Saturday, 22 December 2012

Are we heading backwards in education?

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has released their latest result. They conduct a assessment on fourth and eighth grade students (equivalent to Standard Four and Form Two students in Malaysia) over 63 countries in four international benchmarks since 1995. The average score is 500.

I've uploaded a picture which shows the score of our country compared to Singapore and Thailand as they are our neighbours therefore a comparison with them is fair. (picture might be a little unclear) but here's the link if you want to see the scores of other countries as well). Since the picture is unclear I'll just type out Malaysia's score from 1999 to 2011. Maths has been dropping from 519-508-474-440 and while Science 492-510-471-426

We are consistently sliding down and to a point where Thailand is performing better than us in Science. And we are nowhere near Singapore's standard as they are consistently in the Top 3 (a few times number 1). And though it pains some Malaysians when we are compared to Singapore, it does not hurt me at all because I have already accepted the fact that no matter what we do, we will always be compared to them and forever under their shadows.

Science and Maths has been taught in English since 2003 until 2012 where it has reverted back to BM. Within 10 years, we have switched from BM-English-BM. Poor students are being a guinea pig in the education system.

Notice the huge drop from 2003 in 2007, where we dropped 34 points in Maths and 39 points in Science. It is notable that in 2003, Form 2 students were still learning in BM while in 2007, it was English. So is English the main cause of the huge drop in scores? In my opinion, yes and no.

Yes, because the syllabus has gotten way easier since the switch from BM to English and the poor command of English by teachers and students as well. No, because it's not English fault. It's the system that is poorly executed. I could give my suggestion on how to improve the subject but what's the point when the decision to abolish PPSMI has been made.

Personally I've been through BM and English in Science and Maths. When I was in primary school, I learnt Science and Maths in BM while in secondary school it's was English.

I found that most of the teachers could not speak fluent English or shall I say, too shy to speak in English due to the fear of being wrong and judged by students who are younger than them. Whilst the government says that the decision to revert back Science and Maths back to Bahasa Malaysia is because the grades of the students did not improve. My point is, it is unfair to shift all the blame to the teachers and students.

I would blame the government for this because they did not prepared the teachers well enough when BM was switched to English in 2003. Had the teachers were given the proper training to adapt to the changes, our grades would have at least maintained if not better. Students are required to answer examination in English while they are being taught in BM by their school teachers. That is the major flaw in the system.

Government’s plan in the New Education Blueprint to benchmark Malaysian examinations to TIMSS, and reach a top third ranking by 2025. This is very laughable in my opinion, we are sliding down the order and without any real changes, can we really believe that we will be in the top 3?

Enough with the bullshits, if you really want our education to be world class. First, remove all political influence in the education system which also means only people are from the academic background e.g top teachers or professors. When you have power greedy politicians running the education system, it won't be a good sign.

Second, remove race-based quota in our education system. Race-based quota has more negative than positive in my view. When we are speaking of education, we want a fair and healthy competition among the students. Not by giving handicap to some while others have to work double or triple the effort to close up the game. (That is why many students opt to study and work overseas as they feel their contribution to the country is not fully appreciated.) We will also definitely see an improvement in grades by students as each student will have to up their game.

Our education system will continue to go down, unless someone puts a stop to it. Maybe it's time to change the government and see how things will go from there because I see no future in our education system as long it is led by a "I'm a Malay-first" man.

ps. I would have write this way longer but I know I'm not a famous writer so nobody will give a shit if I write 20 paragraphs.


  1. Well Said!!! I wonder why are they changing the education policy or system according to their wishes. I guess they (ministry of education) should ask student's preference first before deciding on anything. Further more,they should realize that in order to attain world class education, they got to synchonise the education policy similar to other country. As a malaysian, I would like to said that Malaysian Educational systems are Bull shits and they can never attain the world class title as long the political influence conquer the educational system :)

    1. Sorry for the super late reply, 'a year' late. My bad. Political influence definitely needs to go.

  2. well i'm probably too young for this issue, but i have the plan to involve myself in this educational field in the future. i kinda realize that the ministry of education did as they pleased and cause inconvenient to most of the teachers and students. i mean the teachers and students sat under the ministry and have to obey orders. it's their job and responsible. so totally agree to actually put the blame on the government. i'm turning 18 this year and glad to be out of school :)

    1. Well, I'm turning 19 this year. Hahaha. Never too young to learn I guess!

  3. Dear Typical Malaysian,

    I tried to laugh when I saw the title of this blogpost but no laughter came out because the answer is so obvious that it's not even funny anymore.

    My pet irritation conversing with typical Malaysians is the way you address foreigners with anglo-saxon names ie calling someone "Mister David" or "Mister Michael".

    I understand it is perhaps a gesture of respect using "mister" but using it incorrectly in such a basic practice just reveals the extent of stupidity and ignorance. You either address him as "David" or "Mr Smith" or "Mr Chan" or "Mr David Smith" and NOT "Mister David" for the sake of being polite.

    "Mister David" is NOT the same as addressing a local with say "Encik Ahmad" which is correct in Bahasa.

    If typical Malaysians can get this right, it is a big step forward to addressing the more complex issue of the entire education system.

    1. True. I have heard it a lot of times as well but I'm not sure if I'm never guilty of doing the same too. Ensure. So often we forget simple grammar rules when we converse.