Posts Tagged ‘Education

14
Apr
17

Wrong to threaten civil servants who support opposition

Wrong to threaten civil servants who support opposition

Teachers are not bound to sycophantically praise any government. They are there to educate students, broaden their minds and equip them with skills and knowledge.

FMT LETTERS

Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid has once again proven that he is unfit to occupy his current position by saying that teachers actively promoting the opposition or “discrediting the government” should resign from the civil service.

His remarks bring to mind Chief Secretary to the Government Dr Ali Hamsa who, in November 2016, said that disciplinary action may be taken against civil servants who join the Bersih 5 rally. He said civil servants identified from photos and complaints would be targeted for pay cuts or even possibly face sacking, in a move that wouldn’t be out of place in George Orwell’s 1984.

Coming from a family of teachers, I take offence that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government is threatening my family members and their colleagues who serve faithfully in the education field for daring to exercise their democratic rights to support and choose the government they want, in their private capacities.

While there is much to be said and improved in our education system – ranging from the curriculum, the training of teachers, and the dismal state of national schools, it still stands that teachers and civil servants alike are not beholden to the BN.

Teachers are not bound to sycophantically praise any government. They are bound to serve the country. Teachers are there to educate students, to broaden their minds and equip them with skills and knowledge to face the world and become better, kinder human beings.

Besides that, how does the minister define “defaming”? Is saying that we should arrest and charge corrupt officials who create slush funds to rob our nation’s coffers defamatory? Is saying that free and fair elections are a hallmark of a democracy equivalent to slamming the government?

I am all for keeping partisan politics out of our schools if the minister can address the hypocrisy of barring opposition politicians from federal schools. When the opposition swept to power in Penang and Selangor in 2008, schools in these states were directed not to invite state government leaders, including chief ministers and exco members, to grace school functions or initiate non-partisan, community programmes, such as educating schoolchildren about recycling. Even I, as a local councillor representing the DAP, encounter a good degree of trepidation when I want to help resolve, say, a mosquito problem in schools.

A narrow-minded Education Minister does not bode well for our collective national intellect. If BN is so confident that it is the best choice for governing Malaysia, I challenge them to stop intimidating civil servants and allow them to vote whichever way their conscience dictates.

Lim Yi Wei is Special Assistant to Tony Pua, MP for Petaling Jaya Utara, and a Petaling Jaya City Council councillor.

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Wrong to threaten civil servants who support opposition
March 27, 2017 – FMT

13
Apr
17

‘Show-cause to teachers violates government circular’

‘Show-cause to teachers violates government circular’

PPBM Youth leader says the move has infringed on the Federal Constitution and a Public Service Department circular in August 2010 that allows for teachers to engage in politics.

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) Youth has criticised the Education Ministry’s decision to slap show-cause letters on five teachers for partaking in politics on an opposition stage as being “autocratic” and in breach of a government circular that allowed such activity.

Mohd Ashraf Mustaqim Badrul Munir, the wing’s executive councillor in charge of education and university student issues, today said the move had infringed on the Federal Constitution and a Public Service Department circular in August 2010 that allowed teachers to engage in politics.

In a statement today he said the circular allowed government servants between grades DG41 and DG48 to become members of political parties or be directly involved in politics.

“In fact, they are allowed to contest or hold posts in any political party,” he said, adding that civil servants in high management and in professional management positions are only allowed to be ordinary members of parties.

Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid had announced yesterday that five teachers alleged to have criticised the government on an opposition platform were slapped with show-cause letters from the ministry.

“We live in a democratic country. We do not have a problem with anyone supporting whoever they liked,” Mahdzir was quoted as saying in a Bernama report.

“But the problem arises when a government official goes on an opposition stage and gives a speech to hit out at the government while he is holding a public post.”

Ashraf questioned how a minister could issue such a statement simply due to opposing political ideology. He claimed that it went against the provision set out in the circular and also violated citizens’ rights.

“In fact, Article 10 in the Constitution safeguards the rights of the five teachers,” he added, pointing out that it allows all citizens to have free speech and be able to voice out.

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‘Show-cause to teachers violates government circular’
March 28, 2017 – FMT

16
Feb
17

Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC

Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC

Ghauth Jasmon says the university is already dipping into its reserves and will need to cut 2,000 jobs to survive.

SUBANG JAYA: The oldest university in Malaysia may be bankrupt in three to five years if “the right people” are not hired to raise funds for its operations.

This comes after the government slashed its funds by half, said former Universiti Malaya (UM) vice-chancellor Ghauth Jasmon.

He said UM received government aid of RM550 million yearly before funds were slashed two years ago.

“Now, UM face cuts of RM270 million. They are now dipping into their reserves as the top management are academicians (vice-chancellors or VCs).

“These VCs, appointed by the higher education ministry, have no clues as to how to raise money. They only have another three to five years’ of savings.”

He was speaking on the final day of the Asia Public Policy Forum 2017, co-hosted by Harvard Kennedy School and Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia.

