• The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study has proven that the Ministry of Education has deliberately dumbed down our education syllabus and lowered our examination standards in order to produce more student passes and distinctions

    Joint Media Statement by Tony Pua, DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and Dr Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 14 December 2012

    In the recently released 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), Malaysia’s 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.

    In terms of marks scored, Malaysia was the worst performing nation of the 59 countries survey by showing the biggest decline since the study was first conducted in 1999. Malaysia’s average score for mathematics fell 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011.  By comparison, the next worst country Thailand posted an average score decrease of 40 points for mathematics.  Similarly, Malaysia’s average score for science meanwhile dropped 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 in 2011.  This decrease is higher than the next worst country, Macedonia whose average score for science fell 51 points.

    However, while the disastrous TIMSS results proved the failure of our education system, surprisingly our students continue to score better results annually for their Mathematics and Science examinations for the PMR and SPM papers.

    For example, the PMR results over the years, as measured by the Average National Grade (or GPN) has been steadily improving from 2.83 in 2008 to 2.78 in 2009 to 2.74 in 2010 and mostly recently to 2.71 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).  More specifically, those obtaining As in Mathematics increased from 26.7% in 2010 to 28.9% in 2011 and those obtaining As in Science increased from 18.5% in 2010 to 21.7% in 2011.

    At the same time, our SPM results in 2011 was reported to have been the best recorded in five years with the overall National Average Grade improving from 5.19 in 2010 to 5.04 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).

    In addition, the pass rate for Math and Science at the SPM level have also steadily increased since 2007 as indicated in Table 1 below.  For example, the pass rate for Math for those in the rural areas increased from 70% in 2007 to 77.5% in 2010 and the pass rate for Science for those in the urban areas increased from 85.9% in 2007 to 91% in 2010.

    Table 1: Pass rate for Math & Science SPM
    for those in the rural and urban areas (2007 to 2010)
     

    Subject / Area

    2007

    2008

    2009

    2010

    Math/Urban

    78.4

    79.6

    82.5

    83.5

    Math/Rural

    70.0

    72.8

    73.5

    77.5

    Science/Urban

    85.9

    90.3

    90.4

    91

    Science/Rural

    88.1

    92.1

    90.9

    92.3

    Source: Ministry of Education

    The steep fall in our TIMSS 2011 scores which are measured objectively across 59 countries clearly contradicts the astounding achievements by the same students in our PMR and SPM examinations.

    One cannot help but to conclude that firstly, the Ministry of Education has been deliberately manipulating the Math and Sciences standards for the PMR and SPM examinations to artificially increase the pass rate.  Secondly, it also raises the obvious question that our education syllabus has been “dumbed down” so that more students will be able to do better for their examinations.

    In fact, this deliberate attempt to dumb down our syllabus and lowering the passing marks for the examination subjects is a key reason for the declining standard of our education system.  The Ministry of Education has over the years simplified the syllabus and lowered passing marks in order to give the perception of improving performance, which is measured by the number of passes and “A”s achieved in these examinations.

    The obvious outcome to such a skewed education policy is that our Malaysian young will learn less in school, while needing to know and understand even less to secure a pass or obtain an “A” in the examinations.  This saddening outcome is now proven by the TIMSS,  which showed how Malaysia is the country where its students suffer from the fastest declining standards for both Mathematics and Science.

    The New Education Blueprint (NEB) must openly admit and aggressively address the deliberate “dumbing down” of our education system.  The Preliminary NEB report has not only completely neglected the above, it has to the contrary, sung praises for our students’ academic achievements in the PMR and SPM examinations.  If the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin fails to reverse the dumbing down process and start increasing standards in our examinations and syllabus, then he can be assured that not only the NEB will fail miserably, Malaysia will continue to drop down the TIMSS scores and ranking in the future.

    Tony Pua
    Ong Kian Ming

  • Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin digesa perjelas kemerosotan berterusan Malaysia dalam kajian TIMMS 2011 dan jurang ketara antara markah purata pelajar lelaki dan perempuan bagi subjek Matematik dan Sains

    Pada 2007, Malaysia telah mengalami kemerosotan purata pencapaian dalam dua subjek teras iaitu – Sains dan Matematik (pelajar Gred 8 atau Tingkatan 2) dalam kajian oleh Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2007) membabitkan 59 negara.

    Hasil kajian 2007 menunjukkan skor purata pencapaian pelajar Malaysia dalam Matematik dan Sains merosot dengan ketara. Skor Matematik 2007 merosot kepada 474 mata berbanding 508 mata pada 2003 dan 519 bagi 1999, iaitu penurunan sebanyak 34 mata.

