• USSA’s awarding of an honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and its ongoing ‘bid’ to retrain up to 50,000 teachers in Malaysia is a clear conflict of interest

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 22nd January 2013

    President and CEO of the United States Sports Academy (USSA) Dr. Thomas Rosandich recently defended the award of an honorary doctorate to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, saying that it was based on merit and his proven track record and not linked to a project USSA undertook for the ministry.[1]

    What Dr. Rosandich failed to explain is the clear conflict of interest in awarding Tan Sri Muhyiddin this honorary doctorate when the institution he represents, USSA, could potentially benefit from a contract worth up to RM1.15 billion if its pilot project involving the training of Malaysian PE teachers is extended and expanded.

    Indeed, in the USSA website, it was stated that ‘It is anticipated that the International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS) program may expand into a five-year effort and include the retraining of 50,000 Malaysian teachers.’[2] The pilot program to train 1000 PE teachers already cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM22.9 million or RM22,900 per diploma in 2012.

    An expansion of this program to retrain 50,000 PE teachers could cost the taxpayer an additional RM1.145 billion over 5 years! No doubt such a contract would be given to USSA via its sole Malaysian agent, KH Sports Sdn Bhd whose chairwoman Hisham Suhaili Othman is the Puteri UMNO Chief in the Langkawi division.

    The awarding of this honorary doctorate to Tan Sri Muhyiddin when negotiations for the expansion of this program are still ongoing represents a clear conflict of interest on the part of USSA. Tan Sri Muhyiddin also showed poor judgement in accepting this honorary doctorate since it could easily be interpreted as an attempt by USSA to ‘curry favour’ and perhaps even to ‘bribe’ him into agreeing to the extension and expansion of this program.

    USSA’s website indicates that this pilot program has been extended to cover 2013 and the number of PE teachers who will undergo this program has been increased to 1,500.[3]

    We call upon Tan Sri Muhyiddin to confirm whether this pilot program has been extended and why this PE teachers’ training program continues to be awarded to a predominantly online US university via a Malaysian agent whose main business is selling sports equipment and whose chairwoman is a Kedah Puteri UMNO leader.

    We sincerely hope that this will not be met with the same deafening silence as our call for an explanation for Malaysia’s disastrous performance in the 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) where our ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while our ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Tan Sri Muhyiddin needs to explain why a contract worth RM23m to retrain PE teachers was given to an UMNO leader via direct negotiation

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 18th January 2013

    Our education minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was awarded an Honorary Doctorate on the 17th of January by the United States Sports Academy (USSA), which is based in Daphne, Alabama, for his efforts “to enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation” through the creation of the “One Student – One Sport” initiative.

    For a 6 month period starting from June 2012, USSA trainers were in Malaysia to provide retraining for PE teachers and training for other teachers interested in PE through an “International Diploma in Physical Education and Scholastic Sports (IDPESS)” program. This pilot program to retrain 1000 teachers cost the Malaysian government RM22.9m and the contract was awarded to a Syarikat KH Sports World Sdn Bhd (who is the authorized agent in Malaysia for USSA) via a direct negotiation.

    According to KH Sports World website (http://www.kh-ussa.com/management-team/), its chairwoman is Hisham Suhaili Othman whose list of titles includes “Naib Ketua Puteri UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Ketua Puteri UMNO, Bahagian Langkawi”, “Ahli Jawatankuasa Perhubungan UMNO, Negeri Kedah”, “Bendehari Biro Sukan & Kecergasan Puteri UMNO, Malaysia” and “Ahli Lembaga Pelawat Hospital Langkawi”.

    While the intention of providing retraining to PE teachers, especially those without the proper qualifications, may be a good one, we question why this contract was given, via direct negotiation, to a company which was founded in 2008 “to venture into the sports equipment and product market” in Malaysia.

    We also call into question the decision to appoint a US based college whose method of teaching is almost exclusively via distance and online learning . Such a college would certainly not have sufficient teaching faculty and resources to deliver face to face teaching programs, especially for the 1000 teachers who were supposed to enrol in this program. For comparison, the estimated current number of students at USSA is less than 600!

    We also call into question the high cost of this program. RM22.9m for 1000 students translates into RM22,900 for every “diploma” earned. This is more than 4 times what it costs to obtain a “Diploma in Pengajian Sukan” from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), which costs about RM5709 for 6 semesters.

    The awarding of this contract is yet another example of the BN’s “Cakap Tak Serupa Bikin” where the Prime Minister preaches transparency on the one hand while members of his cabinet does the complete opposite by awarding contracts to cronies at vastly inflated prices. Is this the price the Malaysian taxpayer has to pay so that our Minister of Education can obtain an honorary doctorate? Did Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s honorary doctorate cost the Malaysian taxpayer RM23m?

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s shattering silence on the disastrous TIMSS 2011 results will soon earn him the ignominy of becoming the worst Education Minister ever

    Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee and Dr Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 16th January 2013

    It has been 30 days since the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study 2011 was released which showed shockingly poor performance by Malaysian students.

    Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 10th in 2003 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 20th in 2003 to 32nd in 2011. However, the most damning outcome of the test is that Malaysia has suffered the biggest drop in test scores among all countries for both Mathematics and Science between 1999 and 2011.

    The number of students who scored “Below Low” for Mathematics increased from only 7% in 1999 to an incredible 35% in 2011. For Science, the percentage rocketed up from 13 to 38. If the students who scored “Low” were taken into consideration, 64% and 66% of Malaysian students scored “Low” and “Below Low” in Mathematics and Science respectively.

    If there ever was a yardstick of a non-physical national disaster, this is it. At least two generations of young Malaysians will fail to achieve their potentials as a result of rapidly declining education standards.

    However, despite the scale of the crisis, the Minister of Education has to date, has remained stoically silent on the entire issue, as if it will blow away just as long as he does not comment on it.

    The irony of it all is that Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has flown to the United States to receive an honorary doctorate from “United States Sports Academy” on the 17th of January for his ‘Satu Murid, Satu Sukan’ initiative to ‘enhance physical education to help in the building of a nation’. While Tan Sri Muyhiddin is being ‘honoured’ with a doctorate for this supposed ‘achievements’ in developing sports in schools, our students continue to be ‘dishonoured’ by a Minister of Education who has failed them miserably in the academic arena.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s only “achievement” to date has been the controversial decisions to enforce “History” as a compulsory examination subject for SPM level to “inculcate nationalism and patriotism” and to scrap national examinations at PMR and UPSR levels. The preliminary education blueprint which has been launch to date fails to aggressively address the drastic decline in our standards. Neither of these will serve to improve the standards of education in Malaysia, while it may arguably make our students worse off than their current deteriorating predicament.

    Tan Sri Muhyiddin must immediately take the position to recognise the complete failings of our national education system and announce the willingness to leave no stone unturned and slaughter the sacred cows of our education system to put an immediate halt to the decline to ensure that our young Malaysians today will remain competitive globally tomorrow.

    Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
    Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • Is the Ministry of Education handing out ‘A’s for examinations to meet the Government’s KPI?

    Media statement by Tony Pua Kiam Wee and Dr Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, 9th January 2013

    We would like to congratulate all of the PMR students who successfully passed their PMR exams especially the 30,474 students who successfully scored straight As. We applaud their efforts in putting in the hard work necessary to achieve these results which were announced two weeks ago on 18th December 2012.

    Based on the results released by the Ministry of Education, 28.8% achieved an ‘A’ in Mathematics while 23.7% did the same for Science. On the surface, Malaysians should be extremely proud that approximately a quarter of all our 15 year olds are able to achieve top results for the two key subjects.

    However, when we compare the PMR results with the recently released Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 report, we find that only 2% of Malaysians managed “Advanced” scores in Mathematics, while another 10% achieved “High” scores.

    Similarly for Science, only 1% and 10% of Malaysian 15 year olds managed to achieve “Advanced” and “High” scores respectively.

    What worries Malaysians is the fact that compared to 1999 when 36% of our 15 year olds scored an “Advanced” or “High” scores in 1999, only a miserable 12% did so in 2012. For Science, this % has decreased from 24% in 1999 to 11% in 2011. (The breakdown is shown in the Table 1 below.)

    The question to ask then is are our examination standards set so low that 28.8% of our students will score an ‘A’ in Mathematics even though by international standards, they are far from it?

    While the above may be worrying, what is shocking is the performance of Malaysian students at the bottom. While the PMR examinations showed nearly 90% passing rates for students in Mathematics and Science, the TIMSS study exposed the fraud in our examinations.

    The number of students who scored “Below Low” for Mathematics increased from only 7% in 1999 to an incredible 35% in 2011. For Science, the percentage rocketed up from 13 to 38. If the students who scored “Low” were taken into consideration, 64% and 66% of Malaysian students scored “Low” and “Below Low” in Mathematics and Science respectively.

    The performance of the educational achievements of our students is unacceptable. The Ministry of Education and the Government has failed our young Malaysians. In the pursuit of quantitative Key Performance Indicators such as the number of “A”s or the percentage pass rate, the Ministry of Education has severely simplified our education syllabus as well as dumbed down our examinations at the expense of our students.

