Stakeholders have their own views and ideas about improving the education system and the ongoing National Education Review dialogues provide a soapbox for them to state their case.
THE second session of the National Dialogue on Education is being held in Perak today where educators, academics, parents and other stakeholders are invited to air their views on the current education system.
This is part of the series of dialogues that will continue until mid-July, with the dialogue panel members travelling from state to state to facilitate the sessions.
Assessment of the current national education system began in August 2011 in order to gauge the overall level of education in Malaysia and a report on this was completed in March.
Since April, dialogue sessions have been conducted privately with educators from primary school to tertiary level, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) representatives and the Institutes of Teacher Education directors.
“Although we have decided on the nine main fields of study for the education review, in order to get a consensus, the ministry welcomes other education-related views and suggestions,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, at the launch and first session of the Dialogue at Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) last Sunday.
“The government invites all members of the public to present their suggestions to us at these dialogues.”
Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister said besides the dialogues, people could also give feedback via online channels such as Facebook, Twitter and the education review website (www.edureview.my).
The nine priority areas that are up for discussion are: teachers, school leaders, school quality, curriculum and evaluation, multilingual proficiency, post-school opportunities, the role of parents and the community, the efficacy of resources and information sharing, and finally, the administrative structure of the Education Ministry.
“There are three types of engagement,” said former Education director-general and dialogue panel member Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom, stating that the three types were townhall sessions, roundtable meetings and meetings with eminent people such as former Prime Ministers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“We’ve received input from various sources and we’re also looking at how our system has performed as compared to that of other countries,” said Education Review and Blueprint Development project manager Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim.
She explained that all feedback received will be consolidated. “If the feedback that we receive coincides with the information we have already collected, then it provides support. If there are extra suggestions, they will be taken into consideration as well,” she said.
At the first session in Putrajaya, there were about 2,000 participants who had a total of four hours to air their grouses and present suggestions for improvements.
While many may not have had the chance at the microphone, suggestion boxes were placed throughout the venue for the attendees to drop their comment sheets in.
Most of the views presented were not new. “When are we going to have single session schools?” lamented a parent who claimed to be “representing her children”.
“Those at the morning session leave for school before sunrise, while those in the afternoon session come home after sunset. There’s also the issue of safety,” she added.
Many commented on the lack of a “one-stop centre for people to channel their opinions, problems and queries”.
There were parents and teachers who requested that teachers be allowed to focus on teaching instead of being burdened with administrative chores.
“Please give us back our teachers,” said a PTA member from a Putrajaya school.
As to the teaching of Maths and Science in English (PPSMI), there were opinions on both sides of the fence.
“Why do we place so much importance on English?” asked a parent. “Students in countries such as Japan, Korea, and Germany do not study in English, but they are doing well!”
Although only graduating from an Institute of Teacher Education in 2014, Patrick Duffy Bayuong already had an idea for syllabus planning.
“Create three modules for each class in Years One, Two and Three,” he said.
Each module would have a different set of subjects and pupils will be given the choice of selecting the module they liked best.
“This could enhance the holistic development of the pupils,” he said.
His fellow teacher trainee Saiful Izwan brought up the issue of graduate teachers teaching subjects that they had not majored in. His sentiments were hotly debated by fellow trainee teachers who claimed that teachers should not be pushed into teaching subjects they had not much knowledge in.
SK Bukit Damansara PTA chairman Datuk Rozhan Ghazalli said that the promotion and grading system for teachers should be relooked so that more people could be attracted to the teaching profession.
“The education system will not move forward if the remuneration system doesn’t change,” he said.
“All feedback is good feedback. What we’ve got so far is not exhaustive and we want to hear more,” said former Education deputy director-general Datuk Asariah Mior Shaharuddin, who is one of the dialogue panel members.
Panel member Prof Datuk Dr Sidek Baba from International Islamic University Malaysia said the panel will “accept views and thoughts on education because they are coming from stakeholders”.
“From there we hope that we can formulate something that can benefit everybody,” he said.
The panel members present at the sessions will take notes on the views presented. “Only at the end, will we meet and compile everything,” said Asariah, adding that a report will be submitted to the main committee.
“I hope that whatever decision is made after the dialogue will not make a U-turn. It’s difficult for parents to help their children when the system keeps changing,” said parent Datuk Shamsudin Ismail.