After latest PISA, Kit Siang pours doubt on education blueprint

Children attend their first day of elementary school in Standard One (Primary One) at a local school on the start of the new school year in Kuala Lumpur 06 January 2003. — AFP pic
Children attend their first day of elementary school in Standard One (Primary One) at a local school on the start of the new school year in Kuala Lumpur 06 January 2003. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — The Education Ministry’s continued silence over Malaysia’s below-par scores in a global education benchmark indicated it has no concrete plan to boost the country’s performance in the test, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said today.

Continuing with his criticism of the ministry since the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey results were released last week, the Gelang Patah MP today decided that Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has not addressed the issue because the latter could not.

“The reason for Muhyiddin’s prolonged and conspicuous silence on 2012 PISA is simple and straightforward: He has no concrete plans to catapult Malaysia into the top third of 2021 PISA as Malaysia would have to become a ‘wonder country’ to achieve what no nation could do in four triennial PISA tests,” Lim said in a statement today.

The DAP adviser today again highlighted that raising Malaysia from the bottom third of the PISA ranking to the top third was a stated aim of the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 that was launched last month, before pointing out the gargantuan nature of the task.

“Under the Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB), Malaysian 15-year-olds are expected to achieve the international average in the 2015 PISA and 2018 PISA and to reach the top third of the system in PISA 2021,” he said

But Lim then pointed out that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) averages were 494 for mathematics, 501 for science and 496 for reading. In comparison, Malaysia registered 421, 420 and 398 in the same categories.

The veteran lawmaker later pressed Muhyiddin to explain how the education blueprint would set about achieving such an improvement, which he previously described as a “building castles in the air” and today said has never been achieved by any country.

In the latest edition of PISA, Malaysian students trailed far behind their peers in Singapore, who placed second behind top-scorers in Shanghai, China, and even 15-year-olds in Thailand, recording an average score of 421 for mathematics.

Reading ability fell the most, plunging to an average of 398 in the 2012; Malaysian students in the previous edition had recorded a score of 414.

Science scores saw a minor decline versus the older findings, with Malaysians weighing at an average of 420 marks against the 422 that the batch three years ago managed.

Malaysia was now ranked 55th for science, down two spots from the previous assessment.

The combined results meant Malaysia was 52nd overall out of the 65 countries, and firmly entrenched in the bottom third of the survey.

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