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Malaysian education system dumbed down?

One in three Malaysian Third Form students do not know what the chemical formula CO2 stands for. This dismal statistic was part of the shocking findings of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2011.

According to the global assessment of students’ math and science knowledge, Malaysia’s ranking in Maths declined six spots to 26th place (out of 42) and slipped 11 spots in Science to 32nd place (out of 45).

This is despite the claim by Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin last year that the Malaysian education system is “better than advanced nations such as United States, Britain and Germany”. Opposition leaders have criticized this claim as being “self-satisfying” (syok sendiri).

TIMSS showed that Malaysia’s scores for both maths and science are below the international average, while the scores in both subjects for United States and England are above the international average.

Sharifah Zohra Jabeen (right) snatches the microphone from a UUM law student, Bawani KS during a forum held within the campus.

“Syok sendiri” scores

On the other hand, students’ scores in local exams such as the PMR and SPM have been rising. In 2010 Malaysia’s passing rate for Maths in SPM was 81% while 27% scored an A. The 2010 SPM Science passing rate was 92% and 22% achieved A grade.

DAP Election Strategist Ong Kian Ming has accused the Ministry of Education of simplifying the syllabus and lowering passing marks in order to give the perception of improving performance.

Is Malaysia providing an increasingly more inferior education system than in the past? While debates have been raging over whether maths and science should be taught in English or Malay, our slide in global rankings has been left unchecked.

In the four TIMSS 1999-2011, Malaysia is the country which suffered the biggest drop in scores among all participating countries for both maths and science : in  maths dropping by 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011; in science, dropping by 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 points in 2011.

In fact, TIMSS 2011 showed that Malaysia lags behind Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Slovenia, Lithuania, Armenia and United Arab Emirates in maths and science. Malaysia is also lagging far behind the Asian “power houses” in maths and science, namely Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan.

Yet the BN government has been painfully unresponsive to the issue that threatens our future global competitiveness. Lim said that Muhyiddin’s silence on the matter showed that “he is neither committed nor interested in his first duty as Education Minister”. -The Rocket


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