Call on Musa to explain whether the 10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 has been shelved pending the outcome of the new review of the entire national education system chaired by Mahathir himself
by Lim Kit Siang
(Penang, Monday): The Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should explain whether the 10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 has been shelved pending the outcome of the new review of the entire national education system chaired by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself.
A week after publicly admitting at a dinner with the Malaysian community in Paris during his visit to France for the conference on the Reconstructing of Lebanon (Paris Conference II) that the national schools have failed to forge national unity and “bring about better relations among the various races”, Mahathir proposed at the UMNO Supreme Council meeting on November 29 the establishment of a high-powered committee to review the entire national education system.
UMNO Information chief, Tan Sri Megat Junid told Utusan Malaysia (2.12.02) that Mahathir made the proposal for the establishment of an education review committee because the national school system had deviated from its original objective where the national schools are the primary choice of all parents in Malaysia.
He said that all UMNO Supreme Council members were given the opportunity to present their views on the proposal before a decision was taken to establish a committee under the chairmanship of Mahathir himself to review the entire education system.
Later, Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Abdul Aziz Shamsuddin made it very clear that the review headed by Mahathir would involve all types of government and government-assisted schools, i.e. including national, Chinese and Tamil primary schools (Berita Harian online 5.12.02) and that the whole review process would take six to eight months to complete. (New Straits Times 4.12.02).
Two questions immediately come to mind and demand answer:
Firstly, why wasn’t the important policy decision to establish the most high-powered education review committee in the 45-year history of the nation, as this is the first time that an education review committee is headed by the Prime Minister, made by the Cabinet instead of only by the UMNO Supreme Council?
What is even more unthinkable and unbelievable is that this important policy issue and decision was not even referred to the Cabinet which met after the UMNO Supreme Council last Wednesday – a naked manifestation that in the Barisan Nasional government, the gravity of power is not in the Cabinet but in the UMNO Supreme Council.
Every UMNO Supreme Council member had the opportunity to give his or her individual views on the proposal before the decision on the establishment of the high-powered education review committee was taken - which is even denied as a courtesy to the Central Executive Committee members of MCA, Gerakan, MIC, SUPP and other Barisan Nasional component parties.
In fact, the long and brooding silence of the leaders of the other Barisan Nasional parties, like MCA President, Datuk Seri Dr. Ling Liong Sik and Gerakan President Datuk Dr. Lim Keng Yaik on what may be the most important policy issue this year is most ominous in highlighting not only their ignorance but also a new depth of their marginalization and irrelevance in power relations in the Barisan Nasional government.
The second question is whether the establishment of the new high-powered review committee into the entire national education system under the chairmanship of Mahathir implies the shelving or sidelining of the 10-year Education Development Blueprint 2001-2010 which was unveiled by the Education Minister in October last year.
For the past year, Musa Mohamad has not been able to give Parliament and the nation a satisfactory statement as to whether the 10-year Education Development Blueprint produced by the committee headed by him is a mere draft awaiting public feedback and input with room for policy alternatives or a final and definitive policy document where public input is only allowed on its implementation.
Even before this question could be resolved, the 10-year Education Development Blueprint had been repeatedly made obsolete and irrelevant, most notably in the highly controversial policy decision to use English to teach mathematics and science in Std. One in all primary schools and now the establishment of the most high-powered review committee into the entire national education system in the nation’s history..
With the establishment of the new high-powered Mahathir education review committee, Musa should come forward to spell out the status and future of the 10-year Education Development Blueprint which runs the risk of getting into the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s 10-year plan with the shortest life-span - mangled out of shape into utter irrelevance even before the question as to whether it is a mere draft or a definitive policy could be resolved.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman