Prof Nelson, who is also currently the Pok Rafeah Distinguished Chair in International Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia argued that while it's "heartening" to know that we are making efforts in upgrading our education system,
"[the] history of efforts to reform and improve education is replete with cases of well-meaning, well designed measures that were implemented only partially, or were seriously diluted in the course of implementation, or were put in place but later reversed."Hence while stakeholders recognise that better education is top priority, many of those "directly involved in the public educatino system - bureaucrats, teachers, headmasters and principals, and also much of the higher education establishment - oppose reforms that would shift control over resources, change relationships, or increase pressure to perform."
Of course, politicians adds to the already complex situation. They face a "time consistency problem" as the cost of reform is usually immediate while the benefits come much later. This has clearly been the case in Malaysia where the education reform programmes changes as frequently as the changes in Ministers.
The latest National Education Blueprint replaces the former plan by the former Minister of Education, which was also meant to stretch to 2010. At the same time, the recently appointed Minister of Higher Education, did not hesitate to dump the report completed no more than a year before his tenure to conduct a brand new study.
Hence as rightly pointed out by Prof Nelson:
...realistic and effective means of carrying out institutional change often receive much less attention than goal setting and the design of policy.Our respective Ministers in charge of our education could do well to take heed of Prof Nelson's advice. The question then is, whether the strength of the political will required is there to make the necessary and often difficult institutional changes to ensure that our goals and targets are met.
The most widespread solution is to throw more money into the system - hiring more teachers, and buyin gmore books and supplies. But money is not enough; institutional changes are crucial.