WHEN cracking a joke, there should be a limit. Otherwise it may sound stupid. Chan Weng Kit’s letter, “Our education is world-class” (The Star, March 4), refers.
When the writer says University College London’s ranking (seventh overall) against Universiti Malaya (50th) is “barely a whisker above”, I laughed. On a serious note, the writer seems to use highly superficial means to claim our education is world-class. Having a comprehensive syllabus (no matter how advanced it is) alone does not mean our education system is a high quality system, let alone a world-class system.
On paper, we have adequate laws, comparable to advanced countries, to fight corruption, crime, traffic violations and so on but can we proudly claim that we are comparable to those countries in those areas? Even in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013–2025, it is acknowledged that “improvements in students have not always matched the resources channelled into” our education system. Delivery counts for a lot and this is where our weakness is evident.
All along, questions have been raised in the way our schools are run, syllabus implemented and political interference. The thriving private and international schools in our own backyard seems to imply there is a loss of confidence in our system. We are still groping in the dark, in spite of over 50 years of independence, over whether to teach Maths and Science in English or Bahasa Malaysia and yet the writer has the audacity to claim our system is world-class!
The Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) and other ranking tools may not be the perfect way to test the skills and knowledge students have acquired before entering high school or colleges. However, they are a good benchmark to help improve our system.
For a start, I would like to ask the writer a few questions. Why are students in Malaysia sitting for PMR (equivalent to Year 8 studies) at the age of 15, when in most countries a student at that age would be doing Year 9 studies? Why should secondary school studies take five years to be completed when in countries like Singapore it can be done in four years?
Aren’t we slowing down the progress of our students? If our students are spending more time in secondary schools, logically, shouldn’t they do well in those ranking? Why are we even ranked below Vietnam? How can it be disadvantageous to us when we compare our students to those of other countries?
Perhaps the writer should study the actual education system in Singapore, for example, instead of merely checking it out on the Internet. As a teacher in Singapore now, having taught in Malaysia for six years before, I can tell how competitive the education system here is compared to Malaysia. Let us admit that our system is far from being world-class and start working towards making it better. V. Chandran Singapore The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 7 March 2016