Actions and Inaction of the Minister of Education over six issues give little confidence that the National Education Blueprint will be properly implemented

Pakatan Rakyat Education Taskforce Response to the National Education Blueprint (NEB) Final Document on the 10th of September, 2013

The Ministry of Education have had many nice sounding Education Blueprints in the past but have failed at the implementation stage. Even though the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU) will be established to oversee the implementation of this latest Education Blueprint, the response and the lack thereof on the part of the Minister of Education to specific revelations in the education system leaves us with little confidence that this latest Education Blueprint will be properly implemented.

Firstly, the Minister has refused to divulge the passing marks for SPM General Mathematics, Additional Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and English because this is classified under the Official Secrets Act. This is totally against Thrust 11 of the Final Document which is to ‘Increase Transparency for Direct Public Accountability’. If even passing marks are classified for national security purposes under the OSA, what is to say that the passing mark for the English SPM paper will not be further decreased when the compulsory pass is put into effect in 2016?

Secondly, the Minister has failed to respond to the ‘canteen in the shower room’ occurrence in SK Seri Pristana. Not only did his Deputy Minister dismiss the incident as only a ‘small problem’, the police have questioned children in this school without their parent’s consent and one parent was even allegedly detained for supposedly intimidating the school’s headmaster. These actions does considerable harm to creating confidence in national schools and will lead more parents to vote with their feet and choose not to send their children to national schools.

Thirdly, the Minister has failed to respond to accusations that the Physical Education (PE) ‘Diplomas’ given to teachers by the United States Sports Academy (USSA) under a Ministry of Education program was not only unnecessarily expensive, costing RM27,000 for a 6 month program, but is actually only a certificate level program and not a diploma. If such a ‘diploma’ that falls short of MQA standards for a diploma can be offered, it calls into question the fact that other training and retraining programs under this Education Blueprint will also be improperly awarded and result in sub-standard outcomes.

Fourthly, the Minister had failed to respond to the latest incident of headmasters selling a chewing tablet with the name Dimensi 108 which has been supposedly endorsed by the Council of Headmasters of the Districts of Mersing and Kota Tinggi respectively. This scandal is a reflection of the Minister’s ability to implement Thrust 6: Empower JPNs, PPDs and Schools to Customise Solutions Based on Need and Thrust 8: Transform Ministry Delivery Capabilities and Capacity. If the Minister if not able to come down hard on these errant Headmasters, it gives us very little reason to believe that the power to be devolved to the state and local education agencies will not be abused.

Fifthly, the Minister has failed to adequately explain why YTL Corporation, a company with no previous experience in education software and the manufacturing of computer hardware, was given lucrative contracts to rollout a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platform for students, teachers and parents and also to supply every single student with a Chromebook under the 1 Student 1 Device policy. Furthermore it was revealed that these Chromebooks were supplied to the Ministry at a higher than market price. The awarding of these contracts call into question Thrust 10 which is to ‘Maximise Student Outcomes for Every Ringgit’.

Sixthly, the Minister has failed to assign 460 DPLI (Diploma Perguruan Lepas Ijazah) graduates to national-type schools that are still lacking teachers. These graduates were interim teachers before they were enrolled in the DPLI course in December 2011. They even enjoyed an allowance of RM1,300 per month during the course. However 3 months after the completion of the Diploma on May 23, 2013 this year, MOE failed to assign these graduates to any schools. It reflects a poor planning on the part of MOE and it is also a total waste of resources, again in contrary to the commitment of ‘maximizing efficiency’.

These six examples provides concrete evidence that the Minister of Education does not have the political will nor the desire to properly implement the 11 thrusts outlined in the National Education Blueprint Final Document.

Pakatan Rakyat Education Taskforce