National education system labelled ‘dismal failure’

In a scathing comment on the state of education in Malaysia, the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) said poor policy implementation, lack of accountability and the intrusion of politics into education should immediately stop.

(The Sun Daily) – Its chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said these are the contributing factors that have led to the failure of the Malaysian education system.

She was commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s speech on Jan 22 at the Global Intellectual Discourse titled “The Next 100 Years: Vision 2100 for Malaysia”.

He had said the country’s failure to move forward in many areas, including education, was partly due to the obsession of some quarters who failed to acknowledge existing faults.

Anwar cited Malaysia’s performance in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2022, on which the nation was ranked 51 out of 81 countries, specifically in Science, Mathematics and English.

He added that it was an example of how the failure to acknowledge faults in the education system had affected the country’s global ranking.

It was reported that Malaysia also ranked fourth in the 10-member Asean region, with Malaysia’s scores recording the biggest drop compared with Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Noor Azimah expressed disappointment over the fact that the recommendations of education-focused organisations had been ignored, highlighting the disregard for input from education stakeholders.

She said the current education system focuses solely on exam-oriented reading, which has led to a deterioration in the overall reading culture among students.

“We need a more collaborative approach for the benefit of our children’s education. It’s disheartening to see the Education Ministry resisting initiatives that aim to improve English language proficiency.

“For many years, we have been struggling to improve English language proficiency and promote English for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics subjects.”

Noor Azimah said as PAGE champions improvements in education, including the English language, its call is now resonating across the country.

“Support for our call to prioritise and foster a more comprehensive and diverse approach to developing a well-rounded education system that extends beyond the confines of exam-focused content is now growing.”

LeapEd Services executive director Nina Adlan Disney, whose social enterprise is committed to education transformation, highlighted the need to shift from content mastery to learning mastery, which is a broader concept that goes beyond mere content knowledge.

“The current education system focuses on students’ understanding and proficiency in a specific subject or topic and produces high scores on assessments.

“But if learning mastery is implemented, it would help students to learn specific subject matters and develop critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities and the capacity to transfer knowledge from one domain to another.”

Nina Adlan, who was previously a private university dean and Malaysia Airlines Academy CEO, said the education system suffers from implementation deficiencies, and there is a lack of robust, authentic monitoring and evaluation of the system.

She said the decline in Pisa rankings indicates deep-rooted issues that need immediate attention.

“LeapEd Services was established with the primary goal of addressing the talent gap arising from central issues in student outcomes. Despite producing students with good academic results, they fall behind in critical thinking, confidence and communication skills, particularly in English.”

She added that the emphasis in teaching is merely to pass examinations rather than to encourage learning.

“Despite the country’s significant commitment to education, it is crucial to acknowledge pain points with transparency and accountability to develop data-driven, evidence-based solutions.

“Rigorous baselining activities need to be conducted to understand every student’s unique needs, and avoid the one-size-fits-all approach,” she added.