Improving education

There are still many problems in our education system yet the reforms needed are moving at a glacial pace, compared with the world our children will grow up in.

A RECENT headline claimed that Malaysia’s education system is fast becoming the world’s best.

I really had to blink several times because it seemed as farfetched a claim as Malaysian women now being equal to our men.

Further down in the article it said that we still had a long way to go before we could “justify” the claim that we are at par with the world’s best.

Once again, we are handed a confusing statement. Are we improving or are we not?

According to our Government Transfor-mation Plan (GTP) report: “The rate of improvement of the system in the last 15 years is among the fastest in the world.”

But that actually says very little because it can mean that while 15 people can now read when previously there were 10, it still means there are only 15 literate people.

I really wish the media would ask tougher questions of pronouncements like this.

One of the GTP targets is to get 92% enrolment in pre-schools.

For a long time, we have been proud of our literacy rates. But it turns out we measure our literacy rates through school enrolment rates, which any schoolchild will tell you is not the same thing. Just because you went to school doesn’t mean you’re literate.

Indeed, just because you pass your school exams, it doesn’t mean you’re literate either, as any frustrated employer can tell you.

So achieving high enrolment should be only part of the goal, the rest is about giving our children quality education.

Undoubtedly, there are supposed to be four key GTP initiatives to improve the quality of education but this does not necessarily translate into a “fast-improving” education system.

Our problems are so numerous yet the reforms needed in our education system are moving at a glacial pace, compared with the world our kids will grow up in.

by Marina Mahathir.


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