Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025: An opportunity to shine
Proponents of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025 praise it for attempts to improve teachers’ lot
By Sharifah Arfah
IT was in October 2011 when the government, realising a need to better prepare Malaysian students for a globalised world, broached the idea of the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
It was an ambitious project lasting 11 months and involving the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), local universities, principals, parents, teachers and even students.
“The result is a preliminary Blueprint that evaluates the performance of Malaysia’s education system against historical starting points and international benchmarks.
‘The Blueprint also offers a vision of the education system and students that Malaysia both needs and deserves,” it says in the executive summary of the blueprint’s preliminary report.
It was launched on Sept 6 last year.
Among the salient points of the Blueprint are ensuring near-universal enrolment for students and to be in at least the top third of countries in terms of performance in international assessments, as measured by outcomes in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) within 15 years.
The Blueprint also aims to halve the current urban-rural, socio-economic and gender achievement gaps by 2020, make English a compulsory pass for SPM by 2016, and setting clear learning standards for students and parents to understand the progress expected within each year of schooling.
Unesco secretary-general Dr Irina Bokova late last year praised the Blueprint, calling it “a force for positive transformation and for economic success”.
The New Straits Times reported last week that the Blueprint was yielding the results initially hoped for.
Quoting Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the report said that the gap between urban and rural students had narrowed and the Blueprint was on track to achieve its 50 % target.
“The effort is ongoing and we will see an improvement gradually, in phases,” Muhyiddin was quoted as saying.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng says although there are weaknesses, the authorities’ effort at quickly dealing with shortcomings helped a great deal.
“Everything is moving ahead as planned although there is bound to be teething problems.
“For example, when teachers complained of the School-Based Assessment System (where teachers key in the data of students’ achievement), the government immediately took steps to rectify it.
“Teachers are taking it positively and are prepared to accept policies.
“But many of them are not clear about the Blueprint and they need to be well-versed with it so that they can take steps to change.
“In this respect, there must be a group of people to monitor the outcome of the Blueprint to ensure that it’s heading in the right direction and to continuously explain to teachers about it,” says Lok.
English teacher Abang Muammar Ghaddafi Abang Ya’akub has only heard of the National Education Blueprint in passing.
“I do know that the Blueprint mentions about increasing professionalism in the teaching career and I can say that it’s true,” says Abang Muammar, who has been teaching at a vocational school in Bintulu for 16 years.
“I’m happy that the government is serious about making teaching the profession of choice.
“I notice that since early this year, there are more professional courses open for English teachers like me and I’m going to go for it so that I can improve myself and be a better teacher,” he says.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim is thrilled that the Blueprint is addressing the issue of quality through the public-private partnership initiative.
“It’s time to give the corporate sector a chance to take over without political or administrative intervention.
“The introduction of trust schools will enhance the quality and efficiency aspects that the Blueprint wants to achieve,” she says.
A trust school is a school jointly run by a corporate organisation, provides expertise and funds for the necessary programmes and government-appointed principals.
“The private partners can also focus on in-house training for teachers on the seven teaching pedagogies to improve teaching and learning experience,” says Noor Azimah, indicating that this would help promote a positive teaching-learning environment and push children to become thinkers.
“Some of the pilot schools in this programme have shown tremendous results.
“A school in Johor, apparently known as a source for local gangsters and vandalism, reported that it’s been spending less money on repairs, which means vandalism has been reduced.
“Parents, too, are shocked that their children are spending more time at school to complete extra-curricular activities. The school has been keeping its students busy,” says Noor Azimah.
Yayasan Amir, an arm under Khazanah Nasional Bhd, has adopted 10 schools (five in Johor and five in Sarawak) to pilot the Trust School initiative.