Saturday, January 20, 2007

National Education Blueprint - Initial Impressions

Connection to Blogger has been pathetic recently, making regular posts a pain for both of us at the moment. At the same time, we can't migrate to the “new” Blogger yet due to the size of the blog, to enjoy purportedly better functions and features. So bear with us this two weeks. ;)

The new National Education Blueprint is finally released to the public after a few days' delay with much fanfare. Expectedly, the local media hyped up the event as well as its contents over the past couple of days. You can also download the Bahasa Malaysia version of the blueprint on the Ministry of Education website here. However, the promised “blog” to encourage feedback from concerned readers is still non-existent.

Due to a busy week, I've only managed a cursory glance of the Blueprint and isn't yet ready to make substantive comments on it. However, there has been some significant comments made by others in the press already.

The key surprise, of which significance is yet to be determined, is the finding by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Sdr Lim Kit Siang was the ditching of the term “Bangsa Malaysia” as enshrined in our Vision 2020, to some vague and convoluted concept term “Negara Bangsa”. This concept of building “Negara Bangsa” is identified as the First Strategic Thrust of the National Education Blueprint. Hence the obvious question for our Government is, have we decided to do away with the all important and unifying concept of “Bangsa Malaysia”?

The other Strategic Thrusts identified by the Ministry of Education are:

  • Developing Human Capital
  • Strengthening the National Schools
  • Narrowing Rural-Urban Education Gaps
  • Strengthening the Teaching Profession
  • Raising the Standards of Excellence in Schools
Hence, on first take, it appears to me that while the Thrusts identified are definitely agreeable, there has been a severe lack of identification and discussion on the current problems and issues facing our national education system today.

The Thrusts identified above aren't revolutionary “new concepts”. These are concepts which have been in place for the longest time in our education policies. They have merely been refreshed and jazzed up to be more contemporary and professional looking in nature. Hence, it is obvious that repacking as well as a better presentation of the Ministry's objectives and thrusts alone, aren't going to significantly resuscitate our flagging education system.

Without specific policies in place to eradicate the problems and weaknesses in our current education system, the implementation of “new” policies and concepts will not be effective. As discussed often in this blog, there has been a worry trend towards turning national schools into religious institutions by many education officials and school administrators. There is also the concern of opaque quota and racially discriminatory policies which disadvantages minority races. What about the issue of overcrowded vernacular schools? Parents and concerned citizens alike are worried about the substantial deterioration of standards of our examinations, which runs in clear conflict with the objective of raising the standards of excellence in schools.

Without reading the Blueprint in detail, I've failed to find policies in the Blueprint which specifically resolves the above issues which will only serve to negate whatever positive contributions by the new blueprint. I'm clearly not alone in holding these views. Datuk Denison Jayasooria of Yayasan Strategik Sosial has commented that while the policies might have been fine-tuned, it's the same officials who have failed us in the past, who will be carrying out the new policies, hence placing major doubts on the success of the new blueprint.

[He] hoped there would be new faces to implement the targets set from the ground level, otherwise there would be a bottleneck of archaic-thinking people” who are not able to change how things are executed.
The Secretary-General of the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) shared the same views.
"The blueprint will only be successful if there is unity. It will remain a blueprint if the Education Ministry is not willing to accept feedback and criticism."
And given that the Ministry have failed to address some of the key problems and issues with our national education system with any conviction or resolve in the Blueprint, it is unsurprising that I have grave reservations with regards to its likely success.

Footnote: The Blueprint however, contains a whole load of facts and figures pretty much unavailable previously, which is probably a statistical nirvana for number junkies like myself ;).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Six core strategies of Education Blueprints are:
*Building the nation and people as in Membina negara bangsa

*Developing human capital as in Membangunkan modal insan

*Strengthening national schools as in Memperkasa sekolah kebangsaan

*Narrowing education gap as in Merapatkan jurang pendidikan

*Make teaching a prestigious profession as in Memartabatkan profesion perguruan

*Make excellence a culture in educational institutions as in Melonjakkan kecemerlangan institusi pendidikan