    Skor Sains pula merosot kepada 471 mata pada 2007 daripada 510 pada 2003 dan 492 bagi kohort 1999. Ini mencatatkan penurunan 40 mata antara 2007 dan 2003.

    Di kalangan 59 negara yang mengambil bahagian dalam kajian TIMSS 2007, yang dilaksanakan Sekolah Pendidikan Lynch, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, Amerika Syarikat itu, kemerosotan skor purata pencapaian pelajar Malaysia sebanyak 34 mata bagi Matematik dan 40 mata bagi Sains adalah terbesar sekali di kalangan 59 negara.

    Terbaru, kita dikejutkan lagi dengan laporan “Trends in International Math and Science Study” (TIMSS) 2011 yang diterbitkan pada 11hb Disember lalu bukan sahaja menunjukkan Malaysia telah turun beberapa anak tangga dalam kedudukan dan markah purata bagi Matematik dan Sains – satu pencapaian yang tidak boleh diterima – malah menonjolkan satu aspek yang lebih membimbangkan iaitu wujudnya jurang yang amat besar di antara pelajar lelaki dan perempuan di Malaysia dari sudut Markah Purata Matematik dan Sains.

    Markah purata Matematik bagi Malaysia, iaitu 440, boleh dibahagikan dengan lebih tepat kepada pelajar perempuan (449) dan pelajar lelaki (430), menunjukkan jurang gender, ataupun gender gap, sebanyak 19 markah, meletakkan Malaysia di anak tangga ke-37 dari 42 negara. Sebagai perbandingan, Finland mempunyai jurang gender sebanyak 4 markah – 516 bagi pelajar perempuan dan 512 bagi pelajar lelaki. (Lampiran 1). Jurang gender ini adalah lima kali ganda dengan negara teratas.

    Markah purata Sains bagi Malaysia pula adalah 426, dan boleh dibahagikan kepada markah purata pelajar perempuan (434) dan lelaki (419), menunjukkan jurang gender sebanyak 15 markah, yang meletakkan kita di anak tangga ke-24 dari 45 buah negara. Sebagai perbandingan, Kazakhstan hanya mempunyai jurang gender sebanyak 4 markah – 492 bagi pelajar perempuan dan 488 bagi pelajar lelaki. (Lampiran 2)

    Jurang di antara pelajar perempuan dan lelaki ini menampakkan satu masalah yang lebih besar dalam sistem pendidikan kita: pencapaian rendah pelajar lelaki yang sistematik dalam sistem pendidikan, yang jelas dilihat dari kadar keciciran pelajar lelaki di sekolah-sekolah menengah dan jurang yang makin lebar antara pelajar perempuan dan lelaki dalam sistem pengajian tinggi, terutamanya di IPTA.

    Kami menggesa Menteri Pendidikan, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, untuk memberikan penjelasan yang menyeluruh tentang mengapa kejadian jurang gender ini berlaku serta meyakinkan rakyat Malaysia bahawa beliau akan mengatur langkah-langkah yang khusus bagi menangani masalah ini. Walaupun laporan awal Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia ada membangkitkan isu ini, namun tiada apa-apa langkah yang khusus dan terperinci yang telah dinyatakan untuk mengatasi masalah tersebut secara menyeluruh.

    Kenyataan bersama oleh Ahli-ahli Pasukan Petugas Pendidikan Pakatan Rakyat (PET):

    Tony Pua, Ahli Parlimen PJ Utara
    Nurul Izzah Anwar, Ahli Parlimen Lembah Pantai
    Dr Ong Kian Ming, Strategis Pilihanraya DAP

    Lampiran 1: Markah Matematik Purata Mengikut Jantina

    Lampiran 2: Markah Sains Purata Mengikut Jantina

  • Chua Tee Yong is a disappointment to all young Malaysians

    I had the opportunity to have lunch with Chua Tee Yong (CTY, hereafter) before I joined the DAP. I was grateful for this opportunity given that I had already written a few less than complementary articles about his father, Dr Chua Soi Lek, in his capacity as MCA president. I wanted to meet up with him because I had been somewhat impressed by the manner in which he handled himself in parliament. He was articulate in his parliamentary replies and he responded coolly and calmly to the supplementary questions thrown his way. I thought that this MCA leader, in his capacity as the chairman of his party’s Young Professionals Bureau, could raise the overall level of political discourse by attracting more qualified young people to be engaged in the political landscape. I never thought that less than a year later, he would instead drown in a puddle of his own making, snuffing out whatever little hope his party had of rejuvenation and regeneration.

