Parliament should adopt Musa Hitamís proposal for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Education by way of an amending  motion in the Eighth Malaysia Plan debate, which should be extended by at least  two days


Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
 

(Penang, Monday):  Former Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Musa Hitam proposed on Saturday that  a  National Commission of Enquiry be set up with the specific objective of studying the education scene  to review  shortcomings in the system and with a mandate to make  recommendations.

Speaking  at the inaugural Tunku  Abdul Rahman Putra Memorial lecture in Penang  on "Education and Excellence: Challenges of the 21st Century'', Musa noted that 30 years after the National Economic Policy was launched, the country "suddenly woke up just a couple of weeks ago to be  told by no less than the Prime Minister himself that the education system had failed in its main objective of achieving national unity.''

Musa suggested that the commission should be given six months or even a year to carry out its assignments and that the public, including political parties, NGOs,  associations, societies representing any interest, as well as individuals be invited to submit their views  and suggestions.

The commission should allow submissions  to be made either in writing via memoranda or orally, and  should preferably be conducted in open sessions.

I welcome this proposal  by Musa as I had myself more than once called for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to address the twin educational crisis in the country: to achieve the overriding objective of national unity and to prepare the country for the challenges of the new era of information technology.

It is most regrettable that in the Eighth Malaysia Plan debate in Parliament last week, there was no in-depth debate on the twin educational crisis facing the country.

Parliament should adopt Musa Hitamís proposal for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Education by way of an amending  motion in  the debate on the Eighth Malaysia Plan, which should be extended by at least two more days not only to allow more MPs to speak on the Eighth Malaysia Plan but to permit a  focussed  debate on the twin educational crisis facing the country.

Among the issues which should be studied by the Commission are:
 

 
After the presentation of the Eighth Malaysia Plan by the Prime Minister in Parliament last Monday, a New Economy consultant, V. Sivapalan wrote in the New Straits Times (25.4.2001) that if Malaysia is to successfully move to an knowledge-based (K) economy,  the country needs a comprehensive education policy with computer literacy for all students from a very young age and suggesting that  computer education be a compulsory examinable subject like Maths and Science from year One.
 
Five years ago, in December 1995, I had proposed in Parliament an amendment to the 1995 Education Bill to make computer literacy a core subject for all primary and secondary school curriculum but this was rejected by the  short-sighted Education Minister and government and five precious years to position  the country in the very forefront of IT development had been squandered away.
 
This   issue should rate top priority consideration by the Education Inquiry Commission.
 
Another subject which should be fully considered by the Commission is the  New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education.
 
The DAP has made six  proposals for the New Deal for Chinese Mother-Tongue Education in the Eighth Malaysia Plan (2001-2005), namely:
 


There should be a national consensus for the New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in the 21st century to ensure that mother-tongue education not only contributes to the nation-building process but could fully tap into the nationís wealth of multicultural diversity and heritage in the IT age.

(30/4/2001)


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman