By Ida Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 ― The DAP today condemned Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his month-long “shattering silence” over Malaysian students’ deteriorating mathematics and science standards according to the 2011 results of an international benchmark.
The DAP’s Tony Pua and Ong Kian Ming today referred to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 results released last December, which they said “showed shockingly poor performance” by the country’s secondary school students. “At least two generations of young Malaysians will fail to achieve their potential as a result of rapidly declining education standards,” Pua and Ong, who are respectively the party’s publicity and strategy chief, wrote in a statement today.
The duo pointed out that Malaysia’s world ranking in mathematics and science standards had both dropped during the 2003-2011 period, with the former slipping from 10th to 26th place, while the latter dove from 20th to 32nd place.
They said that Malaysia had the “biggest drop among all countries” in test scores for both subjects for the 1999-2011 period.
They again highlighted that 64 per cent and 66 per cent of Malaysia’s secondary students who had participated in the TIMSS study scored “Low” and “Below Low” in mathematics and science respectively.
Pua and Ong went on to criticise Muhyiddin, who is also deputy prime minister, for the decision to make history a compulsory examination subject for the SPM level and to do away with national examinations at the PMR and UPSR levels.
They also said the Preliminary National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 launched late last year has failed to “aggressively address the drastic decline in our standards.”
“Neither of these will serve to improve the standards of education in Malaysia, while it may arguably make our students worse off than their current deteriorating predicament,” they alleged.
Pua and Ong urged Muhyiddin to recognise the failings of the education system and announce his willingness to take action to halt the decline of education standards.
Last week, they alleged that the education ministry’s grading system is a “fraud”, highlighting the huge gap between the results of the TIMSS survey and PMR, the national examination for lower secondary school students.
TIMSS is a four-year global assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth and eighth graders worldwide, or Standard Four and Form Two according to Malaysia’s education system.
Malaysian students were, however, graded only at the secondary level in the survey.
The TIMSS showed that Malaysia has consistently underperformed over the past three assessments in the two subjects considered critical in the country’s race to break into the ranks of high-income nations.
In 2007, the average Malaysian 14-year-old scored 474 points in mathematics and 471 points in science in the TIMSS survey.
In 1999, Malaysia’s average score for mathematics stood at 519 points and 492 points for science.
Education lobbyists, including the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), have blamed the government’s flip-flopping education policies ― especially in the teaching of mathematics and science ― for the drop in education standards.
The government recently launched the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 with the aim to be in the top third of the Programme For International Student Assessment (PISA) test within the next 13 years.
The country is currently ranked in the bottom third.
But in its recent Budget 2013, the Barison Nasional (BN) government also slashed its education allocation from RM50 billion in the last budget, to RM38.7 billion, raising doubts about the ability of the educational blueprint in addressing the nation’s flagging education standards.
Analysts have also suggested that Malaysia’s aim of boosting its education standards through an ambitious overhaul of the national school system will not happen as long as politicians continue to be involved in drawing up its policies.