    The cause of CTY’s massive loss of what credibility he may have had is well known – the so-called RM1 billion Talam ‘scandal’. When he first announced this ‘scandal’, many of us in the opposition were worried that he had actually uncovered an issue that could potentially sink the Pakatan government in Selangor. He displayed tremendous confidence which we now know was actually ignorance masked by cockiness. The utter baselessness of his accusations has been exposed by my colleagues in Pakatan. I don’t need to go into the details here except to say that he has been faulting the Pakatan Selangor state government for trying to retrieve debts owed to the state, something which the BN federal government has failed to do time and time again because of ‘obligations’ to cronies such as those behind the PKFZ scandal, the NFC scandal, the MAS bailout, and a long list of other real scandals. The public at large, with access to alternative sources of information, have also figured out that CTY is barking and continues to bark up the wrong tree, especially after the recent release by the Selangor state government of the Talam White Paper.

    What I will highlight is the utter disappointment that CTY has been to the young people of Malaysia. The political landscape post GE2008 had been thrown wide open. Given his privileged position as a new MP who had inherited his father’s seat in Labis, Johor, his rapid promotion to the position of a Deputy Minister and the access to the resources of MCA and indirectly, the Star, CTY could have been a noteworthy young leader in influencing the political landscape especially among young Malaysians. A small but growing number of young Malaysians were awakened politically post GE2008. Many of them were looking for direction, for avenues to be more politically engaged and for young political leaders who could inspire and perhaps even lead them. CTY could have positioned himself as one of the key young BN leaders to watch by engaging in thought leadership on the important issues of the day including political reform and economic transformation, by taking on Pakatan on substantive issues (read: NOT TALAM!), by building a team of young aspiring leaders to renew his flagging party, by having meaningful engagements and reaching out to the younger generation through the strategic use of social media, by taking strategic contrarian positions to set himself and his party apart from the larger BN infrastructure, just to mention a few. I’m sure there are (hopefully!) many experienced and politically savvy MCA leaders whose advice he could have followed in order to take full advantage of the changed and changing political landscape.

    Disappointingly, instead of taking the bull by the horns and charting out a new progressive direction of leadership, he has squander his privileged position in the manner in which he handled the one issue that will define him for many years to come – the non-scandal of “Talamgate”. The Talam issue is a financially complicated deal with many moving parts. Even though I think there was no basis for CTY to use this issue to attack to the Selangor state government, he could have potentially salvaged some pride and his reputation by at least agreeing to have a debate with any one of the Pakatan MPs from Selangor who were more than willing to take him on. If he was that convinced of his case and if he was confident that he could convince the larger public, he should have taken up one of the many offers made to him to have a public debate with Tony Pua, Teresa Kok, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and William Leong. By doing so, he would have put himself in the firing line and perhaps come away with some ‘street cred’ for daring to take on some of these Pakatan heavyweights. Instead, he chickened out. Worse yet, he failed to allow a single Pakatan MP to be heard when MCA organized a discussion / debate on Talam because he insisted on debating with the Selangor MB, Khalid Ibrahim (this is akin to Tony Pua wanting to debate with the PM), who instead sent four able and willing representatives (3 Pakatan MPs and his political secretary) to answer CTY’s allegations.

    Perhaps he should have followed the example of some of his BN colleagues who have responded to the changing political times. UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin does not seem to have an issue with debating PKR’s Director of Strategy, Rafizi Ramli, not once but twice, even though Rafizi does not hold any elected position within his party. And Khairy regularly shares the same platform in panels and dialogue sessions with younger Pakatan leaders such as Nurul Izzah, Tony Pua and Anthony Loke. Does CTY perceive his political stature to be above that of Khairy so much so that these sorts of political engagements are beneath his office? Or perhaps he thinks that such debates and dialogues are not part of Malaysian culture? If so, he should take the lead of a fellow BN Deputy Minister, Saifuddin Abdullah, currently Deputy Minister for Higher Education. Saifuddin regularly engages not just with Pakatan politicians but also many NGOs including youth groups from a wide spectrum of society and political leanings. It is worth highlighting that Khairy and Saifuddin have been working with MCA Senator Gan Peng Sieu, who is also the Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, rather than CTY on making stands against certain government positions including urging the government not to appeal the decision by the Court of Appeal that Section 15 of the University and Universities Colleges Act (UUCA) was unconstitutional as well as making a stand against the controversial amendment to Section 114A of the Evidence Act.

    CTY’s Talamgate attacks have negative political repercussions not just for him but also for his party and the BN. The fact that an MCA politician from Johor had to be ‘catapulted’ to Selangor to lead the charge against the Selangor government speaks volumes about the confidence which Chua Soi Lek has in MCA Selangor chairman – Donald Lim Siang Chai. The fact that Chua Soi Lek has to use this channel to promote his son also speaks volume about the leadership dynamics within MCA, especially with regard to the availability of young and articulate leaders. Sadly, this is a reflection of a larger systemic problem within the BN component parties, namely the lack of young, inspiring thought leaders which has led to the ceding of more and more political ground to the ever-dominant UMNO.

