Sunday, November 19, 2006

Who's really marginalizing whom?

This news item in the Star caught my attention today. It was reported that "An island school with 26 pupils had a 100% failure in the UPSR examination" and that this school was located in Kota Belud, in the state of Sabah.

More worrying was the following statement which gives us an indication of the status of education standards in the state of Sabah:

"Sabah education director Normah Gagoh had disclosed the school’s failure when announcing the UPSR results which saw an overall poor performance where, of the 44,432 pupils who sat for the examination, only 20,727 passed."

That's a deplorable 47% passing rate!

Here's the response of the MP of Kota Belud and former Chief Minister of Sabah to this:

“The results are shocking. We have to look at it seriously,” former chief minister and Kota Belud MP Datuk Mohd Salleh Tun Said said.

He said the possible reasons for the failure could be poverty, lack of infrastructure including power supply on the island and the lack of parents' involvement in the children's education.

If the former CM of Sabah didn't or couldn't raise the standards of education in his own constituency, not to mention the whole state of Sabah, can we say that his actions led to the marginalization of Sabahans, especially the Bumiputeras in the rural areas?

Tony has eloquently blogged about this in his personal blog and he shows that Sabah has the highest poverty incidence rate in the whole of Malaysia.

I wonder which party holds the Chief Ministership of Sabah? I wonder who's really marginalizing whom while fattening their own pockets?


Anonymous said...

They better 'fatten' their pockets quickly, cos in 10 to 15 years this country will be dried out of its natural oil supplies.

thanks to the politicians!

Anonymous said...

We keep talking about poverty in terms of race, but if one looks at figures even in RM9 (which as we all know have recently become suspect) some states (Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, Terengganu) are quite noticeably poorer than everybody else. There are many ways to slice the data and talk about the issue. We should be circumspect and think about who is shaping the framework for discussion and/or setting the agenda before rushing into the fray.

Sad but true: examiners are generally happy to get scripts from Sabah and Sarawak because they are easy to mark - pangkah, kosong, pangkah, kosong...

Anonymous said...

Exam scripts from Sarawak and Sabah aren't exactly "pangkah, kosong, pangkah, kosong". There are some very excellent schools in S & S, so it is unfair to generalize all the S & S schools based on a few lesser schools. Whether the teachers get the "pangkah, kosong" scripts will depend on the centre of the school they are assigned to mark. There are normally a few centres for each school and usually only students from one or two centres will produce the above-mentioned scripts.

The education quality in most urban area schools in S & S is decent although I have to agree that the same does not exactly apply to suburban schools.

Anonymous said...


I'm sure you're right about the urban schools. As a rule, urban schools tend to do better than rural ones. However, do you know the population breakdown in East Malaysia in terms of rural vs. urban? (I'm not sure I would use the term 'suburban'!) What about Kelantan and Terrenganu?

I was repeating statements I've heard, which are based on a small sample of scripts over a limited period of time. So, yes, I made an invalid generalisation; however, I think what Kian Ming is trying to suggest is that Sabah is doing quite badly as a whole (in terms of economics and education) compared to other states. That, I think, is incontrovertible.


Anonymous said...

The only fault the Chief Minister or BN in Sabah can have is that they misrepresented their ability to change the levels of education in Sabah. Truth is they can't. It's a completely federal jurisdiction - Sabah can control immigration but not education, it would seem.

Which points to the chief flaw of the Malaysian national education system: the fact that it is a one-size-fits-all solution to a diverse range of needs and societies. Certainly, schools in Kota Belud or any division in Sabah other than say KK can't be expected to follow the same rules, structure, bureaucracy, syllabus and teacher training as schools in cosmopolitan and affluent Kuala Lumpur.

One-size-fits-all may work in homogenous societies like Finland and Japan, or small countries like Singapore, but it evidently can't possibly work here.

Funding seems a bit of a scapegoat - you don't need expensive workbooks or lab equipment to pass the UPSR, nor do you need electricity to study for an exam -- rural schools in any case receive far much more education funding than urban schools.