    We call upon the Minister of Education Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to explain how our education and examination standards have declined so drastically over the past decade. He must also thoroughly review our examination system and our education syllabus to increase the standards of education for our young. We are also extremely concerned about the complete lack of urgency over our underperformance, as well as the lack of substantive measures in the preliminary Education Blueprint which has been launched at the end of last year.

    Table 1a: Malaysian Students Performance for Mathematics (TIMSS 1999 to 2011)

    Mathematics 1999 (%) 2003 (%) 2007 (%) 2011 (%)
    Advanced (625) 10 6 2 2
    High (550) 26 24 16 10
    Intermediate (475) 34 36 32 24
    Low (400) 23 27 32 29
    Below Low (<400) 7 7 18 35

    Table 1b: Malaysian Students Performance for Science (TIMSS 1999 to 2011)

    Science 1999 (%) 2003 (%) 2007 (%) 2011 (%)
    Advanced (625) 5 4 3 1
    High (550) 19 24 15 10
    Intermediate (475) 35 43 32 23
    Low (400) 28 24 30 28
    Below Low (<400) 13 5 20 38

    Tony Pua Kiam Wee, DAP National Publicity Secretary & MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
    Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

  • The International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 proved beyond doubt that the Barisan Nasional Government has completely destroyed our education system, causing Malaysia to suffer the biggest drop in results among all tested countries in the world for both subjects

    The 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) which was released on the 11th of December showed a worrying and unacceptable fall in Malaysia’s ranking and average scores in Math and Science.

    Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011. Our average Math score fell from 474 in 2007 to 440 and our average Science score fell by an even greater degree from 471 in 2007 to 426 in 2011. The results are summarized in Table 1a and 1b below.

    Table 1a: Fall in Malaysia’s TIMMs ranking in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011

    Ranking

    1999

    2003

    2007

    2011

    Math

    16

    10

    20

    26

    Science

    22

    20

    21

    32

    Table 1b: Fall in Malaysia’s TIMMs average score in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011

    Average Score

    1999

    2003

    2007

    2011

    Fall

    Math

    519

    508

    474

    440

    79

    Science

    492

    510

    471

    426

    66

    When we compare the results across all the countries, we suffer the ignominy of being the only country other than Jordan which suffered declines in scores in all content and cognitive domains for Mathematics (Content Domains – Number, Algebra, Geometry, Data & Chance; Cognitive Domains – Knowledge, Application, Reasoning) and Science (Content Domains – Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Sciences; Cognitive Domains – Knowledge, Application, Reasoning) from 2007 to 2011.

    However, the most damning outcome of the test is that Malaysia has suffered the biggest drop in test scores among all countries for both Mathematics and Science between 1999 and 2011.

    For Mathematics, our score dropped by 79 points, compared to the next worst country, Thailand, by 40 points. For Science, our score dropped by 66 points, compared to Macedonia, which fell by 51 points.

    The poor achievement of Malaysians students in Math and Science is clearly seen in the % of students scoring full credit for what should be basic Math and Science questions.

    For example, for the simple algebra question of “What does xy +1 mean” (The answer is “multiply x by y, then add 1”), only 43% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 37 out of 42 countries (See Appendix 1 below).

    In comparison, 94% of students in Hong Kong answered this question correctly. For a relatively simple Chemistry question, “What is the chemical formula for Carbon Dixoide” (The answer is “CO2), only 67% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 43out of 45 countries. (See Appendix 2 below) In comparison 99% of Japanese students answered this question correctly.

    Given the above, it is no wonder that many parents are voting with their feet and their wallets by enrolling in private primary and secondary schools at an alarmingly increasing rate.

    The drop in our Math and Science scores as measured by TIMSS an unmitigated disaster our national education system which has been destroyed by the Barisan Nasional education policies. In the context of the extent of our failing education system, the National Education Blueprint (Peliminary report) is clearly half-hearted in its attempted to reverse the decline and it has failed to address the primary issues of the severe in standards.

    The Ministers of Education for Malaysia over this period, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad (1999-2004), Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (2004-2009) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (since 2009) must bear full responsibility for failing Malaysia’s young and the future of this country.

    Joint statement by Members of the Pakatan Rakyat Education Taskforce (PET):

    Tony Pua, MP Petaling Jaya
    Nurul Izzah Anwar, MP Lembah Pantai
    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    Appendix 1: Percent Answering “What does xy+1 mean” correctly

    Appendix 2: Percent Answering “What is the Chemical Formula for Carbon Dioxide” Correctly

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