    Not that I should be complaining. CTY’s antics are definitely helping convince the voting public that the BN, especially MCA, is a lost cause. But from a perspective of someone who thinks that raising the level of political discourse and increasing meaningful youth participation in politics on both sides of the political divide is a positive and necessary step for the country, CTY’s inability to take advantage of his privileged position is very disappointing indeed.

    Ong Kian Ming
    DAP Election Strategist

    This article was published by The Malaysian Insider.

  • The EC should take action to prosecute irresponsible parties who are trying to manipulate the electoral roll

    Media statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 12th November 2012

    While the Election Commission should be given some credit for taking certain steps to clean up the electoral roll, it has failed to take any concrete action against persons who have been trying to and are still trying to manipulate the electoral roll.

    In a productive meeting between myself, as Project Director and DAP Election Strategist, with the Election Commission on Monday, 5th of November 2012, the Election Commission highlighted a few steps which they have taken and are taking in order to clean up the electoral roll.

    One such initiative is to locate the 12 digit IC number of all police and army voters to check that these postal voters were also not registered using their 12 digit IC number. Although this verification process is long overdue, it should be welcomed as a necessary step in cleaning up the electoral roll. The decision of the EC to require all new army and police postal voter applicants, starting from 2012, to include their 12 digit IC number in their application forms, is also a positive step towards ensuring that these voters are not registered twice in the electoral roll, once using their army / policy identity card number and once using their 12 digit civilian identity card number.

    MERAP has identified many past cases of such double registrations as well as cases whereby an army / postal voter has given their 12 digit civilian IC to their spouses to be registered as postal voters as well as army / postal voters who list themselves as their own spouse in order to be registered as postal voters using their 12 digit civilian IC numbers. Having the 12 digit civilian IC verification, hopefully, will prevent such cases from happening again in the future. I was also informed that the Election Commission has taken action to locate the 12 digit civilian IC numbers of all existing army / police voters. As of 15th October 2012, there remains 411 police and 613 army postal voters whose 12 digit civilian IC numbers have not been located.

    However, what is disappointing is that the Election Commission refuses to take any independent action against those who have tried to manipulate the electoral roll other than removing certain Assistant Registrars. For example, the EC found 60 voters who had tried to register as army / police postal voters AND as regular voters in Quarter 2 2012. This is a clear violation of Section 3 (1) (a) of the Election Offences Act 1954 which states that a person who ‘knowingly makes any false statement on or in connection with any application to be placed on any register of electors’ is guilty of committing an election offence which carries a maximum jail sentence of 2 years or a maximum fine of RM5000 or both. These voters in question clearly knows that it is an offense to register twice, once as a postal voter and another time as a regular voter since every voter has to declare that they have not registered as a voter in another constituency in Borang A Pendaftaran Pemilih.

    The presence of irresponsible parties and individuals who may have tried to manipulate the electoral roll was also detected in the Quarter 4 2011 electoral roll given to the members of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on Electoral Reform. The analysis comparing the Date of Birth as well as the Date of Application for all voters found that 282,086 voters were registered before they turned 21. Indeed, there were voters whose Date of Application were before their Date of Birth!

    What is more worrying is the fact that the Election Commission knows of these attempts to manipulate the electoral roll. The Election Commission admitted that they have revoked the status a number of Assistant Registrars who tried to manipulate the electoral roll by, for example, registering voters who have already died. But this is not sufficient. It must take legal action against such parties / individuals in order to send a strong signal that the Election Commission is serious about maintaining the integrity of the electoral roll and to dissuade irresponsible parties and individuals from trying to manipulate the electoral roll.

    For example, the DAP in Negeri Sembilan took the initiative to lodge a police report in February 2012 to ask the Election Commission to investigate and charge the 2 Assistant Registrars whose status as ARs were revoked by the EC because they were found to have tried to register already deceased voters. But 9 months later, no action has been taken, either by the Election Commission, the police or the Attorney General’s Chambers.

    As long as such irresponsible actions conducted by irresponsible parties and individuals continue to go unpunished, attempts to manipulate the electoral roll will continue. If the Election Commission is indeed serious about preserving the integrity and accuracy of the electoral roll, it must not only revoke the status of irresponsible Assistant Registrars and delete the records of dubious registrations, it must also take concrete legal action to see those responsible for these manipulation attempts charged and punished under Section 3 of the Election Offences Act 1954.

    When asked, the Election Commission admitted that to date, no one has been charged under this Section of the Election Offences Act for attempting to manipulate the electoral roll.

    Dr. Ong Kian Ming, DAP Election Strategist

    This press statement was published by DAP Malaysia.

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