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Election Watch

Centre welcomes report but points out gaps

Source: Malay Mail
Date: 14 September 2012

THE ASLI Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS) welcomes the 2013-2025 Malaysian Education blueprint’s preliminary report, citing it as timely and necessary in preparing Malaysia’s future social and intellectual capital in a globalised world, said its chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam (pic).

“However, the report has major gaps and we therefore urge the Education Ministry to review it in order to incorporate overlooked public views,” he said.

He said it does not reflect comprehensive educational requirements and aspirations of all Malaysians and that if ignored, can lead to greater national disunity.

“Firstly, while it rightly recognises needs for strengthening both English and Bahasa Malaysia proficiency, specific recommendations need to be outlined to ensure proper Bahasa Malaysia implementation among vernacular students.”

Secondly, Navaratnam said, supervisory systems for teachers must be addressed.

“While teacher-entry requirements by merit is important, there is no mention of needs for ethnic balance among staff. This includes headship positions and education department positions at federal, state and district levels. This will ensure that national character is maintained at all levels.”

Thirdly, he criticised the report’s description of ethnically-homogeneous environments.

“The selective data almost blames vernacular schools as the cause of ethnic polarisation. In reality, it is the national schools that are at fault.”

He said the data must clearly reflect all 20 educational institution categories, including schools’ student composition.

“Student and staff population by ethnicity was not identified as a factor in separating Malays from non-Malay students, especially in secondary schools. Where is the transparency?” he questioned.

Navaratnam said reasons for the non-Malay student exodus was due to national schools’ imbalanced cultural and religious environments.

“It only adopts the direct approach among multi-ethnic students,” he said. “However, there can be effective multiculturalism even within homogeneous environments.”

It also does not focus on ensuring multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural unity within schools, added Navaratnam.

“Fourth, it lacks statistics such as data breakdown across the 20 categories. The data is selective,” he said.

Fifth, he said the blueprint failed to ensure an inclusive educational system.

“There is no mention of how vernacular, mission and religious schools are categorised as ‘national type’, which implies limited infrastructure funding required to be incorporated as fully-funded schools,” he said.

Therefore, Navaratnam concluded, it is time the policy ends this dichotomy by ensuring each stream promotes national inclusivity and unity.

“Hence, the wave 3 objective, working towards ‘schools of choice for all’, creates insecurities over constitutional protections towards vernacular and religious schools,” he said.

Lastly, CPPS feels many community concerns have been censured by foreign and local consultants.

“We urge the Education Ministry to release reports from the Independent Review Panel, the National Dialogues findings and the commissioned academic and Unesco reports,” he said, adding this will enable citizens to review these in light of the blueprint.

“We need critical but constructive boldness and innovation to ensure the policy enables children to fully develop to serve the common good. We need to practise the ‘people first, performance now’ slogan to ensure the policy is truly transformed to enable national progress and not regress,” he said.

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