Minister: No manipulation of PISA data, but Malaysia can’t repeat ‘technical’ mistake

Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said in Parliament today that we should learn from the mistake of Malaysia's disqualification in the PISA rankings. — Picture courtesy of Johari Abdul Ghani
Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said in Parliament today that we should learn from the mistake of Malaysia's disqualification in the PISA rankings. — Picture courtesy of Johari Abdul Ghani

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — The federal government did not doctor the data used for the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), but should learn from the technical problems blamed for Malaysia’s disqualification in the 2015 edition of the global benchmark, a minister said today.

“I agree that the reasons of number of student respondents being insufficient, technical problems such as bad data or missing data during evaluation cannot be accepted in the future.

“We should learn (from) this mistake,” Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said in Parliament today when winding-up debates at the policy stage for a supplementary supply Bill.

Johari then listed the reasons for Malaysia’s failure to achieve the rate of response from the original list of selected schools as required for the PISA tests, including the replacement of schools based on level of readiness in terms of computer equipment.

The data from fully residential schools used for the PISA survey only contributed to 3 per cent of Malaysia’s overall achievements, he said.

“The number of student respondents was inadequate due to technical problems such as bad data or missing data during assessment and administration,” he also said when explaining Malaysia’s omission from the PISA rankings.

DAP’s Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari had said the explanation of “technical problems” over Malaysia’s disqualification was very suspicious, noting that the alleged issues had never happened before.

“I have heard the minister’s explanation about technical problems, but I wish to say here that the reasons cannot be accepted, because this is not the first time Malaysia took part in PISA,” he said.

“The first time of participation was 2009, then 2012. In 2009, the rate of student participation was 99.3 per cent, almost 100 per cent and in 2012, it was 100 per cent. 

“There was never technical problems of missing data, but suddenly in 2015, this happened. This, I say, is very suspect,” he argued.

The Education Ministry came under criticism after it trumpeted an improvement in Mathematics, Science and Reading, with Malaysian students purportedly scoring higher in PISA 2015 compared to 2012.

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

DAP MPs Tony Pua and Ong Kian Ming have in the past voiced suspicion that the Education Ministry had allegedly attempted to manipulate the PISA 2015 results and rig the sample size used.

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