A NUMBER of initiatives implemented in recent years, such as the Higher Order Thinking Skills, should be able to help Malaysia improve its rankings under the Programme for International Student Assessment.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin expressed hope that Malaysian students will perform better.
“One of the criteria used in Pisa is evaluating the thinking skills of students, meaning that they're not supposed to simply give answers.
“We've implemented HOTS over the past two years, so we're hopeful that our students will be able to achieve better Pisa results this year,” he told the Malaysian media after concluding his working visit to the Bahamas.
Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, represented Malaysia at the19th Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers (19CCEM) that was held in the Bahamian capital, Nassau, from June 22 to 26.
He said that HOTS had featured in both the SPM and PT3 examinations.
Muhyiddin said a presentation on Pisa at the Nassau conference indicated that being among the lowest ranked countries did not mean that a country's education standards were low.
“There are other factors at play that we'll need to look into,” he said.
There have been concerns over Malaysia's performance in Pisa, with the country placed in the bottom third, ranking 52 out of 65 countries in the 2012 survey.
Pisa is administered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development every three years on 15-year-olds in both member and non-member countries.
At the 19CCEM proceedings, Muhyiddin delivered a speech focusing on education, skills and employment.
He presented Malaysia’s contribution of USD200,000 (RM750,000) in a bid to help fellow Commonwealth countries better the quality of education and training as it shared the measures being taken to elevate the quality of international education.
Addressing the 19CCEM, Muhyiddin said Kuala Lumpur realised the tremendous potential in experience- and knowledge-sharing.
In this regard, he expressed Malaysia’s dedication to help the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), the recipient of the contribution, achieve its goals.
COL, which has its headquarters in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, encourages the development and sharing of open learning and distance education knowledge, resources and technologies.
“Malaysia looks forward to further engagement, cross-fertilisation of ideas and smart partnerships between Commonwealth members,” he said.
Muhyiddin told conference attendees that to elevate the quality of education, Malaysia was currently embarking on the most comprehensive education transformation exercise to date.
He highlighted the Malaysian Education Blueprints covering basic education rights through to tertiary level and lifelong learning, under which multiple initiatives were being put in place in various areas.
“This includes strengthening basic literacy and numeracy, implementing curricula that are benchmarked internationally, embedding HOTS as well as a strong focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM),” he said.
Muhyiddin shed light on efforts to consolidate Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) offerings and pathways in bringing about greater clarity and efficiency, among other things.
“TVET is being positioned as the most important avenue for upscaling Malaysia’s skilled human capital base as the country aspires to reconfigure the skilled workforce to remain competitive and innovative,” he said.
He said that Malaysia needed to have both the quality and quantity of STEM human capital that would enable the country to adopt the right economic model in order to achieve the longer term economic and societal aspirations.
He further said that the quality of Malaysian teachers, lecturers and academic leaders must be of a high standard, and that efforts were being made to ensure the right people of the desired “horsepower” and behaviour were in the right jobs in driving transformation at various levels within the education delivery ecosystem.
Elaborating on the national education system that would take students from “cradle to career”, he said it would help them achieve their potential, inculcate a love for lifelong learning, make them globally competitive, and prepare them for life.
Malaysia, he said, placed equal emphasis on nurturing balanced and holistic individuals who could meet extraordinary challenges, with the right ethics and morality, and had the knowledge and skills to adapt and thrive in an ever-changing world.
“We’ll instil an entrepreneurial mindset throughout Malaysia’s higher education system and create a system that produces graduates with a drive to create jobs, rather than to only seek jobs,” he said.
Muhyiddin also took the opportunity to highlight Malaysia’s intention to join the executive board of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (Unesco) for the 2015-2019 term.
He said a number of countries had stated their support for Malaysia over its Unesco bid. – Bernama