DAP calls for RCI into Education to investigate not only into frequent incidence of leaks of Malaysian examination papers in recent years but also all aspects of declining standards of primary, secondary and university education
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin must have been the most embarrassed Education Minister at the 8th ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting in Vientiane on Thursday when news broke of leaks in this year’s UPSR examination papers, causing the Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister to allege that the leaks could have been purposely done to sabotage him personally and the Education Ministry.
Muhyiddin’s allegation of sabotage is most surprising but nobody will give it much credence as Muhyiddin seems to be the only person in Malaysia not to know that leaks in examination papers conducted by the Malaysian examination authority are not unusual occurrences – just as Muhyddin seemed to be the only Malaysian not to know that English is not a compulsory pass subject for SPM when he became Education Minister five years ago.
Last November, the Education Ministry announced a special task force to conduct immediate investigation into the leak of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination papers but nothing have been heard about these investigations.
So Muhyiddin’s talk about wanting to get to the bottom of the leaks in this year’s UPSR examination papers and to bring the culprits to justice must be taken with a pinch of salt for he has never been serious as Education Minister about leaks in examination papers except on this occasion, when he was made to look so foolish among his peers at the ASEAN conference of Education Ministers by this shameful episode.
The time has come for a full-scale investigation into the frequent occurrence of leaks of STPM, SPM and UPSR examination papers, which undermine public confidence in the integrity of the examination and education system – as these are signs of a system of corrupt governance which is getting from bad to worse.
But it is not only the frequent incidence of leaks of examination papers for the various public examinations in Malaysia which must be the subject of rigorous investigation, as the whole education system needs a comprehensive examination by independent, knowledgeable and eminent Malaysians.
The Programme for International Student (PISA) 2009+ results ranked Malaysia in the bottom third of the 74 participating countries, comparing Malaysian 15-year-olds most unfavourably with 15-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai, as though 15-year-olds in Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong and Shanghai have had three or more years of schooling than 15-year-olds in Malaysia.
This disparity has widened further in the PISA 2012, reaching a stage where the 15-year-old in Shanghai, Singapore and South Korea were performing in the assessments as though they had four or even five more years of schooling than 15-year-olds in Malaysia.
The Malaysia education system is also regressing while the best and most competitive of the national educational systems in the world are making phenomenal progress in the past decade-and-half.
In the 2012 PISA, only 1.3 per cent of students in Malaysia made it to the “top performers” bracket in maths, i.e. (reaching Level 5 or 6) as compared to Shanghai-China (55.4%), Singapore (40%), Taiwan (37.2%), Hong Kong (33.7%), South Korea (30.9). Between 15% and 25% of students in Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macao, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland and Switzerland are top performers in mathematics.
Even the top 5 per cent of Malaysian students perform only in line with the average Korean or Japanese pupil.
Most worrying, more than half of Malaysian students (51.8%) do not reach basic proficiency levels in Mathematics (i.e. Below Level 2).
Was somebody in the Education Ministry and system trying to sabotage Muhyiddin with such dismal educational standards and results compared with high-flying educational systems in the world?
Malaysia’s university education has long fallen out of top world-class rankings.
For this reason, I call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Education to investigate not only into frequent incidence of leaks of Malaysian examination papers in recent years but also into all aspects of declining standards of primary, secondary and university education in Malaysia.