Ghauth, who was the UM VC from 2008 to 2013, said there was no “income replacement” for the budget cuts. This was despite the university being informed by the government a decade ago of the intended reduction in aid.

He said UM has 5,000 academic and administration staff. To survive these budget cuts, they will have to remove 2,000 people.

“It’s not only UM. Other public universities are also facing the same problem. Professors going to retire or on contract have been told to end their services.”

There is a big crisis in universities but none of the VCs have the answers to cope with the huge budget cuts, he said.

“… Not the board or the top management of academicians. They are still renting out the gymnasium or organising competitions at the swimming pool. That is the sort of things they are doing (to raise funds).

“What is the solution? The public university is waiting to die. That’s is how I see it because I have not heard of any solutions.”

Ghauth predicts public universities will be forced to sell off their assets to make up for the shortfall.

He said this may lead to a large number of school leavers unable to continue their tertiary education, causing a huge social problem.

As for Universiti Teknologi Mara, it is facing cuts of RM946 million a year.

“UITM has 200,000 students. With almost RM1 billion in cuts from the operating budget, they might not be able to keep that (high a) student number. Where are the school leavers going to go?”

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Universiti Malaya can’t stay afloat with budget cuts, says ex-VC
January 19, 2017 – FMT

14
Jan
17

How budget cuts affect public universities

University Budget 2017

How budget cuts affect public universities

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 ? The austerity drive in public universities has resulted in a conundrum between providing quality education and working within a much tighter budget compared to previous years.

Under Budget 2017, public universities will see their combined operating budgets slashed by about 19 per cent, or RM1.5 billion, a bigger cut than last year’s budget, and out of the 20 public universities in Malaysia, 10 of them will be facing massive cuts ranging from over 10 per cent to over 31 per cent.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh has reportedly said that public universities have become too dependent on government funding, and that a decade ago, it was a fraction of what was now given.

But what do the budget cuts mean? What is the feasibility of public universities sourcing out alternative funding? Will it compromise the quality of education being offered in varsities?

Seeking funds in turbulent times

Professor Emeritus Datuk Abdul Rahman Embong believes that public universities should be allowed to continue providing education and training and serving the community as best they can, and that reducing their operating budgets will affect this.

“Reducing the budget for public universities and demanding that they raise their own funding has the effect of turning the principle of education as a public good on its head.

“I would like to state a fundamental principle that education is a public good, and that it is the responsibility of the government who is supposed to represent the public interest to ensure it is offered to the public from the judiciously managed taxpayers’ coffers,” Abdul Rahman, who is adviser to the Malaysian Social Science Association and Principal Fellow at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

He said that while some universities will find ways to cope with the budget cuts by collaborating with each other in terms of aspects like facilities, there will be a tight race between varsities to source out alternative means of funding.

“Some will succeed while some others will not be as lucky. It is a crowded market out there with hopeful fund-seekers while funders hold tight to their purse especially during these turbulent times,” he added.

Azmil Tayeb, a senior lecturer with the Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) School of Social Sciences, said that the cuts have resulted in university staff being deprived of basic work needs like office telephones and desktop computers.

“A few lucky ones get hand-me-down computers that have seen better days and in most likelihood slow and near obsolete. As the minister has clearly stated, he wants public universities to depend less on government and increase alternative sources of funding.

“That statement in itself is acceptable but the drive for alternative funding should not be done at the expense of diminishing the main function of a public university as a public good serving as the engine for social mobility for the less fortunate. Public universities should not be run as a business entity, where only the bottom line matters,” he told Malay Mail Online in an email interview.

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How budget cuts affect public universities
January 11, 2017 – MMO

25
Dec
16

Report on Malaysia’s PISA disqualification underway

Report on Malaysia’s PISA disqualification underway

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 – The Education Ministry is preparing a report to explain Malaysia’s disqualification from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2015, its deputy minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said.

He added that the ministry committee in charge of Mathematics, Reading and Science will release the full details to explain the inadequate sampling which resulted in the disqualification, The Star daily reported today.

“The committee conducting the PISA will come up with a report on the issue” Chong was quoted telling a news conference yesterday.

Despite Malaysia’s disqualification, Chong asserted that the country’s results showed improvement compared to previous years.

The Education Ministry came under criticism after it was reported to have touted an improvement in Mathematics, Science and Reading with Malaysian students allegedly scoring higher in PISA 2015 compared to 2012.

In actual fact, Malaysians were disqualified from the ranking last year as it there was insufficient data supplied for the assessment and low number of schools that responded.

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Report on Malaysia’s PISA disqualification underway
December 16, 2016 – MMO

16
Dec
16

Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores

MP: Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores

Education Ministry officials who attempted to “cheat” the Programme for International Students Assessment (Pisa 2015) should be sacked, said Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

Pua said the official explanation by assessment organisers had strongly implied that Malaysia’s disqualification from the Pisa 2015 overall ranking had to do with the manipulation of assessment results.

