other countries.

Muhyiddin has kept mum on the subject of low and deteriorating educational standards of Malaysian students for over three weeks in the month of December. Is he going to continue to avoid the subject for the whole of next year?

Muhyiddin does not seem to mind being dumped as among the most inefficient Education Ministers in the world, which has not barred from going to Western capitals to boast about Malaysia’s education system and the “fairy tale” Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB) expecting Malaysian students to do the impossible – performing three educational miracles in 13 years to make the “double quantum jump” from the bottom third to the top third of PISA and TIMSS systems by 2021.

The “fairy tale” MEP is another proof that the Malaysian Cabinet, in the words of former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir, continues to be a “half-past six” Cabinet.

Having a “starry-eyed” Education Minister who could present a “fairy-tale” MEB, and having to pay RM20 million to get foreign consultants totally unrelated to the education field to write it, is bad enough.

But it is completely unthinkable that there is not a single Cabinet Minister who is sufficiently awake in the Cabinet to realise and point out that the MEB is totally unrealistic, unachievable and will make Malaysia a laughing stock in the educational world – as no country has achieved the MEB objective of making the “double quantum jump” of catapulting from the bottom-third to top-third of the PISA and TIMSS systems in a matter of 10 years.

In fact, the real challenge for Malaysia is whether Malaysia’s 15-year-old students can get out of the bottom-third of PISA and TIMSS system into the middle-third (and not top-third) bracket, come 2021!

Having one of the most inefficient Education Ministers in the world, and a “half-past six” Cabinet which could endorse Muhyiddin’s “fairy-tale” MEB are grounds enough for the convening of an emergency meeting of Parliament to redeem Malaysia’s international reputation in the world of education.

Are there any Cabinet Ministers who are brave enough to own up to their lapses in giving blanket approval to the MEB and to support the convening of an emergency session of Parliament next month?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah