Posts Tagged ‘Education blueprint


Varsities that only turn out worker bees

Academicians pick out flaws of higher education blueprint as a mockery of higher education

KUALA LUMPUR: Academicians have ripped into Malaysia’s higher education blueprint, saying it made a mockery of higher education, with its focus on turning out employable university graduates.

The blueprint served a neo-liberalist business-minded purpose and was a disservice to education as a whole, they said at a forum organised by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre.

Among the speakers were academicians Dr Tan Ai Mei (Malaysian Quality Agency), Dr Chong Kok Boon (University Malaysia of Computer Science and Engineering), Dr Terence Gomez (University of Malaya) and Geoffrey Williams (former Professor at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak).

Tan criticised the primarily market-based ideology of the blueprint, and pointed out the roles of higher education, to cater to the economy at large, human resource needs, and to foster a generation of knowledge, technology and innovation.

“They say that education is supposed to produce holistic, balanced leaders with entrepreneurial mind-sets. But how do you address higher education as a public good?”

Chong spoke on the need to ask the government to amend education laws and expand academic freedom.

Commercial interference should not drive education research, and academics and students should not have to worry about being charged with various offences.

“If we do not question the authorities, how will we progress?” he said, adding that he believed many academicians had been given demotions or side-lined because of the lack of academic freedom.

If students were not allowed to voice their concerns, society could not expect them to become future leaders. If youth were considered mature enough to marry at 18, why not allow them to be involved in the planning of policies?”

Chong also questioned the quality of teachers and academicians who did not know how to carry out research. “They just read from their books. Can a university like this advance knowledge? They just teach students what was learned 50 years ago, without advancing knowledge,” he said.

Gomez said there was “something fundamentally wrong with the education system” and criticised the blueprint for its neo-liberal focus on serving businesses which made it into “a complete mockery of the education system”.

Varsities that only turn out worker bees
June 27, 2015 – FMT


School-based assessment ditched at upper secondary level, says education group

The contentious school-based assessment (SBA) system is not being used at the Form Four level, according to an education group which questions the future of a critical part of Putrajaya’s efforts to reform schools.

The Education and Intellect Club (KIPM) said that if the SBA was not being implemented at the Form Four level it was unlikely to be done at the Form Five level next year since both school terms are linked by the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

This has raised the question, why then had Putrajaya poured money and time into implementing the system and in the process, clashing with teachers to the point that one of them, Mohd Nor Izzat Mohd Johari, was sacked because he publicly pointed to its weaknesses.

Nor Izzat, who now heads KIPM, claimed that the SBA, which was supposed to move away from exams in favour of daily assessments of student performance, is also not being used at the primary school level.

KIPM found this out from primary and secondary school teachers who are the club’s supporters, said Nor Izzat.

“All indications point to the fact that they are going back to the old SPM system. Principals also did not have any orders to implement the SBA.

“It’s the same curriculum as before but without the SBA. In primary schools they are also not using the SBA but they are integrating higher order thinking skills (KBAT) into lessons,” Nor Izzat told The Malaysian Insider.

Teachers were concerned he said, as to whether students who had gone through three years of the SBA, from Form One to Form Three, would be able to adapt to a system that emphasised on exams.

Under the SBA, students had very few exams and were tested each day by teachers to measure their level of competence in a given lesson for a subject.

Students were graded according to six bands from being able to understand the lesson (the lowest) to being able to guide others (the highest).

This is different from the traditional A,B,Cs which are typically found in an exam-oriented system.

It was first introduced for Standard One pupils in 2011 and Form One students in 2012. The Form One students were taught under the SBA till they entered Form Three where they sat for their first major exam the PT3 (Form Three Assessment).

The SBA had been touted as a better system as it nurtures more critical thinking and the application of school lessons in real life, as opposed to rote-memorisation and exam-taking skills.

Nor Izzat himself is a firm supporter of the system but is critical of how it was implemented without taking into account the reality of Malaysian schools.

The average Malaysian teacher has three classes of 40 students each, while for the SBA to really work such as in Finland, the teacher-student ratio has to be one teacher to a maximum of 15 students, Nor Izzat explained.

Teachers were also drowning in loads of paper work due to the daily assessments and were under tremendous strain to digitally key in their grades to a central network that was constantly jammed.

Nor Izzat said the ministry has still not fixed these problems which are the main reasons why schools are still struggling to implement the SBA properly.

“I support the SBA but the way they did it was wrong. You first have to have the ICT infrastructure, reduce teacher-student ratios and give teachers assistants to help with the paper work.”

