One of the key programmes to make National Schools an attractive choice for all Malaysians, particularly the non-Malay community, is the option of taking Chinese or Tamil language classes. This is clearly stated as a key objective in the recently launched National Education Blueprint for 2006-2010. In the Chapter 6 of the blueprint entitled "Strengthening National Schools", it was a key performance indicator that 150 national schools will offer Chinese Language as a subject, while 100 will offer Tamil Language programmes beginning 2007.
However, as reported in the local press, these targets are far from being met. Apparently, the Ministry of Education is still facing various problems in its implementation, including sourcing for the necessary teachers, preparation of syllabus etc.
This isn't the first time that the Ministry has announced a delay as well. The policy to offer the mother tongue languages in national schools did not originate in the blueprint, but much earlier in April 2005. Then, it was announced that the programme will actually commenced for all national schools on January 2006. However, as blogged here, the Ministry subsequently announced a postponement of the programme to a later date.
Now, despite the recently published Blueprint with a more modest objective of 150 schools, the Ministry of Education under the leadership of Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has failed to deliver again.
The plan to change the teaching of Mathematics and Science subjects to the English language was executed (albeit with plenty of teething issues) within a period of 6 months. Now after more than 20 months from the date of the official announcement, Chinese and Tamil language programmes are still cooking in the oven.
This raises several questions with regards to the Ministry of Education:
- Is the Ministry even serious about offering these subjects to attract more non-Malay students to national schools, making them the schools of choice for all Malaysians? The continuous delay does not give confidence to Malaysian parents that the Ministry is keen on such an outcome for it has shown little or no urgency.
- And if the Ministry is indeed serious about it, then surely, there needs to be a major revamp of the ministry leadership for they have then demonstrated absolute incompetence in executing their tasks and responsibilities.
- What then is the likelihood of success for the National Education Blueprint, if the Ministry officials cannot even get one of the key quantitative task done properly, when there are many more difficult qualitative goals to achieve? Some other problems was blogged here earlier. Other immediate key performance indicators for 2007 includes ensuring no one is left out of the education system (see Kian Ming's post on Primary School Enrollment), increasing the number of teaching assistants, extending the pre-school education system, strengthening the selection criteria as well implementing the "fasttrack" programme for headmasters and senior assistants.
I've yet to see such a plan being put in place.