Education: ‘A’ in Malaysia but Left Behind Internationally

KUALA LUMPUR, 21 Dec: The Member of Parliament for Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar, questioned the difference in perception of the Malaysian education system between the government and international organisations.

She cited reports from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) which reflects an alarming situation in the Malaysian education system.

“In 2011, the TIMSS Report showed that Malaysia’s rank for Mathematics fell from 16 (1999), 10 (2003), 20 (2007), and 26 (2011). While for Science, it was at 22 (1999), 20 (2003), 21 (2007) and 32 (2011).

“The average drop for Mathematics was 519 (1999), 208 (2003), 474 (2007) to 440 (2011); drop of 79 points, while for Science 392 (1999), 501 (2003), 471 (2007) to 426 (2011).


“What is surprising is the contradiction seen through the Examination Board Records – the record of students receiving A’s in both subjects has increased from year to year in the PMR (Lower Secondary Assessment).

“What really happened?” she said, quoted from Malaysia Kini in her opening speech at the NGO ‘Teach For The Needs’ (TFTN) education congress today.

Nurul Izzah said that the PISA report last year also stated the failure of the Malaysian education, which according to her, should be ‘reversed’ to ensure that the quality of education can be increased.

When it came to 2013, another published education report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) issued the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012.

“Once again, the people of Malaysia were shocked by the drop in performance of Malaysian students. The latest is that Form Three students in Malaysia are at par with Primary 5 students from Singapore and South Korea!” she said.

She criticised the country’s education landscape which does not lead to the generation of ideas and critical thinking, causing the next generation to not like to think beyond the boundaries of academia.

The PKR Vice-President said that the purpose of education is to harness the talents and potential of students, as much as possible, rather than prescribing a particular direction in career alone.

“Previously, after Independence, the young people were fighting to become soldiers, police or teachers. These were famous careers at the time.

“Not long after that, when the nation welcomed the mainstream of development, children were encouraged to take up engineering or medicine. Whether the child was capable or not was a secondary question.

“Looking at the future, a more holistic development is required. Education should be reversed. Previously, education set the end of the road.

“Children were set out to be engineers or doctors from young. Education should unlock children’s potential as much possible,” she said.

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