School-based assessment ditched at upper secondary level, says education group
20 June 2015 – TMI


Poor English proficiency: Why is Muhyiddin baffled and surprised?

PETALING JAYA: English is the lingua franca of the world and having a good command of it, especially as the world becomes increasingly borderless and with most literature available on the Internet being in English, would put one in good stead on the world stage.

But if the teaching hours of the subject is halved in schools, how can you blame graduates for having a poor command of the said language, especially since English is not the language most Malaysians speak at home?

Which is why Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim is surprised that Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, is reportedly “baffled” over the continued poor command of English among students.

Noor Azimah said students would have shown a marked improvement in English proficiency today had the PPSMI (the Teaching of Science and Mathematics in English) policy not been abolished in 2009.

“You can see that students from schools that had pursued PPSMI are at an advantage in universities. In fact, university lecturers themselves have shared this with us.

“Now with a higher Malaysian University English Test (MUET) score for entrance into public universities, students from schools which abolished PPSMI are now suffering due to the lack of vision on the part of the principals who on their own opted for Bahasa Malaysia without consulting parents and students,” she said.

After 2009, the PPSMI policy was in its “soft-landing” stage, which meant that the last batch of students in Year One in 2010 would have the “option” of learning Science and Mathematics in English until they reach Form Five in 2020.

This is apparently according to a Nov 4, 2011 circular issued by the Education Ministry.

It is understood however that school principals were the ones making the final decision on the medium of instruction that would be used, with no input from students or parents.

“With PPSMI, the students were supposed to learn scientific English and at the same time converse in the language during lessons. When you take that away from them, of course they will suffer as they are unable to practice the language anymore.

“Under PPSMI, 40 per cent of the subject lessons were taught in English. With the abolition of the policy, exposure to English in lessons is only 20 per cent. If it’s cut in half, how can it be better?” asked Noor Azimah.

Muhyiddin had reportedly said that there is “something not right” when students are still struggling with English when they enter universities as they should have been able to master basic English during their time in school.

“When they enter university, English should no longer be a problem and the focus should be on up-scaling, polishing and improving their command of the language,” Muhyiddin was quoted as saying.

The minister said he did not know the root cause of the problem as the students spend up to 19 years learning English, adding that it could be due to the quality of teachers and interest of students.

Muhyiddin said Bahasa Malaysia should not be blamed for the standard of English in the country.

Noor Azimah had this to say: “I am surprised that the minister is surprised. Had he done his mathematics (with English exposure cut in half), he would have known the outcome would be disastrous.”

Poor English proficiency: Why is Muhyiddin baffled and surprised?
15/12/2014 –


Education fiasco: Thinking skills missing at ministry level

QUICK TAKE: In the years past, it was very common for students to score straights A’s in the Lower Secondary Assessment examination (PMR). This year PMR was replaced with Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) or Form 3 Assessment, and that run stopped abruptly.

The idea was to produce students with higher order thinking skills (HOTS), said the Education Ministry in April when the new school-based assessment was introduced.

Yesterday, we saw the results from the inaugural PT3, and along with it a litany of complaints from parents and students.

The fact that today’s newspapers failed to produce their customary full page photographs of straight A students also indicated something was amiss.

Suddenly this year, top scoring schools have become average while students who have been performing well from Form 1 right up to the trials failed to pass with flying colours.

And to add to the misery, official announcement of the overall PT3 examination were kept in the dark. The speculation is that the results will not be disclosed due to poor performance.

The aim of the PT3 is excellent as it will give a true reflection of students’ performance as they are assessed in different aspects of education, such as cognitive, affective and psychometric.

The assessment will help in nurturing out-of-the-box thinking, maturity and resourcefulness.

However the question is, was the implementation of PT3 done in a proper manner to give this year’s batch of students a proper bedding in period? By the numerous grievances raised yesterday, one only gets the feeling that these students were used as guinea pigs.

Chief among their grouses is that they had only three months to prepare for their written exams. They were not told on how and what to prepare for. On exam day, they were faced with a new and unfamiliar format.

Some students even complained that they were given different exam formats just a week before the exams.

And when the HOTS questions were posed to them in the exams, the students found themselves in a quandary. Why? Because this was not something they have been prepared for in the classrooms.

Under the PT3 system, teachers play a bigger role in continuously assessing their students. They have taken added responsibilities to produce thinking students. And in order to do that, their teaching pedagogy includes updating the progress of each students into a mainframe computer.

This new system, however, only caused added stress for the educators as a faulty computer system resulted in slow data entry process, forcing teachers to stay up late to complete their tasks. Needless to say, this frustration drew their energy away and most did not have the motivation to do well in classrooms the next day.

The other question which crops up immediately is if the teachers had been given sufficient training to implement the new teaching philosophy to produce thinking students? After years of being told to stick to the textbooks, the teachers were given a sudden jolt as to what was now expected of them.

This may also be a reason for why suddenly some schools have done well in this year’s PT3 while others faltered. The final outcome could have been as a result of the quality of teachers the schools have.

The PT3 is a school-based examination with the ministry wanting to do away with encouraging comparison between schools. Under this system, the schools and their teachers would administer, assess and provide the score on assessment, and the students’ scores will be moderated and verified by appraisers from the Examinations Syndicate and state education departments.

In any event, the seeds of these thinking skills in students must be first introduced when they start their school life at Year 1, not after finishing eight years in school. And to test them on these skills at the ninth year in school is being unfair on them, and on their Form 3 teachers.

Education fiasco: Thinking skills missing at ministry level
K Kabilan
23/12/2014 –


Fight for Science, Maths in English in Malaysian schools not over

Fight for Science, Maths in English in Malaysian schools not over, says parent group leader

For six years now, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim has been pushing Putrajaya to bring back Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) in schools.

Although the PPSMI was replaced in 2009 by the “To Uphold Bahasa Malaysia and To Strengthen the English Language” (MBMMBI) policy, Noor Azimah insisted that her struggle is far from over.

Instead, the 53-year-old chairman of the Parent Action Group for Education (Page) said it was the right time now to re-visit PPSMI and introduce it in schools once again.

“No, I don’t think our struggle is over. In fact, I think it’s time we revive it. The policy was abolished and replaced with MBMMBI because the government thought it was more important to enhance English proficiency first before implementing the PPSMI,” she told The Malaysian Insider.

“You have the first cohort of PPSMI students who are now in Standard 4. The MBMMBI, especially the English side, must be doing well, otherwise we would hear of poor feedback from parents and schools.

“So with that, if it is really a success, then we should look again at re-introducing PPSMI in 2017 – when these kids go into form 1.

Noor Azimah, a mother of four and a former accountant, pointed out that the first batch of PPSMI students (those who began learning Science and Maths in English from Form 1 in 2003) are coming out as teachers this year.

“This was confirmed by the ministry to me but they are keeping quiet about it at the moment. This batch of teachers believe they are an asset to the country and I think so too.

“We have to capitalise on this. Before this, they said they had no teachers to teach the subjects in English. Moving forward, I think we have to look at building teachers who are products of PPSMI,” she added.

These teachers, she suggested, should be posted to schools where Science and Maths were taught in English.

“Otherwise, it is just a wasted effort.”

Page was formed in 2008 out of a need to represent the parents, whose voices were not heard while the government was contemplating reverting to Bahasa Malaysia in the teaching of Science and Maths.

“It was at the second roundtable discussion (on whether to continue with PPSMI) that I realised that the parents’ voices were not being heard. There were individual parents at the roundtable but there was no proper structure to represent parents,” she added.

“And we felt that the National Parent-Teacher Association Collaborative Council had failed to represent us well in something that was so crucial.”

She admitted that the announcement to abolish PPSMI in 2009 was a blow to Page, which had presented findings on the advantages of continuing with PPSMI to the Education Ministry.

“We were invited by the ministry to present on why Science and Maths should be taught in English and we almost received a standing ovation,” she said.

“But sadly, we are very good at coming up with policies but not in implementation. Like any policy, you have to wait at least 13 years for it to work. Six years is not enough.”

Such was their disappointment when the PPSMI was abolished that Noor Azimah and half of the Page committee members pulled their children out of national schools and enrolled them in private and international schools.

She placed her son in a private school while a daughter, who is in Form 5, is still in a national school. Her two older children are in university.

Noor Azimah, who had been accused of being anti-nationalist and a traitor to the national language, warned that Malaysia was losing out to other countries in English proficiency.

“There was a rally in 2009 where they said that the sovereignty of the national language was being attacked because of PPSMI.

“But in 2010, the Kuala Lumpur High Court decided that the PPSMI did not contravene the Education Act, was not against Section 153 of the Federal Constitution or the National Language Act,” she said.

“Over the years, we realised that we have lost out in English. So I think that the argument that we are relegating the national language to second place cannot be used anymore.

Fight for Science, Maths in English in Malaysian schools not over, says parent group leader
12 July 2014 – TMI


Form 3 students made ‘guinea pigs’ in confusing new assessment, says DAP lawmaker

Putrajaya is using nearly half-a-million Form 3 students currently taking the Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 (PT3) assessment as “guinea pigs”, charged a DAP lawmaker, saying that the lack of proper information had caused confusion.

Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming (pic) said he had received numerous complaints from parents and the affected students who are currently being assessed under this new system for the History and Geography subjects, where they are required to do case studies and write essays based on a set topic.

The students, together with teachers, were unsure and confused over what was required of them, he said.

The PT3 was introduced in March this year to replace the exam driven Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination, although the Education Ministry had announced in February 2011 that the PMR exams would be abolished.

The Examination Board will supervise the PT3 exams that are set by the schools, based on guidelines by the Board.

Ong said between March and now, there was very little time to brief students, parents and the 63,000 Form 3 teachers in 2,376 secondary schools about PT3 requirements.

“This has left teachers, parents and students utterly confused about PT3 – how it differs from PMR, how it will be used to stream students after Form 3, how it will avoid bias in terms of setting of questions and marking of papers at the school level.

“Both Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh have to stop making our Form 3 PT3 students guinea pigs and ensure proper implementation of PT3,” he said, referring to the Education Minister and Education Minister II respectively at a press conference at the DAP headquarters. – July 7, 2014.

Form 3 students made ‘guinea pigs’ in confusing new assessment, says DAP lawmaker
7 July 2014 – TMI


Malaysian public varsities fail to make top 100 Asian universities ranking

The decline in global rankings of Malaysia’s public universities continues, this time in the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2014 released today where no local tertiary institution made it to the top 100.

Five countries were represented in the top 10 of the Asian university rankings – Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and China. Even India made outstanding progress with 10 institutions in the top 100, compared with only three last year.

The Middle East was also well represented, with universities from Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Turkey making the list.

Thailand made the grade too, “but there is no place for Malaysia”, Times Higher Education noted about the Southeast Asian nation where tertiary education has become a significant industry.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, which was ranked number 87 last year, did not feature in the ranking this year.

University Of Tokyo emerged top among Asian universities followed by the National University of Singapore.

University of Hong Kong, Seoul National University and China’s Peking University clinched the third, fourth and fifth spots respectively.

Thailand has two universities in this year’s ranking, King Mongkut’s University of Technology, Thonburi, which rose five places to joint 50th, and Mahidol University, which dropped 21 places to 82nd spot.

Singapore has two highly placed universities in the ranking, NUS at second spot and Nanyang Technological University at 11th position.

Hong Kong was named the star performer by THE, given its size, and the fact that it had six universities the top 50 of the ranking.

In April, Malaysian public universities were also left out of the this year’s ranking of the annual Times Higher Education Top 100 Universities under 50 years old.

Four Asian universities were ranked among the top 10 of the world’s young universities, including South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology which took the top spot, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) (third placing), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (4) and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (5).

Malaysia failed to get on the list for the second year running. In the first rankings list in 2012, UKM was ranked 98th.

The country was also absent from the Times Higher Education World Reputation rankings list released in March, losing out to other Southeast Asian countries.

Malaysian public varsities fail to make top 100 Asian universities ranking
19 June 2014 – TMI


Politicans should keep out of education bodies, says Ku Li

The problems plaguing Malaysia’s education system can be remedied by having professionals, and not politicians, to run educational bodies, said veteran Umno politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

The former finance mninister said one of the reasons why Malaysia’s education showed poor performance was due to interference from politicians.

“The danger in this meddling is the tendency for an issue to be politicised and degenerated into controversies,” he said, citing the issue of using English in the teaching of mathematics and science.

“It is time that educational bodies were run by professionals.

“More importantly, these professionals must be allowed to offer policy options that are in the best interest of students and the nation without their having any fear of being browbeaten by petty-minded politicians,” he said in his keynote address to the National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei)’s 3rd International Skills Conference, today.

Razaleigh, popularly knows as Ku Li, said Malaysia’s education system was dysfunctional and inconsistent with its ambitions to become a developed nation by 2020.

“No less than the World Bank in March 2014 underscored its anxiety at the low quality of Malaysia’s education system. And by international standards of comparison such as Pisa and TIMSS, the skill levels of our workforce are unfortunately in the lower third of such rankings,” he said, referring to recent international surveys which showed Malaysian students lagging behind those from other countries.

Ku Li also spoke of the low regard for the teaching profession in Malaysia.

“Teaching must be brought back to the pedestal it once occupied in this country. The service must be so packaged as to attract the best entrants to the job market,” he said, but added that student-teacher ratio also plays a part.

“The teacher will be hard pressed to give time to individual students, let alone offering quality attention to them. The time is perhaps right for us to correct this situation stabilising this ration at around, say, 20:1.”

Politicans should keep out of education bodies, says Ku Li
17 June 2014 – TMI


Are our teachers ready?

by Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim

CRACKS are beginning to appear in the implementation of Wave One of the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB).

