Education Ministry officials attempted to ‘cheat’ in PISA, DAP MP claims

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua demanded that senior officials involved in the move to be sacked to send a strong message that the ministry is only interested in substantive quality of local students. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua demanded that senior officials involved in the move to be sacked to send a strong message that the ministry is only interested in substantive quality of local students. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — DAP’s Tony Pua has accused the Education Ministry of trying to “cheat” in the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) by manipulating its results to misrepresent Malaysia’s performance.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP demanded that senior officials involved in the move to be sacked to send a strong message that the ministry is only interested in substantive quality of local students.

“There cannot be a bigger irony when our own Ministry of Education tries to cheat in its examinations, and actually expects to get away with it,” Pua said in a statement.

“The disgraceful attempt to cheat the system underlies a bigger problem in the administration of our education system. It shows that those in-charge of the education of our children is more interested in form over substance. 

“They are only interested in meeting statistical benchmarks — by hook or by crook so that they could crow about it, and are not interested in the real substantive quality and performance of our students,” he added.

In a separate statement, Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming said it is “highly likely” that Malaysia was excluded from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) world school report after officials overseeing it realise that Malaysia is trying to rig its sample size.

Last week, the Education Ministry said that Malaysians students registered better scores in mathematics, science and reading according to the latest PISA results.

Its deputy director-general, Datuk Dr Amin Senin said that all three scores were close to the 493 average recorded by nations in the OECD, which runs the programme.

Amin said scientific literacy was the main benchmark for PISA 2015. In 2009, it was literacy while mathematics was the focus for 2012.

However, Malaysia was not included in the ranking since only 51 per cent of schools had participated, compared to 99.3 per cent and 100 per cent in 2009 and 2015.

“One suspects that the Ministry of Education over-sampled the high performing schools in the PISA 2015 sample and excluded some of the lower performing schools from the sample,” Ong said.

He pointed out that PISA data showed that 2,661 out of 8,861 students sampled, 30 per cent were from fully residential schools, whereas only less than 3 per cent of the 15-year-old cohort in 2015 were from the same type of school.

“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,” Pua said.