Pisa 2015 Results Volume 1 (Excellence and Equity in Education) report released earlier this month had recorded Malaysia’s mean score for science, reading and mathematics.

However, the mean score was not ranked against other countries on Page 44. The official explanation for this, as stated on Annex A4 on page 304 of the report, is as follows:

“In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD.

“However, the weighted response rate among the initially
sampled Malaysian schools (51 percent) falls well short of the standard Pisa response rate of 85 percent.

“Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years.”

Inaccurate sample

This, to Pua, was evidence to allege that Education Ministry officials had attempted to manipulate the results by using a biased sample of schools.

“(The sample used) will not present a fair and accurate reflection of students’ performance in Malaysia,” said Pua.

Pisa is a triennial international survey produced by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to benchmark the performance students worldwide.

In 2015, over half a million students, representing 28 million 15-year-old students in 72 countries, took the internationally agreed two-hour test.

They were assessed in science, mathematics, reading, collaborative problem solving and financial literacy.

Previously, Serdang MP Ong Kiang Ming had claimed that the Education Ministry had over-represented data from High Performing Schools (HPS) and Fully Residential Schools although they represented a fraction of Malaysia’s student population for Pisa 2015.

Real ‘transformation’ needed

Pua said the alleged manipulation by Education Ministry underscores how the authorities are more keen on pursuing statistical benchmarks and are not interested in real substantive quality and performance of students.

“Without a real transformation in the mindset of our officials in-charge of our education system, the quality of our schools will continue continue to deteriorate and we can only expect our students to be even worse off over time.

“As long as these officials who are only interested in artificial forms to pat themselves on the back and suck up to their superiors, no amount of beautifully crafted transformation blueprints will be able to ‘transform’ the system for the better,” said Pua.

In view of this, Pua urged Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid to take action against ministry officials who were complicit in the alleged attempt to manipulate the assessment results.

“This will send a strong message to the entire ministry that the government is only interested in substantive quality of our students and not fake performance outcomes,” he said.

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MP: Heads must roll over attempt to ‘cheat’ Pisa scores
11 Dec 2016 – malaysiakini

15
Dec
16

Did ministry try to rig results for Pisa 2015 report?

Ong: Did ministry try to rig results for Pisa 2015 report?

DAP’s Ong Kian Ming says highly likely that Pisa authorities recognised education ministry’s attempt to rig sample size in order to artificially boost its scores.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia’s results in the Program for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2015 may have been rigged by the education ministry, says a DAP lawmaker.

Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming made the claim following the omission of Malaysia from the final ranking and assessment report released by the Pisa authorities on Tuesday.

He was referring to deputy education director-general Amin Senin’s remarks on the same day, pertaining to the improvement by Malaysian students based on the results achieved in the Pisa 2015 survey.

“No doubt, ministers, deputy ministers and politicians from the Barisan Nasional (BN) will use the latest Pisa scores as ‘proof’ that Malaysia is on the ‘right track’ when it comes to the standard of education in the country.

“What they would have conveniently left out is the fact that Malaysia does not feature anywhere in the 2015 Pisa rankings for Mathematics, Reading and Science,” Ong said.

On Tuesday, Amin announced that Malaysia’s Pisa scores for Mathematics, Reading and Science had improved from 421, 398 and 420, respectively, in 2012 to 446, 431 and 443, respectively, in 2015.

“The survey showed that Malaysia was moving towards hitting the global average score of 490 in mathematics and 493 in reading and science.

“We are on average, 50 marks from the global average in each domain. I am very pleased with the results and wish to congratulate all teachers, principals and students. Their commitment is commendable,” Amin was quoted as saying by The Star.

However, these statistics (seen in the graphic above) are not available anywhere in the official report released by the Pisa 2015 authorities in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and is purely based on the education ministry’s own submission to the OECD.

The official reason stated in the Pisa report for Malaysia’s exclusion is: “In Malaysia, the Pisa assessment was conducted in accordance with the operational standards and guidelines of the OECD. However, the weighted response rate among the initially sampled Malaysian schools (51%) falls well short of the standard PISA response rate of 85%.

“Therefore, the results may not be comparable to those of other countries or to results for Malaysia from previous years.”

Ong questioned the ministry on why only 51% of the schools initially chosen for the Pisa test in previous years, had participated in the test in 2015.

“Was it because the education ministry wanted to over-represent students from better performing schools and leave out students from low performing schools?

“This 51% participation rate raises many suspicions since Malaysia’s participation rate was 99.3% and 100% in PISA 2009 (151 out of 152 schools participated) and Pisa 2012 respectively,” Ong said.

He also doubted that school principals would have prevented their students from participating in the Pisa 2015 test, unless the ministry had decided not to choose the particular school again despite it being part of the original sample.

“I suspect the education ministry had over-sampled high performing schools in the Pisa 2015 sample and excluded some of the lower performing schools,” Ong said, implying it was to raise the scores in the 2015 report.

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Ong: Did ministry try to rig results for Pisa 2015 report?
December 8, 2016 – FMT




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