Besides changing school uniforms, here are Maszlee’s other ambitious ideas

Education Minister Maszlee Malik has promised many improvements to the education system. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Education Minister Maszlee Malik has promised many improvements to the education system. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — Education Minister Maszlee Malik has received plenty of flak for his proposal to change the colour of school students’ socks and shoes.

But the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia lawmaker has promised many other improvements to the education system too, including easing the burden of teachers and reducing the number of textbooks to be brought to school.

Here are some of the changes he has announced so far since his appointment six months ago:

June

  • Academic institutions will not be used for political or government interests and will receive more autonomy to encourage progress according to international standards.
  • No more audit series for teachers as the Malaysian education quality standard 2017 system was terminated.
  • A travel ban on 429,925 National Higher Education Fund Corporation loan defaulters was removed from the no-fly list by June 8. Under Budget 2019, however, up to 15 per cent of salaries of borrowers earning more than RM1,000 monthly will be cut for loan repayment, violating Pakatan Harapan’s 2018 election promise of only requiring payments from borrowers who earn RM4,000 and above.
  • The integrated cumulative grade point average system, which began in September 2015, was no longer made compulsory in public universities.
  • Chinese-medium schools were ordered to cease conducting computer classes during school hours as it fell under extracurricular activities. Students are no longer required to attend the classes, as future participation is optional.

July

  • Students are to wear black shoes to school starting next year, but Maszlee later announced a one-year grace period.
  • A committee will be set up by the ministry to review the national education policy.
  • MyBrain15 Programme, which offers a sum of RM90 million for 10,600 individuals to further their studies in Masters and PhD programmes, was postponed pending an allocation under the federal budget. This was, however, not included in Budget 2019.
  • Schools should have two days every week where only Bahasa Malaysia or English is used in order to help students improve language skills.
  • Chinese independent high schools were promised an allocation under the federal development budget. RM12 million was allocated for it in Budget 2019.
  • Make Technical and Vocational Education and Training students’ first choice of education in five years.

August

  • No freeze in transfer of teachers pending existing standard operating procedures in processing transfer applications.
  • To review in five years whether to recognise the Unified Examination Certificate, a school-leaving certificate in Chinese independent secondary schools.
  • The ministry is committed to raising the quality and standards of teachers, where teachers are trained to improve their standard of English based on current demands.

September

  • The National Education Advisory Council members will offer objective views in developing the nation’s education system holistically and inclusively.
  • Educational institutions will have a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation Club starting next year, which is aimed at promoting sustainable development as a culture and lifestyle.

October

  • The ministry wants to bring back the era of free educational content on television channels for all.
  • The decision on what colour of socks students will wear in schools will be decided after discussions with stakeholders.
  • There will no longer be examinations for primary school students in Year One to Three starting from 2019. The examinations will be replaced with more objective assessments.
  • The education ministry aims to relieve teachers from doing clerical work as early as the beginning of 2019 as they should focus more on nurturing and educating students.
  • The teaching and learning process of Bahasa Malaysia at national-type Chinese and Tamil schools should be more interactive, such as using films by the late P. Ramlee or the Upin and Ipin animation series.
  • Proposed amendments to the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, which the government is to table in December, seek to allow political party branches to be set up in public universities.
  • Introduce swimming lessons in schools, following drowning of school students.
  • The ministry will launch an environmental campaign next year focusing on the 3R (Reduce, Reuse and Recycle), which will involve kindergartens and schools in Johor’s Simpang Renggam district.

November

  • The government is looking into providing free nutritious breakfasts for children from families in the bottom 40 per cent wage-income group.