FOLLOWING its achievements last year, the Education Ministry aims to make further progress in 2014.
During the Education Ministry’s Annual New Year Address 2014, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also Education Minister, said that he was aware of the criticisms against the country’s performance in education.
“We will accept every reproval, opinion and suggestions with an open heart and mind because I am sure that these arise because of a sincere wish to improve the quality of education in the country,” he said.
He highlighted some of the ministry’s achievements in the last year and touched on issues that needed to be dealt with this year, one of which was the management of funds.
“The comments and recommendations in the Auditor-General’s 2013 report must be taken into consideration and improvement measures must be urgently looked into,” said Muhyiddin.
He said that he would propose the formation of an Acquisitions and Physical Development Audit Task Force that will constantly monitor the performance of basic infrastructure and ensure that it is up to par.
Addressing the issue of graduates from teacher education institutes who had completed their studies last year, but who have yet to be placed, Muhyiddin said that those who had graduated in August would be informed of their postings by March.
However, those who graduated after September would know of their placements later.
“This issue (of no positngs for graduates) arose not because we were careless, but because of other reasons. The increase in retirement age to 58, was one reason.”
He said that applications for teacher transfers would also be looked into and would be based on specific requirements, availability of positions and the subject options of the respective applicants.
He added that it was difficult to grant transfers to everyone as there were a large number of applicants.
Two years ago, there were about 7,000 vacancies, he said but the number of transfer applications stood at 20,000.
Muhyiddin also highlighted an increase in literacy and numeracy skills (Linus).
“The ministry is proud as the hard work of the teachers has paid off. The results have been encouraging in the Linus tests,” he said.
Muhyiddin added that Bahasa Melayu literacy among pupils who had completed Year Three was 99.1% while numeracy had increased to 99.3%.
However, he admitted that the improvement in English literacy had not increased as much.
He pointed out that Linus was a starting point for improving English literacy in a more structured and systematic way compared to previous years.
He also spoke about his meeting with Dr Andreas Schleicher from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), who had developed the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), in order to better understand the Pisa and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) tests.
“I was made to understand that there are several schools in Malaysia that have achieved the same level as some of the best schools in the world. I have instructed the Education Ministry to look deeper into this matter and to find out what factors contributed to the success of these schools,” said Muhyiddin.
There would also be increased allocations for vocational education, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had agreed to.
“In order to have skilled professionals, more students need to go into vocational programmes,” added Muhyiddin.
He said that in developed countries, 40% to 60% of students took vocational courses as their first choice.
Muhyiddin said that 4.7% students had taken technical and vocational training in the upper secondary level last year.
This year, the focus will be on vocational education transformation and an increase in physical facilities, so that the number of students pursuing such courses could be increased to 20%,” he said.
JEANNETTE GOON The STAR Home News Education 02/02/2014