The Parent Toolkit or Sarana Ibu Bapa, which was accorded a grand launch at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre in February 2013 to formalise the involvement of parents in their children’s education, now seems to not have gone beyond the four walls of the convention centre.

Sarana, had it been properly activated at schools, would have provided a solid platform for parents, an important element of the equation but often conveniently forgotten, to provide invaluable and timely feedback to the education ministry on matters of concern.

When School-Based Assessment or Pentaksiran Berasaskan Sekolah (PBS), which was introduced in 2011, began to falter in its implementation, the ministry, through Sarana, should have been more attentive and alert. Loopholes could have been plugged and intervention instituted. Instead, things were allowed to fester until they reached crisis levels years later, warranting an unscheduled review to address the deadlock.

Parents had foreseen glaring weaknesses. Teachers were biased in assessing students based on whether or not they “liked” them rather than on merit.

Students were unsure as to what was expected of them to attain a certain level. In one instance, to achieve the maximum band six for history, students had to appear in traditional attire on a particular school day. In another, to attain maximum marks for Pendidikan Islam, female students had to don a tudung or attend the neighbourhood religious school.

Where projects were handed up in CD form, students who tested the teachers by sending in blank copies were given top marks. In a submarine project where students had to show evidence that the object could submerge and surface, not all were tested, yet marks were given. Emotions were running high among the students and parents were at a loss.

While autonomy and decentralisation and therefore active parental participation is encouraged and even endorsed by the World Bank, the question is, are our teachers ready it?

Are our teachers ready?
Apr 26, 2014 –


Malaysia ranks 39 out of 44 countries in PISA assessment

Malaysia ranks 39 out of 44 countries in problem-solving test for 15-year-olds, says report

Malaysia once again fared poorly in a world student performance assessment test conducted in 2012, ending up in the bottom quarter among 44 countries – a result that reinforces the concern that the country’s education system is in tatters.

Malaysia ranked 39 with a mean score of 422 in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) first assessment on creative problem-solving, while neighbouring Singapore came out tops with a mean score of 562, said the report released yesterday by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The overall mean score for all countries was 500.

Malaysia had more than half of the share of low achievers, which means the students tested lacked the skills needed in a modern workplace.

In contrast, Singapore only had 8% share of low achievers. The mean share was 21.4%.

On the other hand, Malaysia only had 0.9% share of top performers compared with Singapore’s 29.3%. Malaysia’s share was below the average percentage of 11.4%.

This showed that only one out of 10 Malaysian students, aged 15, is able to solve the most complex problems, compared with one in five in Singapore, Korea and Japan.

Asian countries like Korea, Japan, Macau-China, Hong Kong-China, Shanghai-China and Chinese Taipei make up the top seven of the list.

Students from Canada, Australia, Finland, England, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, the United States and Belgium all scored above the average.

“Eighty-five thousand students from 44 countries and economies took the computer-based test, involving real-life scenarios to measure the skills young people will use when faced with everyday problems, such as setting a thermostat or finding the quickest route to a destination,” said the OECD, which carried out the tests.

Malaysians scored 29.1 on solution rate on tasks measuring the acquisition of knowledge and 29.3 on solution rate on tasks measuring the utilisation of knowledge while Singapore scored 62 and 55.4 respectively, way above the average score of all countries, which are 45.5 and 46.4 respectively.

“Today’s 15-year-olds with poor problem-solving skills will become tomorrow’s adults struggling to find or keep a good job,” said Andreas Schleicher, acting Director of Education and Skills at OECD.

“Policymakers and educators should re-shape their school systems and curricula to help students develop their problem-solving skills which are increasingly needed in today’s economies.”

Malaysia had also performed poorly in an earlier PISA assessment which measured how students in 65 countries did in mathematics, science and reading.

According to the PISA’s 2012 results, Malaysian students scored below average or ranked 52 out of the 65 countries. In contrast, Vietnamese students ranked 17 out of 65.

Just a week ago, a World Bank senior economist pointed out that the poor quality of Malaysia’s education system was more worrying than the debt level of its households.

Dr Frederico Gil Sander, who is senior economist for Malaysia, had said Malaysians should be “alarmed” that their children were doing worse in school than children in Vietnam, a country that was poorer than Malaysia.

Malaysia’s continuous dismal performance in international assessments highlights the weaknesses in the country’s schooling system, despite the fact that education gets the largest share of funds every year from the national budget.

Malaysia ranks 39 out of 44 countries in problem-solving test for 15-year-olds, says report
April 02, 2014 – TMI

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