Butt out of the education system, Ku Li tells politicians


(Malay Mail Online) – Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah told politicians today not to interfere with Malaysia’s education system and to allow professionals to do their job without fear.

As example, the Umno veteran highlighted the on-off policy of teaching science and mathematics in English which Putrajaya phased out in 2009.

“The danger in this meddling is the tendency for an issue to be politicised and degenerated into controversies,” the former finance minister popularly known as Ku Li said in a speech delivered at the National Association of Private Educational Institutions’s (NAPEI) third international skills conference.

“It is time that educational bodies were run by professionals. More importantly, these professionals must be allowed to offer policy options that are in the best interest of students and the nation without their having any fear of being browbeaten by petty-minded politicians!” he added.

Tengku Razaleigh also stressed the importance of learning the English language in an increasingly interconnected world.

“The efficient and well performing employee will therefore need to be proficient in the language considered to be the global lingua franca, English that is,” he said.

The Kelantan prince further lamented Malaysia’s poor education standards, which he said were inconsistent with the country’s ambitions to reach developed status in just six years by 2020.

“No less than the World Bank in March 2014 underscored its anxiety at the low quality of Malaysia’s education system,” he said.

Frederico Gil Sander, senior economist for Malaysia from the World Bank, raised alarm in March at Malaysian schoolchildren’s poor performance that lags behind their counterparts from Vietnam, a less developed country.

Malaysia scored badly in two recent international benchmark studies on education: the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

In the 2012 edition of PISA, Malaysia was 52nd overall out of the 65 countries, and firmly entrenched in the bottom third of the survey.

Aside from the stagnant PISA performance, Malaysia has also faced a continued decline in the TIMSS benchmark in which the country once performed well.

While Malaysian students were once above the international average between 1999 and 2003, their scores in TIMSS began to decline sharply in 2007 and further in 2011.