Thursday, February 22, 2007

National Education Blueprint - Hiccups Already?

Ok, this is one time I can't find the reference back to the article which I read in the local papers a few weeks back. So, I'm going to blog it off my memory (if someone finds the relevant article(s), please let me know).

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:
  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.
As highlighted in a few earlier posts - the Politics of Reform and Initial Impressions, the critical success factor to the Blueprint, whatever its contents, will be in the implementation plan and delivery system. Without reforming the delivery system, putting in place proper "change management" programmes, no blueprint or reform agenda will ever be successful.
I've yet to see such a plan being put in place.


Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say oit again: it's not about whether the mother tongues are offered in national schools, it's whether the schools can convince parents that

1) the education they can provide is on par or better than the vernacular schools', measured by indicators like staff dedication, overall academic performance and a varied extracurricular programme

2) equally or more importantly, the degree of acceptance of minorities by the school leadership. As long as one group is made to feel unwelcome/inferior (bullied might be a good term), don't count on an influx of minority children any time soon.

Yes, it's not about the mother tongue lessons, great though it would be to have them. Lots of people have English as a first language now anyway. Lots of people from my generation enjoyed our schooling in national schools, appreciate the chance to interact with different types of children, and would never send their children to vernacular schools, but we are increasingly concerned as to what is happening in the national schools to have second thoughts. It's a good thing I don't have children yet! (It may have to be an international school if I ever have any...)

Anonymous said...

I believe the point here IS that mother tongue objective is secondary and small one and if that cannot be achieved, what hope is there for the national blueprint?

From the start when it was announced, the seriousness of the mother tongue issue sounded like more an excuse than real. It lead me to look at the language of the blueprint and if you comb through it, the measurable targets are very general with a million way to give excuses.

The problem of implementation is structural that has at its root the NEP. Its the same issue with as protectionism in industry.

Its why the only way to really change it is meritocracy starting with the minister himself.

Anonymous said...

When on earth this establishment ever manage to deliver RESULTS, with consistent track records?
Crooked bridge, NEP, safety, public transport, arm deals, middle ring road, tolls etc., you name it.
I never pin my hope on it, one has to design your own destination.

Anonymous said...

My wife works part-time and her accountant boss is a Dutch lady. The Dutch lady tells my wife that, in the Netherlands, it is usual for students to be trilingual in Dutch, English, and one other European language. We all know how well the Netherlands are doing as a country, dykes and all, and never has the hangup that other languages has to be excluded in their education. When will Malaysia ever start copying from the sensibles?

Again, today, I see in the Star papers praises from Kenya. Towards the end of the Mahathir Period, we had started to seek false comfort and praise from African nations, because the non-African countries (including Thailand and, perhaps soon, Vietnam) has overrun us, economics-wise. If we continue to measure ourselves with the likes of Kenya, even God will not want to help us. It looks like we are diving headlong into the abyss of total denial.

Chen Chow said...

I'm not too sure about the current status of Mandarin and Tamil Language offering at National schools, but based on my conversation with some friends studying at Teachers' training colleges, there are currently two types of chinese language classes at the teachers' training colleges. One batch would eventually go to SJK(C), whereas the other batch would go to National schools.

This batch of students who are studying Chinese for National Schools at teachers' training colleges would be out by end of this year and ready to teach starting Jan 2008.

That's what I know. I am not sure how serious the problem of shortage of Chinese Language teachers at various National Schools in the country and what MOE is doing.